August 16, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #2 Exported GIS Data

It is always nice to find something useful I own that I didn’t know I had.  I might wish I had found it sooner, but it is always good when it happens.  ...The pristine hardwood floors you find under that old carpet you’re replacing, or the twenty dollar bill in your suit coat from your last business trip, or the other half of your sandwich you thought you’d already eaten!

When I share ArcGIS data with an AutoCAD user, I want them to not only see the vector geometry but the attributes too.  I hope it is not a surprise, but the second most common use of ArcGIS for AutoCAD is the ability for AutoCAD users to see the smart drawings that ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro create whenever they export AutoCAD DWG files with the EXPORT TO CAD tool.  The default behavior of the EXPORT TO CAD geoprocessing tool in ArcGIS desktop for the last decade or so has been to create smart DWG files that contain a coordinate system and attributed feature classes inside the file. Any AutoCAD users can see and use this ArcGIS data if they have the free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plug-in.   If they don’t have ArcGIS for AutoCAD they will just see the simple AutoCAD entities without their smart attributes and data organization.  It is because of this that I often say that exchanging shapefiles is an outdated method of exchanging data between ArcGIS and AutoCAD.  The combination of ArcGIS for AutoCAD and ArcMap, or ArcGIS Pro means you can use the DWG file itself as an exchange format for ArcGIS data.

August 03, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #1 Self Service Mapping

I have been enjoying my summer this year paddling around with the family in some craigslist kayaks.  We have a double kayak and two singles.  I can easily park my car near the shore and carry the single kayaks to the water myself.  The double kayak really takes two adults to manage on top of the car.  Just a little too heavy and a little too long to manage myself.  When it is just me and my younger daughter we use the two singles,  I also have a small sailboat that I can launch myself, but with the use of a trailer, which requires a boat ramp to get me to where I need to use it… the water.

ArcGIS for AutoCAD is the free Esri’s plug-in AutoCAD that is used by many, to do five essential things: Self-Service Mapping, Creating GIS data for the GIS system using AutoCAD, Editing Geodatabases using AutoCAD, Repurposing AutoCAD construction and design drawings as GIS content, and Reading attributed ArcGIS data in DWG files exported from ArcGIS. 

I use the term Self Service Mapping, to describe my ability in AutoCAD to access ArcGIS content and capabilities that are available to me through ArcGIS Web Services.  Instead of making a request to my ArcGIS colleagues to Export the land base, or the existing sewer network so I can use it for my project, I can use the existing ArcGIS services already available to my organization and pull that data myself.  I don’t have to wait for the GIS group to fulfill my request, and I can browse for just what I want when I want it, and even more importantly where I want it, in AutoCAD.  The same image services, map services and feature services being published by the GIS group are accessible by me with my free ArcGIS for AutoCAD plug-in.

Once I connect to my ArcGIS server, I can browse to the services that are available to me on that server and add them to my drawing.  I can get access to smart maps and imagery, georeferenced in my drawing or pull ArcGIS feature into my drawing from feature services.  (I can even edit those features:  I’ll talk more about that in another post.)  I can also access the Esri world geolocation service to navigate my AutoCAD drawing by address or place name.  I use this to help me zoom to a project location, when I know the cross streets, place name or street address.

The GIS group is taxed with more work to fulfill my information requests and I don’t have to wait for them to give me the data I need.  I can also use ArcGIS online hunt for servers that contain freely available data that my organization doesn’t have but that I need for my project.

This Self-Service Mapping is used by most everyone in ArcGIS for AutoCAD to save time and effort, when they, like me, need to access ArcGIS information to get their work done in AutoCAD.  My choice of recreational boats for now is limited to budget and my ability to get on the water.  I need the boats in the place where I can use them, in the case of my sailboat and kayaks that place is the water (not my garage).  My rooftop kayak racks, and my sailboat trailer “Serve” me well.  In the case of my project and design work in AutoCAD, I can get my ArcGIS information into AutoCAD served out from my, or other people’s ArcGIS Server Web Services.
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