Leica Captivate Tools for Easier and Efficient Fieldwork

When talking to Leica Captivate users like you, we sometimes find there are tools available in the surveying field software that can make your work much easier, if only you knew about them. To remedy that, we will introduce some tools that you may not have been aware of, but that could be very useful to your work, speeding up survey and stakeout tasks and enhancing productivity.

Creating multiple lines automatically

The Multiple offset lines tool available in the Coding page of the Measure app can be very useful when measuring lines, such as the back of the curb for roads. If you have several lines running parallel to the curb, such as the edge of road or gutter line, the tool allows you to draw these lines parallel by measuring along just one line and entering horizontal and vertical offsets.

multiple offset lines


Working in the 3D viewer

There are also many tools that can be accessed directly from the 3D Viewer, like the tools shown in the screenshot below. One of these tools creates significant time savings by allowing you to calculate and store a square or rectangle in Captivate from two measured points instead of four.  

To use this tool, measure two points, select them and then tap and hold in the 3D viewer. The context menu opens and in the COGO option you can select to calculate a rectangle or a square with those two points making up the base or diagonal of the square. Enter the needed information and you instantly create a closed line without having to walk the entire distance.

While we’re on the subject of closed lines - when measuring points and creating lines, it can be useful to know the centre point of a closed line if, for instance, it needs to be staked out. With Captivate it is possible to select a circular, triangle or quadrangle closed line in the 3D Viewer or the Measure app and calculate the centre point using an option from the context menu.

When showing the results for the centre point, the height value is calculated as an average from the original line. This height value can be edited if a different value is needed. It is also possible to assign a code to the centre point and select which job to store it to, making it very easy to calculate and store a centre point directly in the field.

Our final tool tip for the 3D Viewer describes how to add a point to the start or end of a line. When using the Coding & Linework functionality, lines are created automatically as you measure points. However, sometimes a point that was measured separately needs to be added to an existing line later. In the context menu of the 3D Viewer, there is a tool that allows this. Select the point and the line you want to add it to, press and hold to open the menu, and then choose to add the point to either the start or the end of the line. This way you can add a point without having to access the data management, making the process simpler and faster.


rec square from context menu


Importing and exporting data

When working with Captivate, data is the focus, and you probably import and export data daily. We have two tips for you to make this process easier.

Tip one is for easily importing design data from Autodesk into Captivate. Since 2019, the Autodesk platform allows users to export Leica Field Projects, which are zipped files containing an XML file with a list of points and your design file (DWG, DXF or IFC) created in Autodesk. 

For use in Captivate, copy the file to the SD card and then select to import. Attach or import the data to an existing job or choose to create a new job while importing the Autodesk point layout project. This makes the data exchange between Autodesk design software and Captivate much easier and less prone to error.


autodesk import


Our tip for exporting can be used in the Stake points app. Staking out creates results directly in the field, where you may need to provide an immediate report. This information often requires different formatting and varying content from the same job. While the job can contain a mixture of data, such as measured, control or staked, only the stakeout data would be relevant for such a report. 

The tool called Export cut sheet can be accessed directly from the tools menu in the Stake points app. Select a name, delimiter and whether you want to include headers and then select the content for your report. Several such definitions can be stored and re-used as needed. 

The cut sheet export also allows filtering the content to be included in the files, such as by a range of point IDs or by a time frame. For example, the time frame option allows you to define only the data for the last few hours of work to be included in the export.  


cut sheet


Making stakeout easier

Continuing our discussion of the Stake points app, let’s talk about a tool that allows creating a stakeout list. For jobs with many points, it can be difficult to focus and keep track of the points that still need to be staked out and what is already done. 

In the Captivate Stake points app, you can easily create a list of points to stake and configure it to only show you the points from that list that have not been staked. You can even use this list to define the order in which the points to stake are selected in the app.

To use the tool in the app, press Fn+F5 (Filter) to access the filter setting. The Multiple point ID ranges filter allows entering single point IDs, point ID ranges and a combination of both, separated by a comma. Make sure to set your Sort by option to show Filter definition if you would like the order given in this field to be used as the stakeout order.


stakeout list


Press the F5(Stake) button to define whether to see all points from the filtered list or only the ones that are still to be staked out. This enables an easy way to define the order of stakeout tasks for a field crew to optimize their workload and makes it easier to focus on the remaining points to work with. 

Continuing the topic of staking out, when staking a road alignment, there may be single points in the blueprint (design) that do not belong to the alignment. For instance, a fire hydrant in the blueprint with a location given by a chainage and offset. This point can be created and staked directly in the Stake road app without knowledge of the point coordinates. 

With the Captivate COGO Road tool, the Create single point method allows you to create a point from the chainage and offset information. This point can then be stored and staked out directly from within the Stake road app. 


point from offset and chainage


Naming your job

Our next tip is for a tool that seems small but can be a significant time-saver. When creating a new job or establishing a new setup, date and time are often used as the job name or setup point ID. Typing these manually into the job name or station ID fields is tedious, especially if you need to do this more than once a day.

In Captivate, the F3 (Date time) button allows populating the job name or setup point ID field with the current date and time automatically. The format used for the date and time entry is taken from the configuration in the Regional settings panel. This allows for faster job creation and saves time when doing multiple setup changes during the day. 


date and time button


Using the CS20 controller’s built-in Disto

For something completely different, let’s look at a tool that combines hardware and software and is used with Leica CS20 Controllers that have a Disto built in. In Captivate it is possible to measure distances using the built-in Disto in all apps. The distance measured by the Disto can appear in any input field used in any app.

Many workflows can benefit from Disto measurements. For example, Disto measurements can be used as inputs for COGO calculations or for measuring offsets. They can also be used in text input fields, for instance to fill attribute values. In the screenshot below, both the Horizontal distance and Offset fields have been automatically filled with a distance measured by the internal Disto. It’s as easy as pointing and pressing a button.




To trigger the Disto measurement, you will need to configure a hotkey. Then, when you highlight a data input field and press the hotkey, a Disto measurement will be made, and the resulting distance written into the highlighted field. This is a great tool, which can be a valuable time saver.

We strive to help you get the most out of your Leica Captivate software and streamline your onsite tasks with efficiency-enhancing tools, and that is why we are consistently adding resources: For example, you can deepen your knowledge of the software with our Captivate courses on the online learning platform.

Elke Hacker,
Senior Product Manager

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