Overlaying CAD data

Looking for 10.3 or Pro content?

Documentation and other resources for this ArcGIS capability can be accessed from http://desktop.arcgis.com, a new site focused on ArcGIS for Desktop users. In about three weeks we will begin redirecting to that page. Documentation for 10.2x and earlier releases will continue to be accessible.

Don't wait. Begin exploring now!

If you need to manage versioned read-only CAD drawings, you can use them in ArcMap directly from a Catalog window without converting the data. Actions such as zooming or panning refresh the dataset's connection and display the most current information that is stored on disk.

Overlaying CAD data with your spatial data can also provide a quick way to include the drawing's information with your analysis, and it is the first step in migrating the data to a geodatabase.

The following sections can help you get started using CAD data with the ArcGIS system.

Defining a spatial reference

Defining a spatial reference enables ArcGIS to project CAD data on the fly to a data frame's coordinate system. It also establishes the linear units with which areas and distances are measured. This is critically important if you plan to use the data with geoprocessing tools or load it into a geodatabase.

Watch the video:

Adding CAD data to map documents

AutoCAD and MicroStation files are translated on the fly as read-only datasets and displayed as virtual feature classes. You can drag them directly from a Catalog window and work with the data as feature layers.

AutoCAD formats 2007 or higher can contain additional feature classes that are embedded in the drawing file. These feature classes are essentially selection sets created by the drawing's author and saved as ArcGIS-ready feature classes.

Watch the video:

Georeferencing CAD datasets

Local coordinate systems in CAD drawings do not always align properly with a data frame's coordinate system in ArcMap. The Georeferencing toolbar enables you to correct these misalignments and save the resulting coordinate transformation as a property of the dataset.

Watch the video:

Setting CAD display properties

Displaying specific geographic features contained in a CAD drawing often requires you to filter the feature set based on one or more properties such as a drawing layer, a color or a line style. The best practice is to use Query Builder and save the definition query with the feature layer.

Watch the video: