Tag: Best Practices
The recording of the November 16 2010 ArcGIS 10 Water Utility Template Updates Webcast is can be viewed here:
As was requested during the webcast, we’ll be posting the most popular questions we received and answer to the blog shortly.
We’d like to also take this opportunity to thank everyone who participated in the live webcast and remind you to fill out the post webcast survey email. Feedback from the water, wastewater and stormwater GIS user community directly drives our actions.
The Geodatabase team recently posted some good information on network considerations when using geodatabase replication.
Geodatabase replication works in both connected and disconnected environments. Which of these environments is most appropriate for your replication requirements depends on what type of network you have and the speed of that network. Visit the Geodatabase blog for more….
On November 16th at 1:00 PM EST we’ll be giving a
webcast that explores the ArcGIS 10 updates to the Water Utility
Templates. You can sign up for the
webcast here: http://events.esri.com/info/index.cfm?fuseaction=showSeminar&shownumber=14102
During the hour long webcast, we’ll be focusing on changes
between the 9.3.1 versions of the Templates and the ArcGIS 10 Templates, highlighting
some of the new functionality of ArcGIS 10 that we are leveraging with the
Templates, talking about installation and configuration of the Templates and
demonstrating the Templates in action.
For those who are unfamiliar with the Water Utility Templates,
they are free downloadable configurations of ArcGIS for use in the water,
wastewater and stormwater industries. So
even if you aren’t using the Water Utilities Templates now, this webcast will
give you an overview of what they are, how they can benefit you and how you can
configure them for your organization.
When working with features that are layered over imagery, the default symbology used when creating features and snapping can sometimes blend into the background, making it hard to see what you are editing. In ArcGIS 10, the Editing Options and Snapping Options dialog boxes contain settings for changing the appearance of the edit sketch and snapping symbols. For example, you can set brighter colors for the sketch symbols to make them stand out better and easily trace features on a dark image.
Symbols used when sketching features
When creating lines and polygons, the default edit sketch symbology used to represent the feature’s geometry are green and red squares with a segment line connecting the vertices. You can change the sketch symbols by opening the Editing Options dialog box > General tab. Clicking the buttons opens the Symbol Selector dialog box, where you can choose different colors, sizes, and markers for the sketch symbols. Unselected symbols are the ones you see most of the time when sketching, while the selected symbol specifies how a vertex appears when it is selected after you draw a box around it with the Edit tool or check it in the Edit Sketch Properties window.
When digitizing a hiking trail through a thick forest, change the dark green used to represent vertices to a lighter color. You can also increase the size of the vertex symbols or change the marker symbol altogether. These graphics show the default color and size (left), which is hard to see over this image, and custom settings (right) for the sketch symbols. Play with the symbols to find the right ones for the contents of your imagery and the scale at which you are working.
As you sketch or move a feature, ArcMap by default shows a “what you see is what you get” (WYSIWYG) preview of the actual symbology of the feature. Although the display is semitransparent, it may still obscure the underlying imagery. This is most problematic when digitizing polygons, such as building footprints. To turn off the WYSIWYG feedback, uncheck Use symbolized feature during editing on the Editing Options > General tab. In the following examples, the left graphic shows sketching a building with the symbolized preview enabled, and the right graphic shows it off with the sketch displayed only as a wireframe. When this option is off, it is much easier to see the building you are tracing.
The settings for the edit sketch symbols are stored in the ArcGIS registry, so are available for all your maps. While the sketch is most commonly used for digitizing new features, it is also used when reshaping a feature, cutting a polygon, and so on. Your changes are reflected in those cases as well.
Symbols used with snapping
You can modify the appearance of the snapping pointer and SnapTips symbols by clicking the Snapping menu on the Snapping toolbar, then clicking Options. Note that these settings are stored in the ArcGIS registry and only apply to the Snapping toolbar snapping environment introduced in ArcGIS 10; they are not used in classic snapping, which has no symbology options.
From the Snapping Options dialog box, you can change the color of the snap symbol that indicates whether you are snapping to an edge, end, or other element by clicking the color palette. To see SnapTips better, check the Background box to add a solid fill behind the text so it stands out from the underlying raster. If you want to change the SnapTip font, color, size, or background, click the Text Symbol button to open the Symbol Selector dialog box.
The left graphic shows the SnapTip as it appears by default, but the SnapTip is much more visible in the right graphic with a background and larger font size. Since the snapping elements are semitransparent, you may need to experiment with different colors to find ones that are distinguishable over your imagery.
Layer display settings
In addition to the editing-related settings, changing the appearance of the layers themselves makes it easier to view the image and edit the features on top of it. For example, turning off unnecessary overlapping layers and adding layer transparency can make the raster visible through the features you are editing. This is especially useful when working with polygons, which cover up any underlying layers. You could consider symbolizing polygons with crosshatch patterns rather than solid fills.
To make the raster lighter, use the Image Analysis window to add transparency, increase the brightness, or apply a contrast stretch.
For more information:
- Changing the edit sketch vertex and segment symbols
- Setting the snapping environment when working on top of imagery layers
- Improving the display of raster data
Content provided by Rhonda (Editing Team)
OK, so the title is a bit misleading, but we have been hearing from a few of you in regards to getting layer packages to display with 3D points in ArcGIS Explorer, and there is a way to do this using ArcMap. The quick answer is to use a Layer or Layer Package that already has the desired 3D layer properties. Simply, add a layer with 3D properties to ArcMap and reset the data source for the layer to your point feature data. While you cannot set 3D properties for a layer in ArcMap, if the layer already has 3D properties, ArcMap does not remove them.
For those of you that know how to reset the data source on a layer in ArcMap, you are set… you just need a point layer that already has 3D properties. I have made one that has the basic settings for 3D points that most people want and you can get it here. The 3D properties will work well for general visualization of points in 3D and 2D. A full explanation of the details follows below…
The issue: points from an ArcGIS Layer appear flat (draped) and are too big in ArcGIS Explorer 3D
For an example we will take a look at a default layer from ArcMap. In this case I have added point features representing cities in the United States (orange points). I also have a shaded relief basemap loaded in for reference.
If we create a layer package (see help for creating packages) out of this layer and open it in ArcGIS Explorer we will see the following:
In ArcGIS Explorer 2D, it looks pretty good. The layer has 2D properties and ArcGIS Explorer displays it as it is seen in ArcMap. If we switch to 3D in ArcGIS Explorer we see that the points are displayed in a larger size.
If we zoom in on the map we also see that the points are too big and they are draped on the surface.
This occurs because the layer does not have good 3D properties for this ArcGIS Explorer use case. Using the layer package referenced above this can be corrected. Open this layer from ArcGIS.com in ArcMap.
Right Click on the layer and open the layer’s properties…
On the Source Tab click the ‘Set data source’ button and browse to your point data.
If we create a layer package from this layer and open it in ArcGIS Explorer 3D, it looks like this:
The symbols have better sizing for this use case and they display in 3D.
In ArcMap we can adjust the layer properties further, changing the layer name, symbol, symbol renderer, turn on labels, set HTML popup etc… While 3D marker symbols like those in the ArcGIS_Explorer style work well, you can also use ArcMap’s character marker symbols . For example, I changed the layer name, chose the ‘Hospital’ symbol from the ESRI style and changed the size from 18 to 14.
In ArcMap it looks like this:
In ArcGIS Explorer 3D it looks like this:
If you have a 3D Analyst license you can use the layer as template in ArcGlobe. Of course, you can also use ArcGlobe to adjust the layers 3D settings and do more advanced 3D display.
Content for this post provided by Mark B. (ArcGIS Explorer Team)
Snapping allows you to create features that connect to each other so your edits are more accurate, with fewer errors. In ArcGIS 10, you can choose from one of two snapping environments to use when you are editing. The default is the new Snapping toolbar, which is flexible, easy-to-use, and has more snapping types, more options, and better feedback. Alternatively, you can enable classic snapping, which provides fine-grained control over the snapping environment. This post provides an overview of each environment, so you can decide which one allows you to get your editing done most effectively.
A series of “how-to” videos is available to help you with the deployment of
ArcGIS 10, including
- ArcGIS 10 Deployment Quick Tour
- Customer Care Site: Software Management
- Customer Care EDN
- ArcGIS 10
- Installing ArcGIS Desktop
- ArcGIS 10 Authorization
- ArcGIS 10 Deployment Best Practices
The videos are between 10-30 minutes long, and are available through the Esri Training web site.
An Esri Global Account is required.This content is for US customers but will be posting non US information soon.
To get the most out of editing in ArcGIS 10, use the
Layer Properties dialog box to (1) prepare symbology, (2) simplify attribute
fields, and (3) set a display expression. Doing these things for each layer you
plan to edit can help make your data compilation tasks easier and
straightforward. This post walks you through setting up a parcels land-use
layer so you can create and edit features in it.
Preparing the layer’s symbology
The Layer Properties > Symbology tab allows you to set the symbols
used to draw the layer. Since feature templates are based on the symbols used
in the map, be sure to symbolize your layers appropriately before you start
editing for the first time on a map since ArcMap creates feature templates for
you then, or anytime you create feature templates yourself. If you change the renderer
type after you create feature templates, you will end up with templates that do
not reflect the features you want to create.
When creating features, you should use either the Single Symbol or
Unique Values renderer. If you are symbolizing with unique values, make the
labels for your symbols meaningful, as the symbol labels become the names for
the feature templates. For example, the parcels layer has symbol category
labels taken from the raw attributes of AGR, COM, IND, RES, and UNK, which are
shortened versions of various types of land-uses. Expanding the text of the
symbol labels to Agricultural, Commercial, Industrial, Residential, and Unknown
will reduce the cleanup needed on your feature templates after they are created
and help other editors understand which features they are creating. The symbol
labels are also used in the entries in the table of contents and the map layout
legend, so there are additional reasons to do this. These graphics show the
Layer Properties > Symbology tab and the resulting feature templates in the
Create Features window.
When there is a problem with the symbol for a feature template, the
Template Properties dialog box displays an exclamation point icon in the
preview area. The template is also shown in the Create Features window as a
silver layer icon, rather than the symbol that will be assigned to the new
feature. This often happens when the symbology was changed dramatically after
the feature template was created, such as switching renderers or symbol
categories. If this occurs, look at the feature template’s default attributes
to ensure they match the current symbology or symbol category. You can also
simply delete the template and re-create it to synchronize the symbols.
When you look at your parcels layer in the Attributes
window, by default, all the fields are displayed in their original order and
with their names as they appear in the data source. The field names are hard to
read and understand since they use capital letters and underscores because
spaces are not possible in the actual field names. Fields that you cannot even
edit are displayed, which makes it harder to find the fields you want. This is
a lot of junk content to wade through when you want to edit these attributes! This
layer could benefit from some work on the Layer Properties > Fields tab.
The Fields tab is the central place for you to set up the
display properties of fields. Spending time organizing fields makes your
editing and overall ArcGIS experience more productive because the settings are
used throughout ArcMap, including in the attributes table, the Attributes
window, and the Identify window. In addition, they are maintained when you
share layers with others through layer files, layer packages, map packages, and
The left side of the Fields tab contains a list of all
the fields in the feature class or table, including any fields that have been
joined to it. If you have a long list of fields but only plan to edit the
attribute values for a few fields, hide the ones you do not need to by
unchecking them in the list. For the parcels layer, you might be only
interested in seeing information about the land-uses and the IDs, so you can turn
off nearly everything else. To save even more space, hide system fields that
ArcGIS does not allow you to edit anyway, such as the Object ID, Shape, Shape_Length,
and Shape_Area. This does not delete the fields; it simply turns them off to
make it easier to access the fields you want. Many dialog boxes have option
buttons that allow you to view all fields in a layer if you need to see them
The order of the fields list is the default order in
which they are displayed throughout ArcMap. You can change the order to promote
to the top of the list the fields you use most often. To reorder a field, click
it in the list and drag it to the position you want, or click the arrow buttons
to move it up or down the list. You can also select multiple fields and reorder
them at the same time. With the parcels layer, move up the IDs and land-use
code fields since you plan to edit them.
When you click a field in the list on the left, the individual field’s properties are displayed on the right side of the tab (the
right side will be blank when you have multiple fields selected). You can change
the properties that are shown in the Appearance section, which specify how the
contents of the field are displayed in ArcMap, but not the system information
under Field Details. When you click a row on the right side, an explanation of
the property is provided in the box at the bottom of the tab.
In the Appearance section, you should give your fields
aliases to specify an alternate field name that is descriptive and user-friendly.
Field aliases do not have to adhere to geodatabase naming conventions, so
aliases can have spaces between words or be as long as necessary. For example, for
the field, “LAND_USE,” set the field alias as, “Type of land-use.” The alias is
a lot simpler to read and understand than the source field name.
You can also set a field to be read-only, which means you
can view but cannot edit that field, regardless of the file or database
permissions. This is useful when you need to see the value of a field for
context, but do not want to inadvertently update its value. If you want to
distinguish certain fields-for example, to make them easier to see when editing
in the Attributes window-set the Highlight property to Yes. This will add
background shading so those fields will stand out from the others.
After a little cleanup, the list is a lot easier to
manage and edit. Only the most useful fields are shown, with clearer alias
names and a more appropriate order.
Two of the most popular requests on the ArcGIS Ideas site, where you can submit and
vote for ArcGIS software enhancements, are the ability to rename fields and
reorder them after they have been created. Although this functionality may not
be available in the underlying database, you can get the same result by
authoring your map and setting the field properties.
You should follow these guidelines when working with
stand-alone tables, since the field properties are used with tables, too. If
you create a relationship class to relate a table of landowner information to
the parcel layer, you can navigate through the related records to edit the
landowner table in the Attributes window. If you turn off unwanted fields, reorder
fields, and set other properties in the landowner table, it will be easier to find
and edit the table’s values, too.
Setting the display expression
The display expression is new with ArcGIS 10 and is found
on the Layer Properties > Display tab. Setting the display expression
ensures that the most useful information is displayed when representing a
feature in the Attributes window, the Identify window, in HTML Pop-ups, and
other places across ArcGIS. The display expression can simply be the contents of
a field by itself, which is similar to the primary display field from previous
releases. However, the display expression is more powerful because you can
customize the text. This allows you to enter your own text or combine the
contents of multiple fields. For example, you could write an expression that
would include the text, “Land-use type:” before the field value. This would be
entered on the Display Expression dialog box as, “Land-use type: ” + [Land-use
When editing, the display expression makes it easier to
navigate the Attributes window tree. Stand-alone tables have a display
expression property, so setting it on the table can help when viewing related
records, too. The display expression is also shown in the Edit tool selection
chip, which is a small pop-up that appears on-screen to help you select the correct feature when you click multiple overlapping features with the Edit
tool. For example, you are trying to select a road that overlaps a parcel
polygon. If you click the road, the selection chip appears, allowing you to
choose whether to you want to select the road line or the parcel polygon.
Content provided by Rhonda (Editing Team)
Learn practical ways to enhance analysis, access imagery, make better use of the Web, and apply ArcGIS in the field at Esri’s free seminar, Increase Productivity with ArcGIS 10 . All industry professionals are invited to this event, which will be held in 74 U.S. cities from September to November 2010. Register to attend at a location near you.
We’ve created a LinkedIn Group for the Esri Mid-Atlantic Water/Wastewater Special Interest Group so we can share more details about our first meeting and answer any questions. Here is a link to the group – http://linkd.in/bum9lz
Going forward we’ll be using this LinkedIn group to plan future SIG meetings and hope it becomes a useful forum for water, wastewater and stormwater ArcGIS users in the Mid-Atlantic region.
As we’ve previously announced, the SIG’s first meeting is at the ESRI Mid-Atlantic User Group Conference December 1st in Philadelphia, PA. More information about the MUG Conference and the SIG can be found here – http://bit.ly/bZGvCX
We’d also like to announce that we’ve selected our first user presentation for the December 1st SIG meeting. Joe Spollen will be presenting on “A Day in the Life of a Water Company GIS Analyst”. During this presentation Joe will share his experience using ArcGIS Desktop and Server applications at a large private water utility to maintain water distribution system data, create and share maps, support capital planning and other common daily tasks for water utility GIS users.
We’ll be sharing more of the agenda as we confirm other user presentations.