Knowledge Base - Technical Articles

Technical Article   HowTo:  Convert an ArcView shapefile to a DXF file

Article ID: 15735
Software:  ArcView GIS 3.2, 3.2a
Platforms:  Windows 95, 98, NT 4.0, 2000


This article provides three options to convert an ArcView Shapefile to an AutoCAD ASCII Drawing Interchange (DXF) file.


  • Shape DXF Converter
    1. Start the Shape DXF Converter utility by selecting Start > Programs > Esri > ArcView GIS 3.2a > Shape DXF Converter.

    The number of Decimal digits is used to write coordinates and other non-integer numbers in the DXF file.
    [O-Image] SHAPEDXF menu

    2. Specify the full directory path, file name, and file extension for the shapefile in the Input Shapefile text box.

     Make sure the .dbf, .shx, and .shp files are in the same directory. If they are not, the converter will not create the .dxf file, nor will it give you an error message.

    3. Specify the full directory path, file name, and file extension for the DXF file in the Output text box.

    4. Specify the number of decimal places in the Decimals text box if you wish. This information is used to write coordinates and other non-integer numbers in the DXF file. This step is optional.

    5. The utility will convert a 3D shapefile into a 2D CAD drawing if the shapefile's attribute table contains fields named Elevation and Thickness. To convert a 3D shapefile into a 3D CAD drawing with Z values, rename these two fields to something else.

    6. Click OK

     Make sure path and file names for the Input Shapefile and Output adhere to 8.3 Compliant naming conventions. The utility will not produce any errors if the path and file names are not 8.3 compliant, but it will generate an incorrect DXF file. See Related Information.

  • Scripts The Esri ArcScripts Web Site offers a number of sample scripts for this type of conversion. These scripts may need to be slightly modified to achieve desired results.

    1. Navigate to the ArcScripts Web Site. See the Related Information section below.

    2. Select 'Avenue' from the language pull-down menu to see available Avenue scripts.

    3. Search on the keyword 'dxf' in your browser.

     The search word should be 'dxf' without the period to ensure correct search results.

  • Custom Applications Several Web sites offer a Shape to CAD file conversion utility. Some have additional utilities for working between CAD and ArcView. Search the Internet on the keywords "arcview", "cad", and "conversion." See Related Information for common Internet search engines.

     Most data conversion scripts or applications found at these Web sites are not supported by Esri. Please refer to the disclaimers prior to downloading.

Related Information

Created: 11/10/2000
Last Modified: 7/21/2010

Article Rating: (2)
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By Anonymous - 07/20/2010 5:34 PM

The article has missing, misleading, or conflicting information.

The link to ArcScripts is very old - it should be updated from to This should be updated in any other topic it appears in. Thanks!

By Anonymous - 08/11/2004 6:41 AM

If there is an .xml file associated with the shapefile, for example water.shp, water.shx, water.dbf, water.shp.xml, then the dxf file will not get created.


By Anonymous - 03/03/2003 2:18 PM