February 27, 2009

AutoCAD files as ArcGIS Electronic Submittals

Roasted vegetables or roasted vegetarian?! I was a little taken aback by my first glance at these conference lunch options shown in the unaltered picture above. I think I know what they meant? Subtle difference in words, big difference in meaning. The two words alone are ok, but together they are troubling. (I had the turkey.)

In dealing with the interpretation of AutoCAD data as ArcGIS content it is always better to avoid ambiguities and possible double-meaning through incomplete information or unguided interpretation. In ArcGIS for AutoCAD build 200 you can now specify how your AutoCAD data will be interpreted by ArcGIS. By default AutoCAD files In ArcMap are filtered as feature classes based on their geometric type. Now with ArcGIS for AutoCAD and the Mapping Specification for Drawings, I can specify criteria for additional named feature classes in my AutoCAD drawings. As a bonus any object, not just AutoCAD blocks can hold user defined attributes. This is accomplished with standard graphic and non-graphic entities in a plain AutoCAD drawing and tools included in the new free ArcGIS for AutoCAD application.

Using ArcGIS for AutoCAD to define how my existing CAD standards should be interpreted as GIS layers in ArcGIS is a great way for me to create ArcGIS data using my existing CAD standards. I can define the filter criteria for my feature classes based on the AutoCAD entity properties, the same AutoCAD entity properties of Color, Layer, Line Style etc… that I am using to define my CAD standards. I can for example include multiple AutoCAD layers to build a single GIS feature layer, or be very specific about the Color or Line Style of entities that would qualify as GIS feature for a particular GIS interpretation of my AutoCAD file.

Used in combination, GIS submittal standards can be honored using my existing CAD standards. By defining feature classes in my AutoCAD drawing using ArcGIS for AutoCAD I can follow my existing CAD standards while at the same time building GIS data. This is also great for my consultants outside my organization because they have their own CAD standards, but I want them to create specific GIS layers for me. With the Mapping Specification for Drawings they can correlate their CAD standards one time to align themselves with my GIS requirements and then use the resultant feature layer definitions as part of their template drawings, or import the definitions from the one drawing into any of their new or existing drawings. The consultant can follow any CAD standard they want and still be able to provide me with an AutoCAD file that ArcGIS will understand as having particular ArcGIS feature classes with the desired tabular attributes according to my required GIS schema.


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