Importing CAD data in ArcGIS Desktop 10

In ArcGIS Desktop 10 you can now import CAD data directly from ArcMap. Best practice CAD conversion tools can be opened directly from the shortcut menu when you right click a CAD feature layer in the table of contents.  These tools open already populated with the selected input feature layer and output to your default geodatabase. Clicking OK runs the tool and adds the output to your map.

  • Convert CAD Feature Layer opens the Copy Features tool.
  • Convert CAD Feature Dataset opens the CAD To Geodatabase tool.
  • Convert to Geodatabase Annotation opens the Import CAD Annotation tool.

CAD To Geodatabase

The shortcut menu includes a new tool for importing CAD datasets. The CAD To Geodatabase tool imports all feature classes contained in the CAD dataset for the selected feature layer and converts it to a geodatabase dataset. Processing includes the dataset’s annotation using preset parameters.

Using this tool, you can also add multiple CAD datasets as input including mixed DWG and DGN formats. When you import more than one CAD dataset, the tool merges duplicate feature class types and their attributes, and applies the first coordinate system in the list to the new dataset. This tool replaces the Import From CAD tool.


ArcGIS Desktop 10 simplifies importing CAD data. The new shortcut menu provides easy access to best practice CAD conversion tools without having to know them by name. You simply click on the task you need to perform and the right tool opens ready to run. The new tool CAD to Geodatabase simplifies converting entire CAD datasets by incorporating several best practice tools into one easy tool.

Contributed by Alex LeReaux of the CAD development team

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  1. damacylo says:

    We can improve the helps sites adding video links, for better explanation