Plain Text from Object Data

Have you ever imported ESRI SHP files or other GIS files and need to create some simple text labels for that data? Do you have some object data attached to entities that you now need to display that data in the drawing? One method of displaying or labeling those entities is by using Map Annotation Blocks or use FDO. But what if you need something quick and as plain text?

I see questions on how to do this or can Map3D do this. Yes it can be done. You can use the Map3D display manager to query the current drawing then create a “Map3D” text style in the display manager.  

So lets look at the drawing I have for the example.


It’s a simple parcel map imported from an SHP file and object data was created on the import. What I need is to label each parcel  from that object data with the Watershed1 value.

The first step is opening the Map3D Task Pane and using the Display Manager tab. If the task pane is not open use the command MAPWSPACE and select ON at the command line.


Now click on the Data icon in the display manager, scroll down to “Add Drawing Data”  then select “Query Current Drawing”

The Define Query dialog will open allowing you to define the query. I want to query on my object data so I select “Data” for the query type. The Data Condition dialog will open allowing me to select the data to query on. I select “Object Data” make sure I have the correct Table listed (Parcels), select the field I want the label to display (Watershed1) then for the Operator and Value I use = (equal sign) and * (the wildcard expression).


As soon as I click OK it populates the upper part of the Define Query dialog. Clicking OK in this dialog takes me back to my drawing.

I now have a new object or a Map3D Display Manager Layer listed in the Task Pane.


The next step is to add  a text style to display the text that is being queried in on that new layer. TIP: When we say Layer in Map3D Display Manager it is NOT an AutoCAD layer and has no relationship to the layer manager or any of the AutoCAD layers.

To create our text style for our data labels we right click on the layer name in the Display Manager and select “Add Style” then “Text”.


We now have another object in the Display Manager under the “Current Drawing Element” layer named “Text Style”.  Highlight the “Text Style” in the Display Manager and look at the properties of it in the property palette. (Right Click and select Properties to open the property palette.)  This is where we tell it to display the values from the Object Data table.

Select the Value- Text Label to show the ellipsis icon (the 3 dots) Click on the icon to open the Expression Chooser. 


In the Expression Chooser, expand the tree to get to the Object Data field to label from. Select the field and click OK.


Back it the Property Palette set the Height as needed and any other property you wish. Notice I changed the Height to 10 and provided a better fitting name for the text style.


Notice as you start to make changes in the property palette for the Text Style the labels change instantly allowing you to see the changes as you make them.


Now back in the drawing we have labels for all of the parcels and they are plain AutoCAD text objects. No FDO text style, no Civil3D label and no Map Annotation blocks.

2012 in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 35,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 8 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

The Time Has Come


To all my followers and readers the time has come to closed the web log. For how long is unknown and I have no idea if I will post again to it. It’s been a while since I had employment working with AutoCAD MAP3D or Civil3D so I’ll hang up the closed sign for now. When and if it the “Open” sign gets hung back up is anyone’s guess. I’m currently working as a labor supporting the most powerful and only Air Assault Division in the world. If anyone is in the area of Ft. Campbell, KY stop by the Gear to Go shop and say hello, just ask for Murph.

It’s been a good run and I hope I was able to help some Map3D users over the year and pointed everyone in the right direction. The intend of the blog was to provide users help on the software and show case a few things that MAP 3D is able to do that “the other guys” have been doing for years.

Thanks for reading and following me over the years and Godspeed.


The Original Murph.

Marketing with Map3D plus

As most of my readers know I was working with an Autodesk reseller as their Geospatial technician. One of the duties was visiting a customer at their office either to offer support, demo some new feature or provide some other service. Now with me being based out of my home at the farthest  northern area of the reseller’s area  I might need to drive 8 hours or more to get to some of those customers. I didn’t make much senses (or dollars) to drive that distance for a 2 hour meeting then drive back. So most of the time I would get my sale reps in those areas to set up visits with other customers in the area to make the best use of my time. Not the trouble was finding the customers in the area that may be Geospatial or Map users. Unlike some of the other AutoCAD vertical applications Map3D users are not major customers or may only have 1-3 licenses of AutoCAD MAP3D. They tend to slip though the cracks a lot of time if they don’t call the reseller every so often. Now I need to say kudos to the sale reps that I worked with, they did the best they could to find those customers.

So how can we make it better or easier to locate those customer? Simple use the product we sold and demo. Anyone that is in the sales business rather its software or widgets and doodads to services and consulting has a record of their customers and what products those customers buy and use. Either in some database/spreadsheet or even on some paper bound books in the back room. The first step and the hardest is plotting those customers on a map. With some geocoding features I had I was able to to create the customers locations as points on an AutoCAD MAP3D dwg. So now I could open up that map select the customer I was going to visit in the table view then create a buffer to select other customers in the area.


The trouble was knowing if that customer was a Geospatial customer or not. Solving that means having the database contain the products the customer used include then querying on that as well. The next big huddle was I can do it in AutoCAD MAP3D with no problem but the folks that schedule the visits may not be able to. Either they don’t have MAP3D and the data on their laptops or they don’t have the knowledge to do the query. So the next step is to the web. With a Open Source Map Guide installment and access to the it for the sales folks it was just a simple publish my map and data to that Map Guide server. With a few sample code or examples it was easy to create a couple search buttons to locate the first customer then create the buffer & query then return a list of the other customers in the area. Now the only trouble was the Map Guide server was an old PC I had in my home. That meant to really use it required me to open up my firewall to the general public and my ISP to keep the line up at all time.  As it was, the time to load a MG page was way to long and not feasible let alone the time to query the map for the data. In a nutshell that would of been great if the server was a real web server and on the employers network. Sorry I don’t have any screen capture of the Map Guide server running this, the PC that hosted it started smoking one day and smelled a little funny so it sits out in the garage right now. 

The next idea was Google Earth and Google Maps. Using the free Google Earth provider from SL-KING I was able to create  a kmz file that could be  opened in Google Earth. Now all I needed to do was provide that kmz to the sales team and instruction on using it.


An extra benefit to the Google earth was it could provide driving instructions to the customers sites as well.

So you may now be saying “That’s great Murph, you can now visit more than one customer on your trips but the title of the post is MARKETING with Map3D”.

Right so where does the marketing come into this? Well step one was getting the customers on the map. Step two is having as much data on those customers as you can get. Having the product they use, having the type of work they do, the number of users and so on in the data. Once that data is there it can be used to “SEE” where the marketing needs to go, where the best location to rope in new customer is at. It’s easier to sell a boat to someone that lives next to water that it is to a nomad. Adding more data and layers  can make the queries even better. Having data on event centers or hotels or places to hold those conferences may give marketing a better chance to select the where at next time or to keep the cost down and the ROI up.

Now my disclaimer on this is I never had the chance to implement this as well as it should be for a number of reasons and I’m only posting this after seeing an job opening for a Marking Analysis  this morning and it brought back memories of doing it. So any marketing folks reading this you can add another tool to your toolbox.

Add Custom Toolbars or Commands

Ever need to create your own toolbar or command in AutoCAD? Maybe you have some custom lisp routines you been using for years and need to add them to your current version of AutoCAD MAP3D. Even if I’m pro-ribbon there may be a time when a toolbar may be easier to get to those custom routines.

To do so we need  to check a few things and think out what we want. Most all commands now will allow to to link a icon to them. So first we need the icons and a folder to store them. For this the icons need to be bmp format and 64×64 pixies work fine for me. Next is the folder these need to be in. Look at the Options and see where it looks for them.


Next is the folder that your lisp files or scripts are located in. Again these need to be in the support path and I like to them all in their own folder on my local drive. (network location if you want to share them same for the icons.) Keeping them separate from the program files/ AutoCAD directory makes it easy to upgrade or do a repair, you don’t have to worry about them getting deleted on a uninstall.

Now after you create your icons, paint works fine for me, and the folders set up we start in the Customize Users Interface or CUI. The CUI command will open it for you. The first step I do is create a new CUIX file, again this is one of the safe ways to keep your custom toolbars/ribbons etc. from being deleted and allow sharing. In the CUI (expand it) click on the transfer tab at the top. Then on the right side select click on the icon to create a new Customization file. (looks like a new folder icon) Provide a name for the CUIX and set the location in the folder you have listed in your Options Support files.


Once you create the file go back to the left and click on the Customize tab at the top. All you did was create an empty CUIX file so now we need to load it and add our toolbars or ribbon tabs/panels. To load it scroll down to the Partial Customize Files in the tree to the left side and right click > Load Partial Customized File. Browse to the file you created and load it. 


Once you load it that partial CUIX should be the one listed in the drop down list at the top.  If not switch to it. This is where we want to create you custom toolbar.


Expand the tree for the toolbar section, right click on the Toolbar and select New Toolbar.


The right side of the CUI changes it’s display and allows you to name the tool. The default name is Toolbar1, just rename it by typing over the name. The rest of the parameters for it can stay with the defaults.

Now we just need to create the commands to add to our toolbar. To do so at the bottom section of the CUI is where the commands are for the custom CUIX file. By default it has none in the list. So click on the icon to create a new command. (the icon with a STAR and orange color sun on it)


As the right side changes display we start to fill in our parameters for that command. Provide a name for the command, set the Macro to run the custom command, this can be the command to run a lisp routine or create your own macro if you know how to use macros. Next select the image(s) to use for that command.


Now we have a complete command in the command list. The next step it to add that command to the toolbar. Select the command and drag it to the toolbar above.


Now create the rest of your commands and drag those up to your toolbar as well. When you have all of your custom commands create switch to the All Customized Files at the top in the drop down list. Highlight your current workspace in the tree on the left, then on the right side expand the tree for the toolbar and you should see your new toolbar.


If not you can load that toolbar into the workspace by Clicking on Customize Workspace button on the right, then expand the partial customize files on the left, expand your custom CUIX and place a check mark in the box for the tool.


When you are done click the Done button on the right side.

Click the Apply button at the bottom to close the CUI and you should have your new toolbar in AutoCAD MAP3D. These same steps will allow you to create a new ribbon tab and panel with your custom commands as well. Just remember a command goes in a Panel, a Panel goes goes in a TAB of the ribbon. Create the Tab then the Panel, place the commands on the Panel then drag the Panel to the Tab. 

Shopping with Map3D

By now most everyone has heard about AutoCAD for Mac. The AutoCAD built to run on the Apple computer. There’s promise of apps that will run on the I-Pad and I-Pod Touch coming out soon. So how about taking it a step farther. OK we all want to Run AutoCAD MAP3D on a I-Pad or something we can take out to the field and do field checks, updates and/or edit our maps. BUT in my wisdom of thinking of where my next pay check may come from and looking at being a door greeter at the one of the super centers here in town why not tie my passion for MAP3D into that as well.

Now hear me out a bit before you all think the Murph has gone off his rocker. How many times have you walked into one of those super giant stores only to get lost looking for that one item and end up buying nothing? Yes you did, admitted it you got all frustrated and walked away.

So here’s the plan. How about on each of those shopping carts is a trimmed down I-Pad or a I-Pod Touch with a SD card reader, USB port or whatever Apple uses that allows you to upload your shopping list and the app creates a map of the store with the locations of those items on the screen. OK real men don’t use shopping list other than at the lumber stores or car parts places. That is where the app allows the real men to type or pick from a pull down list the item(s) they need to buy and maps it on the screen for them. Now most of us have seen those terminals in stores that people enter their list in for bridal registry or birthdays and such that allows shoppers to see the items, price and location that your friend register for. This would be an extension to that. Only on the shopping cart and created once when you start shopping.

So how about it? I bet we could even get the gear head mechanical guys or Inventor folks to create some robotics to drive the shopping cart for us.  

GIS and Crime Fighting

In Oct 2000 CBS launched a new TV show named “The District”. For those that don’t remember it, it starred Craig T. Nelson as Chief Jack Mannion, chief of the Washington D.C. police department. During each episode there was a few minutes that the chief used the department’s GIS system to help solve the crime of the week. Now being the GIS geek that I was back then (side note: I was using ESRI 3.X and AutoCAD back then) and my first career was law enforcement with the Army, I was hooked on watching it each week. The GIS system that was used on the show was ESRI based. If you watch close enough and knew the software you could see the little clues.

In the early years of GIS not many cities or other government police department were aware of GIS or how to use it to fight crime. Now just about every major city or county police force use it to some extends. Just do a search on sex offenders in your area and you will get a web based map with convicted sex offenders located on it. GIS is also being used to track other crimes and activities with that info (in limited form) available to the public by web mapping today. But did you know that back in 1998 the City of Oakland CA. launched a web site named Crime Watch. This was 2 years early than CBS aired “The District”. A web based map showing the residents of  Oakland where crimes were reported in the city.

Crime Watch was one of the first web based mapping systems that the general public could use. Built on Autodesk Map Guide 4.0 it allowed a visitor to the site to enter an address and then it return a map of that area with the reported crimes, as symbols related to the crime, on the map. Web base mapping has improved since the Crime Watch days along with Map Guide. With open source applications and Google Maps almost anyone can set up their own Crime Watch.

Now don’t think that because you may not have a Map Guide Enterprise site to map out the crime in your city or any other GIS Enterprise for that matter you can not use GIS to fight crime. With AutoCAD MAP 3D you can still fight crime and track it on your desktops. By using SDF data you can create the data to analysis with buffers and overlays. Using a polygon feature to show known gang territories and with points features for major crimes you can do basic analysis to help  solve those crimes or curtail the gang activities. Adding traffic accidents into the maps you can pin point areas that may need extra patrols. Of course most major police departments know this already but the great thing about using the GIS capabilities in AutoCAD MAP 3D is you can display that data, plot it out and use those printed maps to show city administers and budget controllers why you need the funding for those projects. Even in courts, evidences can be presented to the jurors and the court to get rulings that may have been impossible before.

So if you are with a small government agency with a limited police force inform them that AutoCAD MAP 3D can help take a bite out of crime.


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