October 17, 2007

ArcGIS for AutoCAD 2008

My youngest daughter just got a pet turtle. Actually it’s a tortoise. Growing up I don’t recall ever making the distinction. In fact I thought there were land-turtles and sea-turtles and those snapping turtles that lived in lakes and ponds. I have had a similar confusion with rabbits and hares, and frogs and toads; different animals with similar looking features. I was recently told a story (I have no idea if it is true) about a tortoise that was mistaken for a turtle and thrown into the family swimming pool by some visitors. The tortoise sank like a rock to the bottom. When the owner came home he attempted a rescue giving the tortoise “mouth to mouth resuscitation” to revive it. Apparently the tortoise went into hibernation at the bottom of the pool and was saved.

Like the terrestrial tortoise and the swimming turtle, mixing CAD and GIS environments can sometimes be troublesome. ArcGIS for AutoCAD lets me access the other world. ArcGIS for AutoCAD is like an under sea rover. I can use an underwater robot to serve me by sending me samples and providing me images of the water world below. I control the exploration safely from the deck of my boat. For many types of exploration this is much less difficult than a submarine or strapping on the scuba gear. Similarly accessing GIS maps with an internet connection from within AutoCAD is an easy and safe way for me to use the GIS basemap. The maps are generated by the GIS and I see the finished map and get to query its features no matter where or how the GIS data is stored and no matter what format it is stored in. Just being able to see the exact GIS map in the right place without having to convert, translate, symbolize or even find out how to access the data sets is a powerful thing.
Sometimes I use ArcGIS for AutoCAD solely as a way to see GIS published imagery inside AutoCAD. ArcGIS knows how to make maps with imagery and ArcGIS for AutoCAD can access map services created by ArcGIS, so it just works.

I see the new version of the free ArcGIS for AutoCAD is available for download on ESRI.com that now supports AutoCAD 2008. The new version supports the accessing of map services with different coordinate systems. The new version also ships with a host of predefined coordinate system files (.PRJ’s) that can be loaded into the drawing. ArcGIS 9.2 sp3 will recognize these internally stored coordinate system definitions.

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