Exercise 3: Deploying customized AXF files

Exercise 1: Creating a default configuration file for toolbars (pole inspection)Exercise 2: Creating custom edit and query forms

Delivering customizations

Regardless of how you choose to customize ArcPad, it is important to understand that all customization development is done on a desktop PC and not on a Windows Mobile device. The customizations created in ArcPad Studio on a PC, in the form of applets, default configuration files, scripts, and so on, are deployed to a Windows Mobile device with ArcPad. Therefore, it is imperative that your customizations are tested before they are sent into the field with your personnel. It should also be noted, that there is no special run-time version of ArcPad required to deploy your customizations. The files you created in ArcPad Studio work with a standard ArcPad license.

Now that you are finished creating your customization files, you need to deliver them to your end users. In this case, your end users are the city personnel who will be using the customized ArcPad application to inspect poles and lights on Windows mobile devices.

For ArcPad to recognize the customizations you created, the appropriate files must be placed in the correct folders. When ArcPad starts, it loads the customizations automatically. This exercise shows you how to package and deploy your customization files to deliver your custom ArcPad solution.

Delivering customized ArcPad Exchange Files (AXFs) is similar to delivering customized shapefiles. However, you handle less files when delivering customized AXFs.

Organizing customization files

Review the files involved in this tutorial and where they need to go. In Exercise 1, you created the following files for the custom user interface (UI) tools:




Default configuration file


Associated VBScript source code file


Image for the custom tool

All of the preceding files need to be in the end user's My ArcPad folder. The default location for the My ArcPad folder is C:\Documents and Settings\<user account>\My Documents\My ArcPad on a PC, and My Documents\My ArcPad on a Windows Mobile device.

In a later step, you will use the Compile tool; therefore, only the ArcPad.apx file will be needed as the ArcPad.vbs and the Street_Light.ico files are encoded inside the configuration file.

In Exercise 2, your customized Edit and Query forms are contained within the AXF.




Contains the edtiable data as well as the layer definition for the poles layer, coded values for domains, and layer icon.

In the last exercise, the AXF file was been placed with the Streets shapefiles (.shp, .shx, .dbf, and .prj) in the Poles folder created by the ArcPad Data Manager tool in ArcMap.

Copy the following files to a new folder (such as Poles_Deploy):




Streets layer definition file


Database (DBF) file format table associated with the Streets.shp file


Projection file


Streets.shp reference file


Streets.shx reference file


Streets.sbx reference file


Streets.sbn reference file


Customized AXF file for the Poles layer


ArcPad map file

Copying customization files to the the target device

There are two options for copying data to the mobile device. You can manually copy data using ActiveSync and Windows Explorer or you can achieve the same results through automating the process by using ArcPad Studio's Compile tool. The Compile tool brings together your customization files (applets, configurations, and layers) and encodes, packages, or downloads these files directly to the device.

  • Encode—ArcPad Studio can provide some security to your ArcPad customization files. It applies an algorithm to the files so they are no longer in English.
  • Package—ArcPad Studio takes all associated files that are used in an applet, configuration, or layer customization file, such as .bmp, .dbf, or .vbs files, and combines them into a master file that can be easily deployed.
  • Download—ArcPad Studio downloads or places your files into the specified path. These can be downloaded to a location on your desktop PC and/or to a remote path that is a location on your Windows Mobile device. The device needs to be connected to locate the appropriate folder.

Some files can be embedded into the configuration files such as an associated .vbs or .js source code file, and tool image bitmaps. In this tutorial, the ArcPad.vbs and the .bmp image file will be embedded into the .apx file as a result of the use of the Compile tool.


For the Pole inspection project, use the Compile tool to deliver configuration files, but manually copy the whole Poles_Deploy folder to mobile devices via ActiveSync.

Deploying configuration files using the Compile tool

  1. In ArcPad Studio, click Tools and click Options to set the compile preferences. Here you will set the compile preferences for your default configuration file (.apx) so that ArcPad Studio compiles the associated files and downloads them to specified locations on your desktop PC and Windows Mobile device.
  2. On the Preferences dialog box, click the Compile tab.
    Screen shot showing the Preferences dialog box.
  3. To set the configuration project output folder, next to the Configurations text box area, click the Browse folder icon to select the location on your desktop PC.
  4. In the Remote Path text box, type the remote path; that is, the path of the folder on your Windows Mobile device where you want to download the configured project output folders. In this tutorial, the configurations are compiled to the My ArcPad folder because this is the required location for the customized toolbar file. The file location on a PC is C:\Documents and Settings\<user account>\My Documents\My ArcPad and on the mobile device, My Documents\My ArcPad.
  5. Select the Download check box.
  6. Click OK.
  7. You will now compile your configuration files. With your default configuration file (ArcPad.apx) open, click the Compile button on the toolbar. ArcPad creates a log file that shows the results of the Compile tool including the encoded, packaged, and downloaded (in this case, downloaded since that option was chosen) files. See the following screen shot:
    Screen shot showing the compile log in ArcPad Studio.

    The default configuration file has been copied to the correct locations. Alternatively, you can manually place them to the correct locations using ActiveSync. The next section shows how to deliver the remaining customization files to mobile devices.

Deploying customization files using ActiveSync

    Do the following if the target device is a Windows Mobile device:
  1. Ensure your Windows Mobile device is connected to your desktop PC and that you are connected to Microsoft ActiveSync. ArcPad needs to be installed on your Windows Mobile device. For more information about installing ArcPad on a Windows Mobile device, refer to the ArcPad installation guide (located on your local drive where ArcPad is installed, for example, \\Program Files\ArcGIS\ArcPad\Help).
  2. On the Microsoft ActiveSync window, click Explore. See the following screen shot:
    Screen shot showing the Microsoft ActiveSync window.
  3. Double-click My Windows Mobile-Based Device.
  4. Navigate to the My Documents folder.
  5. Copy and paste the complete Poles_Deploy folder from your desktop PC into the My Documents folder.
  6. Click OK on the ActiveSync warning. No files will convert since ArcPad supports the same files on the desktop as it does on the mobile device.

    Review the following if the target device is a desktop PC:

    • Some handheld devices support other Windows operating systems such as Windows XP or Windows 7. You can also use ArcPad in the field on your standard laptop or Tablet PC. The procedure is similar to the ones previously discussed.
    • You are now ready to deploy your field personnel with the correct files in the correct location to complete the pole inspection.

Testing your pole inspection project

When you have completed and placed the customization files in the appropriate folders on your desktop PC or Windows Mobile device, it's time to ensure that everything is working properly. Testing is one of the most important steps in the entire process of creating a mobile geographic information system (GIS) project. You want to ensure that your field personnel have a positive experience with the application you created for them. Most importantly, you want to ensure that the collected data is as accurate as possible.

  1. Start ArcPad. When ArcPad opens, the custom toolbar displays. None of the default toolbars are visible.
  2. Click the Open command and browse to \Poles_Deploy\Pole.apm.
  3. Tap the Zoom In button.
  4. Tap the screen and drag a box around a targeted pole inspection area to zoom into the area. See the following screen shot:
    Screen shot of the Poles map in ArcPad.
  5. Click the custom AddPole tool to add a new pole record. See the following screen shot:
    Screen shot showing adding a new pole record.

    Compare your form and make changes to the Poles layer in ArcPad Studio if necessary. For instance, your controls may be misplaced. Open the Poles.axf and the Poles Edit form to make the changes. Save the layer definition for the Poles layer and depending on your Compile Preferences, copy the file back to the device and re-test the application.

  6. Complete the poles Edit form dialog box to test if the coded value domains (CVDs) and related tables have been kept from the geodatabase.
  7. Click OK after you have completed the testing of your application and click Exit to close ArcPad.

    Now that this tutorial is complete, rename the ArcPad.apx file or remove it from the My Documents\My ArcPad folder. If you do not, whenever you run ArcPad, this tutorial's customization files will be used as your default configuration.

    Starting at ArcPad 8.0, tools display under toolbar selectors. Since in this tutorial, your custom toolbar displays all the tools in one line and no default toolbars are shown in this project, you can hide the toolbar selector using the Quick Access menu located in the upper right corner in the ArcPad application.