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Review: Autodesk Technical – Part 1

By [email protected] - 20th April 2007 - 22:17

Autodesk Technical Demo â Part 1AutoCAD Map 3D 2008I had the chance recently to visit with Autodesk for a technical demonstration of the new 2008 product lineup including AutoCAD Map 3D, AutoCAD Civil 3D and Autodesk TOPOBASE.
Image: Autodesk
The first thing to note about the Autodesk product line is the renaming of some of the products. --Autodesk Map 3D is now named AutoCAD Map 3D 2008--Autodesk Civil 3D is now named AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008--Autodesk TOPOBASE remains with the same nameNeil Brooker, applications engineer for Autodesk presented the new AutoCAD Map 3D 2008. Central to the software is the concept of central data sharing. The technology is wrapped around the data, which in this case, is held in an Oracle Spatial database. The Feature Data Objects (FDO) library supports the import of multiple sources of data in different formats. Conceptually, the idea behind the product is to access and integrate spatial data. The software is considered as a 'Engineering GIS' and therefore is optimised for CAD related data linkage together with GIS. At Autodesk, the term 'Geospatial Value Chain' is used and refers to a 5-stage process that identifies the workflows and level of integration for any given site. As Brooker says, âeach stage provides an understanding of an organisation, and its workflows.â Stage 1 â users are primarily using DWG format files; some block references and versioning needs apparentStage 2 â DWG files are infused with a higher level of intelligence and simple tools like Cleanup' are present and usedStage 3 â efficiency technologies are linked into the workflows and consideration is given to add object data through FDO; operations are quicker, some sharing of SDF format is occuring and or shapefiles or other formats may be present.Stage 4 â customers may have different versions of files, there is a need or awareness to place all data into one spatial database, need to manage efficiencies such as computer performance.Stage 5 â all data is managed centrally, rules can now be applied to the data and specific types of attribution can be assigned. Companies may exist anywhere through these stages, but almost always, each will be moving to higher levels of integration and centrally managed systems which include higher levels of rules and performance. Large GIS datasets are sometimes slow. Through FDO access, the data is not translated, but instead, it is presented in a way that might best be considered like a 'caching' of the information. While many users can still import and export data into the program, a shift towards FDO access is occurring.Data is not translated into CAD entities but read directly from the native file, regardless of format. This data can then be saved, if required, as SDF or DWG, or bulk copied to another FDO format.New for 2008:AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 is up to 7x's faster than the previous 2007 version. A file of about 114,000 features will be presented within 7 seconds. The SDF file format is a single format file and include multiple geometries â lines, points, areas. The difference between FDO access and importing directly is that importing must create AutoCAD entities for each feature, which is why it takes so long. Alternatively, FDO simply references the files without creating any new files. New for AutoCAD Map 3D 2008:--more FDO providers including OGR, GDAL, FME and ESRI personal geodatabase--native data import--more map style creation tools--metadata tools for editing schema and creation--web publishing to MapGuide DWF--ability to create/edit with high precision tools through underlying AutoCAD engine--buffering--joins--direct import/export of DWG from SDF and OracleAlso new is geo-referencing in the DWF file viewer. What this can lead to, is display of GPS directly in DWF, and those tracks then exported to SDF/ DWG once again. MapGuide Open Source or MapGuide Enterprise may be used with this product. Publishing from AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 is straight forward and involves two steps. The MapGuide Enterprise product is sold by Autodesk and is used as a Server, providing extensions, FDO and comes with MapGuide Studio. Overall, it appears that the major improvements for 2008 in this product are:---Performance - much more speed---More GIS Functionality - buffering and joining---Better Access â improved access via FDO---Metadata â tools for creation and managementSummary:Other side benefits to the wider eco-system include geo-referenced DWF support and import/export to DWG.The speed issue is a big improvement for this software. It is and isn't surprising that buffering and joins are now in this product, given that these functions are fairly standard operations for most GIS.What this does mean to this release though, is that Autodesk is seeking to balance the CAD engine with GIS functionality further â pointing to the label 'Engineering GIS.'More Info: 2 - AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008 is coming shortly.Part 3 - Autodesk TOPOBASE is coming shortly.

Author: Jeff Thurston

Bio.: Editor, Geoconnexion International Magazine

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