Category: Mapping

Creating street name indexes

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Sample of a portion of a street name index

We received a suggestion to write a blog entry on this topic from Anna Schwabedal, who is a technical sales representative for Esri Germany.  Anna gave us a rough idea of how this works and I was able to use that when this topic came up through Ask a Cartographer recently, and I’ve worked on it a bit since then in order to write this. Continue reading

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About the Weather style

By Jaynya Richards, Esri Research Cartographer

Weather - Examples of wind barb symbols

The Weather style supports creating several common weather charts. These charts depict sky conditions, wind speed & direction, and precipitation. The symbols are based on weather and climate related maps and graphics designed by staff at the Center for Ocean Land-Atmosphere Studies (COLA). COLA is a center jointly supported by NOAA, NSF, and NASA. This Weather style also has symbols for weather station models (Surface, Upper, Forecast), cloud cover, station wind, pressure fronts, and precipitation. Continue reading

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Creating lists or stacks of marker symbols with cartographic representations

By Peter Kasianchuk, Mapping Center Cartographer
Example of a list of markers showing the available services and amenities

A number of maps, particularly those geared towards outdoor tourism, rely on a convention that uses standard icons to list the services or amenities that are available at some place on the map. Using cartographic representations simplifies what used to be a rather unwieldy task from the perspectives of data modeling, data management, and symbology. Continue reading

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Tips for editing your style files with Microsoft Access

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

The style files that are installed with ArcMap are actually Microsoft Access databases, the file extension was changed from .mdb to .style.  Based on this knowledge, we’ll describe a few useful things you can do to edit your style files using Microsoft Access. These tasks are either not possible or a bit tedious to accomplish easily in ArcMap.

First you’ll need to open your style with Microsoft Access. To do that, launch Microsoft Access, from the file menu choose Open, and in the File Name box, type “*.style”.  Then browse to where your styles are located.  Choose a style file and open it. Continue reading

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Omit specific features from display using cartographic representations

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

If you want to remove selected features from display with standard ArcMap symbol management tools, you need to use the Layer Properties to do so.  Typically this might mean using a Definition Query based on a feature attribute value, or a classification scheme which excludes a range of attribute values.  Cartographic representations provide you with a method for removing features from display, this method is based on graphic selection. Continue reading

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Specifying multiple transformations for your data frame's coordinate system

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

WGS84 Figure 1

Not long ago we received a question via Ask a Cartographer that our map projection experts frequently get; it goes something like this: “When projecting data to WGS84, for example, which transformation is the best to use?” Continue reading

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About the Geometrical Interval classification method

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Sample surface using Geometrical Interval Classification

Those of you who regularly use the classification dialog will have noticed a new classification method was added in version 9.2. Now
available for all data is the geometrical interval classification method which was called “smart quantiles” when it was originally introduced in the Esri Geostatistical Analyst extension. Continue reading

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Create representation markers from marker symbols in existing style files

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

A number of you have written in to Ask a Cartographer wishing to know how to convert your font-based or EMF-based marker symbols to representation markers. Representation markers (introduced in ArcGIS 9.2) have a number of advantages over font- or graphics-based markers.  For example, you can create or edit their artwork while working in ArcMap or ArcCatalog, and they can be used the geoprocessing framework. One geoprocessing tool engineered to work with cartographic representations which you might find particularly useful is the Detect Graphic Conflict tool, which tells you where the symbols on your map overlap one another. But first, many of you may need to convert a significant number of markers into representation markers. Continue reading

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Symbolizing PLSS lines with the Cut Curve geometric effect

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

In the United States, the Public Land Survey System (PLSS) is a way of subdividing land. The USGS topographic map symbols for displaying PLSS data are an excellent way to symbolize PLSS data on not only topographic maps, but because the topographic symbols are  so well recognized, the same symbols can be used on many other kinds of maps. In the image to the left, the “plus” marker symbol shows where a found corner is located, however, if no corner has been found, then no marker should be shown, leaving a gap that signifies the doubtful location of the corner. Next we will describe how to use cartographic representations to symbolize township, range, or section lines to leave a gap at the corners, allowing corners to be added (as point features) or gaps to be shown. Continue reading

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How to get consistent quality of vectors when exporting to AI format

By Michael Law, Esri Product Engineer


Exporting to an external graphics package like Adobe Illustrator or Macromedia Freehand from the ArcMap environment can have its challenges. One positive aspect of exporting is the ability to make certain that CMYK values are retained for proper print color reproduction. Some of the challenges you may face after export are inconsistent vector line widths, irregular polygon shapes, and something our programmers call polygon dicing. Continue reading

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