I suspect more than a few are wondering about the status of this right now. I've been asked on several occasions, when the next version will be released. I'm hoping this post will shed a little light on the current status and give everyone a better idea of what to expect and when.
Note: Some content will be paraphrased from past conversations in context.
Why the Delay?
There were several reasons, but I'll highlight the biggest contributors here:
ASE's more advanced user interface elements, which were created several years ago, were compiled using an older version of Microsoft's Visual Studio. That development system ran on a different Microsoft.net Core platform.
When updating these dialogs to build on the newer 64-bit Windows operating system, numerous errors emerged that caused all of the dialogs to fail!
New Autodesk 3-Year Support Range Restrictions
This support range limitation also coincidentally affects add-ons developed in .NET. The end of one range requires a new version of .NET for the next 3 years. This adds more complexity to ASE if we are to continue to service a wide range of Civil 3D versions as before. ASE has historically transcended Autodesk support boundaries. (See ref.)
Growth & Change
Early in the development of ASE Civil, only AutoLisp was used. One of the many great aspects of that language is the wide range of version compatibility. Simple is good, yes. But complexity creates versatility. Growth is necessary.
+ More Robust Technology
As ASE Civil matured, Microsoft .NET was implemented to extend its capabilities. You can see examples of this technology in use when you call dialogs like the ASE Surface Name Mgr., ASE's Corridor Modeling dialog and others.
Unfortunately, after a few years of reliable service, .NET-based compatibility barriers have created serious road-blocks. Now additional, unplanned development is required to restructure ASE to accommodate both sides of the support barrier.
Restructuring for Optimization
A late-stage decision was made to modify ASE's architecture. This would be for the purpose of significantly reducing startup-time by only loading the subsystems required for the current activity. This is also known as demand-loading.
About the "Startup Time Bottleneck"
One of the reasons ASE takes so long to get ready is because at the beginning of each editing session the entire application is loaded, including:
Everything else in the program
Even if you just wanted to set a single Design Marker, the whole Sheet Views, Basins and all the other subsystems are loaded and ready as well, despite not being able to use most of them anyway.
Modular Loading Solution
ASE's current architecture is wasting resources and making clients wait unnecessarily. Now I realize what's been causing the loading bottleneck all this time. As a result a fresh, new, modular, demand-based loading architecture has been developed to permanently resolve this problem in all releases and service packs moving forward.
For the sake of keeping our currently-published version of ASE Civil in the best possible condition until its replacement is ready, I've decided to divert some development resources towards the task of reconditioning ASE Civil 17. This effort will help to relieve some of the day-to-day frustrations that may be encountered in the active version and restore some lost functionality.
A focused portion of this time will be spent fixing user interface issues, like missing icons, missing tabs, panels & commands. New tabs, panels and commands will be added to provide access to sub-systems previously only available in the pop menu or commands that were altogether inaccessible or unpublished, but present all the while.
The list is long, however the one which many have expressed displeasure about losing was the vertical control "Productivity" option that automatically creates a new Flow Label on new Constraints. This will be the first item on the list to be repaired.
ASE Civil 17 Service Packs
Expect to see the first of a series of service packs available on the website on or before May 11, 2021.