One of the most entertaining features for me in Civil 3D are certainly Data Shortcuts. I like the fact that they are very useful, but because they can be easily broken if not played with properly, they are fun to troubleshoot. This may sound strange, but I find it cool and challenging to look for what may be broken. Data shortcuts are, as the name suggests just shortcuts to the object residing inside of other drawings. This is where similarity with XREFs stops, so don’t expect them to behave like XREFs. They may be other similar things but I would stop here.
Data shortcuts, unlike full blown XREF, which links the drawing with another drawing, could pick one or more objects from other drawings and allow you to insert them into your main drawing utilizing different styles. One thing that’s often a misconception is (and believe me I have seen my share of questions about it) that once they are in the main drawing they can be manipulated as they were part of the drawing. NO - These are references from other objects residing inside of other drawings. If you were to open a data shortcut XML file, you would see that there are only a few lines in it basically stating little more about object and the drawings from which they are created from.
When sending your drawing to your contractor, even though you see the objects in your drawing, you need to send them all drawings from which the objects are created, because…those are references from other objects residing inside of other drawings. If you don’t send the entire dataset they may see whole bunch of messages suggesting broken references, because the drawings were not sent and program does not know what to display. It’s like sending a letter (are people still sending letters?) with an envelope only. See my point there?
One other situation that may be tricky when dealing with Data references (Shortcuts) which is when the drawing opens slower than it should and when you see something like this in the command line: “Drawing cannot locate the project (TEST-C3A661A3-62AE-431a-ACF9-6ACB36792275)”. This may also happen if switching between drawings. Typically this would happen if you have received your drawing from others. The reason it opens that file slowly depends on number of shortcuts and location of them, because program in vain is trying to find files and references, which may take a little while knowing it will never be able to find it.
So let’s go back trying to dissect the message to get to the point. The part “Drawing cannot locate the project” suggests that there is something wrong with Project location. Projects in Civil 3D world (ignoring Vault here) has something to do with Data Shortcuts. The “TEST” part looks like the name of my project. So, now we are getting closer. If we look at the ShortcutHistory.XML file we may find the cause - project association. The project ID (C3A661A3-62AE-431a-ACF9-6ACB36792275) does not match, which indicates that the drawing must be associated with some other Project. I agree that the message could be more descriptive but at least it does give some clues where to look (if looked patiently and carefully, off course).
So to resolve this issue we need to disassociate this drawing form a project that does not exist on our system. To do that, please go to Data Shortcuts node in Prospector, right-click on it and choose Associate Project to Current Drawing. Then select <none> and you are all set to go.