Leveraging Open Source
Autodesk was principally involved in the Open Source (OSGEO) foundation establishment not long ago. Their substantially participation has led toward the complete open sourcing of the Autodesk FDO technology. More recently new graphics capabilities and functionality have emerged with the FDO being extended to Oracle functionality. Already this product supports MySQL, an open source database familiar to the open source community, but it doesn't include PostgreSQL support which would be welcome since that database product is spatially enabled.
New for 2008 in this product, however, is the inclusion of the open source graphics library Geospatial Data Abstration Library (GDAL / OGR). It should be mentioned that if users are going to be accessing data through different FDO providers (anyone can write a FDO), then it is important to use an FDO provider which matches the FDO application programming interface (API) version in use (E.g., Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise 2008 uses FDO build 3.2.2) - MapGuide Enterprise will also have its own FDO.
AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 is significantly faster than the previous version of this product. As this software continues to integrate disparate data stores, cross GIS and CAD functionality and become oriented toward increased image presentation capabilities, then speed will become very important. I found this version of the software to be much faster. Tabs have also been added to the Task Pane, allowing users to switch between Display Manager, Map Explorer, and Map Books with a single click.
AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 is a step toward better CAD / GIS data integration. Improved import / export handling means DWG files can be included inside integrated work flows and GIS feature classes can similarly be exported into design files. The enhanced buffering and joining functions, put two of the most common GIS functions inside this software and Autodesk has taken the first steps toward intersection analysis. Speed is substantially improved in this version of the software. The ability to work with metadata and schema are also new and easily implemented.
While MySQL is added in the FDO of this product, and Oracle and Microsoft SQL are also able to be imported readily, one wonders when PostgreSQL import will be included. Why not include a full copy of MapGuide Enterprise with a one-click install with this software? This would allow users to build and deploy a full solution in one step from end-to-end.
AutoCAD Map 3D 2008 has come full circle and is maturing as a CAD / GIS integration software. Its capabilities integrate measurement and geographic coordinate data, empowering users to work in new ways and to design with a wider view, using new approaches and models. The documentation for this product is very good. It includes tutorials and online examples. Autodesk has also spent some time documenting work flows in an easily understandable way, enabling users to understand how this product can be used. While the software does not have all the capabilities a GIS software has, it should be recognised that this software brings strong CAD functionality and presence into the GIS world.
Jeff Thurston has reviewed leading geospatial technologies internationally for over 10 years. This review includes the first integrative evaluation efforts with chart presentation and can be seen in the downloaded version.
Product: AutoCAD Map 3D 2008
Primary Market: CAD and GIS
Online Information: www.autodesk.com