Posts Tagged ‘arcgis for autocad’

Accessing Aerial Photos within AutoCAD using ArcGIS for AutoCAD and the mapiinsert Command

October 1, 2009

At the Port of San Diego, our CAD Designers and Mapping Technicians can access our new 2009 4-inch aerials photos within AutoCAD in 2 ways. Each has their own advantages and disadvantages. Understanding these pros and cons empower our CAD designers to be more efficient and effective. I suggest any substantial project would be best approached by utilizing both methods.

ArcGIS for AutoCAD- Great for everyday workflow
access to content on other ArcGIS Servers, including ArcGIS Online
easy to create image with defined extent
Best resolution not guaranteed at all scales

mapiinsert command – Printing
best resolution guaranteed at all scales
CAD users more familiar

As a footnote, it should also be mentioned that ArcGIS for AutoCAD has another powerful component; the ability to create GIS attribute data within AutoCAD. As the PortGIS Program matures it will require us to gain more information about our features which originate in AutoCAD. What is the material/width/flow capacity of this pipe? Collecting this type of attribute data will allow us to 1) display and symbolize this data across the enterprise and 2) do spatial analysis, such as identifying where weaknesses might be in our utility infrastructure.

ArcGIS for AutoCAD can be downloaded from ESRI at the link below.

GeographyHuntingBinLaden Zen
and another


GIS Dork-Out Session: ArcGIS Server Pathing and Roundtrips in ArcGIS for AutoCAD

September 2, 2009
I recently received the email below from a fellow GISer.
Hi Ari,
I attended your presentation at the UC last month which I found very interesting, and spoke to you briefly afterwards. I wondered if you’d be able to answer a couple of questions I have about your ArcGIS Server implementation. We are going through the implementation process ourselves at the moment. Our scope is global although right now we’re focused on data that is within the UTM Zone 10 area in southwest BC.
Do you still keep data files on your network? We anticipate that our network will be required for working shapefiles, MXDs, etc. But I’ve also learned that to publish MXDs the data within them has to have a UNC filepath, not a mapped drive. Is that the kind of setup you have? Because the data will be stored in single features classes for multiple projects and clients I anticipate having to create a lot of LYR files.
I am also interested in knowing more about how you deal with CAD data. We have been able to generate a test map service that included some basemap CAD topo, but I’m still not clear on the full power of integrating our CAD data. Our SDE database will have WGS84 projected data, and our CAD is mostly NAD83 UTM (e.g. zone 10). I think you mentioned you can edit CAD data directly within SDE or a map service – is that correct? Did you create any customization to do that?
If you have any time to get back to me with advice on those questions, or any other tips, I’d really appreciate it.
Kieran Smith, M.Sc.
GIS Analyst
Knight Piésold Ltd.


I am so glad that you enjoyed our presentation. There are many GISers out there dealing with many of the same issues. You seem to have two main issues 1) UNC paths and 2) CAD. I will address them each individually.

1) I assume you are referring to the warning 10027 “Layer’s data source is referenced via a UNC path” when you use the Analyze Button ATT26608 on the Map Service Publishing toolbar. ArcGIS Server likes local file system path names, but this can create problems when trying to access data on your network. The best way to get around this is to make the source paths the same whether you open the mxd on your local box or on the server. Mapped drives to shares do not give this warning. The easiest way to solve this is to find a drive letter which is not being used on the server and your personal machine. Share the proper folder and map to the share with the same drive letter on both machines. The mxd will open properly on both machines and will allow you to publish using either ArcGIS Server Manager on the server or ArcCatalog from your personal machine.

Another method is to use UNC paths for your development efforts and file system paths for production maps, data and services. To do this you should install ArcGIS Desktop on your server machine. When you want to create a production service then resource the data in your MXDs to the servers local file system path and republish the service from ArcGIS Server Manager using file system paths. UNC paths will work fine for development efforts. I don’t think there is a performance cost, but it is not quite as stable. This is the method we use at the Port of San Diego. We have a “production” folder which holds MXDs and raster and vector data, and we publish our services to a “production” folder. Everything in these production folders use file system paths and outside these folders we use UNC paths.

2) The product I mentioned in our presentation is ArcGIS for AutoCAD. There are 2 parts to this tool. The first is the ability to use AutoCAD as a client to view ArcGIS Services (including ArcGIS Online data out of the box for free). The second is the ability to give an engineering drawing characteristics which closely resemble GIS data including the ability to define coordinate systems and/or give attributes to features. When this dwg is brought into ArcGIS Desktop and/or published using ArcGIS Server these characteristics shine through. If all your GIS data, services and CAD drawings have defined Coordinate Systems it will all reproject on the fly. Of course, if the CAD designer moves the data 100 feet over this will throw everything off. The CAD designer really needs to follow both CAD and GIS standards.

This functionality creates the ability to do what we have been calling a “roundtrip.” CAD data is edited in AutoCAD, served through ArcGIS Server and then consumed within AutoCAD using ArcGIS for AutoCAD.

Don Kuehne, ESRI’s technical product manager for CAD interoperability, describes it well on his blog at the link below.

Below is a screenshot of a “roundtrip” in action. The image and the linework are both coming from ArcGIS Services.

JustCantGetEnoughAwesomeBasketballShots Zen

Port of San Diego Presenting at the 2009 ESRI User Conference

June 16, 2009

Malcolm Meikle and I have been offered the opportunity to present at the 2009 ESRI Users Conference. We will present our paper, “Creating an Enterprise GIS at the Unified Port of San Diego” alongside Fei Wang of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which operates Dulles and Reagan Airports in the Washington D.C. Area. Below is a link to the session details.

The focus of our presentation will be the technical details associated with implementing the PortGIS program. Here at %scratchworkspace%, we would like to further elaborate on the philosophy and concepts which drive the PortGIS program.

“How … can port managers and engineers best identify and prioritize projects among competing demands? We believe the key to successful port engineering is the integration of vital infrastructure information in a robust and functioning Geographic Information Sytstem (GIS). Regardless of the type of port facilities, similar basic facilities data is maintained, often in hard copy format only. Property surveys, facility base maps, soil-boring data, building plans and facility as-built drawings are fairly common types of records maintained by port engineers. All of such data can be reference and tied together using a spatial context – thus creating a geographic port data framework.

Applying an integrated GIS to a port offers facility management professionals the opportunity to catalog this disparate information using established standard and data conventions. The cataloged data can then be managed according to parameters set by the users to provide better integration of information and yield better decision support products. Information is no longer fragmented or isolated, and multiple data types and scales start providing critical and usable correlations to support both short-range and long-term decision making processes.”

From the book: Application of GIS Technologies in Port Facilities and Operations Management
Neal T. Wright and Jaewan Yoon
American Society of Civil Engineers
Ports and Harbors Committee

By using geography/place/location as the common factor it will allow us to bring together data that would otherwise be difficult or impossible to integrate. These tools have been available for a long time through proprietary, expensive and hard-to-learn GIS software. The ubiquitous nature of the internet and the web browser has given us the platform to share this data across the enterprise, touching every Port employee and every Port computer through a wide variety of clients, including ArcGIS Software, ArcGIS for AutoCAD, Mobile Devices or a plain-vanilla web browser.

The Dewy-Decimal System and our Port Geographic Information System (PortGIS) are used to answer questions, or in computer lingo-make a “request”. “Where are Vietnamese Cooking books?” is analogous to; “Show me the aerial photo for Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal?” The server works on the question and sends a “response”, or answer to our question. In our example the answer is the image which renders on your screen.

Our goal is to assist in streamlining the workflow at the Port of San Diego by identifying the tasks/questions/requests which are most advantageous to approach from a geographic perspective. By customizing the GIS interface we intend to empower all Port employees to independently accomplish substantial and consequential geography-based work.

Managing and Expanding an Enterprise GIS Session at the 2009 ESRI User Conference Details

NaturalResourcesbyCountry Zen

Introducing the 2009AerialsFourInch Service

May 29, 2009

Aerials are an integral part of any well rounded Geographic Information System. Aerials can be used as a great base to provide a context for other data, as part of a quality control effort, or as the source to create new data.

Our new 2009 aerials were flown between 11:20AM and 12:30PM on April 17th, 2009. They are 4 inch resolution meaning each pixel correlates to 4 inches by 4 inches (16 square inches) on the ground. Our new aerials are the highest quality I have ever worked with. They are on-par with the best aerials available today. Below is a table comparing some of the variables between the 3 main aerials we use here at the Port.

Aerial Service: I3_Imagery Prime_World_2D 2005AerialsHalfFoot 2009AerialsFourInch
Source: ArcGIS Online Port Port
Date Taken: 3/15/2008 in Port Area 2005 4/17/2009
Coverage: Worldwide 52.5 Sq. Miles covering Port Tidelands 48.7 Sq. Miles covering Port Tidelands
Resolution: .3 Meters (≈1 Foot) in Port Area Half Foot Four Inch
Ground Pixel Size: 12 x 12 = 144 Sq Inches 6 x 6 = 36 Sq Inches 4 x 4 = 16 Sq Inches

Below are 2 images showing measurements of one side of each pixel.

2005 Pixel Measurement

2005 Pixel Measurement

2009 Pixel Measurement

2009 Pixel Measurement

This is all great, but how does this correlate to the real world? Below are the 3 images of the Administration Building Parking lot. As you know the parking lot was recently repaved and reorganized.

2003 Parking Lot

March 2008 .3 Meter Resolution

2005 Parking Lot

2005 Half Foot Resolution

2009 Parking Lot

April 2009 Four Inch Resolution

Along with our parking lot there have been other changes on or around the Port tidelands since 2005, including the new Hilton between the Convention Center and Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal.

Left 2005 - Right 2009

Left 2005 - Right 2009

We have set up a web application where Port employees can examine the new aerial photos. You can get to this web application by clicking on the 2009 Aerials button at the PortGIS Resource Center. They are much larger images and therefore take a second or two more to render on your screen. Feel free to turn on and off layers in the “Map Contents” area. We hope to include them in the other PortGIS applications shortly.

CoolOldMap Zen

ArcGIS 4 AutoCAD and our Port GIS Services

December 26, 2008

ArcGIS 4 AutoCAD is a free tool which allows AutoCAD users to view ArcGIS Services within AutoCAD. This software creates a bridge between the GIS world and the CAD world. AutoCAD users are drawn to this tool because it gives them a window into GIS data, while still allowing them to work in the familiar AutoCAD environment. As a GIS professional, I think it is useful because it will lead CAD users to implement GIS spatial standards (coordinate system, projection and scale) without much effort. The short-term selling point for this product is that it is easier to access our in-house aerials using ArcGIS for AutoCAD than the current process. Below is a video showing how to connect to our in-house GIS services. I am not sure why my cursor is shown as a timer icon- please ignore.

I reviewed ArcGIS for AutoCAD a few months back. Since then ESRI has released the new version (build 110) which is used in the video. It seems much more stable and we are now getting real functionality we can integrate into our daily workflow.

The current release of ArcGIS for AutoCAD makes great strides in bringing GIS data into AutoCAD. The next release will streamline the process of creating GIS data within AutoCAD. We will update this blog as new functionality becomes available. If you would like to learn more about this I suggest you also read Don Kuehne’s GIS CAD Interoperability blog at We certainly will.

Our AutoCAD users manage much of our spatial data. For example; a storm drain is moved based on new construction. Not only will these changes effect Engineering data. These changes will also be reflected throughout the rest of the system. Environmental Services and General Services seem most likely to utilize this data. How does your department utilize data produced (or owned) by AutoCAD users? Would it be useful for this data to be displayed in an interactive web-based map?

ArcGIS for AutoCAD and the 2007 Tidelands Map Book Service

September 8, 2008

ArcGIS for AutoCAD is a simple and easy-to-use tool that gives AutoCAD users access to GIS information and the results of GIS analysis. This free, downloadable application provides access to ArcGIS Server map services and allows you to view and query GIS data from within the AutoCAD environment without transforming your CAD drawings or converting GIS data. As an AutoCAD user, you can work directly with ArcGIS map services to add full GIS context to your AutoCAD session.”

How does this relate to our work here at the port? ArcGIS Server produces services which can be consumed through software (ArcGIS Explorer) and web based applications (web sites with mapping applications). Adding AutoCAD to the ways we can view GIS data is a tremendous leap towards interoperability between GIS and the engineers, surveyers and architects. It will allow our AutoCAD users to view their maps in spatial relation to other GIS data, get data ready to submit to become part of a service, and ultimately allow the engineers to directly edit the service with their AutoCAD data.

This is a “to begin with the end in mind” type of approach. We are a long, long ways away from this actually being a part of our regular workflow. I’d like to explain the nitty-gritty of why this isn’t applicable today. The 2007 Tidlands Map Book service basically displays 2 scales with different information correlating directly to pages II to XII (high altitude) and pages 7 to 247 (low altitude). Below are 2 images of each scale with the Map Book service under a dwg drawing CS’s (Composite surveyed improvements map 03-14-07.dwg) sent me a while ago. Each of these images took over ten minutes to redraw and each time we pan/zoom it takes another 10 minutes.

High Altitude

High Altitude

Low Altitude

Low Altitude

Currently this is not a product which can be easily used in our workflow. This extension for AutoCAD is on the bleeding edge of technology within the AutoCAD GIS interoperability interface. As the software develops and users figure out tricks to make the drawing display faster, we will be able to further integrate this technology.

If you are interested in exploring this on your computer I’d be happy to email you instructions to install ArcGIS for AutoCAD and point to our Tidelands Map Book service.

And now a moment of GIS Zen: