How to Convert CAD files and Propagation Model Output into GIS Formats using ArcMap

This article describes how to use ArcMap to convert CAD Files (DWG/DXF) into four GIS formats: Shapefile, GDB, GeoJSON, and GeoPackage.  It also describes how to convert propagation model raster output into a vector format. 


CAD to Shapefile 


For more information, see: 

  1. Open ArcMap and add the CAD DWG/DXF file into a new map document. 
  2. If annotations are needed, a projected coordinate system needs to be defined to match the units of the CAD file. 
  3. Use the Feature Class to Feature Class Geoprocessing Tool. 
  4. Select the DWG data as the input. 
  5. The destination is saved to a folder for a shapefile. 
  6. Select Ok to generate the shapefile. 

CAD to Geodatabase 


For more information, along with tips for CAD annotations, see: 

  1. Open ArcMap and find the folder in the ArcCatalog window where the GDB will be saved. 
  2. Right click the folder and select New File Geodatabase. 
  3. Open ArcToolbox –> Conversion Tools –> To Geodatabase and select CAD to Geodatabase. 
  4. Find the CAD file to set as the input 
  5. Set the Reference Scale and the Projection which matches the CAD data. 
  6. Select Ok to create a feature dataset for the Geodatabase. 



Note: Within ArcGIS, there is no tool to directly convert a CAD file to GeoJSON.  It will have to be converted to a shapefile first.

  1. Open ArcMap and follow the steps from the CAD to Shapefile section above to convert the file into a shapefile. 
  2. Display the shapefile on ArcMap 
  3. Select Conversion Tools → JSON → Features to JSON. 
  4. Select the newly converted layer as the input. 
  5. Ensure that the “GeoJSON” box is checked 
  6. Click Ok to create the GeoJSON file. 

CAD to GeoPackage 


Note: Similar to GeoJSON, a CAD file cannot be exported directly to a GeoPackage. 

  1. Open ArcMap and follow the steps from the CAD to Shapefile section above to convert the file into a shapefile. 
  2. Right click the shapefile in the table of contents pane and select Export As. 
  3. Browse for the Geopackage option, select it, and give the file a unique name. 
  4. Click Ok. The shapefile is now saved as a GeoPackage. 

Propagation Model Output 


Propagation modeling software may produce data in different formats. Here we describe how to convert raster output from the software into a vector format using ArcMap.  The BDC system accepts four vector GIS formats: Shapefile, GDB, GeoPackage, and GeoJSON. 


Note: For BDC, the raster data output from the propagation model software must be 100m resolution or finer.  The maximum size of the raster bins is 100m by 100m. 


For more information, see: 

  1. Open ArcMap and add the raster dataset. 
  2. Find the Raster to Polygon tool and select the raster data as the input. 
  3. The Field parameter allows the user to select which attribute of the input data to be used for the output vector data. 
  4. There are additional parameters such as Create Multipart Features which enables the output to be a multipart feature class. 
  5. If there are a very large number of vertices, the Maximum Vertices Per Polygon parameter can be used to subdivide the polygon into smaller polygons. 
  6. Ensure that the locations, geometry, etc. are still intact.
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