Resources More Useful Links
Video Screen Capture Utilities
TechSmith Corporation offers two award-winning utilities that can be used to record
AGTEK 3D drive-through simulations to a generic video file. The resulting video
file can be played using any media player or they can be used with programs such as
Microsoft® PowerPoint® for more elaborate presentations.
SnagIt® ($50) includes simple video-capture and a robust range of static screen-capture
options, but it does not include any video editing tools.
Camtasia Studio ($249) specializes in video-capture, includes a voice-over capability
and video editing tools, and would be a better choice if you must produce professional,
high-quality video presentations from your recorded AGTEK drive-through simulations.
If you just need to quickly capture a static rectangular (or freehand) area of an
AGTEK screen (e.g., capture and save a color cut-fill map image that can be imported
to your AGTEK data file and displayed as a background image in Edit and Entry modes
using AGTEK's PDF Utility),
try the Windows (7/8/10) Snipping Tool (Start > All Programs > Accessories >
Snipping Tool). With older versions of Windows, try
Plixia (free) which has apparently replaced
VRML File Viewers
AGTEK's Earthwork 3D and SiteModel 3D programs (Version 1.41 and up) can export
an entire 3D surface to a VRML (Virtual Reality Markup Language) file. To export
a VRML file, (1) switch to Plan View mode or 3D View mode, (2) set the Reference and
Difference Surfaces, (3) make any desired adjustments to the color shading, and (3)
select File > Export VRML File from the menu. The Reference Surface
(and color shading) selected in Step 2 is written to a .WRL file.
AGTEK VRML files can be read by any number of free (and fee) third-party VRML readers
which allow the user to dynamically "fly-through" and inspect the 3D surface
from any orientation. Two examples of VRML readers are the browser-based
Cortona3D Viewer (free) and the stand-alone
With additional hardware and software, AGTEK VRML files can also be used to "print"
a color 3D surface to a scaled solid model. Most AGTEK users will not want to
purchase the necessary
hardware and software as the cost may be hard to justify for occasional use; but
third-party vendors, such as
LGM Models, will produce the solid models for you using your AGTEK VRML files.
Printing to PDF Files
AGTEK's cut/fill maps and other graphical documentation can be shared with (and
reprinted by) non-AGTEK users when the graphical documentation is printed to a PDF file.
PDF files are also a handy alternative to AGTEK's proprietary AIP format when a
complicated AGTEK Print Page needs to be archived and/or reprinted. Although AGTEK's
3D and older versions of
Earthwork 4D included
a basic native PDF export option, using a third-party print-to-PDF product with your
AGTEK software will provide more options and better results.
Popular (and free) print-to-PDF products include the
BullZip PDF Printer and the
bioPDF PDF Writer (and installing either of these two free PDF printers with the
latest versions of Earthwork 4D will enable 4D's export PDF option).
Adobe® Acrobat® Pro ($180/year subscription) is well known but numerous lower-priced
(and free) print-to-PDF alternatives are also available.
Bluebeam® PDF Revu® ($349) has an A/E/C orientation and offers many options to create,
edit, annotate, and manage (combine, rotate, overlay) PDF files, including the ability
to measure onscreen quantities (length, area and perimeter) directly from a displayed
PDF plan (special thanks to long-time AGTEK user
for his recommendation of the Bluebeam product).
Foxit PhantomPDF Business ($159) is another full-featured application for creating,
editing and managing PDF files, which also includes onscreen measuring tools (coincidentally,
early versions of AGTEK's
PDF Utility for Earthwork
3D incorporated Foxit's PDF code).
In addition to creating PDF files, the BullZip, bioPDF and Bluebeam products also
include output options for BMP, TIF and several other graphic file formats. Regardless
of the specific product used to create them, PDF files printed from AGTEK can be viewed
and/or re-printed by anyone using a free copy of
Adobe Reader®. A third-party print-to-PDF application can also be useful for
converting DWF files for import and processing with AGTEK software (see
Importing PDF Files
AGTEK's PDF Utility
provides excellent tools for importing and manipulating multiple PDF plan sheets for the same project via an iterative process; however, some users may prefer to "stitch" multiple match-line raster PDF plan sheets together to create a single combined raster PDF plan sheet for the entire project for import
in AGTEK. Third-party software such as Bluebeam PDF Revu (see above) or
Adobe® Photoshop® Elements ($70) can be used to stitch match-line PDF plan sheets together. AGTEK user Elizabeth Thompson of TrakSouth Civil Contractors has produced a step-by-step
Photoshop Matchline Tutorial (many thanks to Elizabeth
and TrakSouth for sharing the tutorial with all AGTEK users!).
Free CAD File Utilities
If you need to view, verify and print/plot CAD data but you don't
want to spend a dime on CAD software, take a look at these free CAD file viewers and utilities
. . .
As discussed in Earthwork Software Services' Day 2 Seminar Handbook,
Autodesk® offers a trio of free utilities that
belong in the toolbox of every AGTEK user (especially so for AGTEK 3D users):
DWG TrueView™ (DWG/DXF files, but no DGN support--for DGN, see Bentley View below),
Civil Object Enabler (allows DWG TrueView to display Autodesk Civil 3D®
Custom Objects) and
Design Review (DWG/DXF/DWF view, measure and markup). Installed together,
these three utilities provide AGTEK users with some potentially very useful viewing, manipulation and file
conversion functions when working with DWG, DXF and DWF files.
Bentley® View reads MicroStation-based DGN files. Bentley View also reads
DWG/DXF files, but DWG TrueView (see above) offers better functionality for DWG/DXF.
Although handy for what they do, these free CAD file utilities do
not include any drafting or CAD editing functions -- for actual drafting
and editing, you need a CAD program such as those described
in the next two sections below.
Free CAD Programs
DoubleCAD XT™ (aka A/CAD LT Express) is a CAD application
that reads and writes DWG/DXF (R14 through R2012) and DWF files. It offers a range of
2D design and drafting functions and it can be used to edit DWG/DXF files (but it
inconveniently lacks bind and explode functions). DoubleCAD XT can be
used to convert a DWF file to a vector PDF for import by Earthwork 3D/4D (a third-party
print to PDF utility is required--see Printing to
PDF Files above).
DraftSight® is a CAD application that reads DWG/DXF (up to R2019) and
writes DWG/DXF (up to R2013) files. It offers a range of 2D design and drafting
functions (but apparently lacks bind and explode functions).
Low-Cost CAD Programs
TurboCAD Deluxe® ($150) provides 2D drafting, editing and
3D rendering functions. TurboCAD reads and writes DWG/DXF (up to R2018), DWF
and DGN files. It also exports PDF files and it can be used to convert a DWF
file to a vector PDF (see
DraftSight Professional® ($299) is a CAD application
that reads DWG/DXF/DGN files and offers a range of 2D design, drafting and editing functions.
AutoCAD LT® ($50/month or $390/year subscription) is a
lower-priced, scaled-down version of full
AutoCAD® ($195/month or $1,575/year subscription). AutoCAD LT
reads and writes DWG, DXF, DWF and DGN (read only) files and it offers a range of
2D design, drafting and editing functions; it also includes geo-referencing and
integration of Bing Maps. AutoCAD LT exports PDF files and it can be used
to convert a DWF file to a vector PDF (see
below). AGTEK users should install Autodesk's free
Civil Object Enabler with AutoCAD LT (allows AutoCAD LT to display Autodesk
Civil 3D Custom Objects).
If you're looking for drafting and CAD editing capabilities and you don't need full-blown
AutoCAD, or a full civil-design package like
Civil 3D ($270/month or $2,155/year subscription), AutoCAD LT will provide plenty
of value to most AGTEK users.
CAD.direct AI ($498, stand alone), reads DWG/DXF (R12-R2019) and DGN files
and it provides typical CAD drafting functions plus a host of CAD file editing and repair/cleanup functions
(purge empty/off/frozen layers, bind xrefs, explode blocks, convert splines to polylines,
and convert attributes to text).
LandXML (.XML) files are specially-formatted ASCII text files used to transfer site and highway
project data (including points, point groups, horizontal/vertical alignments, cross
sections, and surfaces) between different CAD and GIS software applications. Most
AutoCAD- and MicroStation-based civil design systems can export LandXML files and some
state DOTs have begun releasing highway project data in this format, so AGTEK users
may receive XML files. The latest versions of AGTEK's 4D earthwork products
can import and export LandXML files. AGTEK's retired (no longer supported)
3D products did not import/export LandXMLs (although some Highway 3D, SiteModel-Highway,
or GradeModel 3D users may have been provided with a copy of the no-longer-available
AGTEK XML conversion utility). Apparently, there currently are no free and reliable
LandXML converters (Warning: A downloadable XML to SMi converter was produced by Civil
Cool Tools but the install file for their "XML2SMi 0.9b1" version was reported
to contain malware and we do not provide a link to that converter). LandXML.org
provides a download link to the free Carlson Precision 3D
LandXML/Point Cloud Viewer, which is handy for previewing LandXML (and point cloud)
files but it does not include the ability to convert LandXML files to other formats.
If you regularly receive LandXML files but you're still using an old AGTEK 3D product,
it may be time to switch up to AGTEK's
Earthwork 4D or, in
the meantime, you might consider purchasing a stand-alone GIS/CAD data converter such
as Blue Marble Geographics'
Global Mapper ($499).
Point Cloud File Viewers
The latest AGTEK 4D earthwork products can import point cloud files from LiDAR and
photogrammetric surveys but you can use a free point cloud viewer to make a quick
preview: Options include Applied Imagery's Quick Terrain Reader,
Carlson's Precision 3D
LandXML/Point Cloud Viewer (as the name implies, this one doubles as a LandXML file viewer) and the web-based
Potree viewer (this LINZ tutorial covers use of the Potree viewer with LiDAR data sourced via OpenTopography).
Autodesk created and popularized the DWF (Design Web Format) file for secure electronic
distribution of CAD data. Essentially, a DWF file contains dumbed-down vector
data that is great for viewing and plotting but is of no direct value to an AGTEK user
for earthwork modeling and takeoff applications. If you receive a DWF file and a corresponding
DWG/DXF file is absolutely unavailable, one option (other than manually digitizing
the data from a scaled paper plot) is to perform a DWF-to-DWG conversion using a third-party
utility such as
Any DWF to DWG Converter ($118, stand alone),
DWF to DWG Importer Pro ($180, stand alone), or
Print2CAD AI ($259, stand alone). DWF-to-DWG is best, but another option is to convert the DWF
file to a vector PDF (see below).
Although AGTEK software cannot import a DWF file directly, a work-around is to convert
the DWF file to a PDF file. AGTEK's
and Sitework 4D products
include the ability to import and process PDF files, and this PDF functionality was also
available as an add-on purchase for AGTEK's retired
3D software. A DWF-to-PDF conversion can be made by printing the DWF file to
vector PDF using Design Review (see
Free CAD File
Utilities above) or TurboCAD Deluxe/AutoCAD LT (see
Low-Cost CAD Programs
above). In the PDF print/plot setup dialog, be sure to specify an appropriate scale and
paper size (use the scale/paper size matching the paper plan sheet or referenced in
the DWF file's title block/graphic scale).
TurboCAD and AutoCAD LT include built-in PDF export options but you can also use these
programs with a third-party print-to-PDF application (see
Printing to PDF Files
above). Or use a stand-alone CAD-to-PDF conversion utility such as
DWG to PDF Converter MX ($100, works with DWF as well as DWG/DXF).
Regardless of how you actually convert from DWF, import and process the resulting vector PDF in AGTEK per the instructions included in recent versions of Earthwork Software
Day 2 Seminar
Vector PDF-to-CAD Conversions
If your particular AGTEK software does not import PDF files (AGTEK's
3D and Earthwork/Gradework 4D
products include the ability to import and process PDF/JPG/TIF/PNG/GIF/BMP files), your
best bet was to purchase AGTEK's flexible and highly-functional
PDF Utility (previously available for AGTEK's retired
3D products) which provided direct extraction and transfer of vector data from PDF
files (and also provided manual digitizing and raster-to-vector conversion options for
raster plan images in PDF/JPG/TIF/PNG/GIF/BMP files). AGTEK 3D users can
still purchase third-party software such as BackToCAD Technologies'
Print2CAD AI ($259)--the resulting layered DXF/DWG file can then be imported by
your AGTEK 3D software. For raster PDF files, see raster-to-vector conversions below.
If you receive a raster PDF (or a JPG/BMP/TIF/PNG/GIF) plan file and a vector PDF
(or DWG/DXF/DGN) plan file is absolutely unavailable, your best bet is to use AGTEK's
PDF Utility (see previous
paragraph above) which enables manual digitizing directly from the raster
plan image in AGTEK. Without the AGTEK PDF Utility, less convenient options include:
(1) print the raster plan image to paper, determine the scale, and manually digitize
it or (2) try to convert the raster plan data to vector format (see next paragraph)
and then import the resulting line work into AGTEK. Neither of these less-convenient
options is appealing, but manual digitizing from paper is usually the more practical
choice (assuming your AGTEK software includes that option). Also, keep in mind that the result may be good enough for a quantity takeoff
but it will lack the accuracy needed for most staking or machine control applications.
Many automated raster-to-vector conversion programs will not produce good results when
existing and design line work are represented on the same plan image (e.g., inappropriately connected line work requiring lots of manual cleanup) but newer conversion products such as
Print2CAD AI ($259, stand alone) promise better results and may be worth a try. For those who do not want to perform
raster-to-vector conversions on their own, conversion service bureaus are also available,
Conversion Services, and others.
USGS Digital Topo Data Conversions
The U. S. Geological Survey (USGS) distributes (free) numerous elevation and map
data sets via its
National Map Viewer. USGS data can be useful for
preliminary site analysis
and planning but the resulting elevation data is not directly importable by AGTEK;
however, third-party GIS applications such as Blue Marble Geographics'
Global Mapper ($499) can be used to convert USGS data. Older USGS elevation
formats include Digital Elevation Models (a DEM
file represents a 3D-grid surface) and Digital Line Graphs (a DLG file includes 3D elevation
contours); if you need to import these older DEM/DLG data into AGTEK,
you will need to convert the data to a compatible format using a third-party utility
such as those listed below:
DEM files can be converted to DXF contours using
DEM2DXF; DEM files can be converted to 3D point (x,y,z) files using
MICRODEM (free, more info
here); and DLG files can be converted to DXF files using
dlgv32 Pro/Global Mapper (free limited-function trial, and $499 full-function versions
of the same program) or
DLGX133 (free, download the dlglx133.exe file).
Using Autonomous GPS Data With AGTEK
AGTEK users have plenty of options for collecting and leveraging high-precision
RTK GPS data, including AGTEK's new SmartGrade
products, and the older Grade Pilot and
products. But what about AGTEK users wanting to collect and use low-precision
Autonomous GPS data in their AGTEK site analysis applications? Users of AGTEK's
Earthwork 4D software should definitely take a look at AGTEK's impressive
SmartDirt mobile app.
The SmartPlan app is tied to AGTEK's Earthwork 4D platform and it is not compatible
with AGTEK's retired 3D products; however, other (sub-optimal) alternatives can
be found if you are not a 4D user. The
($395) program allows field data collected with cheap,
hand-held Autonomous (low-precision) GPS receivers to be merged with an active CAD
drawing file (GPS2CAD is compatible with AutoCAD, TurboCAD, and DoubleCAD). GPS2CAD
functions include coordinate translations, import/export options, and the ability to
align and overlay GPS data with free site images (maps and aerial photos) from Google
Earth and TerraServer. TopoGrafix's
Pro ($250) can produce similar results but it lacks GPS2CAD's direct CAD interface
(but ExpertGPS data can still be transferred to CAD via exported DXF files). Autonomous
GPS data processed with GPS2CAD or ExpertGPS Pro and exported to DXF can then be imported
and used with AGTEK's older 3D software.
GTCO Roll-Up Digitizer Driver/Setup Utility and Setup Instructions
Most AGTEK users no longer digitize from paper plans but
click here if you're in need of the latest driver and TabletWorks setup utility
for your GTCO Roll-Up digitizing tablet. GTCO TabletWorks setup instructions can be found
in “Section 1” of AGTEK's 3D product user’s manual (4D users should refer to "Section
6" of the Earthwork 4D user's manual).
Click here for a PDF document with instructions on disabling/re-enabling GTCO's
TabletWorks digitizer driver (only if the GTCO driver is conflicting with other software
installed on your computer).
VMware Workstation is a third-party product that might be used to run AGTEK's
legacy Earthwork 3D or even older DOS-based products (Sitework 98, SitePlan 98, Materials
2000) on newer computers running incompatible versions of Windows without the need for a
dual boot configuration. If you're thinking of trying this, be advised
that AGTEK Support WILL NOT provide advice or troubleshooting with
this non-standard installation.
File Compression and Extraction Utilities
A file compression/extraction utility is handy to have when you need to transfer
large files by email or if you receive compressed CAD files that are not self-extracting.
WinZip® ($30) is a well-known zip utility with a free 21-day evaluation option
(for a PDF file with step-by-step WinZip installation and usage instructions,
click here). Try
(free) if you don't want to drop $30 for WinZip. You might also consider using
online services such as
for a convenient way to transfer/share large files.
[Note: Although Windows (XP/Vista/7/8/10) includes simple file compression/extraction
functions (accessible through the Windows Explorer interface), WinZip and 7-Zip support
a wider range of compressed file formats and provide more flexible functionality.]
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