Tag Archives: ArcMap

ModelBuilder 220: Add Flexibility

This is the second post in a three-part series on creating geoprocessing models in ArcGIS. 

ModelBuilder 101 covered five steps to create a basic model. One of the main advantages of building a model is the ability to quickly test multiple scenarios. This post shows how to support scenario testing when a model is run as a tool.

  • Confused about what running a model as a tool means? In the ModelBuilder application a model appears as a visual diagram. Outside of ModelBuilder you can run a model from a tool dialog box (double-click the model in the ArcMap Catalog window). 

In ModelBuilder, you can open any tool, change its settings, and quickly run the model again to explore alternative scenarios. That’s great, but convenience matters too. When running a model as a tool, you can explore alternative scenarios by changing model parameters—all at once, in one place. Let’s talk the P-word.  Continue reading

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ModelBuilder 101

This is the first installment in a three-part series on creating geoprocessing models in ArcGIS. In this post, learn the steps to build a simple model. Geoprocessing model built in ArcGIS ModelBuilder

ModelBuilder has been called a visual programming language or a tool to make “visual scripts.” I like to think of ModelBuilder as a tool to map a workflow, and a model as a workflow map. Like a map:

  • A model can be navigated (it has direction built in).
  • A model uses shape, color, text, and symbols to represent and communicate about its features.
  • A model reveals data relationships that can spark ideas and collaboration.

Invaluable for conducting sophisticated spatial analyses, models are everyday workhorses too. If built with reuse in mind, they can be your go-to shortcuts to get a lot of work done.

If you’ve never created a model in ArcGIS, here’s what you need to know to get started. Continue reading

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Top Three ArcGIS Geoprocessing Timesavers

ArcGIS 10.x features user-friendly tricks for shortcutting some of the clicks involved with typical geoprocessing tasks. Of course, if you know how to write scripts using the ArcPy site package (or have the time and inclination to learn Python scripting), you’ll find the integration of Python into ArcMap a powerful way to automate geoprocessing workflows (and save yourself and your colleagues a lot of time).

But not everyone is a scripter nor aspires to be. For the non-scripters among you, below are my favorite—simple—timesavers that are built into the default interface at version 10.  Continue reading

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10 ArcMap Productivity Tips You Can Use Now

ArcGIS for Desktop includes many productivity features to help you get your GIS work done faster. Here are some tips you can try out in ArcMap right away. The 10 shortcuts below can shave milliseconds off common tasks, and hey, milliseconds count when you’re trying to get stuff done. You just may be able to get to lunch five minutes earlier and beat the crowd. That alone is going to save you at least 10 minutes, more if you’re going to Old Ebbitt.

Continue reading

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ArcMap Layout Tips for New and Experienced Mappers

Colin and David having fun in the studio

Colin (left) and David (right) in the studio.

Last week, over 2,000 of you tuned in to watch our live training seminar, Layout Design Essentials for ArcGIS 10.1, presented by Esri instructor Colin Childs, whose South African accent never ceases to please. David Watkins, Esri cartography product manager, joined in on the action as co-presenter to answer viewer questions. The seminar recording is now available for free viewing on the Training website.

This seminar is fast-paced and packed with information that spans basics like inserting a legend with attractive patches to more advanced topics such as adding dynamic text. Throughout, Colin shares tips to make your layout work more efficient and your designs more compelling. Continue reading

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ArcGIS Annotation: Woes and Woohoos

August 28, 2013: This post was updated for ArcGIS 10.2.

Labeling features can be a time-consuming part of creating a map. When you’re dealing with many features, it may seem downright onerous. But there are ways to make the job easier. Consider this illustrative tale.

Week 1: James—smart, ambitious, new on the job—is designated the department map maker. Sam, data technician by day, ink artist by night, tells James about a new dataset with a thousand or so point features that will be used as an operational layer in several high-profile maps produced by the department. The data will be updated weekly and the maps need to be in sync (Sam also suggests a warrior armband to command respect from Marc, the alpha analyst in the group).

In ArcMap, James adds the point layer and turns on dynamic labels, spends time creating label classes and setting scale ranges and formatting the labels in each class appropriately for the map products. He converts the labels to a standard annotation feature class stored in the same geodatabase as the point feature class so the annotation can be reused easily on multiple maps. He then spends several hours painstakingly positioning the annotation until he’s satisfied the map text looks perfect. Marc will be impressed, he thinks (and mulls whether to go for a drink after work to discuss those Aztec jaguar symbols Sam just texted). Continue reading

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Enhance ArcGIS 10 Maps with Custom MapTips

Have you ever explored a map document and not found the information you were looking for? The table of contents tells what a feature symbol represents, but that alone may not provide enough information when map users are interacting with a map for a specific purpose.

To access the data associated with a feature, map users can open the layer attribute table or use the Identify tool. When a layer has a lot of attributes that are cryptically named, though, having map users wade through them is not ideal. Yes, you can turn off some table fields, set field aliases, and even create HTML pop-ups, but ArcGIS gives you an easier way to make a map more user-friendly: “smart” MapTips. Continue reading

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Finding Maps and Data in ArcGIS 10: Welcome Home

The ArcGIS 10 release brought improvements to ArcCatalog, most notably its integration with ArcMap via the Catalog window. You can now directly access stand-alone ArcCatalog functionality while working with your data in ArcMap—a major convenience factor and productivity enhancement.

Home folder in ArcMap Catalog window
This week, many geographically dispersed American families are heading home for the holidays. Some organizations have geographically dispersed GIS data—scattered among different network locations, perhaps in randomly named folders, with lots of data stored (and duplicated) on individual desktops. This can make it a challenge both to find the data you need to work with and ensure that any new datasets you create are saved in the right location.

If this sounds familiar, you may welcome the Catalog window concepts of “home” (more specifically, the Home folder) and the default geodatabase. These concepts are specific to the Catalog window—there is no Home folder or default geodatabase when working with the stand-alone ArcCatalog application. Continue reading

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Mapping Time in ArcGIS 10

One of the features of ArcGIS 10.x is the ability to “time-enable” your data in ArcMap. Visualizing how data changes over time provides opportunities for powerful, more in-depth analysis. If you’re using ArcGIS 9.3, you can visualize temporal change by creating an animation. You can still create animations at version 10, but there’s an easy alternative as well.

The example below shows how to use visualize piracy-related incidents that occurred between March, 2007 and February, 2009 in and around the Gulf of Aden. Continue reading

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How to Create a Map Series in ArcGIS 10

Last week’s live training seminar previewed some of the new functionality coming in ArcMap at ArcGIS 10. Esri instructor Joel McCune covered the integrated Catalog window and much improved search tool, basemap layers, geoprocessing improvements, and more. In the second half of the seminar, Joel demonstrated how to create a map series using the new Data Driven Pages feature.

Anyone who frequently (or infrequently) needs to create or update a map series is going to love Data Driven Pages. In just a few minutes, you can assemble the series based on a layer in the map, assign a title to all the maps at once using dynamic text, and add nice touches such as an extent indicator (an outline of a feature shape displayed on a locator map—also new functionality at ArcGIS 10). Continue reading

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