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CAD to GIS Workflow

04-17-2016 01:50 PM
New Contributor

Simple & Quick method I currently use to bulk Georeference large amounts of CAD. Just thought I'd share..

  1. Georeference a DWG in ArcMap with the georeference Tool
  2. Rectify the DWG file with a .wld file
  3. Locate the .wld file in Windows Finder
  4. Make several copies
  5. Rename each .wld copy for each desired DWG file in the same folder

          Bulk rename [ Highlight DWG file < F2 < Ctrl+C < ESC < Highlight WLD file < Ctrl+V < ESC ]

  6. Refresh the Catalog Menu in ArcMap

  7. Drag the dwg's into the Map

Questions, comments and other ideas appreciated.

4 Replies
MVP Alum

Of course this would only work if all the CAD drawings have exactly the same page space coordinates so the the linkages specified in the wld file map correctly from page space to real world space.

And, are you not then specifying what those coordinates represent, ie the projection?

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New Contributor

By duplicating the wld file, we are assuming all of the CAD is laying on fabric. When the sheet of fabric is moved, all the sheets move the same distance & direction, even if one sheet is positioned 2 feet away. The assumption in this case is that most of the CAD is positioned at (0,0). It does help in situations where accuracy is not an issue as much as the project bulk.

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New Contributor


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Esri Contributor

Hello - Time has passed but in case anyone else is using this workflow there is a Universal World File option that could be used here, eliminating the need to duplicate the file and rename.

From Desktop Help:

"A universal world file defines control points for all CAD datasets that are stored in the same folder and have not been georeferenced.

To define a universal world file, the following criteria must be met:

  • The world file must be named esri_cad.wld.
  • The world file must exist in the same folder as the CAD drawing."

ArcGIS Pro Help Reference 

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