October 22, 2010

Map Service Transparency Tool

Confessions of a non-texter. As a habit I don’t text, I just don’t. Nor do I tweet, twit or chirp. I lost my smart phone and my new phone doesn’t have a keyboard, which makes the thought of texting even less desirable (since it takes me forever to peck out a message T9 or otherwise). I was the guy 5 years ago that mocked texting as a teenager’s technology fascination akin to rediscovering Tetris, or more accurately the telegraph. Why would anyone pay extra for it? I did not anticipate that the secrecy factor was the primary benefit. Mobile phone conversations could be overheard by others. The secret text message is like passing notes and no one else can tell who it is from. It is also valuable as an emotionless voice mail. Ahh… instant email, now I get it.

My current solution, I scribble down a message, I take a picture of my notepad and send that as a photo message. My texting productivity has improved 500%! I have not discovered fire, as my carpool partner would be quick to point out, but I guarantee my wife and kids would much rather see my handwritten notes and drawings sent as a photo than the emotionless font in a text message.

Here is a sample AutoLISP routine that helps me quickly see a composite stack of map services I’ve added to a drawing at the same time by controlling the transparency of their AutoCAD layers. In AutoCAD 2011 I can change the transparency property of any layer including those that contain map services by using the standard layer controls of AutoCAD. This AutoLISP routine gives me a quick way to apply a transparency percentage directly to all the map service layers at one time without having to specify each one. It is also a useful example of how to automate workflows that involve map services using AutoLISP. Find this and other useful sample tools in the code gallery of the Esri CAD Integration resource center.

Is it easier to text, or scribble on a note pad and send pictures …while driving?!

October 14, 2010

Quickly Toggle Map Service Visibility

I had a rather strange outing the other day. I drove to the local coast to have a beach fire, roast marshmallows, enjoy the full moon, the stars and the sound of the ocean waves. The evening was as you can image; beautiful. There were a number of young people with us and near us. And like many teenagers they have been stricken with a debilitating condition: this ailment results in the loss of the use of their right hands, poor hearing, and limited attention span from cell phone addiction. They find it difficult to rise from the seated position in a low chair, dare they lose sight of the screen or lose physical contact with the device that might result in missing a vibration fix from an incoming text message.

The luminous intensity of the bonfire in front of this one teen was significantly interfering with his vision in contrast to the phone display, resulting in facial contortions and pained squinting to discover that his friend had texted that he is bored and just wanted him to know. Without taking his eyes off his phone he texts a media message of the fire in front of him to his friend, who like he, can now experience the event on his 1 inch screen. I’m wondering if the digital version of life somehow seems more real or important to them within the device when compared to the full spectrum 3D experience they might enjoy should they but lift their gaze up 5 degrees… Strange world we are creating.

Well sometime we just need to turn it off; turn it all off. Although map services are extremely valuable for both context and reference, sometimes I just want to edit my drawing completely undistracted. Here is a simple lisp routine I can add to a toolbar in AutoCAD that will toggle the visibility of all the Esri map services in my drawing on, or off with a single click. When added to a toolbar button, this tool gives me a one click On/Off. Find this tool and other useful sample tools at the Esri CAD integration resource center code sharing gallery… and consider submitting your own.

Life, it is just like the Wii, ...only real.

October 08, 2010


If you follow this BLOG let me warn you that baseketball season is starting up again and that means lots of running for the team, and more tedious basketball/GIS metephors are in your future! Speaking of getting started here is a little info for getting started with ArcGIS for AutoCAD 250 that is different than past versions...

To make installation greatly simplified for all version of AutoCAD, the new ArcGIS for AutoCAD 250 must be NETLOAD-ed each time you run ArcGIS for AutoCAD. If like me you always want to load ArcGIS for AutoCAD you can use one of many ways in AutoCAD to autoload a .DLL like ArcGISForAutoCAD.dll.

I invoke a script from my desktop ICON. AutoCAD just needs to find both my script and the .DLL. You can update your AutoCAD SUPPORT path or modify the START IN directory or like me do both.

Here is the content of the script that I use to AutoLoad ArcGIS for AutoCAD:


The included image is a picture of my modified desktop short cut.

Note: Be sure to include a carriage return after the last line.

October 06, 2010

ArcGIS for AutoCAD 250 and Other New Stuff

Got a new car (used, but new to me). New phone (cheap, but with just the features I need).

…ArcGIS for AutoCAD 250 is something brand new. It supports 64 bit and 32 bit AutoCAD versions 2010 and 2011 (likely 2012 when it ships). I really like using it with its new ribbon interface, better map image quality and performance. It supports connecting to more kinds of servers with certain forms of authentification and now supports ArcGIS Server fast maps. ArcGIS for AutoCAD 250 has a clever new set of selection tools that have been added. Performance when editing large amounts of attribute information is also greatly improved.

I like the quick access to Esri Maps on the Ribbon. I also like that I get to use AutoCAD 2011 and its clever entity cloning feature (Add Selected) that is especially useful when creating new features. However, my favorite AutoCAD 2011 enhancement, layer transparency, enables me to create composite maps in ArcGIS for AutoCAD from multiple map service sources, and create watermark style images that won't overpower the AutoCAD entities I’m working with while still allowing me to see and use my GIS maps.

You can download it today here.
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