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Spatial News Review

Autodesk World 2.5
by: GeoCommunity Staff, Oct. 1999

Autodesk® World

This month, we've chosen to highlight Autodesk's fully functional GIS and Desktop Mapping Solution, Autodesk World Release 2.5

System Requirements
Minimum 486 DX with math co-processor
VGA monitor, minimum 600x800 resolution with 256 colors
CD-ROM drive
Windows 95/98, NT 4.0x
16 MB RAM (32 recommended)
92 MB free disk space (compact install)
137 MB free disk space (typical install)
20 MB available space after install

What you get
Autodesk World CD ROM
Autodesk World Tutorial, 230 pp.
Autodesk Word user’s guide, 537 p.p.

Some of the limitations noted are:
128 MB drawing file size
1 GB database limit
255 attribute fields
2048 byte/record

Regularly $995 Limited Time $695

About Autodesk World
Autodesk World Release 2.5 is Autodesk's solution to seamless GIS data access. World brings Autodesk's GIS technology to your desktop in a familiar Windows/ MS Office environment, enabling users to integrate, analyze, and display spatial data.

Using World, users can capture, edit, analyze, and present raster, vector, and attribute data. The open architecture of World allows users to integrate GIS data from a variety of popular data formats, including ARC/INFO, ArcView, Mapinfo, Intergraph, and others, without having to conduct lengthy data conversion and translation routines. It's truly an "open" system in that data can remain in their native format, users, however, do have the option of saving data in World format or any number of popular data formats including SHP, MIF, BNA, or DGN among others.

Data supported by World
World enables integrating of various data types, including numerous popular vector drawing formats, raster images, OLE objects, and database formats. World is an integrated GIS in that it enables users to simultaneously view these different data types. Autodesk claims that World can read nearly any form of vector, raster, and attribute data and it includes the Geographic Data Exchange (GDX) system, which uses specialized drivers to exchange geographic information between different formats. World ships with GDX drivers for most popular drawing formats, including AutoCAD DXF, Mapinfo MIF, ArcView SHP, ESRI coverages, Atlas GIS, and Microstation DGN. Additional GDX drivers can be written as required using a robust API.

World has full read/write support for AutoCAD 2000 and AutoCAD Map 2000 and it Contains the same Coordinate System Definition Tool now being used in AutoCAD Map 2000. For users who need to publish and serve data on the web, World provides the ability to export vector format data (and related attributes) directly to Autodesk MapGuide R4.

The default drawing format for World is DWG, however, users can read or write data in most popular drawing formats including MIF, SHP, DGN, BNA, and others. In addition to popular vector formats, users can add raster files to a World session. World will read 24 different raster data formats and supports attribute data in numerous formats, including, Dbase, Lotus, MS XLS, Foxpro, ODBC, ASCII text, and more. World is totally customizable with a VB scripting environment, in addition, it supports multi-user data access.

Users of World save their work as a file having an APF extension; this is known as a World Project. A project is a collection of data sets, objects, macros, styles, and other settings that define the environment in which the data is edited, viewed, and queried. Saving work in a project file enables users to restore the working environment exactly as it was when it was last saved. The World Project is essentially to World what the PRJ file is to ArcView or the workspace (WOR) is to Mapinfo.

World uses the Microsoft Jet Engine database, or users are presented with an option of storing data in other popular data formats, such as Oracle or Paradox. Those of you needing to produce reports will be glad to find that Seagate’s Crystal Reports is included for report production.

For the new user
New users can expect to go through a very simple install procedure and, after a successful installation, the user has 30 days to register the license and obtain an authorization code from Autodesk.

Autodesk has apparently gone to great lengths to include a number of resources to help the new user. Some of the educational resources available with World 2.5 include:
  • A hard copy users' guide (537 pp.)
  • Introductory Tutorial guide (230 pp.) with detailed sample exercises and real world examples
  • Sample projects complete with spatial and attribute data
  • An Introductory slide show and product demonstration
  • Numerous on-line utilities at the Autodesk website, including white papers, technical help, sample scripts and a World developers resource center.
So what's new in Release 2.5
The latest release of World (Release 2.5) includes the following new features:
Coordinate System Manager
The Autodesk World coordinate system manager - The coordinate system manager allows you to define or modify ellipsoid and datum information in a custom coordinate system, and to add categories to list of categories of coordinate systems.

Export to Autodesk MapGuide® spatial datafiles(SDF)format
Autodesk World now supports the latest AutoCAD 2000 DWG and DXF formats. You can open AutoCAD 2000® drawings in Autodesk World, as well as AutoCAD Release 12, 13 and 14 DWG’s and DXFS, and save them to AutoCAD 2000 or Release 14 formats. You can also open and edit AutoCAD Map Release 3.0 and AutoCAD Map 2000, and save them to AutoCAD Map 2000 format. The DWG drawing format is the same for AutoCAD 2000 and AutoCAD Map 2000.

Improved AutoCAD Color Compatibility
Autodesk World now uses the same internal color palette as AutoCAD 2000 and the other AutoCAD 2000- based software products. This change allows DWG files to appear the same in Autodesk World as they do in AutoCAD 2000-based software products.

Improved Filled Area Features Redraw
Autodesk World 2.5 provides significant improvement of redraw speeds for filled area features. All the Zoom commands are also affected by this improvement.

Upgraded Database Functionality
World now supports Access 97, Excel 97, and SQL Server 7.0

What you can do with World
With Autodesk World users can easily integrate CAD, Raster, multimedia and attribute data in a single environment. An example of something a user would accomplish using these features is to query a map object and display an aerial photograph in response to a query. A photo (or any multi media object for that matter) could be an embedded OLE object. A field in an attribute table can be linked to any multi media object where it can be viewed upon retrieval from a query.

Other common functions enabled with World:
  • Create and edit drawings with topology and attributes.
  • Edit drawings and control entity styles and appearance
  • Analyze data with custom queries and selection filters
  • Create maps and reports for reports and presentations
  • Develop custom applications using familiar OLE-COM development tools
  • Use Microsoft Visual Basic for custom application scripting
To give you a better idea of actual things that can be accomplish with World, we’ve provided this image gallery of examples (Images courtesy of Autodesk). Please click on images to enlarge.

View of the Data Manager and a typical view of data attributes in the MS Access environment.

World supports the integration of various data sources. Bring together contours, topography, and aerial photography.

Queries are developed using a simple wizard driven user interface

Query results can be scrolled and attributes inspected, along with embedded objects

Bring all your data together and output with legend build with the legend wizard

Data can be migrated to mapguide for authoring on the web

MS Office users can easily produce mailing lists, bringing together the functionality of World, MS Access, and MS Word. Detailed instructions on doing this are offered in an exercise in the tutorial.

Multiple World projects can be opened simultaneously to analyze data

World is useful for Facilities Management and municipal utilities applications

My Top 10 "Cool" features of World!
On a more personal note, I've summarized some of the coolest features of World that await you. I determined "coolness" based on ease of use, originality, and usefullness.

Multiple Toolbars
To the user, World looks like any other MS Office application and complies with MS Office standards. Depending on the task at hand, the user can easily chose between 11 standard toolbars to be displayed.

Display Manager
The display manager is a separate window where the user can conveniently control the way data is displayed. It floats or is dockable.

Data Manager
The data manager is a separate floating window that lists all available data sources and existing data sets in a Windows exporer-like structure.

The Geobase
The Geobase is a proprietary format which stores features into feature classes and they can contain topology as well.

Open system
Users of World have the option to read and write data in World or existing data format.

Nearly every thing or every function supported by World has convenient short cuts available by simply right-clicking the mouse.

Raster Image Handling
World supports the integration of raster data and can handle some 24 data formats.

Attribute Data Handling
World uses the familiar MS Access user interface for attribute attribute data management. Support is available to access data directly from most common data formats including, MDB, DBF, DB, XLS, WK* formats.

E-mail View
Usrs of World can send a BMP or a project file via email directly from World. this is only available if MS Messaging API is set up.

Redraw Set
All the display settings in the Display Manager can be saved in a named "redraw set". Users can then easily switch between sets to change the display. The number of saved redraw sets is unlimited. When it comes time to print or plot your output, you can then use the legend wizard to automatically create a legend from your redraw set.

Overall, I enjoyed the control that World offers in taking charge of display characteristics. Menu bars, dialogues, and function options are neatly organized and simple to navigate. Add to all this a large number of analytical capabilities complemented by a true "open" philosiphy and you have an excellent desktop mapping product which can hold its own against any of the other popular competing products.

If you use Autodesk World and would like to share any of your experiences, please tell us about it by emailing to

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