What's new for editing in ArcGIS 10
At ArcGIS 10, the ArcMap editing environment gets an updated look with streamlined access to functionality, a new feature template palette for creating features, and a more interactive snapping environment. The result is reduced button clicks, simpler workflows, and quicker completion times for all your data compilation tasks.
Enhancements to the general editing environment and user interface
The first major difference you will notice is the redesign of the Editor toolbar. Items from the Task list have been converted to individual tools and redeployed on the Editor toolbar, the Topology toolbar, and a few other places where they are combined with other tools that function in a similar environment. Other items such as the Select by Line and Select by Polygon items are now capabilities within the standard selection functionality, so they are available outside the editing environment as well. The Target list (which was built on a geodatabase-centric view of the data) has been replaced with a new concept, feature templates. Templates are used to define the types of objects that you create on a map or layout.
Starting an edit session
At ArcGIS 10, there are two main ways to start an edit session: by clicking the Editor menu on the Editor toolbar or by right-clicking a layer in the table of contents, which automatically starts an edit session on the entire workspace containing that layer. If you use the Editor menu to start editing on a data frame that contains data from multiple workspaces, you are prompted to choose the workspace to edit. The dialog box that appears when you start editing with multiple workspaces in the map has been redesigned to show more clearly the layers in the map and workspaces containing them.
When ArcMap encounters any issues when starting an edit session on the data you chose, a dialog box now appears with a list of the specific error messages. You can double-click each problem to open a help topic that provides more information and a solution.
Creating features using feature templates
Creating features is accomplished through the use of feature templates. Feature templates define all the information required to create a feature: the layer where a feature will be stored, the attributes a feature is created with, and the default tool used to create that feature. Templates also have a name, description, and tags that can help you find and organize them. If templates are not present when you start editing, they are automatically created for each layer in the current editing workspace. Templates are saved in the map document (.mxd) and the layer file (.lyr).
Editing using templates is a very map-centric user experience. Templates are displayed with a symbol and a user-defined name. The symbol represents how objects created using the template will appear on the map (by virtue of their target layers' symbology and their default attributes). Once created, templates can be added, updated, copied, and deleted depending on your needs. Adding a new feature is now as simple as clicking on the type you want from the window and defining the feature on the map. There is no need to define the target, set the task, and activate the Sketch tool.
A new window, the Create Features window, is the central place to create and manage templates. The Create Features window has three main components: a toolbar to manage your templates and their properties, a list of templates used to create new features, and a set of tools used to define the features' shape.
Anytime you create features on the map, you start with the Create Features window. Choosing a feature template on the Create Features window sets up the editing environment based on that feature template's properties; this action sets the target layer in which your new features will be stored, activates a feature construction tool, and prepares to assign the default attributes to the feature you create. To reduce clutter, templates are hidden on the Create Features window when layers are not visible.
The top panel of the Create Features window shows the templates in the map, while the bottom panel of the window lists the tools available to create features of that type. The availability of the feature creation tools, or construction tools, depends on the type of template you have selected at the top of the window. For example, when a line template is active, you can see a set of tools for creating line features. If you choose an annotation template instead, the available tools change to those that can be used to create annotation.
The Annotation and Dimensioning toolbars have been removed in ArcGIS 10, as their tools are now integrated into the Editor toolbar and Create Features windows. The process to create new annotation and dimension features is similar to creating other types of features: choose a template and a construction tool and click the map to create the feature.
Creating lines and polygons
When you want to create features, you'll most commonly use the Create Features window's construction tools and the construction methods on the Editor toolbar. With those tools, for example, you can create lines, arcs, tangent curves, vertices at intersections or midpoints, vertices based on distances and directions from other features, or new segments by tracing along existing ones.
To create segments in lines or polygons, you will most commonly use the Line tool (with line templates) and the Polygon tool (with polygon templates). While these tools are used with different template types, they behave similarly. To create segments, simply click the map where you want to place vertices.
By default, the Line and Polygon tools create straight segments between the vertices you click. These tools have additional ways to define a feature's shape, such as creating curved lines or tracing existing features. These are construction methods, which are located on the Editor toolbar. To create a curved segment, click that construction type from the palette on the Editor toolbar and draw the curve on the map. You can even switch among construction types after each segment, allowing you to build the exact shape you want. For example, if you are drawing a road with a bend in it, you may want some of it to be straight and some to be curved. To do this, start with Straight Segment, digitize the straight segment, then click a curved segment construction method and create the curve.
While many of the construction methods are used the same way as their counterpart sketch tools in previous releases, there are a few differences. For example, to create a new feature by tracing the segments in an existing feature, you now simply need to choose the Trace method, move your mouse pointer near the existing feature, then click to begin tracing it. You do not need to select the feature to trace first as you did before, which commonly restricted which edits you could perform with the Trace tool. In addition, ArcGIS 10 also provides the ability to sketch smooth curves using the Bézier Curve Segment method.
In addition to the Line and Polygon tool, there are other tools available to create lines and polygons. The Freehand tool creates a hand-drawn feature and automatically smooths it into Bézier curves. The Circle and Rectangle tools allow you to create circles and rectangles by dragging the mouse interactively or at precise locations with keyboard shortcuts. These tools are similar to the ones on the ArcGIS 9.3 Advanced Editing toolbar but have been enhanced at ArcGIS 10 (and removed from that toolbar). The Ellipse tool allows you to create a new ellipse feature interactively or use shortcuts to specify the location and major or minor radii. Previously, it was difficult to create ellipse-shaped features when editing. When creating polygons, you also can choose the Auto-Complete Polygon tool, which is used to create adjacent polygons that do not overlap or have gaps. This tool is similar to the Auto-Complete Polygon edit task but has been developed into its own construction tool.
For more information about the types of segments you can create, see Segment construction methods.
In ArcGIS 10, the Annotation toolbar has been removed, and the functionality for creating and editing annotation has been integrated into the Create Features window and the Annotation Construction window.
The Create Features window and the Editor toolbar provide the tools you need to create new annotation features. The Create Features window allows you to choose the construction method for your new annotation—horizontal, curved, leader line, and so on. Once you choose the tool to use, the Annotation Construction window appears, so you can enter the text of the new annotation, control how the text is placed, and override the default annotation properties as defined by the feature template.
The default construction tool is one of the properties of a feature template. When you choose a template on the Create Features window, the default construction tool is activated. For example, if you are creating annotation that identifies the names of roads or rivers, you might want to make the default construction tool be the Follow Feature Annotation tool, which is used to create annotation that follows along the shapes of polygons or lines. To set the properties of a feature template, double-click it in the Create Features window.
You can access the Unplaced Annotation window from the Editor toolbar > Editing Windows menu, which allows you to open any of the dockable windows used while editing. The Unplaced Annotation window was formerly opened from the Annotation toolbar.
Creating new features with editing commands
Templates are used anytime you are creating features. When creating features with an editing command, such as Buffer or Union, you choose a template on the dialog box that opens for those commands. If you are editing an existing feature, you do not need to specify a template.
When creating new features with an editing command rather than sketching, you choose a template on the dialog box for those commands. Previously, you had to set the target layer prior to accessing these commands, which meant that the command would be disabled unless you had appropriately set the target layer type (such as a line layer for Copy Parallel).
New snapping environment
The existing snapping environment is very flexible and powerful but is sometimes too complicated for casual users. ArcGIS 10 provides a simplified snapping experience that uses more map-based settings, minimizing the need to manage the snapping environment on a layer-by-layer basis. Snapping is enabled by default and has been broadened from being within an edit session only to being available across ArcMap. For example, the settings on the Snapping are also used when georeferencing and using the Measure tool.
All the settings you need to work with snapping are located on the Snapping toolbar. By default, snapping is enabled in ArcMap, and the active snapping agents, or types, are points, endpoints, vertices, and edges. You can turn on or off individual types or turn off snapping completely from the Snapping toolbar. A snap agent is enabled when it looks "pushed in" on the toolbar or menu. To turn off snapping completely, click the Snapping menu and remove the check mark next to Use Snapping.
When snapping is enabled, you may notice the pointer icon changes as you move around and pause on various features on your map. Each snapping agent (vertex, edge, endpoint, intersection, and so on) has its own feedback. For example, the cursor is a square when you are snapping to a vertex or point and becomes a box with diagonal lines when you are snapping to an edge. By noting the cursor appearance and the SnapTip text that pops up, you can immediately determine the layer you are snapping to and which snapping type is in use.
In addition, the new snapping environment allows you to customize the appearance of the cursor and pop-up SnapTips and includes some new snap types, such as intersection, tangent to a curve, and midpoint.
If you need the customized snapping environment provided in previous releases, you can enable classic snapping on the General tab of the Editing Options dialog box. This setting disables the Snapping toolbar for use during editing and restores the Snapping Environment window.
Editing in the Attributes window
One area of the previous editing experience that created confusion while editing was the use of feature class information as provided by the geodatabase rather than the view of that information exposed through a feature layer in ArcMap. Providing a consistent layer-based editing experience alleviates this confusion and provides a more seamless experience when using other parts of the mapping system. For example, when working with attributes while editing, if you turn off the visibility for a field, set a field alias name, or change how numbers display in a field, the field will also be hidden, shown with its alias, or displayed using that number formatting when editing. 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. Respecting layer properties in the Attributes window helps you efficiently view only the important information you need to update.
Entries in the Attributes window are shown using its display expression, which is the most useful and unique field of an attribute table or table. A display expression is an enhanced version of the concept of the primary display field that allows you to customize the text string. Some examples of how you might use a display expression include entering your own text, changing the formatting of the text, or combining the contents of multiple fields. Your expression would then show in the Attributes window in addition to the content of MapTips and the Identify dialog box.
The Attributes window also has several other enhancements, such as the ability to change the orientation of the window (attributes below the object list) and dock it to the ArcMap application interface. If you are working with date fields, a calendar pop-up appears to make it easier to enter specific dates. You can also interact with related records, attributes tables, and Layer Properties more easily from the Attributes window.
In addition, the Fields tab on the Layer Properties dialog box has been redesigned, making it easier to reorder fields, turn them on or off, sort them, and set other display and formatting properties. The order in which fields are listed on the Fields tab is the default order in which they are displayed throughout ArcMap, including in the Attributes dialog box when editing.
New way of attaching files to features
ArcGIS 10 introduces attachments, which provide a flexible way to manage additional information that is related to your features. Attachments allow you to add files to individual features and can be images, PDFs, text documents, or any other type of file. For example, if you have a feature representing a building, you could use attachments to add multiple photographs of the building taken from several angles, along with PDF files containing the building's deed and tax information.
Attachments are similar to hyperlinks but allow you to associate multiple files to a feature, store the attached files in the geodatabase, and access the files in more ways. You can view attachments from the Identify window, from the Attributes window (when editing), in the attribute table window, and through HTML pop-ups.
Because ArcGIS uses a relationship class to maintain the link between the features and the file attachments, an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license is required to add and edit attachments. You can view attachments using ArcView.
To add attachments to an existing geodatabase, you must upgrade it to ArcGIS 10. To upgrade the geodatabase, right-click it in the tree and click Properties. On the General tab, click Upgrade Geodatabase.
New ways to enter exact locations
The Absolute XY dialog box, which is used to create points or vertices at an exact location, has been redesigned. You can enter values in different units much easier now. Previously, the dialog box only accepted map units unless you entered a units abbreviation such as ft for feet, m for meters, or dd for decimal degrees.
You can specify locations as a longitude–latitude coordinate pair, a Military Grid Reference System (MGRS) grid location, Universal Transverse Mercator (UTM) location, or a U.S. National Grid (USNG) location. If you are entering a coordinate pair, you see two boxes on the dialog box, compared with one box for grid locations.
This change is also reflected on other commands that use functionality similar to Absolute XY, including moving vertices and topology elements to a specific location (Move To).
Easier to access functionality through mini toolbars
In many cases, some of the most powerful editing functionality was only available through keyboard shortcuts or a right-click shortcut menu. All these shortcuts are still available, but you also can access the functionality through new pop-up mini toolbars and windows that display many of the more common options.
Each time you click the map with a sketch tool used to create segments, the Feature Construction toolbar appears. The toolbar provides a shortcut to the segment construction methods on the Editor toolbar, so you can create straight or curved segments and easily access any of the other construction methods. The Feature Construction toolbar also contains commands to limit the next segment you create to be parallel or perpendicular to another segment.
The Edit Vertices toolbar appears when you are editing the vertices of a feature and allows you to select vertices and add and remove them easily. You can also drag a box around multiple vertices to select, move, or delete them at the same time.
In addition, the Annotation Construction window appears to provide options for creating new annotation features.
Editing existing features
Editing currently supports a number of tools and commands to manipulate existing features, such as reshaping a features' geometry or splitting an existing feature.
To edit a feature in previous releases, you had to ensure you had the proper feature selected, choose an edit task, then choose a tool to use. At ArcGIS 10, this process has been simplified, as the most common edit tasks have been promoted into individual tools that prompt you to select a feature if one is not already selected. For example, to split or reshape a polygon, you can click the Cut Polygons or Reshape Feature tools on the Editor toolbar, select a feature, then draw the line used to perform the edit. To modify a feature, you can select a feature and click the Edit Vertices button (similar to the former Modify Feature task) on the Editor toolbar. You can also still double-click a feature with the Edit tool as a shortcut to editing its vertices.
Once you are in an edit session, the primary editing tools on the Editor toolbar are generally enabled. If a tool cannot be used because certain criteria are not met, a message appears and provides information about the tool's requirements and intended usage. This makes it easier for you to remedy the situation and be able to use the tool successfully.
Editing vertices and segments
When you want to edit the vertices and segments of a feature, you can either select the feature and click the Edit Vertices button or double-click the feature with the Edit tool. One of the major enhancements is the ability to select multiple vertices on-screen and move, edit, and delete them at once. Previously, you had to use the Edit Sketch Properties window, which is a table of the vertices, and were unable to select multiple vertices graphically. In ArcGIS 9.3, you needed to use the Edit Sketch Properties dialog box to select more than one vertex at a time. However, in ArcGIS 10, you can select them and delete or move them all interactively with the Edit tool. In addition, you can right-click a segment and change it to another type, such as changing a straight segment to a curve or Bézier-curve segment. It is also easier to edit curved segments—for example, you can reshape curves by clicking and dragging, setting a specific radius, or repositioning the Bézier handles. In previous releases, editing Bézier curves was only available with geodatabase cartographic representations, but now you can create and edit Bezier curves in any feature class.
When the Edit tool is active and you are editing the shape of a feature, the Edit tool pointer changes from a black arrow to a white arrow to show you can directly select vertices and modify segments. The black arrow pointer is shown when you are working with whole features rather than the individual vertices and segments that make up the feature.
The Edit Vertices toolbar allows you to select vertices and add and remove them easily. When you are done modifying the vertex, finish the sketch.
- The Modify Sketch Vertices tool allows you to select vertices and edit segments.
- To add a vertex, click the Add Vertex tool and click the segment at the location where you want to insert it.
- To delete a vertex, click the Delete Vertex tool and click the vertex to delete. To delete multiple vertices, drag a box around them.
The ability to manipulate multiple vertices and change segment types is also built into the Topology Edit tool. This allows you to update the shapes of features that share an edge in one edit. For example, if you have a forest boundary that is adjacent to a lake, you can select the shared edge and use the Topology Edit tool to modify the vertices along the border of both features at the same time. The Reshape Edge and Modify Edge topology edit tasks have also been made into tools and are located on the Topology toolbar. These tools update the shape of all features that share the selected edge or border, so it is ideal to be used when you want to reshape two adjacent features. (The Reshape Feature and Modify Feature tools on the Editor toolbar only update a single, selected line or polygon.)
When you use the Edit tool or Edit Annotation tool and click the map to select a feature, a small icon appears if there are multiple selectable features underneath the location where you clicked. This icon, known as the selection chip, allows you to refine the selection and choose the exact feature you want to select when you have overlapping features. The N keyboard shortcut is still available for cycling through the selectable features, but the selection chip provides a graphical method of choosing which feature to select.
Editing m-values and z-values
The Edit Sketch Properties window makes it easier to change the m-values and z-values of multiple vertices at once. For example, you can sort vertices in the list by whether they are selected and promote to the top of the list vertices that need to be updated. In addition, when working with routes, the former edit tasks have been converted to tools on the Route Editing toolbar and utilize the new editing environment and feature templates.
Better feedback when editing
ArcGIS 10 provides better on-screen feedback when you are digitizing features, modifying them, and moving them. When creating or moving features, you see a symbolized WYSIWYG preview of the feature, rather than a simple edit sketch or wireframe as you had in the past. In addition, you can easily change the colors and symbol sizes used in the vertices and segments of an edit sketch on the General tab of the Editing Options dialog box. Previously, you had to write code or navigate the system's registry to change these symbols.
If you are tracing features over a dark raster image, for example, you may want to change the colors so the sketch is easier to see. You can change the square boxes used to draw the vertices and the segment line connecting them. The selected vertex symbol is how a vertex appears when it is selected, such as when you draw a box around it with the Edit tool or check it in the Edit Sketch Properties window.
You can turn off the symbolized (WSIWYG) preview so a feature displays as a wireframe when moving it or sketching. Turning off the symbolized drawing may be useful when you are tracing over an aerial photograph or working with large outline symbols. If you turn off this setting, the sketch symbols specified on the Editing Options dialog box are used when working with edit sketches.
New geodatabase topology rules
ArcGIS 10 contains a set of new geodatabase topology rules. To add these rules to a topology, you must upgrade your geodatabase to ArcGIS 10. The new rules are
- Polygon: Contains One Point
- Line: Must Not Intersect With
- Line: Must Not Intersect or Touch Interior With
- Line: Must Be Inside
- Point: Must Be Coincident With
- Point: Must Be Disjoint
For a description of these and all the other topology rules available in ArcGIS, see Geodatabase topology rules and topology error fixes.
New commands for creating and splitting polygons
The Construct Features command on the Topology toolbar has been separated into two different commands that are easier to use: Construct Polygons and Split Polygons. In the past, Construct Features could be hard to use because it worked with both lines and polygons and could create new features or split existing ones.
In ArcGIS 10, the feature creation functionality is available in the new Construct Polygons command, and the split functionality is in the new Split Polygons command. Both of these are available from the Topology toolbar. You do not need to have a geodatabase or map topology present to use these tools, but they do require an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license.
To create lines from existing features, you can use the Feature To Line geoprocessing tool.
New commands for creating points along a line and splitting lines into an equal number of parts
Construct Points creates new point features at intervals along a selected line. For instance, you could use Construct Points to place utility poles along an electric line. You can create a specific number of points that are evenly spaced, or you can create points at an interval you choose based on distances or m-values.
The Split command on the Editor menu allows you to split a line into an equal number of new features. For example, you can use this Split option to break a line into pieces that are the same length.
New way to create geodetic features
ArcGIS 10 includes new tools to create features that consider geodetic measurements when being drawn. The Construct Geodetic command on the Advanced Editing toolbar opens a window that allows you to create several different types of features, such as a geodesic line, geodesic circle, or loxodrome.
New Editing geoprocessing toolbox
The Editing toolbox contains a set of geoprocessing tools to perform bulk edits to your data. These tools are useful for performing data cleanup, especially on data that was imported from another source, such as CAD.
New way of editing data from ArcGIS Server
If you have data from ArcGIS Server, you can download a local copy of the service to a geodatabase so you can edit the data in ArcMap. This workflow can be useful when your organization has disconnected employees. In addition, it provides a common method for editing the same data using multiple clients, such as through the Web or using desktop applications.
Once the server data has been copied to the local geodatabase, the feature classes behave like any others; you start an edit session and add and delete features in the same manner. When you are finished editing the local layers, you need to synchronize them so your changes are updated in the service. Access to the server is only required when creating the local copy or applying changes from the local copy to the server, so you can go offline while making the edits, if needed.
By default, the data is checked out to a new file geodatabase, which is created for you automatically. You can also choose to store the data in an existing ArcSDE geodatabase. If you plan on making many updates to the data, consider using ArcSDE since it allows you to check out the data and synchronize your updates repeatedly.
Below are some other changes to the user interface and commands.
- The Intersect command has been removed from the Editor menu but is available in the Customize dialog box.
- The Mirror Features edit task has been converted into a tool that is available on the Customize dialog box.
- The Validate Entire Topology button has been removed from the Topology toolbar but is available in the Customize dialog box.
- The options for the Fillet tool and the Trace construction method are now available by right-clicking the map, in addition to pressing the O key.
Support for existing solutions and workflows
Due to the usability benefits that feature templates provide, it is recommended that you learn to use them when editing. However, for organizations that are unable to adopt the template-based workflow, there is an option available to revert to the ArcGIS 9 editing environment. This allows organizations that rely on extensive editing customizations to transition at their own pace to the feature template workflow. You can return to using feature templates once you are ready to migrate to that workflow.
The setting is found in the Advanced ArcMap Settings utility, located in the \Utilities directory where you installed ArcGIS. This option prevents you from taking advantage of many of the capabilities for feature creation, since the user interface and editing methods revert to how they appeared and were used in ArcGIS 9. Any user interface element used with feature templates is removed from ArcMap. For example, the Editor toolbar displays the Sketch tool palette, target layer list, and task list. Edit tasks are used in conjunction with the target layer to create and edit features. The Annotation and Dimension toolbars are used to create those feature types rather than the tools in the Create Features window.
If you have enabled classic snapping, you must turn it off to work with the Snapping toolbar when editing. When classic snapping is enabled, other functionality outside the editing environment, such as georeferencing and the Measure tool, still continue to use the settings on the Snapping toolbar.
ArcGIS 10 introduces new parcel editing functionality with the Parcel Editor toolbar. The Parcel Editor toolbar, which is available with an ArcEditor or ArcInfo license, replaces the Survey Analyst Cadastral Editor extension.
The Parcel Editor toolbar works with a parcel fabric dataset. The parcel fabric dataset replaces the cadastral fabric dataset of the Survey Analyst Cadastral Editor extension.
A parcel fabric is a dataset for the storage, maintenance, and editing of parcels. A parcel fabric is created under a feature dataset and inherits its spatial reference from the feature dataset.
A parcel fabric stores a continuous surface of connected parcels, or parcel network. Parcels in a fabric are defined by polygon, line, and point features. Polygons are defined by a series of boundary lines that store dimensions as attributes in the lines table. Dimensions on parcel lines should ideally match recorded dimensions on the record or survey or plan.
Spatial accuracy in the parcel fabric is improved and maintained through a fabric least-squares adjustment. Control points are processed together with recorded dimensions to derive new, more accurate coordinates for parcel corners.
Migrating data to the parcel fabric
The new Load A Topology To A Parcel Fabric geoprocessing tool located in the Data Migration toolset of the new Parcel Fabric toolbox can be used to migrate existing parcel data to a parcel fabric. The tool migrates existing parcel-based polygon and line features that participate in a validated, clean topology that uses a required set of rules.
Parcel fabric editing environment
The following editing tools are available on a parcel fabric:
- Parcel traverse
For a single parcel on a survey plan or record of survey, dimensions for each parcel boundary are entered in a sequence such that a closed polygon is formed.
- Parcel construction
Parcel construction lines are used to build fabric parcels. Many parcels can be built from a network of parcel construction lines. Parcel construction lines can be traversed, digitized, or created from COGO tools. Lines from an external data source can also be pasted as parcel construction lines.
- COGO tools
COGO tools are available for adding and computing parcel traverse lines and parcel construction lines.
- Basis of bearing
When subdividing a parcel in the parcel fabric, you can use the Basis Of Bearing tool to orient or rotate the original parcel to the basis of bearing used on the new subdivision plan.
- Parcel division using parcel construction lines
A parcel or multiple selected parcels can be subdivided using parcel construction lines.
- Parcel division by area
Parcels can be divided by area to create new parcels. Parcels can be divided into equal widths or by proportional area or into equal areas.
- Remainder parcels
When replacing existing parcels with new parcels or when subdividing parcels, remainder parcels can be created from areas not covered by the replacing parcels.
- Merging parcels
New parcels can be created from merging existing parcels in the fabric. Disjoint parcels can be merged to create multipart parcels.
- Natural boundaries
In the parcel fabric, natural boundaries are referred to as line strings and are created using the Line String tool. An existing series of line segments can also be converted to a natural boundary using the Line String tool.
- Multipart, donut, and island parcels
Multipart, donut, and island parcels are created and maintained using part connector lines in the parcel fabric.