Category: Local Government

Updated Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar

The long awaited update to the Tax Parcel Editing toolbar is now available on the Land Records Resource Center.

This update resolves several bugs and addresses specific feedback we’ve gotten from the user community.   Here is a quick summary of the changes you’ll see in this release:

 New Functionality

•    Added the ability to have multiple layers in the Search dropdown.
•    Added the ability to select a feature while using the Search tool.
•    Separated the Attribute Assistant and Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar in to separate installation programs.

Resolved Problems

•    Resolved a bug that precluded a user from saving a sketch while using the Snake PIN task.
•    Resolved several bugs in the Search tool.
•    Removed duplicate lines in the Parcel Boundary Feature Class.
•    Removed duplicate polygons from the Tax Parcel Feature Class.

If you are a current tax parcel editing toolbar user, you should follow the steps below to upgrade to the latest release.

•    Backup your existing configuration file.
•    Uninstall the old toolbar.
•    Install the new Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar and Attribute Assistant.
•    Open the new configuration file and change the parameters to match your configuration file from the previous version.  You’ll have to do this because the structure of the configuration file has changed.

Once again on behalf of the ArcGIS Land Records Team, we would like to thank the users for their feedback. The community’s feedback has contributed directly to the enhancements and stability of this updated toolse

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Talking Points From a Recent Workshop

For the past few months I have had the opportunity to showcase the contributions from the members of the ArcGIS Land Records team. Since the debut of the Land Records Resource Center in the middle of the year we have been enthused with the reception it has received. After multiple presentations at conferences and other events, it is safe to say that many times, we at ESRI come away learning as much as the attendees.

Recently I had the pleasure of presenting a Land Records Resource Center workshop with Nancy von Meyer and her colleagues Jimmy Bradley and David Stage in Waveland, Mississippi. The workshop was a great success for all involved. We covered all of the aspects of the Land Records User Community site including the Blog and Media Gallery sections, but focused heavily on the Template Gallery, especially the Tax Parcel Editing Template.

This blog entry is a summary of the discussion we had in Mississippi.

  1. Shortcut keys were a hot topic during the training. They save a lot of time, and are immensely valuable. Naturally, someone asked where they could find a list of the shortcuts for future reference. As mentioned in the
  2. Tax Parcel Editing Functionality blog there is a PDF version of the popular cheat sheet handout

  3. Something that naturally happens in development is the fact that developers or those close to an application’s design become accustomed to an interface, even though it may have some flaws. Thus is the case with the front page for the Land Records Resource Center. For those just learning about the site it might not be very apparent that in order to get to the Template Gallery you first need to click on the Community tab. It was suggested that we add a link under the Getting Started section. We thought this was a good idea, but we would like your feedback on this and anything else regarding the Land Records Resource Center.

  5. Another useful technique I showed was the use of SnapTips. SnapTips are small pieces of text that pop up to show what you are snapping to. They are extremely useful when you have multiple items set to snap (vertex, edge, and end) on the same layer in the Snapping Environment dialog. Unfortunately, SnapTips don’t get a lot of press as someone noticed in the class, but you can find more information about them online at this link.

  7. Ok, this one has been mentioned multiple times so I need to get working on it. People want the option to select a feature automatically when they use the Search tool on the editing toolbar. This will be a priority enhancement to the next release of the toolbar. Look for that functionality and more in the near future.

  9. Another minor adjustment is to lengthen the search field. This was done as a sample for the Mississippi workshop and will be in the next release of the toolbar. The next release will also include the ability to search more than one feature class.

  11. The maintenance of Simultaneous Conveyances and Historical Simultaneous Conveyances can be a tricky topic, even for me. Look for a blog about this soon from Nancy von Meyer, the clear expert on the subject matter.

  13. One part of the training required me to explain the differences in the functionality of the Edit tool vs. the Select tool. Check out this article if you want more information.

  15. To some, using COGO can seem like learning a foreign language. If this is the case in your organization I suggest that everyone become acquainted with the information in this link.

  17. One of the components of the editing toolbar is the ability to retire selected parcels to a history layer. We added this functionality after discovering that many people just needed a quick and easy way to record how specific parcels looked before they were edited. Look for a blog regarding this soon.

  19. A number of users have stated that they expected to see a blog archive included with the template downloads. We intentionally excluded the blogs from the download file. We felt that the best place to manage the blogs would be the live link and thus it would provide the most current and up to date information. However, we realize that not everybody discovers the blogs right away. So, maybe we can include a link to the blog site in the current PDF help document. Let us know what you think.

As a final note, on behalf of the ArcGIS Land Records team I would like to say thank you for the great feedback we have received. Your feedback helps us improve the template deliverables directly. At this time I would like to specifically thank Anna Williams from Polk County, Florida. Thanks to her testing, she helped me fix an issue with the sketch graphics in the Snake Pin tool that had been “bugging” me for a while. That fix will be included with the next release. So, we all should send Anna a great big thank you, and thanks to the many others who have provided us with feedback.

Please continue to contribute to the posts (

Thank you,

Arthur Robinson

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Configuring The Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar

We have had several questions about configuring the Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar from those of you in the Land Records community who have downloaded it. Thank you for all of your good feedback and questions. The toolbar can be configured to set default values and behaviors for its tools. You can configure settings such as the feature class and field names used for searches and for retiring parcels, as well as default values for the Snake PIN tool and Zipper Task. If you would like to configure the toolbar settings to meet the specific needs of your tax parcel editors, read on for instructions.

An XML configuration file called TaxParcelDesktopTools.config is included with the Toolbar during installation. By editing the configuration file, you can change the settings for the toolbar. Here is where you can find the configuration file if you used the default installation path.

Config File Location

Before editing the file it is a good idea to make a copy as a backup. The file can be opened in Notepad, but it’s better to use an IDE application like Microsoft Visual Web Developer 2008 Express Edition to provide color coded text like you will see in the XML code shown throughout this blog entry. When you open the XML configuration file, you will notice that it contains a series of key and value pairs such as the one shown below. The key and value pairs control various behaviors of the toolbar.

<add key=Search_ParcelID_FeatureClass value=TaxParcel />

Warning: Do not modify the key text. Only the values should be altered.

Let’s examine the various components of the configuration file.

Search Tools

Search Tool
The first part of the configuration file configures the search capability of the toolbar. The keys control each feature class and field name to search on and control the zoom extent around a search result. Here are the keys for the Parcel ID search, for example:
<add key =Search_ParcelID_FeatureClassvalue=TaxParcel/>
<add key =Search_ParcelID_FieldNamevalue=PARCELID/>
<add key =Search_ParcelID_ExpandXvalue=1.5/>
<add key =Search_ParcelID_ExpandYvalue=1.5/>
<add key =Search_ParcelID_ExpandAsRatiovalue=true/>

The Parcel ID search looks for a feature in the TaxParcel feature class with a value in the PARCELID field that matches the search value entered. When a parcel is found by the search or when a user clicks on a parcel from the list of results, the display zooms to 1.5 times the extent of the parcel in both the X and Y directions.

Notice in the configuration file that for each of the four types of searches included on the “Search By” list (Parcel ID, Conveyance, Map Page, or PLSS Polygon) there is a set of configurable parameters using XML key and value pairs. The purpose of the keys is as follows:

a. FeatureClass – This value is the name of the feature class for the layer in the map that the application will search.
b. FieldName – This value tells the application which field in the feature class to use for the search query.
c. ExpandX (optional) – If a record is found, the map will zoom to it but zoom out by this amount in the X direction.
d. ExpandY (optional) – If a record is found, the map will zoom to it but zoom out by this amount in the Y direction.
e. ExpandAsRatio (optional) – Controls whether the zoom out expansion is a ratio or an actual distance.

Search Results Window

When a search query returns multiple results, it is up to the user to manually select the correct record to zoom to. This is done by double clicking a record in the Search Results Window. You can control whether the Search Results Window pops up automatically after every search using the following key.
<add key =Search_SearchResultsWindow_OpenAfterSearchvalue=true/>
The valid settings for the value key are:

a. true – The Search Window will appear automatically after every search.
b. false – The Search Window will remain hidden until the user clicks the button to show it. Search Window Button

Retire Selected Parcels

The Retire Selected Parcels tool provides a quick way to export selected tax parcels to an archive feature class before they are edited. The keys control which feature classes and fields are used during the process.
Retire Selected Parcels Dialog
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DynamicValuesFeatureLimitvalue=1000/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_OriginFeatureClassvalue=TaxParcel/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_OriginParcelIDFieldvalue=PARCELID/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestFeatureClassvalue=TaxParcelHistory/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestParcelIDFieldvalue=PARCELID/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestDocumentReferenceFieldvalue=DOCREF/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestHistoryTypeFieldvalue=HISTORYTYP/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestHistoryDateFieldvalue=HISTORYDT/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_DestCommentsFieldvalue=COMMENTS/>
<add key =RetireTaxParcel_HistoryTypeDomainListvalue=Retired Tax Parcel,ROW Vacation,Alley Vacation,Other,Unknown/>
The purpose for each of the keys is described here:

a. DynamicValuesFeatureLimit – This is a control valve for the OnCreate trigger for Dynamic Values. Too many records can be very CPU intensive, thus the need for a limit.
b. OriginFeatureClass – Selected features will be copied from this feature class.
c. OriginParcelIDField – The specified field in the origin feature class will provide the parcel ID attribute value for the new record created in the History layer.
d. DestFeatureClass – This feature class is the target for the copied records.
e. DestParcelIDField – The parcel ID attribute value will be pasted in this destination feature class field for each record.
f. DestDocumentReferenceField – Information entered into the document reference input of the Retire Selected Parcels form is added into this destination feature class field.
g. DestHistoryTypeField – The History Type chosen on the Retire Selected Parcels form is added to this destination feature class field. An attribute domain that includes the valid history types should be set on this field.
h. DestHistoryDateField – This destination feature class field will hold the timestamp of when the record was added to the history layer.
i. DestCommentsField – The text entered into the Comments on the form is added into this destination feature class field.
j. HistoryTypeDomainList – Enter the valid domain values from your destination feature class history type field here. The drop-down list in the Retire Selected Parcels form comes from here.

Zipper Task

The zipper task uses a form to control which features will be “zipped up” together within a given tolerance.
<add key =ZipperTask_SearchDistancevalue=30/>
The value for the SearchDistance key specifies the tolerance in map units for the coordinate search during the zipping process. The zipper task form uses this value.

Snake PIN Task

The Snake PIN task is used to create parcel identification numbers for parcels using a digitized sketch (snake path) by incrementing from a starting value.
Snake PIN Dialog
<add key =SnakePIN_TargetLayerNamevalue=TaxParcel/>
<add key =SnakePIN_TargetLayerFieldvalue=PARCELID/>
<add key =SnakePIN_StartValuevalue=1/>
<add key =SnakePIN_IncrementValuevalue=1/>
<add key =SnakePIN_PrefixValuevalue=“”/>
<add key =SnakePIN_SuffixValuevalue=“”/>
<add key =SnakePIN_IncludeEndsvalue=true/>
<add key =SnakePIN_ParsePrefixesvalue=false/>

a. TargetLayerName – This is the default layer for the task. The form will search for this layer in the map.
b. TargetLayerField – This is the default field in the target layer to use for the new PIN values.
c. StartValue – This is the default starting value for the first parcel found in the digitized sketch.
d. IncrementValue – Each subsequent parcel found along the sketch will have its PIN value equal to the last value plus this value.
e. PrefixValue – This will put a value in the Prefix box in the form. It is blank by default.
f. SuffixValue – This will put a value in the Suffix box in the form. It is blank by default.
g. IncludeEnds- This Boolean value specifies whether to update the PIN for the first and last parcels found along the digitized sketch.
h. ParsePrefixes – When the results of incremented values exceed the string length of the original value it may be necessary to drop a digit from the Prefix value. Since Prefixes are not always used this value is set to false by default.

Combine Parcels

The Combine Parcels tool uses the built-in Merge command with a little twist. It has the capability to capture shared boundaries before a merge and copy them to a historical line layer. This functionality can be turned on or off.
<add key =MergeCmd_UpdateHistoryvalue=true/>
<add key =MergeCmd_MergeLayervalue=TaxParcel/>
<add key =MergeCmd_HistoryLayervalue=ParcelBoundary/>
<add key =MergeCmd_HistoryFieldvalue=CARTLNTYP/>
<add key =MergeCmd_HistoryValvalue=Tax Parcel Historical Boundary/>
The purpose of each key is as follows:

a. UpdateHistory – This is the toggle for the historical boundary functionality. True = on and false = off.
b. MergeLayer – The merge layer is the feature class that contains the selected records that are being merged (tax parcels).
c. HistoryLayer – A line feature class that will take the shared boundaries of selected records before they are merged.
d. HistoryField – The name of the field in the history layer feature class that is used to symbolize old boundaries.
e. HistoryVal – The text value that will be written in the history field for the new record (typically a domain value).

Dynamic Values

The Dynamic Values extension is used to automatically update attributes when a feature is created or modified. It uses a table in the database to keep track of which functions will be performed on various datasets. Please consult the Tax Parcel Editing Toolbar Functionality blog entry for more information about this tool and its options for updating fields.
Dynamic Values Table
<add key =DynamicValues_TableNamevalue=DYNAMICVALUE/>
<add key =DynamicValues_EnabledOnStartUpvalue=true/>
Following is the purpose of the dynamic value keys:

a. TableName – The name of the table that will be used for keeping track of the functions that need to be performed when data is created or changed in registered layer(s). This table should be in the map document.
b. EnabledOnStartUp – The extension can be toggled on or off from the toolbar. This parameter controls whether the extension is turned on when ArcMap is opened or not.

We hope you find this information to be helpful. Feel free to post comments or send an email to

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