I'm looking for some advice on GIS file formats.

At work, we use Trimble GPS to record features in the field so we've been exporting as shapefiles to make maps of sites. I use QGIS and a coworker uses AutoCAD maAutoCADocad map.

But I'm trying to send more map info the other way (making a map with surveyed lease boundaries etc, and sending to field staff either on there Trimble or to online maps like Google my maps.) the process is simple enough using QGIS, but I can't figure out how my coworker using AutoCAD can do the same.

I know AutoCAD can read shapefiles but can it create them?

Is there a better file format that would allow both QGIS and AutoCAD to create and read and write info. Right now he can export his project as a dxf file that QGIS can convert to shapefiles but there is no useful attribute data.

Just wondering if it's something coworker is doing wrong or if AutoCAD is the limitation.

I'm Open to any suggestions, we can buy new software if QGIS isn't the ideal software.

  • If you want help troubleshooting the issue where your dxf has no attributes, you might want to post that as a separate question.
    – csk
    Aug 7, 2018 at 18:34
  • If you have AutoCAD Map 3D you can connect to a database - like oracle or postgres - you can share your data in that database. Both QGIS and AutoCAD can access the same datasource at the same time.
    – Mapperz
    Sep 7, 2018 at 14:57

3 Answers 3


What I have in mind so far FME, AutoCAD Map 3D, CAD2Shape, GEOgraf.

In QGIS there is a bunch of plugins, e.g. CADDigitize, Another DXF Importer / DXF2Shape Converter, CadInput etc.

Alternatively ogr2ogr supports conversion to some extend.


There are tools for data sharing between GIS & CAD. At my place of work we use Arcv2CAD 5.0 and CAD2Shape 6.0, both licensed software by Guthrie CAD/GIS Software. Rather easy to use. Though I do not know if the software still is produced/distributed.


Does your colleague have vanilla AutoCD or does he have AutoCAD Map or C3d? Both of the latter can export polygons, lines,points, and text to shapefiles. I'm pretty sure that vanilla cad can't do that. The command is _mapexport, then choose shape multiclass as the filetype to be exported. You can then select the attributes that you want to include in the data, like layer, colour, text, etc.

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