February 18, 2008
Autodesk World Press Day 2008 – Engineering Geospatial
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Industry News

Autodesk World Press Day 2008 – Engineering Geospatial

by Susan Smith

Autodesk’s approach to GIS is different than that of many other GIS companies in that it comes out of engineering. “Those people who have an affinity for Autodesk Geospatial are generally coming from an engineering background,” said Geoff Zeiss, director of technology for Geospatial at a presentation held at Autodesk World Press Day 2008 in San Francisco this past week.

Consequently, the same global trends that affect the AEC industry: aging infrastructure, aging workforce, urbanization, climate change – impact those professionals working in the geospatial field.

Autodesk’s strategy naturally focuses on how engineering drafts people use geospatial and Map 3D. The second part of the strategy is about democratizing their database access. The way that MapGuide and Map 3D consume Feature Data Objects (FDO) data sources, democratized application development – makes it easier for ISDs to develop solutions.

Core markets include:

- cable & telecommunications

- energy

- water and wastewater

- government

- engineering & construction

Applications include:

- network engineering

- asset management

- public works

- land management

- transportation

Alan Saunders, senior industry manager, Utilities and Arnab Ganguly, senior technical marketing manager spoke during the Geospatial Industry Workshop on supporting utility industry initiatives:

- intelligent grid

- mobile workforce

- enterprise information management

- sustainability

Within this framework, customers want better ways to roundtrip information from field crews into the office. They want to get information from a number of IT systems to bring together asset, design and geospatial data, and respond to customer inquiries.

The latest versions of the software solutions in the geospatial platform include AutoCAD Map3D 2009, Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2009 and AutoCAD Raster Design 2009, which are all interoperable with other CAD, GIS and IT systems. All have open data access and are built on an open architecture that preserves data integrity. The idea is that the geospatial platform is now easier to use, with design and spatial asset information flowing in and out of systems easily.

The platform is designed for solutions that are purpose built for utilities. Another announcement was the validation of Map 3D 2009 with Citrix Presentation Software though the Citrix Ready program.

“Our objective is to get people up the value chain from AutoCAD, to Map 3D and MapGuide and FDO data access technology,” said Saunders. Map 3D is built on AutoCAD, so that customers can just move their AutoCAD data up the value chain.

Starting with AutoCAD mappers, customers move up to using MapGuide to publish their data, and can move to building geospatial applications using the Topobase framework using an Oracle database. GIS users can use Map 3D immediately.

Saunders said that there are five things that represent what Map 3D is about:

- native access to CAD, GIS and raster data formats via FDO data access technology

- AutoCAD tools for precision editing of GIS data

- GIS tools for map creation and stylization

- Powerful, flexible and open data management tools

- Direct Web Publishing via Autodesk MapGuide technology and DWF file specification

Added to 2009 are better performance, data access, data management and better API.

Performance –

In the past Map 3D has not been known for its speed, due mainly to the slow way that AutoCAD handles large files. It has traditional loaded an entire file into memory, which works fine when editing, but not when you have all the Census polygons for the U.S. to load. The new enhancements focus on speed of performance and the ability to load large datasets for mapping and design functions. Map 3D is 7 times faster to load data via FDO.

Spatial and Tabular Operators –

provide engineering staff with core GIS Functionality to access, edit, and analyze CAD and GIS data.

Data Management –

This allows users to work with data in DWG and other data formats, improve data flow and usage inside and outside of project teams. You now have direct import/export DWG data to/from SDF and Oracle.


Completed design data and maps can be shared with users throughout your organization. DWFs are georeferenced and can be marked up now.

Metadata – You can create and use industry standard compliant metadata. There is now the ability to view, create and manage metadata, and automatically create metadata for DWG and FDO data stores.

Extended Data Access – Because most users need to integrate and work with variety of existing data, the solution is to combine CAD capabilities with geospatial data access.

New to 2009 is the ability to utilize third party and open source FDO data providers

(e.g. – OGR, GDAL, FME) or data formats (e.g. ESRI personal geodatabase, MapInfo, TAB)

Additionally, FDO Geospatial Data Access allows you to take data in many different formats, such as aerial photos, utility data from an SDF file, property data form a Microsoft SQL Server, zoning data from ArcSDE. With FDO you can to put it all together without doing any file conversion, and write back to those databases in their native format.

AutoCAD Raster Design 2009 extends the capabilities of raster design in Map 3D, and makes it possible to do raster vector conversions, rubber sheeting, and insert imagery in common formats. In terms of functionality, the new enhancements offer more tightly integrated formats with AutoCAD Map 3D and Civil 3D, added better vectorization, and better support for multispectral images.

Utility Design is an intelligent rule based CAD design tool for the design and layout of networks, powerful engineering rules and calculations, automated cost estimation, standardized materials ordering, all built on Map 3D.

Topobase is a solution for integrating infrastructure, design and management with verticals for water, wastewater, electrical and gas. It stores CAD design data in a spatial database, allows you to enter asset data using step by step workflows, maintaining proper relationships and topology between assets.

MapGuide Open Source has to its credit 23,000 downloads over the first 8 months. Version 1.10 was released in January with Google KML Support.

MapGuide Enterprise is an off cycle release that shares the FDO Framework with Map 3D and Raster Design. Topobase extends Map 3D and MapGuide,

”The latest release of MapGuide Enterprise incorporates Flexible Web Layouts, based on the recent contribution of Fusion technology to the MapGuide Open Source community by DM Solutions Group,” according to the press release.”Flexible Web Layout technology helps speed development of Web mapping applications created with Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2009 and with MapGuide Open Source 2.0.” Flexible Web Layouts make it possible for Web designers and software developers to create Web mapping applications without geospatial application development knowledge.

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