Tag: ArcMap

Editing tips and tricks: Part 2

This is part 2 of tips for editing with ArcGIS 10. This content comes from a User Conference session presented by the Editing Team at the 2011 conference.  For tips 1 – 5 see this this post.

6. Trace edges when cutting polygons.
The current park design is landscaped with shrubs along the entire western border. However, I want the area to be three different types of vegetation, each separated by a foot path. I draw features for the new path lines first so I can use them to split the large polygon. Then, I select the polygon and click the Cut Polygons tool, change the construction method to Trace on the Feature Construction toolbar, and follow along the edge of the overlapping foot path feature. I need to make sure that the trace goes all the way across the polygon so the cut is successful. When I finish the sketch, the polygon is split and its edge exactly matches the shape of the path.

Another method I can use to split the shrub patch polygon by the overlapping foot path line is to snap to the edge of the polygon, right-click directly over the foot path line, click Replace Sketch, and finish the sketch. Replace Sketch pulls the shape of the underlying feature into the sketch used to cut the polygon.

7. Change attributes for multiple features in the Attributes window.
With the shrub patch polygon now split into three features, I want to make two of them flower beds by using the Attributes window to change the landscaping type. To update just two of the three selected polygons, I hold down CTRL and click the feature entries (listed by display expression) at the top of the window, then change their landscaping from Shrub Patch to Flower Bed. If I click the layer name, all selected features are updated; clicking just one feature updates just that feature’s values.

8. Extend lines by sketching with the Continue Feature tool.
The new foot path across the western landscaping needs to be extended eastward across the open space so it connects with another foot path. I can use the Continue Feature tool to extend a line by drawing a sketch. Since the path was digitized from the west originally, I flip the direction of the line so it will be extended toward the east instead. Continue Feature is available starting with ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 2, but must be added to a toolbar from the Customize dialog box because it is not on the default user interface.








9. Use Find Text to provide the text for annotation.
With my park features placed on the map, I want to add some annotation to describe them. To make the text string for a new annotation feature come from the attributes of an existing feature on the map, I can use the Find Text tool on the Annotation Construction window. For example, I click Find Text, click a recreational polygon, and it populates the text box with Athletic Field from the attributes of the polygon. This saves me from typing words manually.

10. Use the Topology toolbar to update multiple features at once.

I want to expand the area of vegetation around the recreational area so it goes closer to the eastern sidewalk of the park. This edge is shared by flower bed polygons, a foot path line, and open space polygons. I can build a map topology to make edits to all these features at the same time, including moving edges, reshaping edges, and modifying the vertices on the edges. I select the shared edge with the Topology Edit tool and use the Reshape Edge tool to update simultaneously all the features that share the common boundary.

The Shared Features window lists which features are part of the selected edge. By default, all shared features are updated when an edge is modified; I can exclude features from edits by unchecking the boxes next to the feature. Once I reshape the edge, the features are still coincident.

If I attempt to perform this edit with the Reshape Feature tool on the Editor toolbar, only one feature is updated at a time and gaps and overlaps will form among my features. With Reshape Edge, they are all modified together. Be sure to use the topology editing tools when making edits to features that share edges.

For the slides from this User Conference session click here.

Content provided by Rhonda from the Editing Team

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Editing tips and tricks: Part 1

At the 2011 Esri International User Conference, I presented a technical workshop about tips and tricks for editing in ArcGIS for Desktop 10 with Matthew Baker. In the session, we integrated time-saving hints into a demonstration of using the editing tools to transform a vacant tract of land into a design for a new city park. In this post, we incorporate some of the top pointers as we continue planning the park by creating and editing foot paths, vegetation, and other land uses.
1. Set layer properties before starting editing.
Prior to my first edit session, I review each layer’s Layer Properties dialog box because these settings determine how layers are displayed and provide properties for feature templates, which are created when I start editing. If I set up my layers ahead of time, it is easier to work with them in the editing environment and means less effort later when authoring feature templates and editing attributes. In particular, I use the Fields tab to turn off fields I don’t need to edit, set aliases, and reorder fields to promote the ones I want to edit first. Next, I look at the Symbology tab to make sure symbols are appropriate and any unique value category labels are descriptive, since feature templates are based on layer symbology. Finally, I go to the Display tab and make sure the display expression is correct, since it is used to represent a feature in the Attributes window, selection chip, table of contents, and other places in ArcGIS. 

One thing to note: if you are reusing this map for publishing with ArcGIS Server, leave the OBJECTID and SHAPE fields turned on because they are used to manage the features in the service.
2. Set a feature template’s default construction tool.
Before I start creating features, I open the Template Properties dialog box and check the default construction tool. Since I need to create curving foot paths through the park, I set the default construction tool to Freehand to make it automatically activate when I choose that feature template. The park needs about a dozen paths and trails created in it, so setting Freehand as the default tool can be a significant time-saver because it avoids the extra click to change from the Polygon tool. By the way, another tip when using the Freehand tool is to press the spacebar to snap to an existing feature.

3. Set a feature template’s default attribute values.
While in the Template Properties dialog box, I also set the default attribute values that will be assigned to the new features created with the template. Since my geodatabase has coded value domains, I can choose the attribute value from a drop-down list. Domains eliminate the need for repeatedly typing the same values (and possibly making a typographic error) and ensure the attribute values are always valid. For the foot path’s feature template, I set the value for the Material field to Wood Chips so features are automatically assigned a material of wood chips.
4. Use the TAB key to move the Feature Construction toolbar.
The Feature Construction mini toolbar is handy because it allows me to change segment types in a sketch, create parallel or perpendicular segments, undo edits, and finish the sketch without moving the mouse to the main Editor toolbar. Since the Feature Construction toolbar follows where I click the map, it can sometimes end up covering where I want to add the next vertex. I can press the TAB key to flip the location of the toolbar so it is out of my way.
5. Type a unit abbreviation to enter values not in map units.
My park data has map units of feet, but I need to enter a length for an athletic field in meters. By including the unit abbreviation of m after the length value, ArcMap knows the value is actually in meters and converts the distance for me behind the scenes. Unit abbreviations only work when the data frame uses a projected coordinate system rather than a geographic coordinate system.
Check back soon for tips 6-10 and for the full slides from this User Conference session click here.
Content provided by Rhonda from the Editing Team
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Sketching the design of a new park

Park analysis and design:  Sketching the design of a new park (part 4)

In my previous blog post, I used a voting application allowing citizens to vote on their favorite location for a park based on choices derived from a suitability analysis. Using ArcGIS Server, their choices went into a database and allowed the parks to be ranked based on their popularity. We have a winner, so now our task is to design the new park. Continue reading

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Voting on a new park location

Park analysis and design:  Voting on a new park location (part 3)

In my previous blog post, I determined suitable locations for a new park by analyzing a series of datasets provided by the City of Redlands. The final output showed a number of parcels that matched the standards established in the model. The next task is to seek feedback from the public. To do this, I’ll take advantage of a web application I developed using ArcGIS Server.

Preparing the data
The park suitability model resulted in an output of a feature class containing many multipart features. A multipart feature, as the name suggests, is a feature with multiple parts. Think of Hawaii as one feature (state) with multiple parts (islands). To break the suitable areas for parks into separate features, I’ll use a tool called Multipart To Singlepart.

With every parcel being its own feature, I can calculate the area for each potential site by creating a field and using Calculate Geometry in the attribute table. Once I have the area in acres, I need to convert all the polygons to points using the Feature to Point tool so I can represent each park as a point location in the web application.

The final dataset contains fields for the park’s area and an identification number, which I derived by copying the OBJECTID to a field called ParkID. This number is used to link the park feature to the voting results table, which also has a field for the ID named ParkIDVoted (so I can distinguish it in the Flex code).

Building the web service and application
I’m developing my application using the ArcGIS API for Flex, so I first check if there are any existing samples that I can use as a starting point to help me collect votes. I find the Editing a related table sample, which demonstrates a similar scenario that I can modify for the needs of my own project. This sample takes a set of incidents (stored as points) and allows the user to flag an incident as important. In the code, there’s a map service that holds the points, as well as a table to hold the results. In the geodatabase, these are linked using a relationship class. These datasets need to be in an ArcSDE geodatabase with feature access enabled to allow web editing. Accordingly, I can set up my data this way and publish it with ArcGIS Server, which makes the parks and the table become layers in a map service.

I need to change a few things in the sample to customize it for my own application: the URL of the parks layer and the URL of the table holding the votes. Some field names are different, but other than that, the logic of casting the vote is fairly straightforward.

In terms of the interface, the sample shows how to use the pop-up window (infoWindow) when a park is clicked. I used the same thumbs-up icon and added a bit more information to the information window. Additionally, I published the park access map and the final suitable parcels layers, which can be turned off and on in the application using simple Flex components.

Submitting a vote
When users find a park they are interested in, they click the icon on the map. This sends a query to the server using the x,y location of the map click, which also triggers a relationship query that gets the number of votes of the record in the related table. The infoWindow then displays the ID of the park that was clicked, the park size, and the total count of current records in the related table, which are votes in favor of this location.

To vote for this park, the user clicks the thumbs-up icon, which sends a message to the server (applyEdits) that puts the ID of the park, plus a value for “like” into the related table through the relationship class. The count is increased by one and the total vote count can be seen immediately.

Counting the results
On the server, the related table collects the votes. Each record in the table is a vote, which includes the Park ID the user clicked, an attribute for the vote (“true”), and the date of the vote.

When the voting period is over, I can run a summary on the final table using the Summary Statistics tool. This counts the number of records with the same ID and creates a table, which I can then build a report on using the new reporting tools in ArcGIS 10.

Now that I have a winner, the next task is to design the park using the sketching tools in ArcGIS 10. I will cover this in my next blog post.

Accessing the Data
The data, Flex source code, report template, and a few other parts of the workflow can be found here

The rest of the data and tools for this blog series can be found in the Park Analysis and Design group (make sure to filter by Show: All Content at the top of the page)

Content for the post from Matthew Baker


Part 1 – Park analysis and design – Measuring access to parks

Part 2 – Park analysis and design: Locating a park through suitability analysis

Part 3 – Park analysis and design:  Voting on a new park location

Part 4 – Park analysis and design:  Sketching the design of a new park

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Locating a park through suitability analysis

Park analysis and design: Locating a park through suitability analysis (part 2)

In my previous blog post, I analyzed park accessibility in the City of Redlands and discovered several areas of the city that were farther than one mile from an existing park along the walkable street network. Now, I want to determine where to best locate a new park within the areas I identified as being underserved by current parks.

To answer this question, I’ll conduct a suitability analysis to find parcels that are most appropriate for a new park.

There are two main types of suitability analysis: binary and weighted. Binary suitability analysis involves a binary final answer —1 or 0, or in our case, suitable and unsuitable. A weighted suitability analysis allows for a range of final answers, from 1 to 10, for example, and allows certain layers to have more influence (weight) on the result of the model. For this example, I’m going to create a binary suitability analysis model.

As with our park accessibility analysis, I’ll start with several datasets from the City of Redlands, including parks, schools, roads, trails (off-road and on), existing and proposed bicycle lanes, and vacant parcels. Before I construct a model, I should know the distances the new park should be from certain features. In most cases, I’m looking to be close to certain features, but in other cases, I want to make sure I’m far enough away, such as with highways and existing parks. 

Remember that any of these values can be changed to suit any criteria. ModelBuilder allows a workflow to be created, run, and then modified to suit different ideas of how far each feature should be from a new park.

Creating a data processing workflow
My analysis should read like a flowchart: buffer the schools, trails, and bicycle lanes to make the ‘good’ areas. Buffer the existing parks and highways to make the ‘bad’ areas. Then remove the bad areas from the good areas, and find the areas that are common to the vacant parcels.

Developing a suitability model
To use the data and tools found in ArcGIS to accomplish suitability analyses, I’ll develop a model using ModelBuilder. ModelBuilder acts much like a living flowchart, with data elements connecting to tools creating outputs just like the flow processing diagram. A model serves not only as an organizational tool for doing data processing, but the elements of the model store parameter values and data paths that can be changed, and the model itself can be shared and run on different data. For example, other users can change the input datasets to their own parks and street network to achieve the same analysis.

By definition, geoprocessing tools take one or more pieces of geographic data, run a process based on parameters I define, and create a new piece of data as the result. That first result can be fed into another tool which results in yet another piece of data. Once the new data has been created, the old result can be discarded. This data is called intermediate data. Each piece of intermediate data should be written to a scratch workspace, which is defined in the environment settings of the map or model.  Keeping intermediate data in a scratch workspace is a great way to ensure I don’t end up with random datasets all over my computer.

Tools for models can be found using the Search window. The Search window will allow me to type in the name of a tool, dataset, or script and show results across all types of data. To add a tool to a model, drag the tool by its name, and drop it on the model canvas. Model elements can be connected using the Connect tool from the model window. Double-clicking a tool or element will open a dialog box that allows me to ensure the settings are correct before I run the model. ModelBuilder will also check the inputs are valid before running, and I can check them all manually by clicking the Validate Entire Model tool from the ModelBuilder toolbar. I can save the model in a toolbox, which can be stored anywhere on disk or in a geodatabase, as I am doing.

When the model runs, a dialog box shows me the progress, notification that it is finished, and any messages, warnings, or errors that might have occurred. The Results window is the location to track the status of a model or other geoprocessing operation.

Reusing models as tools
Another nice feature of models is they can be used in other models as tools. Since I already proved the effectiveness of measuring distances along the road network versus straight-line buffers, I can take the method I developed and use it as a tool in my park suitability model. I’ll call the tool Buffer Along Roads and use it for the schools and existing parks, which are the only datasets that require travel to be measured along the road network.

My model tool will operate as any other tool: it requires an input point dataset and will create a polygon dataset containing buffers along the roads using the distances exposed in the reclassification scheme. Once I’ve created these distance polygons, I then choose the ones that meet my criteria—in this case those that are ½ mile from existing parks and within ½ mile of schools.  From there, the rest of my analysis can continue using straight-line buffers from bike lanes, trails, and highways.

Determining the final location
When the model is finished, I see that there is more than one suitable location for a new park. I then have some work to do to figure out the final parcel or location. For example, perhaps I’m looking for the area that is closest to downtown. Using my park access analysis as an example, converting the final suitable polygons to points and running them through a cost distance tool would be one method to use.

However, I want to allow the citizens to provide input. In the next entry in this series, I’ll use ArcGIS Server to collect volunteered geographic information, crowd-sourced, or user-generated content to allow users to vote on their favorite location for a new park. This concept is now being referred to as “participatory planning”.

Accessing the data and models
The data and models for this blog post can be found here
The rest of the data and tools for this blog series can be found in the Park Analysis and Design group here (make sure to filter by Show: All Content at the top of the page)


Part 1 – Park analysis and design – Measuring access to parks

Part 2 – Park analysis and design: Locating a park through suitability analysis

Part 3 – Park analysis and design:  Voting on a new park location

Part 4 – Park analysis and design:  Sketching the design of a new park

Content for the post from Matthew Baker

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Measuring access to parks

Park analysis and design – Measuring access to parks (part 1)
Have you ever wondered how far you are from a park? In this post, I’ll examine the placement of parks in Redlands, California, and determine which areas are best and worst served by a park. In future posts, I’ll discuss siting a new park using binary suitability analysis, web-based tools for evaluating and increasing park access, and the design of a new park using ArcMap and feature template-based editing.

Over the last year, I’ve been attending various urban planning conferences and have discussed with several urban planners the need to design healthier communities, and I have heard this notion echoing throughout the planning community.

One concern is to figure out how well areas are served by parks. In my analysis, I want to determine which areas are within one mile of a park and visualize the results in a way that is easy to understand. I chose one mile, assuming most people can visualize how long it would take them to walk a mile, but this analysis could certainly be easily altered to measure any distance and present the results in a similar manner.

To do this, I could use a simple one-mile buffer around the parks, as the first map shows. However, a map created that way does not consider modes of travel. I want to measure pedestrian access to parks, so the best route is to travel along a road, preferably on the sidewalk.

The more accurate way to measure park access is to determine areas around the parks that fall within a specified distance from the parks along the road network. Using network analysis, we call this a service area analysis, or drive time, but this uses the road network only.

There are tools within the Spatial Analyst toolbox to run a cost-distance analysis: essentially a distance map calculated against a surface describing how difficult it is to travel across a landscape. This gives me the ability to rank our landscape by how easy it is to travel, road or not.

I want to then create a map showing areas that are ¼, ½, 1 mile, and greater than 1 mile from a park along the road network and show the distances on the map as well as on a graph.

Creating a travel cost surface
For my analysis, I am first going to create a cost surface that describes ease of travel through Redlands, with areas along roads being easier (cheaper) to travel through, and areas farther from roads more difficult (expensive) to travel.

To do this, I start by creating a raster surface where every cell has a value for the distance it is from itself to the nearest walkable road segment; that is, I don’t have to drive a car to get to a park and can even get exercise on the way.

First, I’ll need to map the road network. From the City of Redlands roads dataset, I can simplify all the roads into three main types: minor, major (arterial), and highway.

Since pedestrians cannot safely or legally walk on the highways, I can remove them from the analysis. The first tool in the model will be the Select tool, which allows a set of features to be removed for analysis by an SQL statement. In this case, I’ll use Road Type not equal to Highway to remove the highways from the analysis and create a walkable road dataset.

Of course, this would be a good place for a better road dataset in which each street had an attribute for whether or not it is walkable. I have heard of a few communities and organizations starting to capture this data, and it would be most useful for this application.

Once I have extracted the walkable roads, I’ll run the Euclidean Distance tool to create a surface in which each raster cell holds a value for the distance between itself and the nearest road.

The Euclidean Distance tool creates a surface where every part of the study area is broken down into a square (cell), and every square is assigned the distance to the nearest road segment. I’ve adjusted the symbology to group cells into distance bands.

Creating a cost surface
I’ll now borrow a concept from a weighted overlay (suitability) model and reclassify the road distances onto a scale of 1 to 6, where 1 is the cheapest (easiest to travel), and 6 is the most expensive (difficult to travel).To do this, use the Reclassify tool. It allows me to define the number of classes into which I want to reclassify the data. The Old Values column describes the distances from the Euclidean distance raster. The New Values column is the breakdown of the new values for the ranges of the old distance values.

Notice I’m going to reclassify the distances using the same distance bands I used earlier to describe how far each part of town is from the nearest road. Each cell in each distance band then gets a new value describing its cost on a scale of 1 to 6.

Here are the new reclassified distances. Notice the values become more expensive when moving away from the roads.

This now becomes the cost surface that I’ll use to measure park access.

Evaluating park data
Because the park data is stored as centroid points, they may not necessarily reflect the true access points to the parks themselves. By creating points at the corners of the park, I can have a more suitable location from which to measure park access.

Borrowing again from the City of Redlands dataset, I’ll simply select the parcels that intersect the park points and run those intersecting parcels through the Feature Vertices To Point tool in the Data Management toolbox.

Depending on the geometry of some of the parcels, I might end up with a little more than just the corners, but this is a much more accurate representation of how to get into the park than just a point in the middle of the parcel.

Calculating cost distance
Next, I’ll run the new park points against the cost surface using the Cost Distance tool in the Spatial Analyst toolbox. Using this tool, I can create a raster surface where each cell has a distance from itself to the nearest park point along the cheapest path—in this case, the cells that are nearest to the roads as described by our cost surface.
The resultant raster gives a picture of how far each location is in the entire city to the nearest park, which is somewhat hard to visualize. I can then reclassify the distances into simple ¼-, ½-, and 1-mile areas.

Visualizing the results
Taking the walkable road network into consideration certainly does give a much better picture of areas served by parks—and notice the areas that now show up as underserved that the buffer didn’t expose. These areas are over a mile from a park, which meets our criteria of underserved.

In addition to mapping, I can also create a graph that visualizes the percentages of the city that are served by parks by their respective distances.

Using the graphing tools in ArcMap, I can create a new field of data to hold the percentage, calculated by using a variable in the model that stored the area of the City, and divide that by the area of each feature in my walkability analysis. I can create a table that stores the values of the output of my reclassification (1,2,3,5,9) and their respective labels (500’, ¼ Mi, ½ Mi, 1 Mi, and More than 1 Mile) and join that table to my walkability output. It’s an extra step, but one that can be repeated if my underlying data changes and I want to run it again.

Now that I have identified that there are areas underserved by parks, the task of my next blog post will be to determine the best location for a new park using a simple binary suitability analysis.

Data credits
Data is provided by the City of Redlands. The data and models for this blog post can be found here


Part 2 – Park analysis and design: Locating a park through suitability analysis

Part 3 – Park analysis and design:  Voting on a new park location

Part 4 – Park analysis and design:  Sketching the design of a new park

Content for the post from Matthew Baker

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Map document fails to open or save at ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 2

Some map documents (MXDs) that worked properly in ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 1
(SP1) or prior cannot be opened or saved after installing Service Pack 2 (SP2).

ArcMap may also crash at Service Pack 2 when switching from the Data
View to the Layout View or when working with map surrounds such as Legend, North
Arrow, Scale Bar, and Scale Text.
The issue occurs if the map document was created using the ‘Save a Copy’
functionality to save the map document to version 8.3, 9.0 or 9.1 and the map
document contains map surround elements.
Solution or Workaround

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Changing the user interface

The ArcGIS Desktop applications have a default graphic user interface (GUI). You can alter the way the desktop application’s GUI appears, and you can expose functionality that has been developed to extend the functionality of the desktop applications.

When you first open a Desktop application, like ArcMap, there is a set of menus, toolbars, and dockable windows that is visible. You may want the ArcMap interface to reflect your own preferences and the way you work. All the Desktop applications share the same robust configuration model that includes the following capabilities:

  • Position toolbars and windows in a specific area of the application
  • Showing and hiding certain dockable windows
  • Grouping commands in a way that works best for you
  • Removing unused commands from toolbars
  • Adding or altering a command’s shortcut key
  • Changing a command’s icon or description to make it more familiar

These tasks are completed via simple drag-and-drop operations inside the applications. None of these tasks requires any special permission, and all are easy to accomplish, requiring no coding. In addition, these configuration changes are automatically saved; the next time you open ArcMap, for example, the layout of the GUI will remain how you previously configured it.

The principal way to tailor an application to suit your needs is to use the Customize dialog box. From the Customize root menu, click the Customize Mode to open the Customize dialog box.

Opening the Customize dialog box puts you in customize mode, which offers the following capabilities:

  • Hide and show toolbars.
  • Create a custom toolbar or menu.
  • Change toolbar and menu constituents.
  • Change a command’s appearance.
  • Create and modify shortcut keys.
  • Set advanced options.

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Making the scale bar the right length in ArcMap

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Scale Bars - thumbnail

I’ve addressed issues of scale bars in a couple of our earlier blog entries (Choosing the best way to indicate map scale and Back to the Issue of Scale Bars). In this one I tell you how you can make sure that the scale bar you insert is the right length on your map. But before I do, I want to first point out that for the most part the only maps that should include scale bars are those for a smaller extent and therefore generally at a large scale. If you map a larger extent then the scale distortion over that extent will mean that the scale bar is not valid for the entire area mapped. A complicating factor is the differing scale in different directions on small scale maps – another reason not to put scale bars on small scale maps. We generally define “large scale” as 1:250,000 or larger for just these reasons – on maps at these scales, you can make accurate distance and area measurements.

Continue reading

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