Creating GIS Lines and Polygons in AutoCAD
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.
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