December 10, 2010

My Favorite Maps and Christmas Lists

I am starting to consider my Christmas list, and it’s time to do some searching. Like many I am hunting around for ideas for others and looking for bargains. I am considering a Kindle for myself because of its limited- function free 3G wireless web browser and that book reading thing it does.

What’s in your ArcGIS for AutoCAD favorite’s maps list? In mine I have: Soils Maps, NGS Survey Control. Real-Time Traffic and Weather Maps, etc… Where did I find them? That is probably a more interesting question. Go to Search for content that contains Map Services. When I find a Web Map that might have a useful Map Service. I drill down into the table of contents of the webmap using the online map viewer and copy the shortcut to the included URL. I can drill into the table of contents and find a layer that is based on a map service and take a look at the details of the layer.

One of the items on the description page of an included map service detail will be the “supported interfaces”. If I right-click on the REST option and select the [copy shortcut] option I will get a URL to the rest endpoint. Some Web Maps containing map services might also include the server URL right on the description page without having to right click on the REST link.

For example the NGS Survey Control Map service has this URL shortcut associated with the REST link:

This is the complete address to the NGS survey control points map contained in this web map. To use this information in ArcGIS for AutoCAD I have to simplify the URL. I only need the link to the map server. The address from above needs to be edited to become simply:

Notice the URL is simplified and the REST directory reference is removed to use the URL in ArcGIS for AutoCAD. I will be asked in ArcGIS for AutoCAD to select from a list of all the maps that may be on this same server.

Access to other ArcGIS Online maps can be used in ArcGIS for AutoCAD entering this URL into the Server URL parameter of the ArcGIS for AutoCAD Add Maps function :

This USGS site includes lots of interesting map services including real-time weather (nhss_weat):

There are many more free maps available from Esri and other sources than the ones you see in the Esri Maps dialog box.

Try all of these URL’s by entering these strings into the Server URL option of the ArcGIS for AutoCAD Add Map Service dialog to see what interesting maps there are to use in ArcGIS for AutoCAD.

One more thing worth mentioning about the NGS control point map mentioned above is that when you use the IDENTIFY tool to get information about the control point in ArcGIS for AutoCAD one of the attributes of the control point is a web page URL to the current “data sheet” of that control point in addition to the other attributes of the control point.

Happy maps and Merry Christmas.

December 07, 2010

Creating GIS Lines and Polygons in AutoCAD

Here in Southern California basketball fans have different choices when it comes to NBA basketball. The Lakers have certainly had their share of success. The LA Clippers, although they play in the same arena as the Lakers, tend to measure their success in smaller increments. This last week the Lakers and Clippers where both represented on the highlight reels. Blake Griffin represented the Clippers for his wild-man dunking exploits and the Lakers for their four game losing streak. There is something beautiful about the straight forward approach to a game that suggests the best way to score sometimes is to just jump high and go full force at the goal.

If I want to create ArcGIS data using AutoCAD in a way that will ensure the best experience of interoperating with ArcGIS I use ArcGIS for AutoCAD. It allows me to enter GIS data in AutoCAD for use in ArcGIS, which is often one of the first things I need to do when working on a new project.

In AutoCAD I could use different techniques such as object data or external links to databases to create GIS data, but it is still not usable in ArcGIS. With premium add-on products like AutoCAD Map 3D I could directly edit Esri Shapefiles. With the new ArcGIS FDO connector from Autodesk (32 bit, ArcGIS 9.3.1, requires subscription license of AutoCAD Map 3D, requires ArcGIS license) I can even directly edit older geodatabases. This FDO connector for ArcGIS 9.3.1 is an interesting alternative to FDO Shapefiles, or FDO ArcSDE support, when I need to edit ArcGIS data rather than just prepare GIS data.

However, by far the simplest cost effective means to prepare attributed data within AutoCAD for future use in ArcGIS is to use the free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plug-in and use the simple resulting .DWG files. Take a look at the overview video found here to learn more.

The free ArcGIS for AutoCAD application is designed to help me create GIS using just plain AutoCAD. It also provides the means to connect me to Esri GIS maps and Imagery that I can use for reference and for context, not because it is interesting, or because it is pretty, but because it is useful. I can outfit AutoCAD users outside my organization to create GIS data for me that my ArcGIS system can directly use. I can also share my ArcGIS maps with them. With a copy of my data schema in the form of an AutoCAD template file, and with the free application, AutoCAD users outside my organization can be creating ArcGIS data with my schema within AutoCAD files for me, without buying anything new.

If anybody wants some cheap tickets to a Clipper’s game December 22nd, 2010 at Staples center against the Houston Rockets email me! (or leave a comment) Seriously I have like 100 tickets (3rd level mid-court and some first level endzone seats).
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