Making that CAD/GIS Connection with GISConnect
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Making that CAD/GIS Connection with GISConnect

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Read about Haestad Methods' GISConnect for AutoCAD, a software add-on solution that integrates CAD drawing files and GIS data, in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Alliances/Acquisitions, Announcements, New Products, Going on Around the Web, and Calendar.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

GIS Connect for AutoCAD
Making that CAD/GIS Connection with GISConnect
By Susan Smith

The recent release of Haestad Methods' GISConnect for AutoCAD, a software add-on solution that integrates CAD and GIS software systems, is indicative of a trend we have seen in the GIS industry for the past year.

Haestad Methods' integration software “empowers users to work directly within AutoCAD, providing full control over the entire dataset to create, edit, view, and manipulate 'live' ArcGIS data. With GISConnect, professionals can use native AutoCAD commands to perform GIS tasks, filter data spatially or via attribute queries, and select AutoCAD entities using geodatabase queries. GISConnect is compatible with AutoCAD 2002, 2002i, 2004, and all ArcGIS products of version 8 or higher.”

Haestad Methods' GISConnect for AutoCAD is Autodesk's answer to the problem of integrating CAD drawing files and GIS data. Graphisoft, provider of ArchiCAD 3D architectural software, is working with ESRI to integrate ArchiCAD with ArcGIS. Earlier this year, we saw Bentley Systems' AEC/GIS Interoperability Initiative, which makes use of APIs to integrate ESRI's ArcGIS and Bentley's MicroStation.

Obviously, there are some differences between AEC and GIS applications. AEC applications emphasize graphics, where GIS applications are datacentric. AEC focuses on design and analysis; GIS on cartography and spatial analysis. AEC adheres to a drawing/modeling/document paradigm, whereas GIS works with a database paradigm. The list can go on and on.

There are clearly three key areas where the two technologies need each other: Currently I'm exploring just what each of these CAD/GIS integration solutions offers. The integration solutions that ESRI is developing with each of the major CAD vendors presents some challenges because of the varying file formats that each CAD vendor employs. Just how rich and deep the integration goes depends on what can be achieved between the various systems and ArcGIS.

This week GISWeekly features an interview with Scott Devoe, Director of Strategic Development for Haestad Methods.

Was this product, GISConnect for AutoCAD, developed as a result of customer demand?

SD: Originally the product was written for a prominent engineering consulting firm in Connecticut. We were trying to help them with a GIS project, and they were a traditional CAD-focused shop that didn't even own ESRI software when we started. The consultants didn't have the desire or time to learn how to use ArcMap, so we decided to help them leverage their CAD expertise in a GIS-based platform.

One distinguishing limitation that other competing products could never overcome was that they only offered data transfer capabilities-in other words, write to a shape file and read to a shape file-or they were limited to using APIs other than ArcObjects.

GISConnect is superior because it is actually built on both ESRI's ArcObjects and AutoCAD's ObjectARX, providing users with the best of both worlds. In addition, GISConnect offers its users database-integrity protection, which is also not available in competing products. Since we're using a license of ESRI, our customers are pretty much guaranteed that they are not going to be breaking any of their geodatabase rules. Users will get an error if they can't insert something into the geodatabase, just as they would using ArcMap.

Did ESRI and Autodesk come to you for help in building this product?

SD: No, Haestad Methods initiated and developed this product on its own; however, we have held meetings with ESRI and Autodesk, and the product has been favorably received by both organizations. As I mentioned, we had a customer that was under the gun to get a particular project completed, and they needed to get a GIS in-house, they needed to deliver a GIS database stormwater map, and they had all their existing stormwater drawings in AutoCAD. Basically it began with Haestad Methods writing some tools to help them get all their data into a geodatabase. It was easy for us to write the tools since we had been working with both ArcObjects and ObjectARX. Once our client experienced how easy GISConnect made it for them to create and manipulate their ArcGIS data, they recommended that we market it to other mapping professionals. We then approached ESRI and Autodesk and demonstrated GISConnect to them.

Does GISConnect have full read-write or read only capabilities?

SD: GISConnect offers full read-write capabilities. When users open a blank drawing in AutoCAD, they see a similar tool set that they are accustomed to seeing in ArcMap. GISConnect supports three types of GIS data: points, polylines, and polygon feature classes. Users can select individual feature classes to bring in, or they can actually select the entire feature data set. GISConnect for AutoCAD builds a one-to-one mapping between AutoCAD and the feature data.

When users of GISConnect look at the layer list, they see that each of the feature classes comes in on its own layer. Each layer represents the data in the feature class, and a locking mechanism allows them to have data integrity for editing. The underlying values only exist in the geodatabase, not in AutoCAD. GISConnect also supports coded value domains and follows geodatabase rules unlike products that aren't built with ESRI's ArcObjects.

When mappers bring in point data, they come in as AutoCAD points. GISConnect has an option to change point data to blocks. Block attributes can then be mapped to fields in the feature classes, allowing users to edit the way they would in AutoCAD with the changes taking place in their geodatabase.

Are there plans to make GISConnect work with AutoCAD Revit, the company's 3D building information modeling software?

SD: Currently, this product will only work with AutoCAD and all ArcGIS products of version 8 or higher. It supports any 2004 platform, including AutoCAD Map, Architectural Desktop, Land Desktop 2004. It doesn't matter which flavor of AutoCAD users are working with.

How is the data read from ArcGIS to AutoCAD, and vice versa?

SD: GISConnect uses ArcObjects technology to access the ArcGIS data and ObjectARX technology to provide the reactions within AutoCAD. GISConnect allows us to watch and monitor the entire AutoCAD session and makes it very reactive. That way, users don't need specific commands to draw polylines, move points, and so forth and can just use native AutoCAD commands.

Will the GIS user be able to grab drawings out of AutoCAD?

SD: Absolutely, but there are no schema tools, which means that users have to run ArcCatalog to build their feature classes. It's kind of like ArcMap in that you can't build schema in it, you have to actually run ArcCatalog to get the new feature class.

Over the next two to three weeks GISWeekly will feature CAD/GIS integration stories profiling the solutions offered by various vendors. Reader comments on the topic are also welcome. Write to me at: Managing Editor


Telcontar, supplier of software and related services for location-based services (LBS), announced that it has entered a strategic partnership with RACO Wireless. Under the agreement, RACO Wireless will use Telcontar's Drill Down Server™ and Traffic Manager™ software platform products to enhance its existing library of industry leading LBS applications, and to design new applications in the future. Also in the news, Telcontar announced an agreement that enables Telcontar to resell GlobeXplorer imagery services. Under the agreement, Telcontar is now able to offer GlobeXplorer's high-quality aerial and satellite digital images to customers using either its Universal Telematics Server™ ASP or Drill Down Server™ spatial platform.

PCI Geomatics announced a significant investment in the future of geomatics. Bryon Wilfert, Canadian Member of Parliament and Secretary to the Minister of Finance, on behalf of Allan Rock, Minister of Industry, announced a $5,563,240 investment to support innovative research and development by PCI Geomatics. With this investment, PCI Geomatics will develop GeoCapacity Centres, advanced technology software applications that merge large volumes of satellite imagery and mapping data to create digital maps in near real time.

Vexcel Corporation, photogrammetric products and services provider, announced a contract with Aerial Services Inc. (ASI) of Cedar Falls, Iowa, to deliver the first UltraCam-D large format aerial camera sold in North America. The new 90 mega-pixel aerial camera outperforms conventional film cameras, producing 4 color channels in red/green/blue/near-infrared at an image collection rate of less than a second at 12 bits per channel.


Georgia Tech Center for Geographic Information Systems, College of Architecture, will present a series of GIS courses, beginning in October 2003 and continuing through May 2004. Courses include: Introductory Course in ArcGIS 8.3, Building GIS Applications Using Visual Basic, Designing Geodatabases for GIS Application, Using GIS for Data Integration and Asset Management, Developing Web-based GIS with ArcIMS, and Building GIS Applications Using Visual Basic and VB.Net. All courses are open to the public, and held in Georgia Tech's Global Learning Center in Technology Square, Atlanta, GA. For complete course descriptions and registration fees visit: and select "geographic information systems" from the drop down menu. For additional information, call: (404) 385-3501.

Navigation Technologies, provider of digital maps, for vehicle navigation, Internet/wireless, government and business solutions, and SiRF Technology, Inc., a leader in GPS- enabled silicon and software location platforms, announced the Wireless LBS Challenge: a call to the location-based services (LBS) industry to develop interesting, useful LBS applications that will work with cell phones or wireless handheld devices using global positioning satellite (GPS) technology and NAVTECH maps. Navigation Technologies and SiRF Technology, Inc. initiated this effort in hopes of igniting interest in, and awareness of, the growing market for LBS applications.

Contestants can register for the contest at .*

ESRI, Trimble, and TeleAtlas invite you to attend a free, half-day seminar on mobile GIS. A mobile geographic information system (GIS) integrates three essential technologies: GIS software, global positioning system (GPS) technology, and handheld computers. For more information or to view the agenda, please visit the Mobile GIS Seminar Web page at

MapInfo Corporation (Nasdaq: MAPS) will hold its quarterly conference call to discuss fourth quarter and year end results on Thursday, October 30, 2003 at 8:30AM (EST). The conference call will be Webcast live at or The fourth quarter earnings announcement will be issued at 7:00 AM (EST) on October 30, 2003.

An audio replay of the call will be available starting at 12:00N (EST) on October 30, 2003 through 5:30 PM (EST) on November 6, 2003. To access the recording, domestic callers may dial into 800-642-1687 and international callers into 706-645-9291 (Code: 3306550). Replays of the Webcast are also available at for 90 days following the call and at

DataVision GIS, in conjunction with ESRI Australia, Ultimate Positioning and RIA Mobile GIS, will host a Mobile GIS Seminar on the 6 November 2003. The seminar will be held at Hadley's Hotel in Hobart, Australia, at 2pm. Please note that although the seminar is free you will need to register, by 31 October 2003, in order to reserve your place. The Registration Form can be downloaded from:

With commercial customers in telecommunications and utilities, and mineral and petroleum exploration slow to mature, imagery and services providers focus once again on government revenues to grow the commercial remote sensing imagery and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) markets. New analysis from Frost & Sullivan ( ), World Commercial Remote Sensing Imagery, GIS Software, Data, and Value-added Services Markets, reveals that this industry generated revenues totaling $5.39 billion in 2002. Total market revenues are expected to reach $8.33 billion in 2007.

Laser-Scan, a member of the Oracle PartnerNetwork, is demonstrating its support of Oracle Database 10g at OracleWorld Paris event this week. Laser-Scan has been taking part in the Oracle Database 10g Beta Partner Program and is working to build solutions on Oracle's next-generation database technology.

American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month originated in 1915 when the president of the Congress of American Indian Associations issued a proclamation declaring the second Saturday in May each year as American Indian Day. The first American Indian Day was celebrated in May 1916, in New York. In 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed a joint congressional resolution designating November 1990 "National American Indian Heritage Month." Similar proclamations have been issued each year since 1994.

Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC) unveiled conference plans to deliver unprecedented content and value for geospatial professionals at the fourth annual GeoSpatial World to be held May 12-14, 2004, in Miami Beach, Florida. Themed "Open. Solutions. Exchange.," the program for GeoSpatial World 2004 will address open technology and standards, demonstrate proven industry solutions and provide a platform for the exchange of ideas and expertise with users from around the world. Utilities and communications industry executives from the United States and Canada gathered at Intergraph corporate headquarters to discuss technology directions with Intergraph leaders during this week's Utilities and Communications Network Conference for North America, hosted by Intergraph Mapping and Geospatial Solutions and the Intergraph GeoSpatial Users Community (IGUC).


UCLID Software announced that Dan Carlson has joined the company as V.P. of Business Development. Formerly with Fidlar Software, Carlson will spearhead UCLID's efforts to promote automated indexing solutions for county government and title insurance companies. UCLID is delivering an enhancement that automates the data entry process. UCLID's technology seamlessly integrates with existing data entry applications providing significant productivity gains for data entry professionals.

New Products

Geomatica 9 FreeView, the newest no-cost spatial data viewing environment from PCI Geomatics, is now available for download via the company's website. Modeled on PCI Geomatics' advanced "all-in-one" geospatial solution, this free software allows users to view, layer, and evaluate raster and vector spatial data effortlessly. Geomatica 9 FreeView's multiple format, multiple resolution, and multiple projection environment supports over 100 spatial data formats, including ASTER, QuickBird, IKONOS, SPOT, EROS, and JPEG 2000 images, plus SHP, DXF, and dozens of other vector formats.

Autodesk Location Services, a division of Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), announced the latest version of its market-ready application suite, Autodesk® Location 4. The product provides carriers with the ability to offer consumer and enterprise customers with a variety of easy-to-use, location sensitive applications that can increase customer loyalty, drive network usage, and attract new customers. These applications can be used by subscribers to:
  • find businesses or entertainment listings;
  • get directions, traffic reports, and maps; and
  • locate and send messages to friends and colleagues
Also from Autodesk Location Services is the Autodesk Traffic Connect - SMS Edition. This new version of the Traffic Connect application delivers up-to-the-minute, location sensitive traffic information to wireless subscribers using text messaging (SMS). Subscribers can receive relevant reports on traffic conditions automatically or on demand, a new feature that enables the person to receive traffic information by simply sending a text message to the service provider. The leader in software for marine and hydrographic spatial information production and management, CARIS, announced today the release of version 2.0 of its Hydrographic Production Database (HPD).

Maptech's Terrain Navigator Pro now includes a free ArcGIS Extension that eliminates file format problems. ArcGIS 8.3 users can now use Maptech's raster cartography directly - without going through the process of exporting, importing, or reprojecting the maps. Maptech provides over 350,000 easy to use topographic maps, orthophotos, nautical charts, aeronautical charts and elevation models for ArcGIS.

MapInfo, provider of location intelligence solutions for the Enterprise, has announced a new series of Census Data PowerPacks based on the UK 2001 Census. Four products are available - Primary, Standard, Professional and Daytime and Workplace - all designed for easy use with MapInfo Professional, the world's leading software for mapping and geographical analysis.

Karrier Communications, providers of sports enhancing software, announced its IntelliGolf(R) version 7.0 golf scorecard software for Palm(R) (Nasdaq:PALM) handhelds and Microsoft(R) (Nasdaq:MSFT) Windows Mobile-based Pocket PCs at the CTIA Wireless tradeshow. Version 7.0 adds support for the satellite-based Global Positioning System (GPS), Bluetooth, WAAS/SBAS, more golf statistics, and sidegame enhancements. Palm handheld and Windows Mobile-based Pocket PC users will now be able to accurately view distances from tee-to-green using IntelliGolf's embedded IntelliGPS(TM) technology.

NavCom Technology, Inc., precise positioning and communications technology provider, announced the addition of the new NCT-2030M to its line of dual-frequency GPS receivers.

Each year, the UN and other international organizations collect large amounts of data from all the countries of the world. Globalis presents some of this information in a simple and visual way. With a few mouse clicks, you can produce colorful maps that show the state of the world on various topics.

Globalis is a tool which highlights the similarities and differences between the countries of this world, and has been developed by the United Nations Association of Norway in cooperation with UNEP/GRID-Arendal, the UNU/Global Virtual University and the University College of Hedmark. Globalis uses the UN Millenium Goals as a starting point, and will follow the development towards the year 2015, when, according to plan, these goals of human development and poverty reduction should have been reached. The tool also includes data from different years, allowing you to see for instance how humans have influenced the environment over time. Globalis is freely available at

Going on Around the Web...

Gartner Sees Tech Spending Accelerating up to 2006 by Eric Auchard, Reuters October 20, 2003 - Technology spending is poised to return to solid growth in 2004 and beyond as companies shift from cost-cutting to focus on innovation that drives sales, a top computer consulting group said on Monday.

Images of Space Get Second Look Wired News, October 22, 2003 -- Much like paintings of America's Wild West commissioned by government surveyors became icons that redefined American culture in the 19th century, photographs of alien landscapes taken by the Voyager spacecraft have shaken our sense of self today.

Going on in October...

12th Annual GIS for Oil & Gas Conference
Date: September 29 - October 1, 2003
Place: Houston, TX USA
“A Toolbox for System Integrity,” The event will focus on how geospatial information technologies can investigate integrity, improve business processes, manage risk, and increase efficiency. The conference is devoted exclusively to the applications of GIS technology for the upstream and downstream aspects of the industry, including exploration and production, land/lease, pipeline, gathering, retail, refining, and marketing.

GIS in the Rockies
Date: October 1 - 3, 2003
Place: Denver, CO USA
"Geospatial Integration Today for Tomorrow" is the theme of this year's conference. The conference will include a luncheon address by industry leader and technical visionary Peter Batty on topics ranging from OpenGIS to EAI, location tracking systems and wireless communications.

GIS -- Essential for the Modern World
Date: October 1 - 2, 2003
Place: Holiday Inn- Turf Albany, NY USA
GIS can help agencies, companies, and NGO's meet the challenges facing society in a time of increased demands but diminished resources. Starting eighteen years ago with a small gathering of early GIS users, the New York State GIS Conference has become a major GIS professional development opportunity for hundreds of GIS users in the state. Technical presentations feature working professionals who share their GIS experiences and solutions in dealing with real world problems like yours.. Meet fellow New Yorkers active in the GIS field, exchange information and experiences, and seek solutions to your geographic data management needs. Professional networking opportunities help you develop a network of fellow GIS users which can continue through the years. In the exhibit area, GIS vendors and consultants display the latest in GIS hardware, software, analytical techniques, and services.

FME Training Chicago
Date: October 6 - 7, 2003
Place: Chicago, IL USA
Learn from the source how to use the core components of the Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) through hands-on training. During our two-day (1/3 lecture, 2/3 exercise and problem solving) training course, attendees learn to unlock the powerful features and functionalities of FME to more effectively manage their data translation and data transformation problems. Questions are encouraged throughout the class and attendees are encouraged to bring their own sample data files.

Partnerships and Geographic Data Sharing In Local e-Government
Date: October 7, 2003
Place: Barbican Centre London, United Kingdom
- A free event for Local Authorities and their partners to gain valuable insight into how data sharing is already working and delivering real benefits in e-government projects - The seminar features speakers from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister, Oracle, GDC and Snowflake Software PLUS real-life case studies from The London Central Partnership and Derbyshire County Council - Lunch and refreshments will be provided

18th European ESRI Conference
Date: October 8 - 10, 2003
Place: Innsbruck, Austria
Combining the ESRI 2003 with the 10th German User Conference will give a boost to both events. After Essen 2002 the German User Conference is now in the South again and - following the spirit of a united Europe of Regions - for the first time in Austria !

GEA'2003 IX International Fair
Date: October 9 - 11, 2003
Place: Pradzynskiego Street 12/14 Warsaw, Poland
The International Geodesy and Geoinformatics Fairs (GEA) taking place in Warsaw cover a wide range of diverse branches such as geodesy, forestry, building trade and architecture as well as companies dealing with energy, water and heat supply, telecommunication, road, rail, air, and water transport or professionals from such fields as ecology, geography, and spatial engineering. Geoinformatics, a rapidly developing branch of science, functions as the entity joining all those areas of interest.

Spain's ESRI User Conference
Date: October 9 - 10, 2003
Place: Madrid, Spain

URISA's 41st Annual Conference
Date: October 11 - 15, 2003
Place: Atlanta, GA USA
Go beyond basic technology and applications and contemplate issues related to designing, managing and applying information technology - at its highest and best use - to improve our urban and regional environments. Join your colleagues, peers, thinkers and doers from around the world at URISA's Annual Conference.

Map Asia 2003
Date: October 13 - 15, 2003
Place: Putra World Trade Centre (PWTC) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Map Asia 2003is the 2nd Annual Asian Conference and Exhibition on the field of geographic information technologies like GIS, GPS, Aerial Photography and Remote Sensing. With the increasing penetration of information technology in Asia, usage of geographic information is finding more attention from multiple user segments. A need is being felt for dissemination of information about the latest geographic information technology developments, possible applications, and its integration with allied technologies. Regional cooperation and a congenial platform wherefrom every country in this region can work and grow together in the field of geoinformatics is the need of the hour. Map Asia 2003 is a platform for all stakeholders like researchers, users, technology developers, and policy makers to discuss, deliberate and share their knowledge and experiences for benefit of all in the field. Map Asia is scheduled to be held from 17- 19 July 2003 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

"Putting IT All Together" GITA Webcast
Date: October 14, 2003
Place: USA
Standards Update and Case Studies for Enterprise Application Integration

- Micro to Macro96th Annual CIG Geomatics ConferenceHosted by: the Canadian Institute of Geomatics
Dat: October 16 - 18, 2003
Place: Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The 2003 Canadian Institute of Geomatics (CIG) 96th Annual Geomatics Conference and Exhibition on Geomatics for Industry - Micro to Macro is being held in Calgary, Canada October 16-18, 2003 at the Fairmont Palliser located in the heart of downtown Calgary. Unprecedented growth in Canadian industry has resulted in numerous advances in the technology and skill sets associated with geomatics. The conference will demonstrate some of these achievements at an open forum and exhibit where professionals from the geomatics community, as well as professionals from industries which employ geomatics, can observe the latest developments in the state-of-the-art geomatics services available in Canada. This event has been planned to provide delegates with practical knowledge and tools that can be operationally implemented immediately after the conference.

Regional Chapter 4th Annual Conference Dat: October 20 - 21, 2003
Place: Salishan Lodge and Golf Resort Glenede Beach, USA
The GITA Pacific Northwest conference will be held this year at The Salishan Lodge and Golf Resort, Gleneden Beach (south of Lincoln City), OR, on October 20 - 21, 2003. We expect to have 100 attendees with 12 vendors exhibiting. This is a super location and there is an opportunity for you to spend time pre and post conference, for as little as $65.00 per night.

Mississippi Gulf Coast Geospatial Conference
Da<>e: October 22 - 24, 2003
Place: Palace Casino Resort Biloxi, MO USA
The Gulf Coast Geospatial Center in conjunction with The University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi Association for Spatial Technologies, The Nature Conservancy, and NASA is pleased to announce the 1st Annual Mississippi Gulf Coast Geospatial Conference.

ESRI Southwest User Group Conference
Date: October 27 - 30, 2003
Place: Snow King Resort, Jackson, WY USA
ESRI users from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming are invited to attend the 2003 SWUG conference. Conference themes will focus on natural resource management, planning and legal issues, imagery, and government. To present a paper at the conference, submit an abstract (50-100 words) by August 15, 2003, to Email Contact. Presenters will be notified by September 8, 2003.

Product Lifecycle Management Road Map 2003
Date: October 28 - 29, 2003
Place: The Dearborn Inn Dearborn, MI USA
Attendees at Product Lifecycle Management Road Map 2003 will have the opportunity to hear and interact with speakers who are industry leaders, experienced in confronting the changing PLM landscape. Find out how the best in class are using the new generation of PLM processes and technologies to enhance product development, improve quality, and enhance the role of PLM across the whole enterprise. Topics covered include multiple representations across the full lifecycle, knowledge capture and reuse, design collaboration, PLM interoperability, systems engineering, collaborative CAE, the business benefits of PLM integration and more. Lily Ballantyneemail Email Contact

SmartCard Teleconference Events
Date: September 4, 2003
Place: USA
"Ask the Experts" Roundtable teleconference