What's new for CAD integration in ArcGIS 10

At ArcGIS 10, new functionality for CAD data includes streamlined access to conversion tools, a new tool for bulk loading CAD datasets, simplified field display in ArcMap, and support for spline geometry.

CAD conversion menu in ArcMap

CAD conversion tools can be opened by right-clicking the ArcMap table of contents. The shortcut menu displays choices based on the type of CAD feature layer you have selected:

Bulk loading CAD datasets

The CAD To Geodatabase tool is a new tool that bulk loads entire CAD datasets to an existing geodatabase. This tool automates a series of conversion procedures that includes importing CAD annotation and merging identical feature class names, types, and attribution. The tool accepts multiple CAD files as input in mixed DWG and DGN formats.

The output annotation feature class is automatically created with an annotation subclass for each text layer in the CAD file and requires only that you specify a reference scale. If the tool is opened from the Catalog window in ArcMap, the results are also added as a group layer.

Simplified CAD field display

Now when you add CAD data to ArcMap, CAD property fields that are nonessential for rendering or query operations are turned off by default. You can turn them on using the Fields tab on the Layer Properties dialog box.

CAD spline geometry

CAD spline geometry is now supported by direct-read and CAD conversion tools.

Deprecated geoprocessing tools

The following CAD tools that were available in the geoprocessing toolsets prior to ArcGIS 10 have been deprecated and replaced with better alternatives. The tools remain in the system so your existing 9.3 models and scripts will continue to work, but no further development will be performed in future releases.

For more information about deprecated tools, see What is a deprecated tool.

To CAD toolset

Create CAD XData

Using xdata for attaching attribute information to AutoCAD entities has been replaced with an automated implementation of AutoCAD xrecords that is integrated with the Export To CAD tool for supported direct-read DWG formats. AutoCAD xrecords are similar to xdata but not limited by size or order.

The Export To CAD tool provides the following out-of-the-box functionality:

By default, output to DWG formats (version 2007 or higher) includes CAD-defined feature class schemas and attributes attached to AutoCAD entities.

For each input feature class, the Export To CAD tool embeds a feature class definition in the AutoCAD drawing file, comprising the default AutoCAD entities that are generated for the feature. All feature attributes are exported as AutoCAD xrecords and linked to the appropriate entities. Similarly, the coordinate system is also exported and embedded in the DWG file.

CAD-defined feature classes are directly usable by ArcGIS, and they can be edited in the AutoCAD application using ArcGIS for AutoCAD. You can also export empty feature classes to generate schema-only DWG files.

This geodata is nongraphic and does not interfere with standard AutoCAD geometry or native functionality. The AutoCAD xrecord objects that define the feature classes and coordinate system are stored in a standardized framework of AutoCAD object dictionaries. Similarly, entity-linked attributes are stored in the AutoCAD extension dictionary referenced by each entity.

For detailed information about how this data is structured, reference the ESRI document Mapping Specification for CAD available on the ArcGIS for AutoCAD Resource Center.

Set CAD Alias

A feature class field alias can be changed in the Catalog window or in the ArcCatalog application with the Feature Class Properties dialog box. An alternate workflow is to add a reserved CAD field using the Add Field tool, then use the Calculate Field tool to populate its records with values from an existing field.

To Geodatabase toolset

Import from CAD

CAD data can be imported with standard geoprocessing tools that accept feature classes or layers as input. The ArcMap shortcut menu from the table of contents provides quick access to the Copy Features tool, the Import CAD Annotation tool, and the CAD To Geodatabase tool.