September 23, 2016

ArcGIS for AutoCAD Five Uses: #3 Creating ArcGIS Data

I have a number of saws in my garage to cut wood and other materials.  The chop saw is great for precisely cutting 2x4’s and other slender stock to length.  If the stock is not too long I can perform the same task and even more precisely using my table saw.  Which one is better?  Well… depends on what I am cutting and which one is plugged in.  The chop saw is a little louder, but its really easy to operate, the table saw is more refined, but in my garage at least I have to unfold it and plug it in, and then make some adjustments to get it all squared up.  My chop saw is always ready to go… for most cases I just chop.
Sometimes I want to use AutoCAD to create ArcGIS data, it might be because I have AutoCAD work flows that help me create data, such as AutoCAD-based survey data collection.  Or, I may just find I am more productive generating spatial data from scratch using AutoCAD.   Creating attributed ArcGIS data using AutoCAD is one of the primary uses for ArcGIS for AutoCAD.  I can use the free plug-in and plain AutoCAD to create a georeferenced, attributed geodatabase feature classes within my AutoCAD DWG file.   ArcGIS desktop (ArcMap/ArcGIS Pro) can directly open my AutoCAD drawing file created with ArcGIS for AutoCAD and use it in a map or in ArcGIS geoprocessing tools, and geoprocessing models like any other native GIS data sets to migrate the data or use it in analysis directly.
In the past I might have had to figuring out some way to attach data to AutoCAD entities or export a Shapefile, or some other intermediate file from AutoCAD if I could figure out how to attach my GIS attributes in some way in AutoCAD that I could use in ArcGIS later?  ArcGIS for AutoCAD allows me to store field-typed tabular attributes on simple AutoCAD entities like splines, curves, lines, points, blocks and 3D faces.  The application helps me organize my drawing according to my existing CAD standards while also making it understandable as ArcGIS data for desktop users.   And that is one of the real powers of the application.  I don’t create a different kind of AutoCAD object, but rather I just teach the drawing which entities in my drawing I want to be understood as ArcGIS objects, like a filter.

This video from the Esri training series outlines how I can use ArcGIS for AutoCAD to easily do this.
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