What Do CAD Users Want to Do With GIS?
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What Do CAD Users Want to Do With GIS?

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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

ArcGIS for AutoCAD requires ArcGIS Server 9.2 and AutoCAD 2007.



Meridian Systems, a provider of enterprise project management software for optimizing capital projects, programs and facilities, announced a new Systems Integrator (SI) alliance with Runding Corporation, a Sarasota, FL-based consulting firm that specializes in the deployment of Meridian’s Proliance software solution.

Proliance software combines project and portfolio management, facilities management, business process management and business analytics to create one comprehensive software system of record for tracking the performance of large capital projects and programs.

CH2M HILL, a global full-service engineering, construction, and operations firm has completed the acquisition of Wade & Associate, Inc., a Kansas-based engineering consulting firm specializing in wastewater conveyance.


National BIM Standard Now Available for Review  The first version of the National Building Information Modeling Standard™ (NBIMS) was released for a two month industry review period. The document titled "National Building Information Modeling Standard Version 1.0—Part 1: Overview, Principles, and Methodologies" provides the capital facilities industry with its first comprehensive look at the full scope of requirements for Building Information Modeling (BIM).

The American Institute of Architects, Illinois Council (AIA), announced on Wednesday its "150 Illinois Great Places." Located in towns and cities across the state, these places have been identified by leading architects as contributing to their communities' quality of life.

The Great Places commemorate AIA's 150th anniversary, and will showcase the best of the best in Illinois. The recognition program was designed to broadly include the "built environment," which includes civil, landscape and engineering places, as well as architecture. Each place will receive a plaque commemorating its impact on the community experience, and will be featured on the organization's Web site. Launching March 21 as well, the web site will showcase each Great Place as a basis for public education and special events throughout this year.

Bentley Systems, Incorporated announced that registration is open at www.be.org for BE Conference 2007, being held April 29-May 3 at the Los Angeles Convention Center in California. Those registering by March 23 will receive an early bird discount that reduces the Learning Program fee by $200 - from $995 to $795.

The BE Conference, which consistently scores a 99 percent attendee satisfaction rating, is a once-a-year learning opportunity for Bentley user organizations. Go to the BE website to find out more.

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) announced that Bentley Systems, Incorporated has upgraded to become a Principal Member in the OGC.

Principal Members have complete authority over the specification release and adoption process through their voting rights in the Planning Committee (PC). It is by PC vote that OpenGIS(R) Specifications are approved and released by the Consortium. PC Members participate in planning and management of the Consortium's technology development process, evaluate and provide guidance on market direction and Consortium focus, possess Technical Committee voting rights, have approval authority for OGC policies and procedures, and vote to elect members of the OGC Board of Directors.

Adobe Systems Incorporated announced that Renault Group, one of the world's leading carmakers, has adopted Adobe(R) Acrobat(R) 3D software to extend 3D visualization and design collaboration capabilities across its extended enterprise of employees and supply chain partners. Renault plans to deploy the product throughout its engine and body organizations, and expects to harness PDF to more reliably and securely share 3D designs via widely available, free Adobe Reader(R) software. The agreement involves 5,000 seats of Acrobat 3D.

Primavera Systems announced the launch of a seminar series that addresses the difficulties transportation professionals face in updating the nation’s aging infrastructure in the face of inadequate funding and a shrinking pool of skilled labor. Experts at the seminars will present project management practices that have proven successful in other transportation organizations.

The series, “Transportation Project Management: Best Practices for Delivering Tomorrow’s Infrastructure,” will be offered in 20 cities throughout spring 2007. The seminar, targeted at transportation owners and contractors, highlights best practices that Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Bechtel-Tubelines and the Utah Department of Transportation have employed to deliver their projects early and under budget.

For registration information, a continually updated list of locations and dates, and additional details please visit the website.

The Synergis Engineering Design Solutions Division of Synergis Technologies, Inc. announced that it is combining its Building Solutions and Infrastructure Solutions groups to form the Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) Solutions team and making significant investments to bring additional expertise to the team. These moves are part of its ongoing effort to improve the level of service, value and overall quality experience it provides its customers.

Deltek, the provider of enterprise management software for project-focused organizations, announced that the award-winning architectural firm Wallace Roberts & Todd, LLC (WRT) has licensed Deltek Vision(R), industry-leading enterprise software designed for project-based firms of all sizes. The firm is implementing the fully integrated solution to better streamline business processes across its planning and urban design, architecture and landscape architecture practices.


3rd Annual CGarchitect.com Architectural Visualization Competition Launches This year marks the 3rd annual CGarchitect.com Architectural Visualization Competition (AVC). As the only competition of its kind in the industry, the competition strives to uncover undiscovered talent through a series of challenges and qualifying competitions spanning four months.

The Dimension 3D Printing Group, a business unit of Stratasys, Inc., announced the six finalists for its third annual "Extreme Redesign: The Ultimate 3D Printing Challenge," a global design and 3D printing contest for high school and college students that awards scholarships to winners.

The six finalist where chosen from a pool of more than 1,200 design entries from around the world, over twice the number of entries submitted for last year's competition. The first place winners will each receive $2,500 scholarships, with second and third place finalists receiving $1,000 scholarships each. Read about the finalists here.


The CAD Society, not-for-profit CAD industry association, announced Rio Hondo College professor Jay Sunyogh as the winner of its 2007 Leadership Award. The CAD Society recognized Sunyogh for his contributions during his teaching career and his educational programs aimed for underprivileged students.

The CAD Society, the Industry’s not-for-profit CAD user association, announced mechanical engineer, business owner, and web site owner, Sean Dotson as the winner of its 2007 Joe Greco Community Award.

For years, Dotson has contributed his CAD expertise on his online technology forums, sdotson.com and MCAD Forums. Dotson has been a longtime participant in the Autodesk Inventor user community, a regular presenter at Autodesk User Group events, a developer of several related applications, and is a well-known CAD industry advisor and commentator.


CH2M HILL, a global full-service engineering, construction, and operations firm, is pleased to announce the promotion of Lori Galloway to Regional Manager of the firm's Southwestern U.S. Region. Galloway is based in CH2M HILL's Southern California office in Santa Ana, California. She will assume the Southwest Regional Manager role vacated due to the retirement of her predecessor, Tom Peters, on March 2.

New Products

Construction Management Software (CMS) announced that it has released an enhanced version of its ProEst Takeoff software. ProEst Takeoff 11 incorporates revolutionary digital takeoff technology designed to bring contractors one step closer to the paperless office. It also has an easier-to-use interface and direct integration with other popular software programs.

McGraw-Hill Construction, part of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP),  announced the availability of a new project lifecycle and document management service, Project Document Manager (PDM), co-developed with its partner ReproMAX. The service will provide the AEC community with the ability to manage all project intelligence and construction documents on a secure platform. Project Document Manager is being launched at the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), annual national convention, March 21-24, 2007, in San Antonio, TX.

upFront.eZine Publishing, Ltd. has updated its popular ebook "Tailoring AutoCAD CUI 2008" one day before Autodesk ships its new AutoCAD 2008 software. The updated PDF ebook is for anyone who wants to customize the user interface of AutoCAD 2008 with its CUI command.

PDF3D™ Announces Compatibility with Adobe® Acrobat 8 Suite

Redrawing the boundaries of innovation in the waterworks industry, MWH Soft, a global provider of environmental and water resources applications software, announced the worldwide availability of H2ONET Generation V7 for AutoCAD® 2007 (Autodesk, San Rafael, CA). The updated release heightens the value of H2ONET with significant advances and usability improvements focused on enhancing the user experience, increasing flexibility and computational speed, and facilitating greater productivity and performance.

Around the Web

New AutoCAD Graphics Card List & XML Database Update, Between The Lines Blog

Microsoft Suffers Latest Blow As NIST Bans Windows Vista  by Paul McDougall, March 12, 2007, Information Week - In a new setback to Microsoft's public sector business, the influential National Institute of Standards and Technology has banned the software maker's Windows Vista operating system from its internal computing networks, according to an agency document obtained by InformationWeek.

 Upcoming Events

PORTS 2007
Date: March 25 - 28, 2007
Place: San Diego, CA USA
Port and harbor facilities development is undergoing exciting and significant challenges in response to the world's ever changing trade, economic, and political conditions. PORTS 2007 will offer an all-encompassing array of professional/technical papers pertinent to the progress of port and harbor facilities development. These papers are expected to address the complex, innovative, and state-of-the-art technical aspects associated with the planning, design, construction, maintenance, and operations of worldwide port and harbor facilities. A diverse group of attendees involved in the successful development and operations of port and harbor facilities will attend this conference and hear presentations of these papers. Attendees will exchange ideas; debate points of view; discuss case studies, methods, procedures, standards, and techniques; and share experiences, innovative solutions, knowledge, and lessons learned.

In the PORTS Conference traditions, special emphasis will be placed on providing a practical international and national forum for issues and ideas related to ports and harbors, inland waterways, and navigational improvements.
SPAR 2007
Date: March 26 - 27, 2007
Place: Sugar Land Marriott Town Square
Sugar Land (Houston), TX USA
Please join COADE at booth # 5 for Spar Point Research's 4th annual conference on 3D laser scanning and active dimensional control. Discover the business case for using advanced dimensional control work processes enabled by new laser technologies such as COADE’s CADWorx fieldPipe for Leica fieldPro employing Direct-To-Model (DToM) Technology. Learn how laser precision technologies can help achieve significant safety, cost, schedule and quality values for capital projects.  
SAP-Centric EAM 2007
Date: April 1 - 4, 2007
Place: Huntington Beach, CA USA
The third annual SAP-Centric EAM conference promises to be the most productive and exciting event yet for professionals within the global SAP Enterprise Asset Management community.  
Date: April 12 - 15, 2007
Place: USA
The 8th annual COFES is the setting for an intense conversation on the future of engineering software within the context of business realities. Join us as we explore seven developments that will have an impact on your company's future survival and success.  
Lean Management Models for Facilities Management & Capital Projects
Date: April 16 - 17, 2007
Place: St. Petersburg, FL USA
New management and business models for capital projects and facilities management are leaner, more streamlined, more leveraged, more automated, lower cost, exceptionally efficient, and increasingly data-driven.

Attend this conference to learn the new strategic thinking, processes, and tools that are raising the productivity of capital; lowering overall infrastructure expense; and moving corporate and institutional management models toward an integrated solution to capital programs, projects, and operations.

Here you'll learn the details of:
  • Total-cost of ownership strategic analysis and plans
  • Leading-edge asset management strategies and decision support models
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  • Breakthrough strategies for solving the cost-escalation problem
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