CAD + GIS integration and the A-Z's of AutoCAD Map

(GISuser Autodesk U, 2003 feature) CAD + GIS integration… that was just one of the concepts that was on my mind after attending Autodesk University 2003 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, NV. Obviously, there’s still that fuzzy wall that serves to separate the traditional CAD user from the traditional GIS user, otherwise, why the need to emphasize this message? Numerous presentations and speeches were devoted to covering [or at least addressing] this topic, and rightfully so as there are a number of AutoCAD 2004 series products that offer solutions that serve to address the integration of CAD and GIS workflows & solutions.

So why CAD + GIS integration? Consider this, many CAD people are already experts when it comes to working with digital design data and solutions, however, they are missing out on opportunities without proper integration of their GIS business processes. Keeping data digital [another buzz word we heard a lot about during the week] is fundamental in successful CAD, GIS integration and what’s been observed in the “real” world is that users are losing information and losing money. AutoCAD 2004 is Autodesk’s solution addressing this area. Once again, this was evident in a number of sessions and presentations throughout the week.

The A-Z of AutoCAD Map… This was the first session I elected to attend at AU. Brian Glidden, a consultant with GDMS, Arrow Engineering ( walked users through this 3.5 hour Tuesday morning session… a pretty tough venue being day 1 of a Vegas-based conference! Glidden did a fine job introducing a relatively large room of attendees to the ins and outs of Map. Things users took away from this session include descriptions of Map’s functionality:

  • Access large files
  • Link to external DBs
  • Multiple drawing access
  • Thematic mapping
  • Drawing sharing
  • Data cleanup
  • Analysis

    Particularly useful in this session was the description of processes and functionality added in the 2004 release. Much time was devoted to the Project Workspace UI. This dashboard style interface is displayed similar to the Windows Explorer tree structure, however, users typically decide to close the window in favor of more drawing window real estate… bad move! The workspace is now hideable .

    Some very useful concepts that attendees left the session with:

    Use Project Drawings – this is essentially an empty drawing that contains settings, references, and useful references that are specific to a drawing or set of drawings. Hint, use drawing to work with multiple datasets based on different projections or when data is to be thematically displayed.

    Take advantage of a Project’s ability to use a drive alias. This is very useful to map a long network drive and indespensible if you foresee the need to physically move data around, rename drives, etc…

    Querying data using AutoCAD 2004’s wizrd-driven query builder is a snap. Remember that queries can be saved, stored, and output in ASCII format for subsequent use or additional analysis.

    Use Map’s multiple source drawing capabilities in a networked environment. Drawings can be locked so others won’t overwite your edits, other map users can query, attach, and edit objects from the same drawing.

    Map’s multi-user environment provides admininistration options such as user accounts, rights management, and forced user login… essential in maintaining project workflows and preserving data integrity.

    New Functionality in Map 2004

    • True Color and Gradient Fills – Autodesk Map 2004 helps improve the quality of your presentation drawings using the new color— including true color and color book such as pantone—and shaded plotting tools.
    • Enhanced Oracle Spatial – Mapping, GIS, FM, and other geospatial data—now including engineering data in DWG form—can be stored and accessed in one central data source, Oracle Spatial.
    • Enhanced Import/Export – Autodesk Map 2004 supports in the box two additional formats—SDTS (read only) and VML (write only)
    • Classification – Classification makes it easier to manage and analyze drawing files
    • COGO (Coordinate Geometry) – Autodesk Map 2004 software extends the creation of highly accurate maps using COGO input functionality
    • Annotation – Autodesk Map 2004 software also introduces a better way to retrieve the data attributes and properties
    • Drawing Cleanup – enhanced tools to simplify drawing cleanup and building of topology
    • Topology – Autodesk Map 2004 improves its topology functionality
  • GISuser Managing Editor, Glenn Letham, was in attendance at AU once again this year. For those of you not familiar with "AU", once a year, typically in December, Autodesk hosts their annual user conference. The event usually runs 4 or 5 days and features keynote sessions, industry presentations, hands-on training, and other networking opportunities. This year some 3,300 attendees took in the event.