Organizing CAD Data In ArcGIS: Part 7/7 Automated Sorting
I just got back from a trip to Albany/Schenectady New York. I would like to nominate The Pizza King of New York in Schenectady, NY as the best pizza I have ever had. The appetite I had from missing breakfast and the cold air, combined with some of the best pizza anywhere, resulting in a truly memorable culinary experience. When you walk into this whole-in-the-wall restaurant with its non-descript glass front you are suddenly struck with the magnificence of this functioning pizza museum. Every square inch of the preparation area, serving area and counter is covered with pizzas; a spectacular array of diverse pizza creations. There must have been fifty pizzas on displayed and ready to serve. Behind the counter was the Pizza King querying the patrons for their selections. Your chosen slices where cut from the pie and immediately transferred to the warming oven. By the time you were finished with ordering drinks and finishing the purchasing transaction, your warmed pizza was presented to you to enjoy. Like a well oiled machine the customers where served a great product with a smile, and in a timely fashion; true pizza precision!
Like different types of pizza at the Pizza King, the layers of a CAD file can be organized in ArcGIS as separate map layers from which you can take slices using various ArcGIS query and analysis tools. And, just like the Pizza King it is a good idea to automate your workflow and provide yourself easy access to those slices. In part 5 of this series I talked about breaking out different CAD layers as separate ArcGIS feature layers using a definition query. In part 6 I talked about saving these definitions into a separate ArcMap layer file. I have built two sample tools that can be found in a CAD Sample Toolbox that I created that can help you automate the process of sorting CAD files and defining layers or feature classes based on distinguishing CAD properties, such as CAD LAYER or COLOR or any supported CAD attribute.
The first tool is called SplitByColumn. The tool has general non-CAD-specific functionality to take any input feature layer including CAD feature layers and create new feature classes based on unique instances of values in a particular column. This is particularly helpful when you want to create a separate feature class for each CAD layer, or a separate feature class for each unique CAD line style, etc…, but it is equally useful if you want to separate a feature class into multiple feature classes based on common column values.
The other tool CreateLayerFilesByColumn is essentially the same tool, but instead of creating an output feature class it create ArcMap Layer files which especially in the context of CAD files can be a useful way to generate input to ArcMap that organizes the CAD data without converting it to an ArcGIS feature class.