Georeferenced DWF Files

I have come to rely on my power users.  Just the other day one of my power users (Michael Elander) came to me asking about georeferenced DWF’s.  To be frankly honest my knowledge of georeferenced DWF’s really extended no further than a flier I picked up at AU or something on Design Review 2008.  The concept I understood, but how to create one, I just hadn’t invested the time to figure it out.

The whole reason Mike wanted to pursue the topic was because he was asked to share some drawings with a third-party who was not our client.  They needed to be able to reference our drawing, but we didn’t want them to be able to manipulate our drawing.  As many have discovered over the years, locking down a DWG file is easier said than done.  Sure there are some third-party apps out there, but what about the tools we already had installed?

That’s where the idea of the georeferenced DWF came up.  Since AutoCAD 2008 we can Xref a DWF, snap to the linework contained within it, and provided we enable them, turn layers on/off.  Translation: it’s essentially a DWG which the third-party can’t modify – perfect!

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Converting a Drawings Coordinate System

For one reason or another drawings sometimes need to be moved from one coordinate system (datum) to another.  A classic example may be moving from a NAD 27 datum to a NAD 83.  Whatever the case may be, how might one perform this translation as accurately as possible?

To answer that I turn to good old Map 3D.  As you may know both AutoCAD Land Desktop and AutoCAD Civil 3D are built on top of AutoCAD Map 3D, so if you have either product, you also have Map 3D.  Users of Map 3D naturally know it’s power, whereas I have found many civil engineering professionals nearly forget about the Map menu altogether.  While it may seem odd, we’re actually going to start the translation from a blank drawing.

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Finding the 3D in Map 3D: Surface Visualization

Flash The September / October issue of AUGIWorld is now available for download.  The cover story for this issue is “A First Good Impression”.  Impression is a brand new program that Autodesk released this year which allows you to give your CAD drawings a hand sketched look.  Anyone faced with creating such exhibits and illustrations will definitely want to read this months AUGIWorld.

In addition to the “A First Good Impression” article, there are numerous other articles worth giving a read.  Of those articles is one by yours truly titled “Finding the 3D in Map 3D: Surface Visualization”. AUGIWorld is available electronically by clicking HERE.

Download the September / October AUGIWorld

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Importing & Elevating GIS Contours – Part 2

In my last post titled “Importing & Elevating GIS Contours – Part 1” I discussed a way for us to import GIS Data into an AutoCAD Drawing as AutoCAD entities.  While I spoke in context of using it to import GIS contours, truth be known, the process outlined in part 1 can be used for almost all GIS data.  Unless you are working with contours, you can probably stop with my last post. Contours (or topography) require a little more work to make them useful.

At this point we have a drawing full of contours, none of which have an elevation. Non elevated contours may be fine for some elementary tasks; more advanced tasks will undoubtedly require your topography to be elevated. If you?re a gluten for punishment, you could always click each contour line, changing its elevation. Thankfully such pains don?t need to be experienced as Map 3D provides us with a semi-automated way of elevating contour data by queuing in on a data field. So just how does one elevate their contour data?

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Importing & Elevating GIS Contours – Part 1

Contours Perhaps one of the most common GIS related tasks I am asked to help with is how to import and then elevate GIS contour data.  Oftentimes this data is provided as an ESRI Shapefile, and when imported has no elevation.  While GIS contour data isn’t accurate enough for precise design, it is often sufficient for the purposes of preliminary analysis or broad design considerations.

While the details of course vary depending on the data source, all GIS contour data generally share some fundamental similarities. Of these is the concept elevation data is encapsulated within a one of the data fields of your shapefile.  Elevating GIS contour data can be summarized in two parts; importing the data, and elevating the data.  Unfortunately these two parts cannot be done concurrently, and instead must be done separately.  In this, the first of a two-part posting, we will look at how to import GIS data as AutoCAD line work into a drawing.

Some things to note about this process.  First, you are actually importing the data into your drawing, not linking to it.  What that means is if your GIS data source ever changes, the data we import will not update.  While my focus will be on importing contour data, this process will work for any ESRI Shape file.  Something like contour data doesn’t traditionally change all that often, whereas parcel data is generally changed daily.  Thus like anything, there are advantages and disadvantages to this process that you will need to evaluate.

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Map 3D Drawing Status Bar in Civil 3D

Civil 3D users – did you know that Map 3D has a specialized drawing status bar?

It seems the typical Civil 3D user knows little to nothing about the abilities of Map 3D. As those who do use it know, Map 3D is an incredibly powerful geospatial tool. Autodesk did publish their “GIS Skills for Engineers” document with the release of AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 and AutoCAD Map 3D 2008. For anyone who has to use GIS data in an engineering environment, the document is a must read.

In reading through the document one thing I noticed was its use of a drawing status bar I had never seen before. That got me to thinking, and in true CAD Geek fashion, on a quest for the answer for this little riddle. Finally after fiddling around for some time I was finally able to uncover the answer to unlocking this super top secret drawing status bar. I say super top secret because (to my knowledge) the Map 3D Status Bar cannot be enabled from within AutoCAD. So how does one enable it?

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Isolating Individual Objects

Hidden for some time now in the lower right-hand corner of AutoCAD is a little light bulb. If you are like most, you have simply let this little light bulb burn –wasting electricity. At first glance it may seem a little out of place. After all light bulbs belong in the layer manager– right?

Even still – what’s up with the light bulb in the lower corner of the screen? What many seem to discount as being a status notification of some sort is in fact an actual command.

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