A quick tour of ArcGIS for AutoCAD

Design and engineering professionals often rely on GIS information to make critical decisions. After a project is completed, it is not uncommon for CAD drawings to be repurposed and used for recording ongoing as-built information. ArcGIS for AutoCAD helps CAD and GIS professionals share this data between their respective data systems.

The software is installed as a plug-in for AutoCAD and enables AutoCAD professionals to access ArcGIS web services published with ArcGIS for Server. In addition to accessing ArcGIS services, it also provides tools for preparing native AutoCAD geometry as ArcGIS-ready feature classes. You can create, import, and edit feature class schema that are recognized by ArcGIS for Desktop as read-only feature classes, including an Esri coordinate system and feature attributes attached to geometry.

The ribbon

The commands on the ribbon are grouped by the type of activity you are performing, such as adding services or working with specific content.

ArcGIS for AutoCAD ribbon

ArcGIS web services

ArcGIS web services provide access to imagery, intelligent maps, and authoritative feature data. In ArcGIS for AutoCAD, you interact with servers and access web services through a single interface. The services you add to your drawing can originate exclusively from your own servers, or from a mix of servers. Several services that can assist you with a particular workflow, such as basemaps, are available from Esri at no cost.

Add GIS Service

Map and image services

Map services in ArcGIS for AutoCAD give you access to maps published with ArcGIS for Server. You can add one or more map services to the current drawing and use the Identify tool to view feature attributes in maps that allow query operations. Feature layers may reference data from a variety of sources such as geodatabases, shapefiles, or raster data.

Image services in ArcGIS for AutoCAD give you access to raster and image data published with ArcGIS for Server. You can add one or more image services to the current drawing. Image services may reference data from a variety of sources, such as a raster dataset, a mosaic dataset, or a layer file referencing a raster dataset or mosaic dataset.

Common uses for map and image services include the following examples:

  • Placing AutoCAD objects in the correct geographic location
  • Referencing authoritative feature data such as topology, geology, or hydrology information
  • Referencing image services based on Global Land Survey (GLS) datasets created by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Feature services

Feature services in ArcGIS for AutoCAD give you access to the vector geometry in maps published with ArcGIS for Server. Features are represented as AutoCAD objects, placed on distinct drawing layers, and organized as feature classes. You can edit the features using standard AutoCAD commands, and then push your changes back to the server to the source enterprise geodatabase if you have write permissions.

Esri basemaps

The Esri map gallery provides quick access to read-only maps and imagery published on ArcGIS Online. These maps are commonly used as basemap layers for locational references onto which you create and edit operational data contained in the AutoCAD drawing.

Add Esri Map

Locating an address or place

Locate Locate searches for an address or place and adds a temporary AutoCAD point to the drawing at its known coordinate location. The temporary point is created as a member of the ESRI_Locations feature classand placed on the ESRI_Locations layer. Once you close the table the point is removed from the drawing, but the layer remains, should you want to create your own locations there. You can specify a place-name, such as Hawaii, or its qualified abbreviation, such as HI. If more than one location is found, a point feature is added to each location.

The dialog box accepts single-line input similar to other Internet locator services and uses the ArcGIS World Geocoding Service.

Identifying features

You can view read-only information about a map feature using the Identify tool. This control is disabled if the map service is published without query operations enabled.

Map Identify

Assigning a coordinate system

Assigning a coordinate system embeds the contents of an Esri projection (.prj) file in the drawing file. The coordinate system is used by ArcGIS for AutoCAD to project ArcGIS web services on the fly in AutoCAD. It is also recognized by ArcGIS for Desktop when you add the drawing to a map (.mxd) document.

Open Coordinate System Source

Creating, editing, and sharing local feature classes

A local ArcGIS feature class is a named selection set of AutoCAD objects that share a common set of properties. You can create and configure them on the fly to display a particular subset of content as an ArcGIS-ready feature class that is recognized by ArcGIS for Desktop. They function similarly to definition queries in ArcMap with the added ability to define attribute fields and attach feature attributes to native AutoCAD geometry.

Feature Class Properties

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