A quick tour of tool layers
In ArcMap, you can add a tool as a layer to the ArcMap table of contents to create a tool layer. You do this by dragging and dropping a tool from the Catalog window on the table of contents.
To create a tool layer, you drag and drop a tool from the Catalog, Search, or ArcToolbox window. This example shows adding the Buffer tool as a tool layer.
A tool layer can be thought of as a special kind of group layer, which is a simple collection of layers where each layer is called a sublayer of the group layer.
Once you create a tool layer, you can right-click the tool layer and click Open to open the tool's dialog box. After entering parameters in the dialog box and executing the tool, all outputs from the tool will be added as sublayers beneath the tool layer, as shown below. The name of the sublayer is the parameter name as found in the tool dialog box.
A result is not written to the Results window when you execute a tool layer.
When using tool layers, the parameters that you enter in the tool dialog box will be saved. If you execute the tool again, the layer will be updated and redrawn using the symbology properties of the layer.
Why use tool layers?
Although the main use of tool layers is for ArcGIS Server geoprocessing services, they are a convenient way to use tools in ArcMap.
- Tool parameters are remembered between executions.
When you open the tool dialog box from the layer, you can see what parameters were used to create the layer. In a way, it becomes documentation for the layer.
- Layer symbology is kept with the tool layer.
Each time you execute a tool using Open on the tool layer, the symbology for the individual sublayers is preserved.
- Tool layers are saved with the ArcMap document.
With a tool layer, you don't have to remember what tool created the layer—you simply right-click the layer and click Open.
- Sharing tools and workflows with other users is easier.
You can deliver a map document to a user containing just the tools needed to complete the workflow, with each tool's parameters filled in and map symbology provided.