I was given the task back in October of last year to find an inexpensive CAD product (under 2K) to import/ xref some base map drawings (parcels, roads, building, annotations) and attach an aerial photo from GIS to the background. Sounds simple enough but I had to wade through three CAD programs to make it happen.
I had created the DWG files earlier with ArcV2CAD and had them in TurboCAD but importing the images were a bit of a mystery.
- TurboCAD– I started this task with TurboCAD where I already had my drawings ready to go but needed to attach the image(s). TurboCAD could not handle a .sid image so I had to use the tiled JPEGs. I was able to use a grid and attach 4 tiles but I quickly realized that this would become a daunting task to organize all the tiles by Municipality and attach them one at a time. I also started to notice some performance issues especially while zooming.
- AutoCAD LT– I was able to copy and paste a tile in AutoCAD LT but controlling the size and where it went was cumbersome to say the least. You could xref the vector data at 0,0,0 and they lined up perfectly but not the raster images. The download and install process was long and the installer added a lot of bloat to my computer that I had to find and clean off later. The product was fast to use and I liked the interface but it was useless to me for adding the aerial imagery directly to the map.
- BricsCAD-This product was mentioned in the list of TurboCAD import format so I decided to give that a try. I downloaded and installed the product in ~ 5 minutes then opened the parcel DWG file and xref the other layers. I noticed that one could attach a .sid raster image while glancing at the attach tool. I was able to attached a 4GB .sid raster image for the whole county in a few blinks. BricsCAD used the coordinate info embedded in the .sdw file to place the image perfectly. One click of the draw order button sent the image behind the other layers.
Whooo hoooo finally!
In the end I was able to do what I needed with the help of BricsCAD it was the most GIS friendly CAD product of the bunch. At a price point of $550 (classic) to $1020 (Platinum), a host of features and an easy to use interface; I was happy that I gave this product a try. If you need to import GIS data directly in BricsCAD try the Spatial Manager for BricsCAD it works as advertised although the trial version will only convert a sample of your data. You also have to watch out for the sizes of your annotations.