The AutoCAD Map connection…

4 December , 2007

I was pondering what to write about for my first proper post when I got a surprise email from Autodesk informing me of a new FDO provider for AutoCAD Map 3D 2008……..

FDO stands for ‘feature data objects’ and is the data access technology that Autodesk introduced in AutoCAD Map 2007. It enables users too directly and natively access spatial data stored in a wide range of databases and file formats, including ESRI SHP files, data held within Oracle spatial and OGC web services, to name but a few. 

For my money the FDO technology has totally transformed the options that AutoCAD users have for accessing and managing geospatial data. Although creating, importing and storing CAD entities within the DWG is still important and appropriate, it is now possible for users to directly link to large geospatial datasets through the FDO mechanism, providing huge efficiencies in access and storage.

The FDO provider list has now got a new addition from those data translation experts at Safe Software. The free ‘FDO FME Provider’ enables you to directly connect to all the original Map import formats, including MapInfo TAB files, DGN files, and importantly for all the users in Great Britain, the OS MasterMap GZ/GML files.

It couldn’t be easier to add the provider to your AutoCAD Map Installation (or AutoCAD Civil 3D installation) :

  • Simply fill in the form on the Safe website –
  • Wait for the email from Safe to tell you it is ready to download (I got my email in about 2 minutes).
  • Download the ZIP file to your computer, extract the contents and run the MSI file. (Make sure AutoCAD Map is closed down)
  • The install wizard will add the provider to the AutoCAD Map installation. When you next open up the software the provider will appear neatly into the Data Connect menu.

To determine the formats that appear in the format drop down select the small button on the right hand side of the list and in the editor tick the ones you want. 

So from now on when you want to add external data from DGN, MapInfo, ESRI or GML files you have a choice to either translate your data into the DWG and create CAD entities, or connect to the files through FDO and save space in your DWG.