TopoCAD is a basic but integral solution for topography, CAD drawing and engineering design; although he does more than that in an evolution that has taken him more than 15 years after his birth in Sweden. Now it is watered by the world, in 12 languages and 70 countries although it does not seem to have achieved a high segment of the market.
TopoCAD is the star product of the company Chaos Systems, which also has RhinoCeros, a program for modeling 3D, robust but without much to talk (this time). There is also Chaos Desktop, a document manager, similar to what ProjectWise does. Although more practical, with integration to Microsoft Outlook and facilities to associate documents and metadata; for TopoCAD products it has a viewer, while formats such as dgn, dxf and dwg can be viewed as images.
The concept of Chaos solution, through TopoCAD is very interesting, because its name falls short; Its applications range from data acquisition, correction and adjustment, CAD drawing, integration to GIS, engineering design and the cycle closes in the possibility of sending the data back to the surveying team.
Like any other, the line has a reader version, with the variant that can include a plus to import and export to dwg / dxf formats or interact with surveying instruments. The rest is a modular range, they can be packaged between topography and design or acquired independently to taste, according to the roles that are clearly established in the model:
From the field to the desktop: Topography / CAD. The package called TopoCAD Base includes COGO, it can connect to surveying equipment, it can make polygonal adjustments using the least squares method. You can also operate land models (DTM and TIN), including what its results imply, such as level curves, profiles, volume calculation and cross sections (not the design). As a CAD tool it has everything it could require, with precise construction commands, being able to call reference or import common formats like dwg, dxf, dgn, landXML and shape files. However as a top format, it can handle many attributes within the same map, similar to the Xfm of Bentley Map. Also the Base module includes reader of layouts (sheets) and reader of attributes of database or metadatos of Chaos Desktop.
From the desktop to the Database: GIS / Maps. It happens that the top format is not a simple CAD with attributes, but that its xml schema stores information that can then be sent to an ArcGIS mxd, converting the tables and attributes as they would be in TopoCAD. You can also interact with databases via ArcSDE.
You can export to common formats such as kml, Mapinfo or spatial database. Recently the FDO connector was launched that allows interaction with open standards data such as MySQL, PostGIS, Oracle, MS SQL Server Spatial, SQLite, ESRI ArcSDE, SDF (Autodesk MapGuide), ESRI SHP, ODBC, WFS, WMS, GDAL (Geospatial Data Abstraction Library) (Raster), OGR (Vector format: shp, gml, dgn, kml, mapinfo, etc.).
From Desktop to Plotter: Plans / Maps. It has a great ability to create layouts, called sheets, with tables of data extracted from the attributes. The vector objects, both lines and figures dynamic elements, with which you can make operations from the layout, for example, the sizes of texts in the model can be adjusted from the layout without much return. Supports work of type sketch, as to release the artistic taste on a final product.
From the desk to Design: Engineering. Includes capabilities for geometric road design, as would Civil 3D or any competition. It also has something for the design of railways, tunnels, pipes, canals and dykes.
The way the data are handled, for example the cross-sections is more dynamic than the common, there is interaction with both the alignment in plant and with the profile generated.
From Design to Field: Topography / Stakeout. The data of a design can be exported to files that the total station or GPS can use to operate. It does not matter that in the import the data was converted to UTM, then it can be exported as flat coordinates to avoid damage by the projection settings. And then this cycle can be repeated again and again.
In general, it seems an interesting tool. A CAD with mapping capabilities, design and interaction with the topography. The base price ranges from about $ 1,500, depending on what is added.
Here you can download A trial version of TopoCAD