January 04, 2018

New ArcGIS for AutoCAD 370 Available for Download


Happy New Year.   I am happy to share this with you after my recent vacation.  I would also like to thank the YouTube community for helping me fix my furnace myself over Christmas.  In some small way I hope to help some of you with a YouTube offering of my own that I hope you find useful.
A new version of ArcGIS for AutoCAD 370 is now available for free download.  This popular Esri application is linking AutoCAD users with the ArcGIS platform to provide self-service mapping to AutoCAD users through ArcGIS web services and allows AutoCAD users to create and edit ArcGIS GIS data sets within AutoCAD drawing files.  This incremental release includes support for 64bit AutoCAD versions 2015-2018 and some important bug fixes.
For more information see this Esri Blog post.
Take a look at my YouTube video on what’s New in ArcGIS for AutoCAD 370
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May 26, 2017

ArcGIS for AutoCAD 365 Now Available



A new version of ArcGIS for AutoCAD 365 is now available for free download. I think this release is a very important one, the new block attribute behavior and text linking especially paired with the updated bonus tools for labeling will be an important and useful improvement. These new behaviors will not only help when annotating your drawings but also provides some powerful new options for editing. And lets face it, it takes some of the clunkyness out of working with AutoCAD blocks with attributes in ArcGIS for AutoCAD.
For more information see the Esri blog post.
And, or my YouTube Playlist on what’s New in ArcGIS for AutoCAD 365.

October 18, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD 355 Now Available

A welcome interruption to the current blog series on the five uses of ArcGIS for AutoCAD, is this reminder that the new shiny version ArcGIS for AutoCAD 355 is now available for download on Esri.com.

Esri is increasing the pace of releases of ArcGIS for AutoCAD. This is one of those incremental releases. Be sure to download the newest version of ArcGIS for AutoCAD 355 now, which is available here.

This new release includes updated support for AutoCAD versions 2013-2017 in nine different languages. New in this release is a command to generate local feature classes from all the populated layers in your drawing. This new command is good for creating new local feature classes from well-structured drawings that you intend to share with ArcGIS desktop users, or that you want to add tabular attributes to within AutoCAD.

This important release fixes a bug when connecting to secure services on ArcGIS 10.3.x and higher servers. This release will also warn you when you connect to feature services on 10.3.1 servers containing unsupported date fields. (This issue with feature service date fields in ArcGIS Server was fixed in ArcGIS Server 10.4), but in case you are using 10.3.1 servers with ArcGIS for AutoCAD you will be warned that you cannot synchronize services when a date field is present in feature services on those servers. Check out this brief video for an overview of what’s new in ArcGIS for AutoCAD 355.

September 23, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #3 Creating ArcGIS Data

I have a number of saws in my garage to cut wood and other materials.  The chop saw is great for precisely cutting 2x4’s and other slender stock to length.  If the stock is not too long I can perform the same task and even more precisely using my table saw.  Which one is better?  Well… depends on what I am cutting and which one is plugged in.  The chop saw is a little louder, but its really easy to operate, the table saw is more refined, but in my garage at least I have to unfold it and plug it in, and then make some adjustments to get it all squared up.  My chop saw is always ready to go… for most cases I just chop.
Sometimes I want to use AutoCAD to create ArcGIS data, it might be because I have AutoCAD work flows that help me create data, such as AutoCAD-based survey data collection.  Or, I may just find I am more productive generating spatial data from scratch using AutoCAD.   Creating attributed ArcGIS data using AutoCAD is one of the primary uses for ArcGIS for AutoCAD.  I can use the free plug-in and plain AutoCAD to create a georeferenced, attributed geodatabase feature classes within my AutoCAD DWG file.   ArcGIS desktop (ArcMap/ArcGIS Pro) can directly open my AutoCAD drawing file created with ArcGIS for AutoCAD and use it in a map or in ArcGIS geoprocessing tools, and geoprocessing models like any other native GIS data sets to migrate the data or use it in analysis directly.
In the past I might have had to figuring out some way to attach data to AutoCAD entities or export a Shapefile, or some other intermediate file from AutoCAD if I could figure out how to attach my GIS attributes in some way in AutoCAD that I could use in ArcGIS later?  ArcGIS for AutoCAD allows me to store field-typed tabular attributes on simple AutoCAD entities like splines, curves, lines, points, blocks and 3D faces.  The application helps me organize my drawing according to my existing CAD standards while also making it understandable as ArcGIS data for desktop users.   And that is one of the real powers of the application.  I don’t create a different kind of AutoCAD object, but rather I just teach the drawing which entities in my drawing I want to be understood as ArcGIS objects, like a filter.

This video from the Esri training series outlines how I can use ArcGIS for AutoCAD to easily do this.

August 16, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #2 Exported GIS Data

It is always nice to find something useful I own that I didn’t know I had.  I might wish I had found it sooner, but it is always good when it happens.  ...The pristine hardwood floors you find under that old carpet you’re replacing, or the twenty dollar bill in your suit coat from your last business trip, or the other half of your sandwich you thought you’d already eaten!

When I share ArcGIS data with an AutoCAD user, I want them to not only see the vector geometry but the attributes too.  I hope it is not a surprise, but the second most common use of ArcGIS for AutoCAD is the ability for AutoCAD users to see the smart drawings that ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro create whenever they export AutoCAD DWG files with the EXPORT TO CAD tool.  The default behavior of the EXPORT TO CAD geoprocessing tool in ArcGIS desktop for the last decade or so has been to create smart DWG files that contain a coordinate system and attributed feature classes inside the file. Any AutoCAD users can see and use this ArcGIS data if they have the free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plug-in.   If they don’t have ArcGIS for AutoCAD they will just see the simple AutoCAD entities without their smart attributes and data organization.  It is because of this that I often say that exchanging shapefiles is an outdated method of exchanging data between ArcGIS and AutoCAD.  The combination of ArcGIS for AutoCAD and ArcMap, or ArcGIS Pro means you can use the DWG file itself as an exchange format for ArcGIS data.

August 03, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #1 Self Service Mapping

I have been enjoying my summer this year paddling around with the family in some craigslist kayaks.  We have a double kayak and two singles.  I can easily park my car near the shore and carry the single kayaks to the water myself.  The double kayak really takes two adults to manage on top of the car.  Just a little too heavy and a little too long to manage myself.  When it is just me and my younger daughter we use the two singles,  I also have a small sailboat that I can launch myself, but with the use of a trailer, which requires a boat ramp to get me to where I need to use it… the water.

ArcGIS for AutoCAD is the free Esri’s plug-in AutoCAD that is used by many, to do five essential things: Self-Service Mapping, Creating GIS data for the GIS system using AutoCAD, Editing Geodatabases using AutoCAD, Repurposing AutoCAD construction and design drawings as GIS content, and Reading attributed ArcGIS data in DWG files exported from ArcGIS. 

I use the term Self Service Mapping, to describe my ability in AutoCAD to access ArcGIS content and capabilities that are available to me through ArcGIS Web Services.  Instead of making a request to my ArcGIS colleagues to Export the land base, or the existing sewer network so I can use it for my project, I can use the existing ArcGIS services already available to my organization and pull that data myself.  I don’t have to wait for the GIS group to fulfill my request, and I can browse for just what I want when I want it, and even more importantly where I want it, in AutoCAD.  The same image services, map services and feature services being published by the GIS group are accessible by me with my free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plug-in.

Once I connect to my ArcGIS server, I can browse to the services that are available to me on that server and add them to my drawing.  I can get access to smart maps and imagery, georeferenced in my drawing or pull ArcGIS feature into my drawing from feature services.  (I can even edit those features:  I’ll talk more about that in another post.)  I can also access the Esri world geolocation service to navigate my AutoCAD drawing by address or place name.  I use this to help me zoom to a project location, when I know the cross streets, place name or street address.

The GIS group is taxed with more work to fulfill my information requests and I don’t have to wait for them to give me the data I need.  I can also use ArcGIS online hunt for servers that contain freely available data that my organization doesn’t have but that I need for my project.

This Self-Service Mapping is used by most everyone in ArcGIS for AutoCAD to save time and effort, when they, like me, need to access ArcGIS information to get their work done in AutoCAD.  My choice of recreational boats for now is limited to budget and my ability to get on the water.  I need the boats in the place where I can use them, in the case of my sailboat and kayaks that place is the water (not my garage).  My rooftop kayak racks, and my sailboat trailer “Serve” me well.  In the case of my project and design work in AutoCAD, I can get my ArcGIS information into AutoCAD served out from my, or other people’s ArcGIS Server Web Services.

November 19, 2015

Esri Maps Button Back To Normal

Early this month their was a short disruption in access to the Esri Maps button in ArcGIS for AutoCAD.  The issue was resolved. As a reminder however it is good to know that you can also connect to those Esri maps by making a connection via the Add Service dialog box to the ArcGIS Online server http://services.arcgisonline.com/arcgis/services).  There are other useful maps on that server more than just the 9 listed in the Esri Map gallery. The esri_addmapservicebyURL command and the AutoLISP (esri_map_add) function are useful alternatives.
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