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April 16, 2007
What Do CAD Users Want to Do With GIS?
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

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Industry News

What Do CAD Users Want to Do With GIS?

by Susan Smith

The following is an interview with Don Kuehne, ESRI CAD product manager, regarding ESRI’s new free ArcGIS for AutoCAD download product. ArcGIS for AutoCAD is an extension of internet mapping based on ArcGIS Server and consuming map services, that allows CAD users to visualize and query geographic information system (GIS) data within the CAD environment without conversion. The product can consume dynamically georeferenced ArcGIS Server map services and display them in the AutoCAD environment.

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AECWeekly: There have been announcements of CAD/GIS interfaces between ESRI and Autodesk in the past. This one is definitely something new.

Don Kuehne: We have worked with Autodesk products for some time, with our previous ArcCAD product, ArcSDE CAD client, and our direct read of the data formats. Regardless, ArcGIS for AutoCAD is a new technology built for ArcGIS Server.

The new technology is all based on ArcGIS Server and consuming map services, and in a lot of ways, it’s kind of an extension of internet mapping, basically using AutoCAD as a client to that technology.

AECWeekly: You’re gearing ArcGIS for AutoCAD more toward your ArcGIS users who already have ArcGIS Server but have an occasional need perhaps to work with CAD? Is the product geared more towards them and not so much toward the CAD user who does not have ArcGIS?

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I think it’s twofold: one is for our existing enterprise users, and so these are typically larger customers: governments, state and local governments, large engineering firms, electric utilities that have established GIS departments and also have departments that are more akin to working in CAD. This is a very typical scenario for us, to be able to do GIS in a lot of different areas, and CAD is certainly one of those areas we’re extending to. These would typically already be the ArcGIS Server type of customers, but then there’s also the other type of customer who is really more of a consumer, so ArcGIS Server can be used to serve out information for a lot of different
reasons, even for public access. In that situation, just a lone CAD user could basically consume map services either for free or as part of simply publishing the data out for general access. So if you’re thinking about somebody publishing data, then any AutoCAD user with this free add on tool could connect to it and see the data inside their maps. Within an organization these would be ArcGIS Server customers already typically, but consultants for a city could also consume a city’s map service and see it in AutoCAD, just over the internet.

Instead of going to an HTML web page that has the city’s data on it, they could be within AutoCAD and pulling that information up in the drawing.

AECWeekly: How many CAD users do you anticipate will have ArcGIS Server 9.2 in their shops?

Don Kuehne: I think it might be more useful to rephrase the question; “How many ArcGIS Server customers will have CAD in their shops?” The answer to that question is many of our ArcGIS Server customers need to work with CAD.

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ArcGIS for AutoCAD is not just for people with ArcGIS Server, it is also for people who have access to ArcGIS Server map services at large. ArcGIS for AutoCAD doesn’t require an ArcGIS Server license; it just requires that you can connect to the map service being served by ArcGIS server somewhere. This means an enterprise can serve select map services for consultants or CAD customers. The CAD user needs only the no-cost ArcGIS for AutoCAD application, their existing AutoCAD, and connectivity to the map service.

AECWeekly: What kind of interaction with live GIS maps will CAD users be able to enjoy with the new application?

Don Kuehne: The CAD user can query the features attribute records of GIS databases contained in ArcGIS Map Services. ArcGIS Server is serving out maps based on live GIS data, so the CAD user gets the most current version of the map every time she pans or zooms, or on request. Map Services can contain scale-dependent display information; this is a standard feature of a Map Service that is passed along to the CAD user so that he sees the appropriate level of detail based on any view scale. When you’re moving around in AutoCAD, it’s basically tracking with you, but if you zoom in, for example, to a map that has scale dependent display, you’ll be
seeing the appropriate level of detail. If something happens to change while you’re moving around inside you’ll see the most up to date version of that map every time you’re looking at it. Also you’ll have the ability to query the underlying databases from within AutoCAD and it will pull up the feature attributes of the data that are being displayed on the screen.

It really is just a form of internet mapping where you’re just using AutoCAD as your viewer, so you don’t need to know that much about what you’re looking at to access it.

AECWeekly: What is the learning curve for CAD users using this product?

Don Kuehne: There is very little training required. Go to
AutoCADapp and follow the links to the download page. Download the self-extracting install. Click OK a couple of times to install the product on top of AutoCAD 2007. Launch AutoCAD 2007 where you will see the ArcGIS for AutoCAD application has loaded a menu and toolbar. Click the Add Map Service button and fill in the URL to the desired ArcGIS Server Map Service and it adds the georeferenced Map service to your AutoCAD drawing. As you pan and zoom the image updates to display
in the correct coordinate space at the proper scale. You can open the properties of the custom Map Service entity that gets added like any other AutoCAD entity to control custom properties such as the dynamic visibility and display of the Map Service. You can force the refresh of a map with the Map Refresh tool and you can use the included Identify tool to get the feature attributes from the underlying GIS databases.

I guess that’s your learning curve. You don’t need to know where or how the data is stored. You need not concern yourself with how to mimic the GIS cartographic representations with CAD entities, you just get the map and access to the data seeing it the same way it was crafted by the GIS professional. Also included are a tutorial, user guide and help.

AECWeekly: Will CAD users be able to communicate back to the GIS databases?

Don Kuehne: CAD is already supported as a data type understood by ArcGIS and ArcGIS Server. We are still defining the upcoming functionality, and the need for users to update data and exchange data with other users is something we are very aware of.

AECWeekly: Do you think there will be CAD users who may move into an interest in GIS by their introduction to GIS in this way? This would open up a whole new cadre of users for ESRI!

Don Kuehne: I think you’re hitting the nail right on the head here. At ESRI we do GIS, and we do GIS for all different types of users and user environments. CAD is one of those environments in which our customers work. Their core business may not be GIS, but they can benefit like everyone else from GIS information. You can think of internet mapping as an example; you don’t have to be a GIS professional to benefit from the map and printed directions you get from an online map service that GIS professionals have prepared. GIS has quite a bit to offer the engineer/designer in making better and more informed design choices. Passing the GIS functionality right through to
the CAD engineer/designer in this way by-passes the technical differences between the geometry, file types, data constructs and database capabilities of GIS and CAD. CAD users get access to a real GIS from the very start, but in a way that is easy for them to make use of. CAD users get the best of GIS; the results of GIS analysis, the finished cartographic work products, comprehensive up to date enterprise base maps, and they get that information where they need it the most, inside CAD.

We haven’t fully defined, what do CAD users want to do with GIS? Certainly are those who would consider themselves GIS professionals who work inside of CAD but they’re a lot fewer than those people who would just benefit by accessing data, and so that’s what we’re providing them in the first release: here’s the information what do you want to do with it? Is this enough? We’ll be pretty responsive to what people are asking for.

There’s a backlog of technology we could implement without having to do too much that doesn’t already exist in the technology of ArcGIS Server.


With ArcGIS for AutoCAD, CAD users can

  • Dynamically interact with live GIS maps, displaying GIS symbology and data structures in CAD.
  • Include the results of GIS analysis in their CAD designs.
  • Include GIS basemaps in their CAD products.
  • Access feature attributes in CAD directly from the underlying GIS databases using the IDENTIFY tool.

  • ArcGIS for AutoCAD requires ArcGIS Server 9.2 and AutoCAD 2007.

    Top News of the Week

    Google is launching My Maps, a new feature of Google Maps that enables users to quickly and easily create custom maps for personal use or sharing through search. With this release, creating maps mashups is now as simple as pointing and clicking.

    From chronicling trips, to sharing tips and documenting academic endeavors, My Maps empowers users to create content-rich maps that are relevant to their interests, expertise, or personal needs.

    With My Maps users can:

  • Mark locations on a map from a library of icons
  • Draw lines and shapes to highlight paths and areas
  • Add text, photos, or YouTube/Google Videos to a map
  • Add HTML for further personalization
  • View their maps in Google Earth

  • Alliances/Acquisitions/Agreements

    Intermap Technologies, Corp. and GeoContent GmbH have agreed to provide a bundled solution that meets the geospatial needs of dozens of applications and markets in Germany. The partnership, focused on complementing high-resolution aerial imagery with the most accurate and uniform 3D geometric datasets available of Germany, will pave the way for greater accessibility and savings in German geospatial markets.

    MapInfo Corporation announced an extension of its long-standing partnership with Statistics Canada (STC) to provide customers with one of the industry's first location-enhanced demographic solutions. The Census of the Canadian Population was conducted in May 2006 and the data will be provided by Statistics Canada and MapInfo in a series of eight topic based releases which started in March 2007 and extend until June 2008. Armed with this information, companies can better understand their customers' lifestyle preferences and buying patterns as well as the competitive landscape, enabling them to make insightful marketing decisions.

    Analytical Surveys, Inc. (ASI) announced it has postponed its annual meeting of shareholders previously scheduled for May 2, 2007. On March 29, 2007, the Company mailed a definitive Proxy Statement and Notice of Annual Meeting of Shareholders, which was to be held on May 2, 2007. The Proxy Statement contained a proposal requesting shareholders approve a reverse stock split for the sole purpose of regaining compliance with Nasdaq Marketplace Rule 4310(c)(4), contemplating that such a reverse stock split would help to bring the bid price on the Company's common stock into compliance with the $1.00 minimum required by the Rule. As ASI's common stock is no longer listed on
    Nasdaq, the Company has decided to postpone the Annual Meeting. Therefore, it is no longer necessary for proxies to be solicited pursuant to the Proxy Statement. The Company will reschedule the Annual Meeting at a later date.

    NAVTEQ announced location-based services (LBS) leader deCarta will provide developers on the NAVTEQ Network for Developers(TM) site with access to a comprehensive environment for rapid application development, tools, people and support they need to build the next generation of location-based applications.

    Trimble and Rosum Corporation announced that they have signed a technology licensing and distribution agreement to combine Rosum's proprietary TV-positioning technology with Trimble's in-market expertise to develop a customer and application ecosystem for location-aware mobile devices in South Korea. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

    TerraGo Technologies, provider of GeoPDF®, the format for distributing geospatial intelligence in PDF files, has partnered with sales and services organizations in the United States, Europe and southeast Asia to help satisfy customer demand for its software products and services. The company has also hired geospatial industry veteran Jaymes Pardue to expand U.S. company presence west of the Rockies and in the Asia Pacific region.

    The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' Hydrologic Engineering Center and ESRI will cooperate on developing a new generation of
    geographic information system (GIS) technology for hydrologic
    engineering and ecological analysis.

    The Hydrologic Engineering Center (HEC), based in Davis, California, and ESRI, announced the signing of a three-year cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) that will focus on

    Adding a geospatial analysis component to HEC's software that analyzes how an ecosystem (i.e., plants, animals, and soil) reacts to water flow Developing terrain models and terrain representation for hydrologic and hydraulic analyses Publishing HEC's modeling techniques with ArcGIS Server.


    GGP Systems, UK provider of geospatial solutions for local government, has received national accreditation for its NGz Gazetteer Management software. The accreditation process tested for the software’s ability to import and export gazetteer data in the new National Land and Property Gazetteer (NLPG): 2006 Data Transfer format 7.3 through 4 different stages of development. GGP NGz is only the second software package to win accreditation out of 21 considered.

    GiveMePower Corporation announced that it has been invited to showcase three of its premier PowerCAD® software technologies in Microsoft's Public Sector Partner Solution Marketplace, a new Microsoft initiative designed to facilitate public organizations in quickly locating vendors who can develop and deploy leading technology solutions.

    ESRI GeoInfo Summit will be held in Dallas, April 23-25. Schedule is as follows:

    Monday, April 23,
    Plenary Schedule

          Keynote, Jay R. Lucas, CCIM and President of STDB

          Keynote, Lisa Derenthal, Homebuilding and Real Estate Consultant

          Keynote, Rob Osment, Global Risk Manager, Royal & Sun Alliance

    Tuesday, April 24,
    User Presentations/ESRI Presentations

    Wednesday, April 25,
    Technical Workshops

    New Products

    Leica GeoMoS Version 3.0, an upgrade to Leica Geosystems' GeoMoS, is an open, scalable and customizable software package suitable for a wide range of monitoring applications.

    "Version 3.0 includes a range of improvements for the two main applications, Monitor and Analyzer. The new version also introduces a new product structure and licensing concept, making Leica GeoMoS economical for small and large monitoring projects," said Gerard Manley, vice president of engineered solutions, Leica Geosystems, Inc.

    Magellan announced the introduction of its ProMark3 RTK, designed to provide surveyors with centimeter accuracy in a real-time solution. Now surveyors can expand their business opportunities through RTK with significantly less investment than with competing systems. ProMark3 RTK includes new real time capabilities in addition to its existing complete post-processing and mapping features.

    The latest release of a new version of Topcon Positioning Systems’ TopSURV field software offers significant new enhancements to existing and new users around the world.

    The version 6.11 of TopSURV includes:

  • Windows Mobile 5 operating system
  • Support for both the PanAM and Anik WAAS satellites
  • L2C s/n has been added to view the new modernized GPS signal
  • Support for new G24 internal GSM modem in the GR-3 GNSS receiver
  • Support for new DSP Digital internal and external UHF radio systems
  • Enhanced GMS-2 field controller wireless total station support
  • Additional digital level sensors are now added
  • OEM or user customizable splash screen
  • Clip/Ispol formats
  • Enhanced landXML file function
  • Import/Export of road alignment files between jobs
  • Enhanced user interface for edit/selection of multiple road alignments, profiles and cross section sets
  • Cross section viewer has been added
  • Overview map with image for design pt, current pt and toggle between stakeout plot view and map view

  • Blue Marble Geographics announces a new Wide Area Network (WAN) license for their suite of geographic software applications. Via FLEXlm, a popular software license manager, IT administrators may now install the Geographic Calculator and Geographic Translator in one location, and serve users remotely across a WAN connection. The Geographic Transformer is also available for WAN licensing through a different license manager.

    Encom, a provider of desktop software, data management and advanced technical consulting for the geosciences has released Discover 3D 2.5.

    The latest release of Encom Discover 3D for MapInfo Professional, delivers to geoscientists an exciting range of productivity tools and enriched interactive 3D display capabilities. Discover 3D provides tools for interactive analysis of drillholes, trenches, profiles, mine models, terrain, geochemistry, geophysical models, topography and geological sections directly linked to a user’s GIS work environment.

    Visualization enhancements include 3D performance, transparency management, volume clipping, object selection and new data object links.

    Mapping for Congress: Supporting Public Policy with GIS, published by ESRI, presents some of the best examples of how the library's Congressional Cartography Program uses GIS technology to analyze and map everything from the potential hazard zones around a proposed liquefied natural gas facility in New Jersey to the areas hit hardest by Hurricane Katrina flooding. The book, filled with colorful maps created using GIS, also defines GIS, explains its value, and describes how policy makers—at every level of government—could benefit from incorporating the technology into management and decision making.

    Around the Web

    Google makes mashups easy, even for me, April 5, 2007, CNET News.com

    Google maps out mashups, April 6, 2007, CNET News.com

    Upcoming Events

    Date: April 11 - 13, 2007 
    Place: ENST

    Paris, , France
    The objectives of the Urban Remote Sensing joint event include gathering people coming from industry, academia, local and national/international agencies together to discuss of topics related to remote sensing for urban monitoring fostering the research and the applications of already available data sets over urban areas, with a special look to high resolution satellite data and data fusion providing new ideas for developing sensors and/or systems able to analyze and monitor urban areas.
    Date: April 16 - 18, 2007
    Place: San Francisco, CA USA
    The Location Intelligence Conference is focused on the "business of location technology." In particular it focuses on how to make or save money from implementing the technology within your organization.
    Date: April 17 - 20, 2007
    Place: Riocentro

    Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
    As we prepare to celebrate the 10th Anniversary of LAAD in 2007, our goal is to ensure that LAAD will continue to be a permanent fixture and one of the key events in the international trade show calendar. We will continue to develop the event for 2007, working alongside our exhibitors, buyers, trade associations, the Brazilian Ministry of Defence and Armed Forces and other key players in the industry.
    Date: April 23 - 25, 2007
    Place: Westin Park Central

    Dallas, TX USA
    The Business GeoInfo Summit is recognized as the premier GIS forum for industry professionals and business executives. Come and share your experiences, discuss the latest trends with the GIS industry leaders and explore innovation in geo-enabled business processes.
    Date: April 23 - 25, 2007
    Place: Lynnwood Convention Center

    Lynnwood, WA USA
    WAURISA announces the 2007 Washington GIS Conference, to be held April 23-25, 2007. The 2007 Washington GIS Conference will be held in Lynnwood’s new Conference Center, conveniently located between Seattle and Everett. Earn GISCI
    Date: April 24 - 26, 2007
    Place: Koelnmesse

    Cologne,, Germany
    The ITEC 2007 three day conference will cover all types of training solutions, systems, methodologies and procurement ideas within a theme of Training Transformation - lifelong learning in a rapidly changing environment
    Date: April 24 - 25, 2007
    Place: World Trade Centre

    Rotterdam, Netherlands
    The Conference on Agricultural Policy Implementation and Geo Information (CAPIGI) brings the science and technology community together with the policy community to look for new opportunities in the implementation of agricultural policy. CAPIGI presents a state-of-the-art overview on innovations and research in geo information sciences. These emerging technologies get illustrated with practice experiences in agricultural policy implementation.
    Date: May 1 - 4, 2007
    Place: Hyatt Regency Penn's Landing

    Philadelphia, PA USA
    To celebrate the tenth anniversary of this unique conference, the only one dedicated solely to the use of GIS in airports and aviation, the focus will be on how far the airport GIS community has come in the past ten years and where airport GIS may take the aviation world in the next ten years
    Date: May 2, 2007
    Place: Dover Sheraton Inn

    Dover, DE USA
    The Delaware Geographic Data Committee hosts an annual statewide GIS conference and is a cooperative effort among state agencies, the University of Delaware, county and municipal governments, and others to build a Delaware GIS Community and improve the coordination of the use of GIS and spatial data in Delaware
    Date: May 7 - 11, 2007
    Place: Marriott Waterside Hotel

    Tampa , FL USA
    The theme of “Identifying Geospatial Solutions,” this Conference will have an outstanding set of technical presentations on all aspects of imaging and geospatial information. We will feature sessions on how to collect geospatial data, how to process and analyze data, and how to derive information from data that is useful in making local, national and global decisions, for resource management, business or other purposes
    Date: May 7 - 9, 2007
    Place: Radisson Plaza Hotel & Suites

    100 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 USA
    Take part in Michigan's premier GIS Conference! Share your expertise, gain visibility, and enhance your professional growth. IMAGIN's Annual Conference provides administrative, professional, and technical information to GIS.

    You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

    To read more news, click here.

    -- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.

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