Being More Productive on the Desktop

Being More Productive on the Desktop
Being More Productive on the Desktop
Counting down new favorite features in ArcGIS 9.3
Many desktop technology enhancements in ArcGIS 9.3 have focused on specific
functionality and usability features requested by users. These 10 enhancements are
organized around making you more productive when working in ArcMap.
Stop Redrawing Labels
The Pause Labeling button is
located on the Labeling toolbar.
Pause Redraw has been part of ArcMap
for several releases. The new Pause
Labeling functionality works in much
the same fashion. It saves time while
navigating to an area of interest or making
adjustments to a map by suspending label
drawing. Use the Pause Labeling button
on the Labeling toolbar to toggle labeling
on and off. Access the Pause Labeling
button by choosing View > Toolbars >
Access and Use Bookmarks More Easily
Click on the Bookmarks submenu
from the top-level menu in ArcMap,
ArcScene, ArcGlobe, and ArcReader
to quickly set, manage, or go to
Bookmarks let you zoom or pan to
a predefined extent and location on a
map in one step, eliminating time spent
zooming, recentering, and redrawing
the map. All bookmarks are stored
in the map document, but each data
frame has its own bookmarks. If the
map is in Layout view, only bookmarks
Save bookmarks to an ArcGIS
for the active frame are displayed.
Place (.dat) file to use them in other
map documents or share them with
The Bookmark Manager has
been redesigned with this release.
Bookmarks can be reordered and
removed with ease. All or selected bookmarks can be saved to an ArcGIS
Place (.dat) file. Hold down the Shift or Ctrl key to select multiple bookmarks
to save to a .dat file. Bookmarks saved to a .dat file can be loaded in other
map documents you have or shared with other users. In ArcScene and
ArcGlobe, bookmarks can be saved and used in perspective viewers as well
as the main map canvas.
Add bookmarks from the Identify window by right-clicking on the feature
name and choosing Create Bookmark from the context menu. In the
Bookmark Manager, double-click on a bookmark to zoom to it.
Get a Closer Look
at Data or Compare Data
With ArcGIS Desktop 9.3, the viewer and
Magnifier windows are easier to access and
quickly position with the Create a viewer Window
tool on the Tools toolbar in the default ArcMap
interface. Toggle this tool on while in Data view
and use the tool’s crosshairs to draw a viewer at
an area of interest. This window can be toggled
between Magnifier and viewer modes using the
drop-down menu in the viewer frame.
In either mode, a viewer window provides an
independent view of the map. The viewer window
is set using a map scale while the Magnifier
window uses a percentage of the map’s current
scale. With both windows, ArcMap’s interactive
tools can be used to identify, zoom, pan, select,
and edit features inside the window. Right-click
on the window to access common navigation and
selection tools from the context menu.
Use either window to compare two different
areas by looking at one in the viewer window and
the other on the map canvas. Use the viewer’s
context menu to synchronize the viewer window’s
display with the location and spatial extent shown
on the map canvas.
Viewer windows can be used for comparing
different datasets for the same area or to view
data representing different time periods. A viewer
window can be used to work with inactive data
frames side by side with the active data frame
shown in the ArcMap canvas. This is especially
useful when using the ArcGIS Schematics
extension: Geographic features and schematic
diagrams representing these features can be
viewed side by side. There are some limitations
when using a viewer window in an inactive data
frame. Editing cannot be performed on features or
graphics in a Viewer in an inactive frame.
40 ArcUser Summer 2008
interactive tools
can be used on
the map extent
shown in the
Viewer window.
Special Section
Use Relative Map Scale Formats Everywhere
ArcMap can be
customized to report
scales in relative format
instead of absolute format
throughout the ArcMap
ArcGIS 9.2 introduced the ability to enter map
scales in relative format (e.g., 1 inch = 100 miles)
wherever scale is specified in the ArcMap interface.
Relative scales entered into scale controls anywhere
in the interface were automatically converted to the
equivalent absolute scale.
In ArcGIS 9.3, ArcMap can be customized to
report scales in relative format instead of absolute
format throughout the ArcMap interface. Simply
click on the Scale drop-down menu and choose
the Customize This List command. In the Scale
Settings dialog box, click the Scale Format tab to
view formats, edit existing ones, or create new ones.
Formats can be defined that capitalize or abbreviate
Customizations to the list of predefined scales
and settings for scale display are stored as ArcMap
settings on your computer, not in the map document
itself. These customizations will not affect the map if
it is opened on another machine.
For a complete list of the new
functionality in ArcGIS 9.3, see
What’s New in ArcGIS 9.3 at
Easily Turn Layers Off and On
Step through the layers in a map or change between group layers more
quickly. With this new functionality in ArcGIS 9.3, just hold down the Alt key
and click on a layer to turn that layer on while turning all other layers off. In
previous versions of ArcGIS, it took two mouse clicks and two map redraws
to accomplish the same result. This makes it particularly easy to step
through a time series collection of data.
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Being More Productive on the Desktop
Continued from page 41
Get Tailored Attribute Information
with the HTML Pop-up Tool
Display the attributes of geographic features and related
information in HTML pop-ups. Small windows containing
HTML and Web content, HTML pop-ups can use HTML
formatting, links. and multimedia. An HTML pop-up is linked
to its feature by a leader line.
Access HTML pop-ups using the HTML Pop-up tool in
the Tools toolbar. Define HTML pop-ups by double-clicking
on the layer to open its Properties dialog box. Click on the
HTML Pop-up tab and check the box at the top of the tab.
By default, an HTML pop-up for a feature layer is a
simple HTML table showing the layer’s attributes. Any HTML
formatting stored in text fields in the feature’s attributes
is respected, and any attributes with complete URLs are
displayed as clickable links in the pop-up window.
Customized HTML pop-ups can also be defined using
an XSL template specified in the Layer Properties dialog
box HTML Pop-up tab. For examples of XSL templates
and possible customizations, see the HTML Pop-up folder
in \ArcGIS\Styles\ directory on the drive where ArcGIS is
installed. This folder also contains the pop-up.xsl file used for
the default HTML table option. Multiple HTML pop-ups can
be open at the same time.
The HTML pop-up tool also uses the selection tolerance
specified in pixels in the Selection > Selection Options dialog
box. HTML pop-ups remain open as long as the HTML Popup tool is selected.
HTML pop-ups can
be used to display a
Web site or a feature’s
Convert Graphics to Features
Assign a name to the output
feature using the graphic’s
Element Name.
This new command, available from the Drawing toolbar, converts
graphics drawn on a map into features. This is an easy and quick
method for creating simple datasets, study areas, and clipping
extents. It eliminates the need to create a new shapefile or feature
class in ArcCatalog and then start an edit session to add new
features to it. To assign names to the output files, right-click on the
graphic before conversion and choose Properties. Click on the Size
and Position tab and assign an Element Name. The shapefile or
feature class generated by the conversion process will have that
Access this command by right-clicking the data frame in the
table of contents or clicking in the Drawing pull-down menu on the
Draw toolbar. Point, line, and polygon graphics—including curved
lines and freehand lines and polygons—are supported and can be
ouputted as either a shapefile or a feature class. The coordinate
system assigned to the new features can come from the data frame
or a layer on the map. You have the option of automatically deleting
the graphics after features are created.
Text graphics can also be converted to annotation. When
converting text to annotation, currently selected point, line, and
polygon graphics can also be added to the annotation feature
class so one annotation feature class can hold both the text and its
associated graphics.
This tool also supports three-dimensional graphics such as
contour lines drawn on the map using the Contour tool in the ArcGIS
3D Analyst extension toolbar. When three-dimensional graphics are
converted, the output shapefile or feature class will automatically
have Z values enabled.
Convert Features to Graphics
Convert selected features to graphics to adjust their location, resize them, or edit
them on the map without changing the underlying data. This may be desirable for
cartographic purposes such as map generalization. All features or only selected features
in a layer can be converted. Right-click on the data frame and choose Convert Features
to Graphics. During the conversion process, you can choose to draw only the graphics
or both graphics and features. If you decide later to draw both features and graphics,
open the Layer Properties dialog box, click on the Display tab, and restore all or just
some of the excluded features. The newly created graphics remain selected so they can
be further manipulated.
42 ArcUser Summer 2008
Special Section
Clip a Raster to a Graphic Shape
Set export data parameters to clip
a raster using a graphic shape.
Make raster datasets more manageable by
clipping rasters using any graphic shape and
exporting them from a map as a BMP, GIF, GRID,
IMAGINE, JPEG, JPEG 2000, PNG, or TIFF file.
This functionality is very useful for defining a
study area.
After drawing the graphic to use for clipping,
right-click on the raster layer to clip in the table of
contents in ArcMap and choose Data, then Export
Data. In the Export Raster Data dialog box, click
the appropriate radio button next to Selected
Graphics (Clipping) to clip and export the raster
dataset based on the selected graphics in the
display. Click Data Frame (Current) or Raster
Dataset (Original) in the Spatial Reference box
to set the spatial reference for the export file. If
desired, check Force RGB to export the output
raster as a three-band RGB raster dataset with
the current renderer. Specify a NoData value for
the output. The default is to export by using the
raster dataset’s original cell size.
Finally, browse to the location to save the
exported raster dataset, name it, and use a raster
format. If the output location is a geodatabase,
the output type will automatically be the correct
geodatabase type.
Use Advanced
Table Sorting
Get spreadsheet-like sorting functionality
using as many as four fields in an attribute
The Advanced Table Sorting option
provides spreadsheet-like sorting on
as many as four fields. Right-click any
field name and choose Advanced
Sorting from the context menu. In the
dialog box, use the drop-downs to
select up to four fields to sort on and
select the sort order, either Ascending
or Descending for each field you want
to sort on. Click OK. Remove sorting
by right-clicking a field name, choosing
Advanced Sorting, and setting all the
fields to sort to (none).
For More Information
Two courses, What’s New in ArcGIS
Desktop 9.3, a free Web training seminar,
and ArcGIS Desktop II: Tools and Functionality, an instructor-led course, are available. Visit for more
ArcUser Summer 2008 43
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