Sorry to ask, but I just don't have time for help menus this week. That said, does anyone know if CAD is capable of re-projecting shapefiles? I find myself in a situation whereby I may have to use spatial data without access to ESRI software. The data are delivered in the GCS_North_American_1983 datum, and my clients site drawing is in NAD83 Z17N.

I fully expect problems. Can any of you post any related links that you're aware of? There's no budget to purchase software on this one either (just a heads-up).

Alternatively, is there a way to get CAD to project on the fly?

  • Excuse me for asking @ PolyGeo, (and with all due respect) but why has this question suddenly been put on hold after having been up on the forum for such a lengthy time? I COMPLETELY disagree that it is too broad, it has been visited almost 1200 times, and furthermore, Mapperz provided an EXCELLENT answer that addressed EXACTLY what I needed to know to proceed with my project (at the time). Having said all of that, if Mapperz was able to answer so eloquently, obviously the question was understood ... right?
    – Dano
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 15:58
  • Perhaps the site admin's could simply "re-word" what I've asked? Is that a feasible suggestion?
    – Dano
    Commented Dec 15, 2015 at 15:59

4 Answers 4



(if you have time to watch the video)

"Show me how to bring in data and reproject it" (video at the bottom)


video link http://docs.autodesk.com/MAP/2010/ENU/AutoCAD%20Map%203D%202010%20User%20Documentation/HTML%20Help/coord_sys_set.htm

  • Thank you sir. I don't have time to watch at the moment, but at a glance, I can see that the bottm link will fix my problem. Funny .... I took a CAD/GIS integration course through ESRI and they never pointed this out!! They were in fact, not aware of any way to do this. Is this a recent development? I took the course 3 yrs ago.
    – Dano
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 18:41
  • @ mapperz -- just out of simple curiousity .... how well does CAD handle the assignment of multiple datums (in your experience)? Does this cause a lot of crashes etc? The reason I ask is that I've experienced similar problems when trying to add large spatial datasets to a CAD drawing. It just doesn't seem to hanldle larger spatial files all that well. This will be my first time doing this.
    – Dano
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 18:49
  • @Dano -- map 3d has always been in civil 3d. That is where it gets its' capability to re-project. Not sure what you mean by multiple datums. Map does do on-the-fly re-projection and handle multiple data with multiple projections or datums. If that is what you mean - I have never seen any issue with this. Large datasets can be a problem. Because of the software architecturet you can find both a logical and a physical limitation to opening/loading data or drawings.
    – Brad Nesom
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 19:02
  • Try to work with CAD in it's native format or for 3D is own database schema - reprojecting non-native (.shp) is more likely to crash than .dwg or.dxf
    – Mapperz
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 19:02
  • 1
    @ Brad -- I'm self-taught in CAD, and I don't have a mentor to lean on either (you kind folks have "basically" become my mentors!!). As I said, I took a CAD / GIS course through ESRI Canada, and I asked this very question. They told me I needed to reproject everything to the same datum/zone (in ArcCatalog) or CAD would not know what to do with it. Any time I've "not" had everything in the same datum/zone, it has not opened in the proper location. I have also just recently moved from basic CAD to the Civil software. Needless to say, I'm on the learning curve right now.
    – Dano
    Commented Apr 26, 2011 at 19:10

I would suggest reprojecting the .shp file using ogr2ogr. In this way you can avoid any problems with Autodesk's reprojection engine crashing.

ogr2ogr -f "ESRI Shapefile" original.shp wgs84.shp -s_srs EPSG:27700 -t_srs EPSG:4326

where in this case we are re-projecting 'original.shp' from OSGB36 British National Grid to Longitude / Lattitude WGS84 and called 'wgs84.shp'.

The sofware is free so budget shouldn't be a problem here.

You can also try some of the software mentioned on this page to then convert .shp to dxf


references http://www.mercatorgeosystems.com/blog/?p=1 http://www.gdal.org/ogr2ogr.html


Regular "Vanilla" Autocad doesn't have the GIS import/export functionality that Map 3D and civil 3D have. So that's perhaps why ESRI said it couldn't work. But Map 3d is excellent at converting projections, etc. I'd also suggest GlobalMapper as a cost-effective data conversion tool. You can re-project data easily and quickly using GM too.


Bentley MicroStation runs like ESRI and can do projection on the fly from any Datum or Projection to any other.

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