February 15, 2013

Feature Services To Go

There is construction underway here at work, and there is a door that leads outside directly into the construction area.  On the door is posted a sign with an unfortunate misspelling.  The caution sign warns passers by not to "EXIST!"   The door has now become a philosophical shrine of potential meanings for the posted warning sign.

ArcGIS Server allows me to support a network of interconnected devices and software applications all working together in my enterprise mapping and design environment.   But, what if my organization is not all always connected.  And, what if we don't want to grant people access to our servers?  Can these semi-trusted others still contribute to maintaining the data?  Can I set up a digital submittal workflow that streamlines GIS data creation in AutoCAD,  but where I still retain control of the updates to the server?

Certainly there are many different workflows that exist that facilitate a step-wise GIS/CAD data maintenance plan.  I can pass AutoCAD drawings back and forth between people who can read them converting them back and forth and back.   I can create multiple geodatabase layers with staging and production versions and create special outward facing internet connections for people outside my firewall.  I can even pass AutoCAD .DWG files with feature classes in them back and forth.  

Here is one simple solution worthy of consideration.  When working with AutoCAD contributors who don't have access to my Server I can share one of my AutoCAD drawings that contains an active long transaction from a feature service.  To do this I connect  to my server and open a feature service inside my session of ArcGIS for AutoCAD from the necessary geodatabase layers, and then I can pass my .DWG file to someone else to finish adding data or to making changes.  The person I give the drawing to, does NOT have to have their own connection to the server.  I can give a drawing to a consultant and they can work on my file and make changes to my feature service features without ever making a connection to my geodatabase.  All they need is their own free copy of ArcGIS for AutoCAD and all their edits will be tracked.  When I get the drawing back I can synchronize with the server and together we finish the job.
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