Frequently asked question

What are the seed file requirements for the Export to CAD tool for AutoCAD DWG and DXF formats?

Last Published: April 25, 2020


When executing the Export to CAD tool to create AutoCAD DWG or DXF output files, detailed information is provided using a seed file. The following requirements only apply to data stored in a geodatabase feature class. The steps do not work when using shapefile input.

  • When using a seed file to convert data from ArcGIS to AutoCAD, the seed file must be the same version as the output format selected.
  • The seed file must also be in the same format as the output file format selected. If DWG output is desired, the seed file must also be in DWG format, not DXF.
Both DWG and DXF file formats contain the same information, but the DWG format is binary, while the DXF is a text file. The DWG file format, being binary, stores data more efficiently than DXF, and is usually half the size or less than the equivalent DXF.
  • To create BLOCK entities in the output AutoCAD file, the data must be stored in a geodatabase feature class. This process does not work if the data are in shapefile format.
  • To create BLOCK entities in the output AutoCAD file, the following attributes must be added to the feature class name, then defined and populated as indicated:
    • CADType, defined as text, length of 10 or 12 is adequate, populated with the word "Insert", without quotes.
    • RefName, defined as text, long enough to accommodate the name of the block the feature is to be converted to.
    • A field named "Color", defined as a Short Integer, and populated with an AutoCAD color number can also be added. The default screen color in AutoCAD is black, and unless a color number is specified in the attribute table, the default output color from Export to CAD is also black. Black on black does not display well. Standard AutoCAD color numbers are listed below.
The seed file is created in AutoCAD, and must contain the BLOCK name and definition.
  0  White/Black - depends on the AutoCAD canvas color when the file is opened
  1  Red
  2  Yellow
  3  Green
  4  Cyan
  5  Blue
  6  Magenta
  7  White/Black - the display color for text in AutoCAD, controlled by the canvas color
  • Export to CAD will not work on a Layer file. In the tool, the data must be accessed from the location on the computer where the geodatabase is stored. For most consistent results, both input and output data should be on the local hard drive.
  • Export to CAD will fail on data with geometry errors. Before running the tool, run Check Geometry on the data. If geometry errors exist, run Repair Geometry on a copy of the data before running the export process on the copy.

Article ID:000019055

  • ArcMap

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