The recent announcement of partnership between Esri and Autodesk promises useful possibilities moving forward. Starting from practical product perspective, we can take a lesson from the existing pattern of Esri’s ArcGIS for AutoCAD that provides ArcGIS interoperability with Autodesk’s AutoCAD. It … Continue reading
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
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.