October 17, 2012

ArcGIS for AutoCAD: Service Extents

I had to get my car towed to the shop today…  One company quoted a rather ambiguous rate schedule; this much for “hook-up”, transport fee, tax, and a  rate per mile on the odometer.  After I hung up, I wasn't sure if that odometer was round trip, or door to door,  and would that be their door or mine?   The next guy I called said, “…14 miles, eh? … I’ll  just charge for you 10 miles, that will be $$ bucks”.  “Come and get it”, I said.  

It is nice to keep things within boundaries, with auto transport or ArcGIS Services.  How does the service extent in ArcGIS for AutoCAD help me with different kinds of services?  For Maps and image services setting the service extent allows me to set the maximum size of a map I expect to see in a drawing.  This limit is honored by the ZOOM TO EXTENTS function on the ArcGIS for AutoCAD ribbon.  This is helpful, for example, when I am including global imagery from ArcGIS Online, and then want to zoom to the extents of the services.  I don’t really want to zoom out to the extents of the entire globe I just want to zoom to the extents of a certain area or region of the map.  I can set the extent individually on each different service.  I can set the extent in three different places within the application;  when I add the service in the add service dialog, with the SET SERVICE EXTENT button on the ribbon, or on the service property sheet.
The service extent is even more critical when working with feature services.  I may have global coverage of bazillions of features in a geodatabase.  I certainly don’t want bazillions of anything in one AutoCAD drawing.  Setting the service extent of a feature service limits the area of features that will be included in my drawing.  Similar to image and map services I can set the service extent in the same three ways.  Feature service extent has its own button on the ribbon.  When I edit feature services I will only see the features within my extent when I add the service, when I refresh the service and when I synchronize the service (which invokes a refresh).  Because of this I can add features outside the feature service extent, but I will not get those features returned to me after the refresh.  The feature will be added to the geodatabase over the internet, but I will not see them back in my drawing unless I expand my feature service extent to include the expanded area where I added features.  Makes sense, but when it happens it looks like the features didn't stick?  If I have a map service in the drawing that is showing the same data, I will see the features there in the raster map if that service extent is larger than my feature service extent.  This gives me confidence that the server has my new features.  If I really want those new features in my drawing I can expand the feature service extent and I will get them in my drawing.

Here is a short video where I’m working with service extent.  
And looky there…there’s the tow guy. 
PS.  (I ended up paying exactly $$ bucks, as quoted.   …best tow service experience ever.)

October 09, 2012

Drawing Navigation by Street Address

I had apple pie last night.  It was made using my favorite tool, my apple-peeler-slicer-corer thing.  It was good.  Pie is good.  Life is good.  So if I am thinking about apple pie it make sense (to me) to talk about software tools.

The Locate button on the ArcGIS for AutoCAD menu is another favorite tool because it is easy to use, and because of what it does for me.  I type in a place or street address and it helps me zoom in my drawing to where that address is located in my map.   I have a choice between three different locators out on the web.  Some are better at finding one kind of address or other.  So if one doesn't work I try another one.   The locator accepts a street address, partial address, place names, or street intersections like “1st and Main”.  After I enter my single-line input string, I am presented with list of candidates in a table.  By right clicking on the candidate that I feel best matches where I want to be I can select the Zoom to Selected option.    I notice in the table that there is a record of the single-line input string I entered as well as the actual address for each candidate along with a  score.  This helps me decide which are the better candidate matches for my search.  Here is a quick video of using the tool…

Here is the same video on myYouTube channel that you can view a little larger. 

October 02, 2012

Dressing Up Feature Service Points

Dressing up for Halloween is an exciting prospect for kids.  It is fun to be a super-hero or fanciful character and then have people give you candy.  One of my favorite costumes was a robot that I made and ran remote control.  I had my little brother set the “decorated box” on the font step and then I operated the robot with fishing line while standing behind a tree/bush/porch etc...   I was a robot on the front step getting candy in one sense, and behind the tree in another sense.  (kind of like feature service editing in ArcGIS for AutoCAD).  Here is a way to dress up my AutoCAD editing and display of ArcGIS feature services.

Read carefully: If I have a block in my drawing that has the same BLOCK INSERT name as the ArcGIS-feature service-AutoCAD layer name (which is the feature service layer name preceded by “esri_”), then my feature service points will be drawn by ArcGIS for AutoAD using that block.  In that way I can define how points from a feature service are drawn in my drawing using my favorite block symbols.  

For example: If I have an existing AutoCAD block with the name METER, that I want to use for my “meter” features service layer called METER_RIVERSIDEWATER  I can simply rename my METER block to "esri_Meter_RiversideWater" and ArcGIS for AutoCAD will insert that block anytime it draws a meter from the feature service.   I will also notice that the tool palette also gets generated with my block symbol.  If I don’t see the image of my block properly I can right click on the tool in the tool palette and select the Update Tool Image option to get a fresh picture of my block.  

I've included a video where I do just that, check out this YouTube video on my GISCADChannel for a full screen view, or the blog version included below.

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