What I learned at ESRI UC 2011 and how it can help AutoCAD Map users

The ESRI Conference ended yesterday and I had some time for some sober second thought.

ESRI User Conference 2011 San Diego

ESRI User Conference 2011 San Diego

Since this was my first ESRI conference (I usually go to FOSS4G and Autodesk University), I was really curious about the setup and what courses were available.  My main objective was to learn more about integration between Autodesk/Oracle/SQL Server/ArcGIS while I was here, since those are the products and databases I use most.

One of the key things I learned was that although in ArcGIS 10 you can directly connect to Oracle SDO_GEOM and SQL Server Geometry/Geography features with “Query Layers”; it is read-only.

In ArcGIS 10.1, there will be full read-write with “foreign” data types (great news). This is really good for those using AutoCAD Map to store geometry in FDO Schemas.

Another item that really twigged my interest was the ability to use native spatial geometry types “out of the box” when creating Features in ArcGIS.  Everyone using ArcGIS 9.3.1. and 10 currently has the choice when creating Features to choose SQL Server’s Geography/Geometry and Oracle’s SDO_GEOM for their data.
Some really funky features might not be supported but for 90% of your data, why not just open it up to all GIS/CAD systems at your organization.

One comment I heard repeatedly was, “AutoCAD people don’t really get GIS”.  I think the pain-point for ESRI GIS users is the CAD to GIS transition required in almost all organizations.

What is ESRI doing?  ESRI wrote the ArcGIS for AutoCAD and this tags any data in DWG with attributes (like Object Data) so that the AutoCAD users can maintain attribute info while still using native AutoCAD (shocker!).
Who would have thought of that!?

Now back at the ranch, FDO and Autodesk IMS/MapGuide cannot natively read DWG or Object Data.

In fact, the migration from Object Data to FDO is a complete pain in the neck (unlike the old OSE).

Why does ESRI see this as a priority and Autodesk doesn’t?

Well, I think ESRI realizes how universal the DWG is and how important it is to keep AutoCAD users happy and within a familiar environment.

How could Autodesk fix this?


  1. AutoCAD Map’s Object Data should be inherently in base edition of AutoCAD (big ask but ESRI has already beat them to the punch)
  2. There should be a FDO Provider for DWG that reads Object Data.
  3. The FDO Provider for DWG should work in AutoCAD Map AND MapGuide/IMS.
  4. The FDO Provider for DWG should have read/write access
  5. The Object Data should be mapped to any FDO feature source so attributes can be brought into AutoCAD from any FDO Feature
Perhaps Autodesk can catch up to ESRI and realize that FDO should not move everyone away from DWG but integrate it as part of the geospatial suite.
DWG is here to stay and is part of  GIS and Geospatial.

3 Responses to “What I learned at ESRI UC 2011 and how it can help AutoCAD Map users”

  1. 1 Darrin Maidlow
    July 28, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    Good read Gord, thanks for the post. If I recall, object data was created by AutoCAD using Xdata – so it should be pretty easy to write a small UI to access it from vanilla AutoCAD. Granted this is based on my work from a few years back – but a quick peek at a current Map 3D and the UI doesn’t look much different.

    I’ve never really understood the purpose of OD…Sure its a pseudo data source embedded in the drawing with some support for the Map analytic tools to query on it – but even back in the day we had decent access to external data sources with Map. The best I can come up with is its like the Microsoft Access of Map – quick and easy data store…but you shouldn’t use it for anything important 😉 I’m curious to hear your thoughts on OD.

    I’ve been doing a lot of ObjectARX.NET recently – maybe with all this spare time I have I will take a crack at that UI. 😉

  2. July 29, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    Object data give the basic AutoCAD user a quick “Properties” item they can enter data into. It’s super basic but used around the industry extensively. Sometimes the technicians are just entering the ID into object data for future links down the road.

    Currently in Map 3D 2012 you can save the FDO layers back to DWG and the attributes are saved as XDATA but not in EED format. If they made that one step I could use ADECVRT.lsp and convert it back to Object Data – they missed the mark on that one.

  3. 3 Calvin
    August 11, 2011 at 3:23 pm

    wooow, take pleasure in your things about What I lettered at ESRI UC 2011 and in what manner it be able to hinder AutoCAD Map users « There Be Dragons – Uncharted Internet Mapping

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Gordon Luckett

Arrow Geomatics Inc's Gordon Luckett


gordon dot luckett at arrowgeo dot com 1-519-837-9500 (Arrow Geomatics Inc.)

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