If you have ever had to work with terrain, there are a number of problems or issues (or drawbacks, whichever you would like to call them) with using AutoCAD’s default facilities. First off, there are very few if not none.
AutoCAD by itself is just a sketching and documentation tool, so the fact that it supports terrain data but offers little function by default is not surprising. Products form Autodesk such as AutoCAD MAP 3D and Civil 3D provide extended functionality for terrain data such as built-in support for PointCloud data, but for AutoCAD, you need the following apps to get the job done better than before.
Selection Criteria for Top Mapping Apps for AutoCAD
The apps reviewed here were selected by our team based on a criteria as outlined further. The apps had to be members of the app store, so you know you get your software from a legitimate source. The apps have been signed digitally so there will be no issues of malware or spyware and the developer will be reachable as opposed to some hacker pretending to be a whole company while sitting at a computer screen in his or her own house.
The apps were further boiled down to include the later versions of AutoCAD if not the latest. With this criteria we feel it was appropriate to start using and reviewing the following applications:
CAD-Earth is more of a facilitator than an app and brings all the mapping functionality missing in the AutoCAD work-space. Not only can you import or export terrain maps and data, you can also create contour lines and save your work in profiles for later use. Every single of the apps commands has an extensive listing for help and the options also be accessed from the toolbar.
The app further allows you to gather data from sources such as Google Earth, allowing you to create LandXML files pre-processed and ready for publication or export to other software packages working with CAD or GIS. A handful of resolution options allow you direct/live feed and imagery positioning for your projects. The flexible control options allow positioning of images and other data with convenience and ease, while the imported elements are already in place. Exporting CAD objects to Google Earth and translations/transformation options make it a breeze to edit the elements.
Importing into AutoCAD is just one part of this app, the fact that it can import from and export to a ton of services aside from geospatial sources made our mouths water. This app allows transformation of coordinates while offering complete support for AutoCAD modules such as XDATA referencing. Background maps, Shapefiles (SHP) and PostGIS connectivity with SQLite data management sources allows this package a great advantage over the default functions and other workarounds available to a user.
This app also support data structure management as well as direct data edition which basically means create structures for yourself to save your models data in and this can later be used to reference information for dynamic updates.
Dike offers a lot of support for curve types and line types in AutoCAD and those not. Drawing slopes can be achieved with three modes and mining, reinforcing slopes, or simply shifting starting points of drawings are all options that Dike hits hard.
Not only does it allow drawing in active space, it also allows drawing in 3D. And if all this wasn’t enough, it can be accessed by your lisp application allowing to write new or reuse existing scripts with the package.
If you have a hundred small sized elements that require distribution (equal or not) over an area, Scatter is perhaps the most-appropriately name app there is. Reviewed and loved by customers, the app allows you to select your model (for scattering parts) or individual parts for scattering over an area, volume or curved paths. Uniform or normal distributions, rotation and scaling of objects, with randomization options put this app on top of its game.
LISP is at the heart of AutoCAD and the app is a LISP utility for AutoCAD 2012 and further. The utility can preposition elements automatically over a number of criteria, the most basic being re-positioning raster images relative to the world file they are part of. Geo-locations of all elements are retained when exporting information from within the plug-in, and exporting can be committed to TIF, CIT, ECW and many other formats for sharing and importing.
A single command starts the function and almost everything is script-based. The objects require selection to be performed manually, the subsequent processing and re-positioning will be handled automatically. Another command can also separate all your files from the default way AutoCAD stores them and can create new World Files according to your choice of directory and hierarchy.
The apps reviewed here are for mapping but no package on the face of the planet sticks to its main functionality. Each of these apps offer mapping functionality coupled with the developer’s sense of required associative functionality. All these apps allow heavy import and export options which make collaboration, integration and presentation a snap of the fingers.