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nick777

Converting 1000's of files from Microstation J Drawings with Mail Merge Portion

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nick777

This may be a bit complex, so please bear with me.

 

We are a water utility and have thousands of detail drawings of service taps and hydrant connections (maybe 11,000 total). These are in the old Microstation J format. Each drawing is divided into a top half and bottom half. The bottom half of the drawing is the actual drawing portion.

 

The top half of the drawing is text that comes out of an Old Oracle database, into Microsoft Word 2000 through mail merge then is copied and pasted into the top portion of the card. Newer drawings done like this and opened in AutoCAD have the top portion identified as an OLE object (embedded object), while the older drawings just look like a drawing in the top.

 

I'm looking to update the system to ArcGIS and AutoCAD. The data will be moved to a Microsoft Access database (probably later SQL Server), and I want to convert all the old Microstation drawings into an AutoCAD format. ArcGIS will provide the basemap and be linked to the database, with clickable hyperlinks to open the AutoCAD drawings. I would like to be able to keep the bottom drawing half while changing the top half of each drawing to reflect updated data in the database. If this can be automatically updated, that would be awesome.

 

So, I'm looking for a couple things: One is the best program to automatically bulk convert the drawings from Microstation J to AutoCAD (I have 2011). Also, I'm looking for a method to display the text from the database in the top portion of the card using either mail merge with AutoCAD or some automatic method of pulling the info out of the database. Can I just copy-paste this info into AutoCAD as we did with Microstation or is there a better way?

 

Thanks,

 

Nick McNamara

GIS Coordinator

South Norwalk Electric & Water

Norwalk, CT

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Murph_map

First off I would forget Vanilla AutoCAD and use AutoCAD MAP3D, it works better with the E$RI stuff if you do decide you want to use it. : (

Second if you are thinking about using SQL server later why not use it to start with, MS Access is limited on size if you have a large customer data base or service are with large quanties of waterlines and electric lines.

Third unless you have E$RI are ready why waste funding and training on it when MAP3D (2012) can do it just as well.

You can still use the Orcle database and pull the data out of it or even display the data real time with out having to cut/paste with Map3D. Have you looked at the map3D import of dng files? It's different than the one in Vanilla AutoCAD.

Edited by Murph_map
Spelking errers

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cadvision

Rasterex's RxHighlight can batch and convert. www.rasterex.com I would look at saving to DWG from Microstation as a fist option. You may find viewing & markup software like RxHighlight R13 to be a great help with these types of composite drawings.

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Jack_O'neill

I got nothing to offer to help your problem, but I am curious...did you run over your boss's dog or something to get stuck with doing this? :lol:

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nick777

- Basically, I was hired to clean up a huge mess, and this is one pile of it.

- I'll have to look into the RasterX thing - though you didn't say whether it would bulk convert tons of them at once.

 

- I would agree about the Map3D part, but all the geographically referenceable maps have already been redone in ArcGIS - what's left are schematics with no geographic reference. And they'll stay as drawings to be hyperlinked to the GIS, if someone needs more detailed info for an area. I happen to be a GIS specialist, so no training is involved beyond staying current; we're going for a server distribution later, but I'm running 1 ArcInfo right now (OK "desktop advanced" or whatever dumb name they changed it to) for data development.

 

We already have Access databases from before as part of the old proprietary GIS system based on Microstation Geographics. We have a small system for water (9500 customers) and electric (6000). But we are using SQL server for other applications (our CIS) so when we switch over to ArcServer, we may change it then for performance purposes.

 

I'm not sure what you are getting at when you said "You can still use the Orcle database and pull the data out of it or even display the data real time with out having to cut/paste with Map3D. Have you looked at the map3D import of dng files? It's different than the one in Vanilla AutoCAD." For the top portion that comes from the database, viewing it in real time to replace what is already pasted there and applying that to all the 1000s of files automatically would be great. Can you elaborate?

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Murph_map

- I would agree about the Map3D part, but all the geographically references maps have already been redone in ArcGIS - what's left are schematics with no geographic reference. And they'll stay as drawings to be hyperlinked to the GIS, if someone needs more detailed info for an area.

 

If these dwgs are nothing more than hyperlinks that will be accessed from E$RI why not convert them to PDF format or even DWF? This will keep you from having to open up a full seat of AutoCAD and take the chance that someone would edit the reference/detail by mistake.

 

As for the live data view of the data in the drawings as long as you are dead set in using ESRI then forget it, but map3d could run a workflow to bring the data in and display right from the database.

The Mapimport of DGN files will allow you to import and data links as Object Data if the dgn has external links but it sounds like you don't have that.

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nick777
If these dwgs are nothing more than hyperlinks that will be accessed from E$RI why not convert them to PDF format or even DWF? This will keep you from having to open up a full seat of AutoCAD and take the chance that someone would edit the reference/detail by mistake.

 

As for the live data view of the data in the drawings as long as you are dead set in using ESRI then forget it, but map3d could run a workflow to bring the data in and display right from the database.

The Mapimport of DGN files will allow you to import and data links as Object Data if the dgn has external links but it sounds like you don't have that.

 

It would take longer to save them as a PDF with every edit, and I'd have to have multiple copies. As there are only 3 potential editors, everyone else will have the free dwg viewer, so there is no danger of mistaken edits.

 

We're running ESRI because there additional capabilities that AutoCAD doesn't have, like geoprocessing, geocoding, hydraulic modeling, etc.

 

Any other comments on the best way to convert the files from Microstation J to AutoCAD so we can either edit them in AutoCAD 2011 or look at them in the free dwg viewer?

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