As the administrator of EngineeringSurveyor.com, I am constantly looking for free or inexpensive software programs that can be used by surveyors to help them with their jobs. This week, my colleagues and I have tried several programs to create contours from CSV data and also converting PDF & image files into DWG format.
Two programs were tested to create DTM's from raw data. QuikGrid is freeware, which was easy to use and is suitable for initially viewing data on low spec hardware. SiteTopo is an inexpensive solution (£28 at time of publishing) which also generates contours at a user defined spacing.
The latest versions of AutoCAD are capable of importing a PDF file as an underlay which can be scaled and moved in the model space. However, the DWG file and its attached PDF file can only be shared with others using a compatible version. AutoDWG provide several conversion programs that can convert files into and out of DWG format, including a free online version which will convert a daily PDF under 2Mb to DWG. However, the cost of the full PC version may be prohibitive for all but the serious user.
InvestinTech have created Able2Extract which is capable of converting PDF files into a variety of other formats (including AutoCAD DXF/DWG, Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, Excel and Publisher). The program worked well when tested and looks professional and is easy to use. A fully functioning trial version is available for evaluation purposes and the full version is only $99.
Finally, WinTopo is a useful application for converting raster (BMP, JPEG, PNG etc) images into pseudo-vector format based files which can be imported into CAD. There are Free and Pro versions. We tested the free version to convert a MatLab produced image and a Desktop background into DXF.
I will be updating my website to include these links over the next few days.