Showing 10 result(s) for category: arcgis desktop

Add Data Location

I regularly use data from different sources (SDE connections, network drives, over a VPN, etc).  In the past, I often found that if I closed out of ArcMap, the next time I opened it and tried to add data it would have to spend time trying to re-connect to a folder that was no longer accessible.  Sometimes this could take ages.

I used to get around this by trying to remember to add some local data to ArcMap before I closed it (not a very reliable work-around, as more often than not I would forget to do this).

The more reliable solution is a quick Options setting in ArcMap.  Under Tools > Options > General Tab, uncheck "Return to last used location when Add Data dialog first used".

ArcMap layer list and map colors are different

I found a solution for an irritating problem - some of the symbol colors in my ArcMap layer list were different than those in my map:

wrong colors

Turns out it required a simple display setting change. Right click on the desktop and hit properties to open the Display Properties window. Click the Effects button under the Appearance tab:


Select the "ClearType" method to smooth edges of screen fonts:


Problem solved!

right color

Field Data Types

Have you ever tried to join data in ArcMap only to find that the field you are trying to join on does not appear in the drop down menu?


Chances are your field data types do not match. For example, if one of your joining fields is type "Text" and the other is type "Double", ArcMap does not recognize a match between values in those fields. Text will be read as a string of characters (which can include numbers), and Double will be read as a numerical value. A text number does not equal a numerical number as far as ArcMap is concerned.

The simple solution is to convert the field data type in one of your datasets to match the other, and then you should be able to join them.

More Info on Tool Errors and Warnings with 9.3

ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 help offers a new section on Tool errors and warnings, which can be a great help when you receive an error code but are not sure what it means. Search for your error code, or navigate through the 9.3 help index (under Geoprocessing tool reference) for a list of error codes from 1 to the infamous 999999. They offer a description and solution for each error code which can help get you on your way faster. Don't forget to search the ESRI Support Center User Forums as well if you are still stuck - chances are someone else has experienced the same issue and you can pick up some tips.


Repairing MXD Data Connections

We have all seen the familiar red exclamation points when our MXDs have broken data connections. An MXD can take a long time to open when data paths are no longer recognized, so it may be faster to set data sources in ArcCatalog. Here are a few options to try for data repathing:

1. In ArcCatalog you can right click the MXD and Set Data Sources. It can take a while to open the Set Data Sources window, so leave it in the background. Once the window opens, select one of the layers and click the "Replace All" button to find and replace data paths:

set data sources 2

replace all 3

2. If you are not having success in ArcCatalog, you can try repathing directly in ArcMap. Open the MXD (may take a while) and right click a layer > Data > Repair Data Source, and navigate to the new location of your data. Connections of layers whose data are in the same location will also be repaired.

repair data source 2

3. Under the Source tab of the layer properties in ArcMap > Set Data Source. You can do this to repath one layer at a time.

layer properties 2

4. If you find this too time consuming, you can also try replicating the prior folder structure. For example, if the MXD was previously pathed to your colleague's "C:\Project\Data" folder, then create a "C:\Project\Data" folder locally, and copy the data there. The MXD should open with no problem, then you can repath it much faster to another location.

I find it helpful to initially save MXDs with relative paths so they are much easier to move around. In ArcMap, click File > Document Properties > Data Source Options > Store relative path names to data sources.

Caching Imagery with a Raster Catalog

One way to increase the performance of imagery in your map service is to cache it. Since it greatly reduces the amount of time required to render the imagery on your map, caching will allow you to show your imagery at a far greater extent than you could if it were being brought in dynamically. While imagery may lend itself to caching, I find on occasion it can be a bit troublesome to get the caching going. I had a bout of Error 999999 with my latest caching project - turns out 1400 sid images covering an entire county was a little more than ArcCatalog could chew. Fair enough, I had experienced similar issues before where I couldn't even get my ArcGIS Server map service to start because I was throwing too much imagery at it.

Enter the Raster Catalog. Using an unmanaged raster catalog as opposed to a managed raster catalog saved me a bundle of raster catalog loading time. While the managed raster catalog can take as long, or longer, than your cache creation time - so in my case, a day or two - the unmanaged raster catalog takes far less time to create and load - for me, under two hours.

And thanks (many, many thanks) to ESRI Support and the Color Balancing option in ArcMap, my previous misconception that raster catalog image quality had to be poor compared with the original imagery, is a thing of the past - and I have the completed cache to prove it.

ColorBrewer 2.0

We have previously mentioned ColorBrewer, which is a great web tool for selecting color ramps for your maps. ColorBrewer 2.0 was recently released, and includes more information about the tool and its options. You can turn on a background hillshade layer, view semi-transparent colors, and filter your color ramps based on their suitability for printing and photocopying, and those that are colorblind safe.

The National Cancer Institute GIS has created the ColorTool plugin for ArcMap that you can download here, which makes it even easier to incorporate ColorBrewer color ramps into your MXDs!


MXD file size

Have you ever noticed that your MXD file size sometimes increases, even when you haven't added any new data or symbology? I had noticed it a number of times but until now could offer no explanation for it. I was interested to learn that MXD files may grow in size after being saved multiple times because they can become fragmented. Saving a fragmented map document as a new document may reduce its file size.

Performance Evaluation Tools

When considering layer performance, our usual goal is to have a layer render in under 2 seconds, and simple layers can often render in under 1 second. When setting up an MXD in ArcMap, the user can get a rough idea of how long layers take to render by turning them on and off to see how long they take to render on the desktop. Any complex layers (parcels, local streets, detailed coastlines) should be limited to a closer zoom, and any general layers (county boundary, highways, large polygons) can be available at full extent.

If you are using ArcGIS 9.3.1, there is a performance analysis tool available on the “Map Service Publishing Toolbar”. Right-click the main menu in ArcMap to access the Map Service Publishing toolbar. This is helpful for overall map service performance, and can also give feedback on layers that should be limited to a larger scale. More info and instructions on how to use the Map Service Publishing Toolbar from ESRI here.

If you are using ArcGIS 9.2 or 9.3, there is a great script available called MXDPERFSTAT. The script is a free download from ESRI ArcScripts and it works with 9.2, 9.3, and 9.3.1.

MXDPERFSTAT is fairly straightforward to run, you launch it from a command prompt and it will give you feedback on your MXD performance for ArcGIS Server. It analyses your MXD at different scales and locations, which you can set yourself or accept the defaults. It goes through and turns on each layer of your MXD one by one and assesses it for performance. When complete, it outputs an XML file which shows the refresh time in seconds at each scale for the whole map, and then more detailed information for each layer at each scale, including warnings, recommendations to improve performance, number of features and vertices drawn, and layer spatial reference, to name a few. I found it took approximately 15 minutes to run the script on a site with 50 layers. The more complex layers (parcels, streets) took noticeably longer to process than the simple layers.