March 16, 2006

Data Interoperability Extension vs. CAD Geoprocessing

They don’t call it March madness for nothing. My daughter has been on three different basketball teams if you count her new all-star team. I have been the assistant coached for two of them, and a parent helper for the other. When one team plays a game I think this is my “favorite” team I really like this team best, then the next team plays and I think... you know I really like this team! The girls are great on all the teams and there is really no reason to compare them. They all have different strengths and weaknesses and play in different leagues. The all-star team is made of players that our team played against ("the enemy!") ... the girls on the all-star team really are terrific!

In my job I get asked a lot, "Which is better the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension or the core ArcGIS geoprocessing tools that work with CAD data?" For that matter, people ask me to compare competitive products too, "the enemy". Each of the different teams often perform similar tasks, but they are in different leagues. CAD based GIS add-on software is competing in a league at a definite disadvantage for GIS , but depending on the scope of your work they can provide useful GIS and CAD interoperability.

Like an all-star team, sometimes you find CAD-based products that embed ESRI GIS functionality into their solutions. Bentley and Bentley’s /Haestad Methods have embedded ESRI ArcObjects inside there applications to extend their GIS and CAD Interoperability solutions. These tools provide the ability to edit modern ESRI geodatabases from within both AutoCAD and Microstation as well as a host of engineering applications within ArcGIS.

ESRI provides the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension which is based on Safe Software’s FME (Feature Manipulation Engine). This enabling technology is customized for ArcGIS in a way that it provides direct access as well as translation tools for over 70 different spatial data formats and variants not just CAD. In terms of CAD interoperability there is yet another important, but perhaps less visible player, the Open Design Alliance. This group provides CAD access technology that is used by Safe Software, Bentley and ESRI to read AutoCAD data.

Regarding the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension and ArcGIS core geoprocessing tools here is how I characterize the distinction for customers. Data Interop is not just for CAD, it has 65+ additional formats. It provides the means for both file translation and direct reading of the files, both with very explicit control over schema translation, even more granular than the core database tools of ArcGIS. It also provides the means to use this functionality on one or a collection of files. I think of one example where a customer used the ability to directly read a CAD file that, based on a set of rules, created inferred pipes on-the-fly. ArcGIS then could use these inferred pipes and perform queries and spatial analysis on these pipes even though they existed nowhere in the CAD file. Instead these pipes were created based on the current status of the CAD file at the time it is opened by ArcGIS according to the translation rules defined in the Data Interoperability Extension.

The core geoprocessing tools have the decided advantage of having full integration into the geoprocessing framework and interface. The results of Data Interop schema translation tools are also integrated into geoprocessing, but the schema translation building environment called Workbench has its own visual programming interface.

I personally prefer the elegant simplicity of the table driven functionality of the EXPORT TO CAD geoprocessing tool found in the core tools of ArcInfo. However, sometimes I need to use the power of the schema translation tools in the Data Interoperability Extension for more esoteric GIS to CAD translation tasks.

So join me in rooting on the team(s): "GO WARRIORS!", GO Tustin FUEGO!", "GO Tustin All-Star X-PLOSION!"

March 14, 2006

Domain Constraints from CAD Data

My two year old has reached a developmental mile stone; in the last two days she has learned how to climb out of her crib, overcome the child safety doorknob locks and manipulate the large front door. She used these three skills in combination with her existing ability (to use most any container as a stepping stool) to make a break for it yesterday down the sidewalk!

Today’s obvious topic is domain CONSTRAINTS! My daughter’s domain constraints have to be a safe area in her home free from the perils of automobile traffic, harmful chemicals and other normally harmless everyday objects that when placed in the hands of a two year old become life threatening.

In ArcGIS attribute domain constraints limit the valid values in a column to a discrete set or a range of values. One can use a table to help set the domain constraints in ArcGIS for the valid values in a column.

Today’s suggestion is to use the ArcView FREQENCY geoprocessing tool on CAD properties to get a table that I can use as the basis for my ArcGIS domain constraints. This is common when loading new CAD data into an ArcGIS feature class. If I have lots of AutoCAD blocks with ATTRIBUTES or Microstation TAGS and want to find all the values used in the drawing for a particular attribute TAG I can use the FREQUENCY tool to build a table of all the unique occurrences of a particular value. The resulting table will be the unique occurrences and their frequency (c0unt). Even if the values are coded as symbolic variances like COLOR or LINESTYLE at least I will know how many different kinds of features or values I am dealing with in any given CAD dataset.

As a secondary benefit to running the FREQENCY tool I may find values that I consider to be invalid for that attribute domain. In this way the FREQUENCY tool is useful for many types of quality control tasks.

March 06, 2006

GIS and CAD Interoperability: Archives

This Blog's Master Index

Here are some catagorized links to past posts.

You can still view past posts in the Archives for the Month they were posted. Help me if you find a dead link.
I'll do my best to make updates to the indexes.

Revit to ArcGIS
BIM: Robots and GIS
BIM: What's Cooking
BIM: There are some who call me... BIM

Sample Tools
Georeferencing Inside of AutoCAD
Selecting by Attribute in ArcGIS for AutoCAD
Autodesk "Object Data" Converter
Creating ArcGIS for AutoCAD Feature Classes from Blocks
Creating Map Service Mosiac of Images in AutoCAD
AutoCAD layers to ArcGIS Feature Classes
Sample Geoprocessing Tools for CAD
AutoCAD Spatial Adustment Tool
GP CAD Topology Checker
Automated Layer Sorting(SplitByColumn)

ArcGIS for AutoCAD
Carrying GIS Data in AutoCAD
FDO Shapefiles and ArcGIS
Editing GIS Geodatabase Data with ArcGIS for AutoCAD?
Using ArcGIS Server for Labeling and thematic Mapping AutoCAD
ArcGIS Ready AutoCAD Template Files
Demo of ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 200
ArcGIS for AutoCAD Build 200
AutoCAD layers to ArcGIS Feature Classes
AutoCAD Blocks and MSD
MSD: Leveraging CAD Standards in GIS
ArcGIS for AutoCAD and Map Services
ArcGIS for AutoCAD User Forum
ArcGIS for AutoCAD a Sea of Possibilities

User Tips

Joining Data Tables to CAD Layers
AutoCAD layers to ArcGIS Feature Classes
Polygons Donuts Whole and Holes
Using ArcGIS Server for AutoCAD Thematic Mapping
Text is Block Name
CAD Quantities with ArcGIS
Decoding Mystery CAD Drawings
Browsing for Hidden Microstation Files
Symbology As Application Messaging System
3D GIS and CAD: GIS-Generated 3D CAD Scenes
Creating Domain Constraints From CAD Data
CAD Staging Geodatabase Road Map
Using the SELECT DATA Geoprocessing Tool
Creating AutoCAD 3D Polylines from GIS Features
Changing CAD Symbology
True-Type Marker Symbols GIS/CAD (Road Trip)
Import From CAD tool and other Methods(Chainsaws)
Optimizing ArcGIS Server for ArcGIS for AutoCAD Users

General Interoperability
Getting In Shape: Shapefiles in AutoCAD?
Dynamic CAD files In ArcGIS Server
ArcGIS Server Maps In Microstation
AutoCAD Files as ArcGIS Submittals
Industry Specific GIS Data Models In AutoCAD
MSD and ArcGIS EXPORT TO CAD (balloon whisperer)
What's New in ArcGIS 9.3: MSD
Why Mapping Specification for Drawings (MSD)?
Data Interoperability Extension vs. Core Tools
Power of Context
GIS data Precision: Significantly Insignificant Digits
Free Online GIS/CAD Training Class
Semantic Translation (Part 1 of 8)
GIS and CAD Windfall (Single Source of Truth AFA)
CAD Standards from GIS with Seed Files
ArcGIS Server Services and CAD

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