Working shape files with AutoCAD

The shape files, known as .shp files will be quaternary formats in matter of technology but we can not avoid that they have been popularized as much as it was ArcView 3x. This is why they are still widely used, to the extent that most platforms especially geospatial have developed routines to operate them. Even gvSIG can read and edit them.

A widely alternative used previously was to export from ESRI to dxf, with the disadvantage of losing the tabular data. In this case, we will see how to interact with these speedraptors using AutoCAD AutoCAD Map, I heard about this process through a gentle Txus response at Cartesia forum.

1.  It isn’t any AutoCAD

A shape file consists of geometry, contained in the file extension .shp, then the tabular data contained in the .dbf file and the index that links both, which is the .shx.

To read a file of these it is required AutoCAD Map, or either civil 3D; it is also worth clarifying that unlike Bentley Map or gvSIG is not possible to read the file natively, but it is feasible through FDO connection.

I’m doing this example with AutoCAD Civil 3D 2008.

2. How to import .shp files

This should be done in the menu:

“Map / tools / import”, there you can choose .shp files as E00 and even coverages from initial ArcInfo workstation.

Also lets you import programs such as MapInfo (.mif .tab) and MicroStation Geographics (.dgn) I think it’s a good opening from AutoCAD to outsider formats, because when importing from a dgn by this route it is possible to capture the mslink and other customizations such as exploiting complex objects and convert cells to block once.

Then the panel prompts you to assign projection and the ability to import only a zone.

It is also possible to specify whether the polygons can be converted to closed polylines.

3. How to export a .shp

For exporting the process is similar, “map / tools / export”, and then the export must be done separately, lines, points, polygons and text. The selection can be done manually, by layers or feature classes and if there are topologies defined, it’s better.

It is also necessary to define the attributes of objects that will build dbf columns, the projection of the output file and the conversion of closed polylines to polygons.

In this task of importing and exporting there is the alternative to create a profile to avoid being increasingly defining the conditions; this would be saved as .ipf file which can be loaded every time you make the process.

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