GIS Tips & Tricks

A weblog dedictated to the lifelong pursuit of cartographic bliss in GIS.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Google Style for ArcMAP

If you are a Google Maps lover and want to mimic the Google style in ArcMAP check out Brady Davis's blog
He has a that works wicked from ArcMAP 8.3 and beyond.

Here's a screenshot of the googlestyle.mxd sample that Brady includes in his zip file:

Awesome work Brady!

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

ArcGIS Shortcut Keys

I always knew about shortcut keys in ArcGIS but as I have been transitioning myself away from command line I had almost started to forget that my keyboard even existed anymore. At a recent training session I was reminded that there are some very useful shortcut keys in the ArcGIS environment. To access a list of shortcut keys in ArcGIS go to ArcGIS Desktop Help and search for 'shortcut keys'. Among others there are shortcut keys for: editing in ArcMAP, common tasks in ArcGIS help, common functions in ArcMAP and you can even customize and create your own shortcuts.

Here's a quick teaser for some of the very common shortcuts in ArcMAP:

The ESRI Online Help is a great reference for keyboard shortcuts as well.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Overlapping Polygons Display Order

Recently someone asked me how to change the display order of overlapping polygons (like region topology) from an SDE layer in ArcMap. The problem was a smaller polygon underneath a larger one was not shown when the unique values of the dataset were symbolized using a solid fill. Like this:

The solution isn't as intuitive as it could be. For ArcGIS, ArcMAP 9x the display order of the polygons can be changed in > LAYER PROPERTIES> SYMBOLOGY> ADVANCED> SYMBOL LEVELS...>

Check the box next to >Draw this layer using symbol levels specified below and use the up and down arrows on the right to toggle the display order of your polygons layer values.

The polygons are displayed in the order selected in the symbol levels window. See...

For users of ArcGIS 8x the location
menu is a little hidden and is found by
right clicking LAYERS in the
Table of Contents.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Cool Tools continued…

An anonymous comment on my previous post suggested that I should check out the free ArcGIS extensions from Ianko’s GIS page. The company is now called ET Spatial Techniques and I have actually used their free Easy Calculate tool which is an excellent add-on for ArcGIS ArcView users. From the website:

EasyCalculate is a set of expressions (currently 110) for the ArcGIS field calculator. The expressions can be loaded in the Field Calculator and when executed calculate some spatial characteristics of the features, edit the shapes, add records to a target layer, draw graphics etc

I haven’t tried Ianko’s other tools yet like ET GeoTools, ET GeoWizards, and EditTools and the other free stuff like the Watershed delineator but it looks like the focus is primarily on enhanced editing and manipulation capabilities as well as surface generation tools for ArcGIS ArcView users. The tools are all available for free demo and the cost to buy seems reasonable at $110 US for EditTools, $140 for ET GeoTools and $180 US ET GeoWizards. As is the case with most software the price goes down with the number of licenses purchased.

One of the things I have found most difficult about the transition from the command line ArcInfo world to ArcGIS is the editing capabilities in ArcMap versus ArcEdit...anything that can make editing in ArcMap more intuitive and easier is definitely worth a try. The next time I have to do some editing I will definitely take a look at Ianko’s GIS page.

Thanks for the tip “Anonymous”…Keep them coming!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Cool Tools from XTools Pro

I think XTools Pro from the folks at Data East is probably the finest third party extension available for ArcMAP. Not only is it relatively cheap at $150 US for a single license but this feature rich extension is almost indispensible if you are running an ArcView - ArcGIS license. I orginally picked up a license when I was running ArcView - ArcGIS and needed the "identity" spatial overlay functionality. Once I started playing around with some of the other tools I soon wondered how I had managed without it. Some of my favourite functions are: the Aggregate Features/Records which performs an SQL-like group by aggregation query and spits out either a stand-alone table, shapefile or personal geodatabase; Multi-Delete Fields is another cool tool I use frequently which as the name suggest deletes multiple fields with a couple of quick clicks of the mouse; a younger co-worker of mine might call the Feature Report tool 'sick' which I think is hip-talk for really good...the Feature Report tool quickly generates an MS Word editable (not edible) report of a selected feature, showing geometry, projection and feature attributes like the one shown here>>

If you are an ArcGIS user and want to enhance the functionality of your GIS software without breaking the bank you may want to consider XTools Pro. There's even a trial software download so you can try the cool tools before you buy.

You may not believe it by my hyped up rant, but I don't work for or have any affiliation with XTools Pro or Data East.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Creating a Unique ID field in ArcMAP

The other day my friendly coworker, Karen, asked me if I knew how to create a unique id field for a dataset in ArcMAP. I remembered doing this before but I couldn’t remember exactly how since I typically still use ArcINFO TABLES for this process…I know that some of you may find it tragic that I continue to bang away at my keyboard using command line but somethings are still way more efficient that way. So answer Karen’s question I had to consult the mighty ESRI Knowledge Base and as is often the case the question had already been asked.

Basically, you need to add a numeric field and calculate values using the VBA code available at this ESRI Technical Article link

Hopefully this was helpful Karen?

Thursday, December 22, 2005

ArcGIS Scripting Summary

I just came across this decent ArcGIS scripting summary from the Spatial Analysis Lab at Western Washington University. The summary is good in that it references old school scripting (AMLs, and Avenue) as well as new-school scripting tools (VB, Python & Model Builder) with a brief ‘basic-steps’ guide for beginner GIS code-warriors.

Click here for more information.

This reminds me that I must learn Python in 2006!!