Tag Archives: ArcGIS for AutoCAD
A new update for ArcGIS for AutoCAD 300 is now available. ArcGIS for AutoCAD 300 SP1 adds support for AutoCAD 2013 and includes enhancements and bug fixes.
For those of you who work with feature data in both AutoCAD and ArcGIS applications, check out the latest installment of the no-cost plug-in ArcGIS for AutoCAD. The CAD team added support for ArcGIS image and feature services. This release also delivers a long requested enhancement to be able to edit and extract geodatabase features from within an AutoCAD session. Continue reading
An ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 250 patch for 64-bit platforms has been released. This patch enables 64-bit AutoCAD applications to edit feature class attributes using the AutoCAD properties palette.
We recommend that all ArcGIS for AutoCAD 64-bit users install the patch at your earliest opportunity.
If you are running a 32-bit installation of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2010 on a 64-bit Windows operation system, reference Knowledge Base article 38453.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 250 was released this week, and is now available for download. It can be installed on 32-bit or 64-bit versions of the following AutoCAD-based products by Autodesk:
- AutoCAD 2010/2011
- AutoCAD Map 3D 2010/2011
- AutoCAD Civil 3D 210/2011
For a complete list of requirements, see System Requirements.
There is a new template in the template gallery showing how to use ArcGIS for AutoCAD at a water utility to engageAutoCAD users in GIS data updates.
You can download the template here:
And you can download ArcGIS for AutoCAD here:
How can you benefit from ArcGIS for AutoCAD at a water or wastewater utility?
ArcGIS for AutoCAD helps you solve 2 common problems. The first is sharing GIS content with CAD users quickly without data duplication and wasting disk space. The second is engaging CAD users in your data GIS data updates. The template you can download shows you how to solve the 2nd problem.
Sharing GIS Data with CAD users
Because CAD and GIS are different tools intended for different purposes – GIS to manage, analyze and share spatial data and CAD to create designs for construction plans, they store data differently. To maximize their benefit from GIS, most utilities centralize their data into a single multiuser geodatabase that is then shared among different departments. A centralized geodatabase costs less to maintain, breaks down departmental information silos and help everyone collaborate at utilities. The data in the centralized geodatabase can then be published out to users via a web map, a mobile application and also integrated in with other utility systems such as workorder, SCADA, billing or CIS.
For many utilities, design in CAD starts with data from GIS. A typical workflow for starting a design project would be to export planimetric data (edge of pavement, building footprints, etc), cadastral data (parcel boundaries, ownership information), topography (contours, streams, etc) and utility network data (pipes, valves, manholes, hydrants) from GIS to CAD. To export the GIS data to CAD (either DGN or DWG) geoprocessing tools are used to create the new CAD file with the utility’s CAD standards. Some of the data exported from GIS will be used as background layers in the CAD file while some of the data will be used as starting point for the utility design. Also aerial photos, quad sheets, etc from the GIS may be copied over as image files for use as background data for design. If a utility doesn’t do their own design work they could provide the exported GIS files and imagery to their consulting engineers.
So for each design project a utility undertakes, DWGs or DGNs exported from GIS and file based aerial photography may be stored in the directory for the design. Very quickly you may have many data snapshots exported from GIS and the same aerial photos duplicated many times to be used in multiple design projects over time. So this type of workflow will begin to use up a lot of storage space (especially if designers are using aerial photos) and also is creating a file management headache.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD solves this problem by allowing you to serve maps from ArcGIS Server to your CAD users and eliminating much of the file exporting and data duplication; more efficiently providing data for designers and saving disk storage space. In more technical terms, AutoCAD would be consuming map services from ArcGIS. So for example, you could publish a map to ArcGIS Server that has your parcels, road edge of pavement and building footprints symbolized to mimic your CAD standards and every time you need to show parcels, edge of pavement & building footprints in a design just use the map service with ArcGIS for AutoCAD. The same goes for aerial photos (or another good option is to use ArcGIS Image Server to serve aerial photos up to AutoCAD & Microstation).
Another benefit of using ArcGIS for AutoCAD is that ArcGIS Server is doing the work of generating the map services that AutoCAD consumes, labels can be dynamically created by ArcGIS Server using the GIS labeling engine. As some of you may have experienced, exporting dynamically drawn labels from GIS to a DWG is a multistep process. So for example, ArcGIS for AutoCAD can consume a map service that is creating road and parcel labels on the fly.
Engaging AutoCAD users in GIS data updates
The other benefit of ArcGIS for AutoCAD I wanted to highlight is getting the appropriate data from your designs from CAD into ArcGIS. This is what the downloadable template illustrates. We already explored how design begins with GIS, now let’s explore how it ends with GIS, meaning that when the design is finished you want to get data back into GIS because that is the system of record for most utilities to store their asset data.
So if you are using ArcGIS for AutoCAD to organize your CAD data into attributed feature classes and configured for your utility’s CAD standards & GIS data model than bringing data design data in a DWG will be much easier.
For example, after you’ve created a design for a new sewer main extension, you now need to get the new proposed main features and attributes (material, diameter, etc) back into your GIS and in your proposed features dataset. With the criteria for feature classes configured in your AutoCAD files, you can just open the DWG in ArcMap and then us a geoprocessing tool to append the new main into your geodatabase. In ArcMap the new sewer main looks and acts like a feature class in GIS because of the configuration file that bridges your GIS data model and CAD standards. So for the designer the workflow is to draft the new main on the correct level and populate the correct entity information for the new main (diameter, material, etc).
Really, the idea behind ArcGIS for AutoCAD is make it easier for CAD designers to access data from ArcGIS and more easily pass data back to a utility’s enterprise GIS, yielding a much smoother workflow in a mixed GIS & CAD environment
So, give the ArcGIS for AutoCAD template a try and let us know what you think.
In the last post I walked you through how ArcView 9.3.1 Export-to-CAD automatically stores feature class information in an AutoCAD DWG file. A natural extension of this functionality is to use it to leverage existing ESRI data models to create template AutoCAD drawings.
A sample DWG template of the Water Utility Data Model has been created using Export-to-CAD and posted on the Water Utilities Template Gallery. To go to the Template Gallery click here.
If you’ve ever tried to use AutoCAD xdata to store feature attributes in a DWG file you might be interested to know about the enhancements made to the Export-to-CAD tool in 9.3. In ArcGIS 9.3 storing GIS information in an AutoCAD drawing and the ability to read this data in ArcGIS Desktop is now automated.
For each feature class used as input, the Export-to-CAD tool will automatically:
- Embed the feature class definition as a non-graphic entry in the DWG file.
- Create a layer with a name that matches the feature class name.
- Write the features to the matching CAD layer name.
- Attach the corresponding ArcGIS feature attributes to each CAD entity.
- And embed the coordinate system information as a non-graphic entry in the DWG file.
Both ArcGIS 9.3 and ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 200 read and write this data out of the box. This makes round-trip data exchanges between ArcGIS Desktop and AutoCAD a straightforward and uncomplicated task.
Behind the scenes
Behind the scenes the information is stored as AutoCAD xrecords and organized into a framework of AutoCAD object dictionaries that is defined by the ESRI “Mapping Specification for CAD”. As a result, there is no longer a need to burden workflows with complex xdata tasks. This new format stores ArcGIS information in the drawing’s Named Object Dictionary similar to other native AutoCAD data tools such as Plot Styles or Groups. This means your GIS data will not interfere with standard AutoCAD entities or commands yet remain accessible to ArcGIS or ArcGIS for AutoCAD.
Using the Export-to-CAD Tool
If you have an ArcView license or higher, the Export-to-CAD tool can be found in the ArcToolbox under Conversion Tools > To CAD > Export to CAD
A simple use of the tool requires four steps (Figure 2). For simplicity this example does not use a seed file:
- Enter or drag-and-drop the input features into the dialog.
- Select the DWG output format.
- Verify or enter the output filename.
- Run the tool.
Viewing the results in the Catalog tree, the CAD dataset now includes an additional type of CAD feature class (Figure 3). In addition to the usual suspects, the dataset also contains uniquely named feature classes that correspond to the feature classes from the source geodatabase. For example Parcels.
The contents of these feature classes are derived from their default parent CAD feature classes, Point, Line, Polygon, etc. This means, as in previous releases of ArcGIS, the default feature classes continue to maintain all CAD entities organized by type but these new feature classes only contain the CAD entities that belong to a particular feature class. In ArcMap this gives you the option of working with all or subsets of CAD data. For common workflows this can save you time from having to build specialized query definitions to accomplish the same result.
Another important distinction between the two types of CAD feature classes is feature attributes. As in previous releases of ArcGIS, the default CAD feature classes continue to be absent of attribute data. However, these new feature classes contain the attribute data that was present in the feature attributes table at the time the data was exported.
If you add this CAD data in ArcMap and use the Identify tool and scroll to the bottom of the field list, notice the feature attributes that come across from the feature classes in the sample geodatabase Montgomery.gdb (Figure 4). In this example the feature belongs to the Parcels feature class. In addition to the CAD property fields, the feature attribute field PARCEL_ID has a value of 9956.
Beginning with ArcGIS 9.3, the Export-To-CAD tool now offers an alternative to using xdata or block inserts for storing GIS information. The benefit of this data persisting in an AutoCAD drawing is the ability to streamline workflows that routinely move data between AutoCAD and ArcGIS. Using ArcGIS for AutoCAD you can take this information and work with it, edit it, and add to it in a GIS context that mirrors your organization’s GIS data standards. This data can then be used as input to ArcGIS geoprocessing tools to update specific feature classes in your geodatabase – including attribute data.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 200 was released a few weeks ago. The free download introduces a new way for AutoCAD users to participate in ArcGIS workflows. In addition to accessing map services hosted on ArcGIS servers, AutoCAD users can now work with standard AutoCAD objects and attribute field values as feature classes. Here is a brief overview of what’s new and what you can do with the product.
Build 200 improves the performance of map services and extends support to include cached and password-protected maps. A new palette now functions as the main console for interacting with map services. The map service palette includes a toolbar for toggling between multiple maps in the same AutoCAD drawing.
The toolbar includes new interpretations of commands from Build 100 as well as a few new ones. It is now possible to disconnect a map service and convert it on-the-fly to a static raster image for working off-line or archiving purposes.
Also included is the ability to save and edit a list of favorite map services. The software ships with a preloaded list of ArcGIS Online maps available free to ArcGIS customers.
Projections and coordinate systems
The map service palette includes heads-up information about the coordinate systems you are working with. The coordinate system published with the map service and the coordinate system assigned to the AutoCAD drawing are displayed for easy reference.
AutoCAD users can also import coordinate systems from the library of ESRI .prj files that ship with the software. ArcGIS for AutoCAD will project map services on-the-fly. The only caveat is the hosting server must have a geometry service running and be accessible. As a measure of redundancy ArcGIS for AutoCAD will also look on the user’s local machine for an ArcGIS Server geometry service in the event one is not found on the host server.
Layer controls have also been added for maps services published with this capability.
Build 200 introduces a new way for AutoCAD users to author and exchange feature class information with ArcGIS. A dedicated palette functions as the main console for managing feature class definitions. The palette uses a toolbar for working with feature classes individually.
Also included is the ability to import entire feature class schema from another AutoCAD drawing. This can be useful for distributing standard schema to other users tasked with enabling feature classes in existing drawings. Another possible workflow is to use the Export-to-CAD tool in ArcGIS 9.3 (or higher) to export feature classes from an existing geodatabase to an AutoCAD drawing in order to save time and ensure fieldnames and data types conform to your GIS standards.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD feature classes are essentially standard AutoCAD objects and attributes. The Feature class palette simply provides an interface to specify the object types and properties that qualify as members of a particular feature class. AutoCAD users may recognize them for what they are: AutoCAD selections sets. ArcMap users will recognize them as Definition Queries. Developers may be surprised to discover that no custom object data are used to accomplish this: it’s really that simple.
The benefit to AutoCAD users is they can continue creating features as they always have using existing CAD standards. The objects will automatically participate in the feature layer as long as they reside on the layer, color or other combination of properties associated with the feature class. And this is completely configurable by the user.
The benefit to ArcGIS Desktop users is that ArcGIS 9.3 (or higher) reads them as named feature classes in the CAD dataset. Simply drag and drop them into a Geoprocessing tool such as Feature-Class-to-Feature Class and you have just seamlessly converted CAD data, including feature attributes, to a geodatabase without building a complex definition query.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD and the geoprocessing tool Export to CAD now attach feature attributes directly to the AutoCAD entity; more on this in another blog. This makes it possible for ArcGIS for AutoCAD to leverage the standard AutoCAD properties pane to view and edit these values. A GIS workflow that requires AutoCAD users to view and edit feature attributes is now identical to working with standard AutoCAD entities. Simply select the AutoCAD entity and edit the values. You can also populate multiple entities belonging to the same feature class with a common value by selecting more than one feature.
ArcGIS for AutoCAD is aimed at improving interoperability between ArcGIS and AutoCAD. Build 200 is an integrated toolset for referencing, authoring and exchanging GIS information between AutoCAD and ArcGIS. It is a better alternative to less-efficient methods of sharing data that use feature-based translation or conversion to a shape (SHP) file as an interim format.