Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD - FAQs: Export ("Professional" edition only)

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  • Objective of this section
    • To learn how to define export processes and their parameters and manage coordinate transformations
  • Topics in this section
    • Targets: data sources
    • Export parameters, AutoCAD objects selection, objects report, treat closed Polylines as Polygons
    • One-click export to Google Earth ("Standard" and "Professional" editions)
    • Transforming the coordinates: source and target, last used coordinate systems, searching in the coordinate systems catalog and transformation parameters

How can I Export AutoCAD objects as spatial features?

You can export AutoCAD objects as spatial features into files or databases by executing the 'SPMEXPORT' command of Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD, which you will find in the "Spatial Manager" AutoCAD ribbon. This will launch the "Export" wizard of the application, which shares some of the steps with the Import wizard. The command not only exports the selected objects but saves their Extended Entity Data (EED/XDATA) as data tables (see below). Upon completion of any export process to a file, you can directly open the file location. When exporting to a KML or KMZ file you can choose to open the file in Google Earth (if installed)

'SPMEXPORT' command in the Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD ribbon

While running the "Export" wizard, you can select the export parameters that match your needs:

Export Parameters window

  • Export selection
    • Select all objects: all objects in the drawing (layers "On" and "Thaw") will be exported
    • Only selected objects: only a selection of objects will be exported. You can select the objects before executing the Export function or by using the Selecting button in this window
    • Select objects in a layer: only the objects included in an AutoCAD Layer will be exported. You can select this layer using the drop-down list in this window
  • Export object data (options tree)
    • Extended Entity Data (EED): the exported data Table will include the objects data (EED/XDATA). You can choose which Tables and/or Fields will be exported
    • Unique key field: when checked, the data table will include an new Unique Key Field (numerical consecutive) ('AdSPMKey'). This Field will be defined as Primary Key, if the target data provider uses Keys (SQL Server Spatial, PostGIS, SQLite, etc.)
    • Handle: when checked, the data Table will include a new Field ('dwg_handle') whose value will be the "AutoCAD Handle" which is unique for every object in a drawing
    • Layer: when checked, the data Table will include a new Field ('Layer') whose value will be the Layer of the objects
    • Blocks data: when checked any of the following, the data Table will include new Fields for the corresponding data of the Block References (if any)
      • Name and Attributes ('BlkName') ('Attribute Names')
      • Rotation ('BlkRotation')
      • Scales ('BlkXscale', 'BlkYscale', 'BlkZscale')
    • Texts data: when checked any of the following, the data Table will include new Fields for the cooresponding data of the Text objects (if any)
      • Contents ('TxtString')
      • Rotation ('TxtRotation')
      • Height ('TxtHeight')
    • Geometry
      • Elevation: when checked, the data Table will include a new Field ('Elevation') whose value will be the Elevation of the objects
        • Note: Regardless this option, the application will use the object Elevation as Z-coordinate when exporting any XY-only object (Circles, Polylines, etc.)
      • Point coordinates: when checked any of the following, the data Table will include new Fields for the corresponding X/Y/Z Coordinate values of the Point-type objects (if any)
        • X
        • Y
        • Z
        • Note: If the Coordinates are Transformed along the Exporting process (see this paragraph), the Transformed values will be exported instead of the original values
      • Length: when checked, the data Table will include a new Field ('Length') whose value will be the Length of the objects
      • Area: when checked, the data Table will include a new Field ('Area') whose value will be the Area of the objects
  • Other
    • Treat closed polylines as polygons: when checked, all closed Polylines in the drawing will be exported to the target as Polygon features. Most of the time the closed polylines represent polygonal elements in the target data format and this conversion can be automatic
    • Also export fields with null values
      • If not checked (default value): when you export to a target table with uniform fields structure (such as Shapefiles SHP), the table will include any field which have a non-null value in at least one object of the export selection. When you export to a target table with non-uniform fields structure (such as KML), each object will only include the fields which have a non-null value for the object itself
      • If checked: in all cases, each object and thus the entire table, will include all the fields (null or non-null)
  • Objects report: the application shows here the total number of the objects which will be exported and any warnings prior to the export process, such as the total number of unsupported objects which will not be exported or others

When duplicate Fields will be automatically Renamed (by adding a correlative suffix) in the exported Tables?

  • When there are Fields that can be found in different Tables having the same Name but different Type. So that, those that can be found in different Tables but having the same Name and the same Type are considered as a single field
  • When a Field (for example "X") already exists for any object, and the export options force to add a Field with the same name (such as the "X" coordinate of the points)

How can I configure the spatial Target when exporting from AutoCAD?

When you export using Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD you must to select the exporting destination. If needed, you also must to select the data provider and its parameters

Export destination

First, you select the destination for the exported data: a file or a table inside a file or a database (or inside a schema of a file or a database)

Export target file

Next, you select a file type (the data provider). This step is not required if you have selected a UDS-based destination which defines its own data provider and the provider parameters (such as a SQLite table, PostGIS table, a UDS for a simple file, etc.)

Data provider connection parameters

Then, you configure the export data provider connection parameters, if needed (Image: sample of the KML/KMZ files data provider)

How can I define a Transformation of coordinates when exporting?

When you are Exporting AutoCAD objects as spatial Features using Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD, you will see that you can choose a Transformation of coordinates from the source to the target, in the "Export" wizard. This means that the application will calculate a geometric transformation between the source and the target data, which will depend on the chosen CRS for the source (drawing) and for the target (outgoing Features) data. You can choose the appropriate CRSs by clicking on "CRS catalog...", in the CRS dropdown list for the source or for the target data. In the CRS Catalog you can:

  • Filter the CRSs by type (Geocentric, Projected, etc.)
  • Choose a CRS by clicking on its row in the Catalog
  • Search CRSs by typing the search criteria in the "Search" box. You can type as many words as you like here,separated by blanks. The application will find all the rows which include all these words in any column of the Catalog

After choosing a pair of valid CRS for a Transformation, you can choose the geographic Area to apply it to (the application will choose by default the most common Area for this Transformation)

If the application "knows", "guesses" or "can assume" the CRS of the source and/or the target data, they will be chosen by default. You will be able to modify this choice, except in cases where only one CRS is valid; for example, for a KML or a KMZ file the only valid choice is the CRS WGS84 (SRID 4326), because these types of file are always defined using this CRS

You can assign a CRS to the drawing, or modify it, using the command 'SPMSETCRS'. By executing this command you will access the CRS Catalog of the application, described in the previous lines. In this case the Type "Projected" will be selected by default because is the most common choice

  • When exporting:
    • Those objects without assigned CRS will adopt the CRS of the drawing in the Transformation of coordinates
    • If all the objects to export have the same assigned CRS and the drawing has not an assigned CRS, the Transformation of coordinates will take the CRS of the objects as the source CRS by default

Note: To unassign (undefine) the Coordinate System of the drawing, choose "Undefined CRS" (EPSG 0)

  • Notes:
    • To unassign (undefine) the Coordinate System of the drawing, choose "Undefined CRS" (EPSG 0)
    • As you will see, the CRS dropdown lists will include more and more CRSs as they have been previously chosen in other Transformation operations, so that you can choose your "last-used" CRSs directly from the dropdown list without having to access the CRS Catalog all the time. In addition, the CRS Catalog window shown when you execute 'SPMSETCRS' to assign a CRS to the drawing, or modify it, also includes a list of the "last-used" CRSs (if any) in the upper zone
    • Coordinate Systems objects available in the current version

Access to the CRS Catalog of the application

CRS Catalog of the application

'SPMSETCRS' command in the "Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD ribbon

Last used CRSs in the Catalog window

Can I quickly Export the current drawing status (Publish) to Google Earth ("Standard" and "Professional" editions)

Yes, you can. Regardless of the advanced Export capabilities of Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD which can be found in the "Professional" edition, the "Standard" and "Professional" editions of the application include a specific command (SPMCREATEKML) designed to Export all or part of the objects in the visible Layers of the drawing and their data, to a KML or KMZ file (Google Earth) through a one-click operation. This exportation process considers the current Layers organization and the properties of the Layers and objects

  • The elements in the KML/KMZ file will assume the colors, weights, etc. of the objects in the drawing. A subdivision based on the type(s) of the objects in the Layers will also be created for each Layer, allowing you a high level of visibility control in Google Earth
  • The values for the NAME and DESCRIPTION of the elements in the KML/KMZ file will be automatically taken from the data fields "Name" and "Description" if those exist
  • The Text objects will display their content as a Label in Google Earth (automatic Field "TxtString")

Export to Google Earth (KML/KMZ) command

The Exported (KML or KMZ) file can now be opened in Google Earth. As an extra, if Google Earth is installed on the computer where the Export process was performed you can even open it using a button in the Export report window. Nevertheless, upon completion of the Export process you can open the file location directly

Open file in Google Earth (if installed) or open file location

The file in Google Earth

You can export all the objects in a drawing, a selection of objects or all the objects in a Layer. As an additonal parameter, you can select the option to Fill the closed Polylines as if they were Polygons

Publish to Google Earth (KML/KMZ) parameters window

Filling closed Polylines in Google Earth

The application needs to know the Coordinate System (CRS) of the drawing for Exporting, as in most cases this will be necessary to perform an automatic coordinate transformation to the CRS used in Google Earth. You will see a Warning window if the process cannot be carried out and you may need to assign a CRS to the drawing

'SPMSETCRS' command in the "Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD ribbon

You can read about CRSs, the CRS Catalog and the Transformation of coordinates in the previous article

Is there any limitation or modification in the original objects when exporting?

Yes, there are some limitations and there may also be automatic changes in the objects when they are exported using Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD

  • Limitations:
    • Filtering of incompatible objects: there are a few object types not supported by the export processes (such as Texts, MTexts or complex 3D objects), which are automatically filtered. The filter result is displayed before exporting on the "Objects report" of the first exporting wizard window
  • Modifications
    • Some objects, such as Blocks or External References, are exported as Point Features (Insertion Points). In the case of the Blocks or XRef, you must Explode them before exporting if you want to export their internal objects. The "Objects report" in the first exporting wizard window also warns the user about the number of Blocks and XRef Insertions if any have been selected to export
    • Automatic complex geometric operations: the application will review and edit the selected objects in order to export geometries accommodated in the target format

Circle segmentation

Sample: segmentation of an AutoCAD Circle when exported to a Polygons Shapefile (SHP)

How are the Extended Entity Data (EED/XDATA) exported?

If the selected objects to be exported have attached data (XDATA / EEDs), this object data will also be exported as data tables linked to the outgoing Features, if the Target supports these data tables. The EED/XDATA can be attached when the objects are imported, by hand using the Data Structure Management tools or can be there by a combination of both cases. As you can see at the beginning of this chapter, you can choose which Tables and/or Fields will be exported

XDATA / EEDs to be exported

Can I export 'AutoCAD Architecture' (AEC) objects?

Yes, Spatial Manager™ for AutoCAD allows you to export 'AutoCAD Architecture' (AEC) objects. The main purpose of this functionality is exporting AEC "Spaces", which will be treated as closed Polylines in any exporting process

The export usefulness for these objects is limited because the AEC Properties are not exported

Exporting 'AutoCAD Architecture' (AEC) objects

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