February 15, 2008

GIS and CAD Windfall

The fortune cookie after my dinner the other night claimed that I would enjoy a windfall. There was some discussion around the table as to what the definition of a windfall was, and the origins of the term.

Webster’s defines it thus:
1 : something (as a tree or fruit) blown
down by the wind

2 : an unexpected, unearned, or sudden
gain or advantage.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, but when I was taking the trash cans out to the curb that windy night and a lotto ticket came cart-wheeling along the ground to my feet,... I was intrigued. It was trash night so scraps of paper blowing around wouldn’t necessarily be uncommon, but a lotto ticket!? Surely the stars were aligning and good things were happening!

I wasn’t sure if the lotto drawing had already taken place or if the ticket was still alive. The data on the ticket in itself was not enough to tell me much of anything. However a quick check on the internet to the lotto website winining-number-server gave me my answer.

Two independent pieces of data that just happen to show up in the same place, although intriguing don’t necessarily mean anything at all. GIS and CAD interoperability is more easily trusted when I get my information right from the source, whether that source is GIS or CAD. When in ArcGIS I can use the contents of a CAD file without creating a copy of it. I certainly can make a copy of it in a GIS format if needed, but sometimes CAD file is the proper source and should be included in a map as such. The same can be true when working in CAD, getting a copy of data from the GIS basemap in a CAD format although useful can be prone to getting out of date or losing the context of how it is used in a map. How GIS data is symbolized is a large component of the value of GIS-generated maps. Directly accessing the GIS basemap from ArcGIS Server using ArcGIS for AutoCAD is one way to ensure I've got the most up to date and relevant information in its proper display format inside AutoCAD.

There is a movie of ArcGIS for AutoCAD on the same page where I can download the application for free. For more information on working with CAD files inside ArcGIS you might consider some of my past articles on the subject.

Alas the lotto ticket was no winner… perhaps I should have played
the numbers printed on the back of the fortune cookie fortune instead… hmmm... I’ll let you know!


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