December 08, 2011

ArcGIS Data in AutoCAD with Tool Palettes

Thanksgiving has come and gone this year and I got the chance to use my favorite tool. Anyone who ever builds any tool or product should study this device and you will realize that until you can achieve the level of simplicity, function and delight delivered by your own tool you still have work to do on your design.

Ever since Esri defined the standard method of storing ArcGIS data directly inside standard AutoCAD .DWG files I’ve been easily creating ArcGIS data using ArcGIS for AutoCAD. Once I define a feature class (usually based on a specific AutoCAD layer) I use plain AutoCAD to create ArcGIS data inside AutoCAD. I can also add GIS attributes to any of the entities I create.

For different types of maps I generally have a different set of features I am creating. A great way to create short cuts for the types of features I create and always being sure I get those entities on the right layer with the right color etc. is to utilize standard AutoCAD tool pallets. Inside any AutoCAD session I can create an AutoCAD tool palette that has different types of features I might want to create.

The way standard tool pallets work in AutoCAD is perfect for this type of thing. Once I create a tool palette I just copy a representative object from my map and paste it onto the tool pallet. I then rename the object to keep track of what it is I am going to be placing. The cut-n-paste operation keeps track of how the representative object was normally placed and its graphic properties. Therefore, if I use the tool palette to place a new feature it will automatically call the necessary AutoCAD tool, and place the entity on the right layer with the right color etc. into my drawing.

I created my own ArcGIS for AutoCAD a tool palette group and I have different tool palettes for different maps that I edit. Depending on the type of project I am working on I’ll simply switch between the different palettes to place the right type of object according to my GIS and CAD standards.

AutoCAD Tool palettes are fun and productive for generating ArcGIS data in AutoCAD.

I will say that I was only able to process one apple using the device since everyone else in the kitchen was fighting over it. We ended up making one more pie than we needed because everyone wanted their turn!


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