Dissolving features

The Production Dissolve tool allows you to merge adjacent and overlapping polygon, line, and multipoint feature classes of the same type that share a set of specified attribute values into one continuous feature. The Dissolve and Ignore Dissolve settings are specified using the Field Configuration Manager, which manages the field configuration table settings. The dissolve field you indicate is the field on which the merge process is based; multiple dissolve fields can be specified. The feature class subtype is the default dissolve field if none is indicated in the Field Configuration Manager. When an attribute field is set as the dissolve field, the adjacent and overlapping features of the same feature class with the same values on that field are merged into one.

Learn more about spatial requirements for dissolving features

For fields that ignore dissolve, you have the option to decide how the fields are going to be populated on the merged feature. These options have to be assigned in the Field Configuration Manager's Ignore Dissolve options and are described below.

Dissolve option



The field is populated with a null value.

Database Default

The field is populated with the specified default value for that field. If a default value is not defined, the field is populated with Null.

First In

The field value is selected from the available values at random. It is the default Ignore Dissolve setting.


For string fields, text entries are concatenated, truncating at the field's length restriction. For Integer or Double field types, all values are summed.

This option is disabled if the field type is one of the following:

  • BLOB
  • DATE
  • GUID
  • GlobalID
  • ObjectID
It is also disabled if the field has a coded value domain.

  1. Start ArcMap.
  2. If necessary, load data in the map.
  3. On the main menu, click Customize > Toolbars > Production Editing.
  4. On the main menu, click Customize > Toolbars > Production Editing Advanced.
  5. Ensure that the production database and product class version have been specified, as appropriate, to match the data you are using.
  6. On the Production Editing toolbar, click Production Editing > Field Configuration Manager.

    The Field Configuration dialog box appears.

  7. Ensure that the subtypes whose features you want to dissolve have been marked as Include Subtype (Dissolve).
    Example of a subtype with Include Subtype (Dissolve) selected

    By default, the subtypes are all marked as Exclude Subtype (Dissolve), so they are not included in the dissolve process.


    If it has been marked as such, the option is disabled in the shortcut menu.

  8. Click the Production Start Editing button Production Start Editing on the Production Editing toolbar.

    The Manage Features and Create Attributes, Update Attributes, or Metadata Attributes windows automatically appear when you start an edit session using the Production Start Editing tool.


    If the Create Attributes, Update Attributes, or Metadata Attributes window does not appear when you start an edit session, click the Show/Hide Attributes button Show/Hide Attributes on the Manage Features window.

  9. If necessary, select the features you want to merge or the feature or graphic you want to use as the point of reference for merging.
  10. Click the Production Dissolve button Production Dissolve on the Production Editing Advanced toolbar.

    The Auto Select Features dialog box appears. The options available in the dialog box vary based on the map selection, if any. Unavailable options appear with the reason for unavailability in parentheses.

    Auto Select Features dialog box

  11. Choose an option.
    • All features—All features in the map are merged.
    • Selected features—Selected features are merged.
    • Intersecting current extent—Features that partially overlap the current extent are merged.
    • Intersecting selected polygon feature—Features that partially overlap the selected polygon feature are merged.
    • Intersecting selected polygon graphic—Features that partially overlap the selected polygon graphic are merged.
    • Within current extent—Features completely contained in the current map extent are merged.
    • Within selected polygon feature—Features completely contained in the selected polygon are merged.
    • Within selected polygon graphic—Features completely contained in a polygon graphic that has been drawn on the map are merged.
  12. Click OK.

    Features are merged based on the Dissolve setting in the field configuration table, and attribute values are changed based on the Ignore Dissolve settings.


    If definition queries have been defined for any of the feature classes, they are also taken into consideration when the features are merged, regardless of the option you choose.

    Once the merge is complete, the Production Dissolve message appears.

  13. If you want to view the log file, click Yes, or click No to close the message.

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