How to import shapefiles into AutoCAD

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Many AutoCAD users who handle geospatial information need to work with ESRI Shapefiles (SHP), by downloading these files from the web or by collaborating with others GIS users, and their basic need is to import these kinds of files into AutoCAD by transforming the Shapefiles features into AutoCAD objects

Shapefile (SHP) is a digital vector storage format for storing geometric location and associated attribute information. Shapefiles (SHP) are simple because they store the primitive geometric data types of points, lines, and polygons. They are of limited use without any attributes to specify what they represent. Therefore, a table of records will store properties/attributes for each primitive shape in the Shapefile. Shapes (points/lines/polygons) together with data attributes can infinitely create many representations about geographic data

Shapefile to CAD

When converting SHP to CAD files the following considerations have to be taken into account:

· 3D features in the Shapefiles must be converted to 3D CAD objects (Points, Polylines, etc.) or to pseudo-3D CAD objects considering the elevation and the thickness of the objects
· When importing Point features It is very interesting to use complex CAD objects (such as Block references in AutoCAD) which can include variable text information (such as Attributes in AutoCAD)
· We must also consider the importing of complex Polygon features, which may include more than one internal or external ring, and convert them to appropriate CAD objects (such as Hatches in AutoCAD)
· What is also very interesting is the automatic distribution of the objects across the drawing depending on the values associated to the Shapefile features (using, for example Layers in AutoCAD)
· Finally, we consider some system able to import and display the features alphanumeric data (such as Extended Entity Data -EED or XDATA- in AutoCAD)

How to import Shapefiles into AutoCAD - EED data and EED viewer panel

Import shapefile into AutoCAD – Data in the XDATA viewer palette

Import Shapefiles to AutoCAD

Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD lets you import graphic objects into AutoCAD from a large number of GIS sources including ESRI shapefile format

The application detects what type of information the shapefile contains to import (points, lines or polygons) and presents to the user only those import options that are valid for that type of object. In the case of polygonal objects, the closed borders can be automatically filled by using AutoCAD Hatches, or import not only the border of the polygons but also their centroids by using Points or AutoCAD Blocks

For any imported table or file, regardless of its format or type, it is possible to automatically subdivide the imported objects into various AutoCAD Layers, according to the value of a field in the source data table

How to import shapefiles into AutoCAD

This example shows how to import Shapefiles into AutoCAD using Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD. In the video you can see how an SHP Parcels file is imported onto a drawing, which already contains other Objects belonging to a city

The import process fills every Parcel using a Solid transparent Hatch, distributes every Parcel into new Layers according to the zones to which each Parcel belongs and applies random colors for every new Layer created. The alphanumeric data of every Parcel is also imported using AutoCAD Extended Entity Data (EED or XDATA)!

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