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Difficulty converting CAD file to ArcMap

02-18-2016 11:44 AM
New Contributor

I need to create a map based on what I have available in a CAD document. I have minimal past experience with CAD files or the CAD program, and so I am trying to convert a CAD file to ArcMap so I can more easily manipulate the data and build on it there. I've added a coordinate system to the CAD file, but when I add it to ArcMap or try to convert to geodatabase, the CAD feature classes are empty. I've tried adding the CAD data by just clicking the add data button and adding the CAD file, and also by using the geoprocessing tools for converting from CAD to geodatabase. Either way I've tried, the CAD feature classes appear empty, with no data in them so nothing is displayed and attribute tables are empty. Perhaps I am missing a simple step... But any suggestions on how to successfully import a CAD file into ArcMap would be greatly appreciated.

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7 Replies
MVP Emeritus

An overview of the To CAD toolset—Help | ArcGIS for Desktop and

Import From CAD—Help | ArcGIS for Desktop

and make sure you are doing this in an empty dataframe and not with other data that you want to use with it.

When you say you gave it a coordinate system... are you sure it had one...and that it was the right one?

Many cad files are on an xy reference scale and arent' referenced to ground coordinates or are to some local reference be aware

Occasional Contributor III

Sounds like the data you are trying to add is actually stored in an XREF or attached drawing to the CAD file you are trying to add to ArcMap.  If you are able to I would open the current DWG in AutoCAD and see if there are any attached drawings; if there are you will need to locate and add that separate DWG to ArcMap.  Hope this makes sense.

Regular Contributor III

The dwg may also be a newer version of cad if you can save the cad file to an older version then add to arcmap.

Edit: See link below

Supported CAD formats in ArcGIS—ArcGIS Pro | ArcGIS for Desktop

New Contributor

Possibly the DWG file is a newer version of AutoCAD. I believe ArcMap can read up to AutoCAD 2013. One of the first things I do after adding a CAD file to the TOC of ArcMap is open the attribute table. If the table is empty than ArcMap cannot read the file. Also, some AutoCAD addons such as Civil Design can create objects that ArcMap cannot read.

If the file is not too big, you can check AutoCAD version by opening the DWG file in a text editor such as Notepad or Notepad Plus. Observe the first line and look for text such as AC1024.

Determine DWG File Version

AC1027 - AutoCAD 2013/2014

AC1024 - AutoCAD 2010/2011/2012

AC1021 - AutoCAD 2007/2008/2009

AC1018 - AutoCAD 2004/2005/2006

AC1015 - AutoCAD 2000/2000i/2002

AC1014 - Release 14

AC1012 - Release 13

AC1009 - Release 11/12

AC1006 - Release 10

AC1004 - Release 9

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MVP Honored Contributor

Dan has a good point about the right coordinate system. Have you tried zooming to the layer to make sure it wasn't put in the wrong place (like off the Northern Coast of Africa)? If you are able to find it in the wrong place then it may simple be the wrong coordinate system.

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MVP Alum

And look at the properties page of the CAD file in ArcCatalog.

The details page gives you counts of features in the file. Does the CAD files actually have some features in it?

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MVP Alum

And the coordinates page of the properties is often very useful for figuring out what the coord sys might be...

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