In my opinion, definetely you need a basic knowledge of Autocad, before using the vertical Map.
Without knowing Autocad, you should use another Gis, for instance the opensource Quantum, which guarantees you professional results in a very short time.
IMO, go for it! do the tutorials, learn what you can and post questions. Make sure you post what version of MAp3d you are using so the answers can be given relative to the version. some are using 2013 now, some somewhat antique versions. make a differnece in what tha naswer will be.
Seperate your learning into basic drafting and Gis functions, you can do the GIS without the drafting but it is real handy to draw from scratch and create your won GIS files.
Being in the same boat as you, just a bit ahead on the CAD side I deffinately agree with parkr4st. I tried to jump in right away with map3d thinking that it was just another GIS program that would operate like ArcGIS, but I found how they operate is very different. A guy I work with who taught autocad for mechanical engineering gave me some of the old workbooks he had and that helped a lot. It helped me learn how things like objects, layers, annotations, xrefs and all that is set up, making working with Map3D a heck of a lot easier. ArcGIS and Map3D are two similar yet VERY different beasts and Map3D took some getting used to. There are things I prefer one or the other for. Modeling and analysis I think is better with ESRI software (as far as I know, I haven't gotten THAT far into Map3D). But from a facilities standpoint Map3d is a lot better (I can draw in a building or utility line based on dimensions with a few keystrokes).
As for QGIS, I've used it, and it's good for doing some basic cartography. I've used it to make maps at home for snowmobile and camping trips. But as far as doing any real heavy GIS work I don't think it's that useful. Sure you can plugin GRASS into it, but I've never actually gotten that to work. If you think of time as money, the time it takes to figure out how to get the software to work really isn't worth it IMHO.
I would suggest getting 2 of these 3 resources to learn from IN ADDITION TO the tutorials...
a) The AutoCAD 20xx Bible by Ellen Finkelstein or (b) Mastering AutoCAD 20xx by Wiley to learn CAD - you have full AutoCAD functionalitiy in Map (& Civil3D), including 3D drafting tools & walkthroughs
c) AutoCAD Map3D 20xx by Alex Penney for additional information / resources beyond the tutorials for Map.
I recall hearing something like 10 years ago AutoCAD alone was in the millions for lines of code - so it's not necessarily easy (or always intuitive) on it's own.
Best of Luck!
I except from a gis or gis-cad software that is powerfull as geological and mining ability, some, I am not interested in cadastral,any city plans,population status and other city or business analys.Mainly;
-import vectors(having diferrent attriubutes), elevation data(dem....) and raster(may be need georeferenced)
-drawing and digitize geological or mine designe map
-creating 3d grid and contour from attributes
-data management, interrogate,analysis....
-measuring lenght,area,slope,max-min avarage,path profile....
-scaled export and print, export all google earth
-3d displaying(may be animation)
I dont know while 3d map achieve easyl that like, my hopes from gis-cad software friendly ,thinking like user
I studied tutorials of 3d map ,that is a bit foreign to me
If you're going into 3d mining apps, I'd like to point out that I'd consider "3D" to be a misnomer - it's more like 2.5 D.
Also, I much prefer the DEM & surface modeling from Civil3D - it includes the full Map3D engine + pipes & surface modeling. Map can stylize DEM's but can't do volume calcuations by itself.
If you're working with mining & geology, you might also look at something like http://www.china-resources.net/MIG%20FONT/AA_MIG-F
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