Map Packages: Easily Share ArcMap 10 Map Documents & Associated Data

A new feature at ArcGIS 10 is the ability to create a map package (file extension of MPK) using all the data that is in a map document (MXD). It will act just like the layer package that was introduced at ArcGIS 9.3.1. The package includes the map document (version 10 mxd) and the data (even if the data is from diverse places).

The map package will self-extract using the ArcGIS File Handler utility (ArcGISFilehandler.exe utility in your Program Files\Common Files\ArcGIS\bin folder, it also automatically installed with ArcGIS Explorer 900), it will by default place the files in your My Documents (XP) / Documents (Vista & Win7) > ArcGIS > Packages.

This is a great way to share a whole map with someone at a different location, however they will need to have ArcGIS 10, it won't work in ArcGIS 9.x. You will also be able to upload map packages to ArcGIS Online.

Revert Back to the ArcMap 9.3 Editing Environment in ArcMap 10

By default, the ArcMap editing environment uses feature templates and the Create Features window when adding new features. Feature templates define all the information required to create a new feature: the layer where a feature will be stored, attributes new features will be created with, and the default tool used to create that feature. In addition, the tools on the Editor and Topology toolbars contain easy-to-use tools to create and edit features.

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. You can revert by running ArcGIS\Desktop10.0\Utilities \AdvancedArcMapSettings.exe, clicking the Editor tab, and unchecking Create features using templates and restarting ArcMap.

Differences between the 9.3 and 10 editing environments

The following are some of the differences you will find when you revert to the ArcGIS 9 editing environment:

  • The Editor toolbar contains the Sketch tool and palette. The contents of the toolbar are returned to how they appeared in ArcGIS 9.
  • Any user interface element used with feature templates, such as the Create Features window, is removed from ArcMap.
  • Edit tasks are used to specify whether features are being created or edited. The Cut Polygons, Reshape Feature, Edit Vertices, Reshape Edge, and Modify Edge tools are removed from the Editor and Topology toolbars, and the Editor toolbar Task list is used to access that functionality.
  • The active layer in the Target drop-down list is the layer in which new features will be created. The exception is when using Copy and Paste and certain feature-creation commands—Buffer, Copy Parallel, Union, and so on. In those cases, a dialog box will appear allowing you to choose the target layer rather than requiring you to set the Target layer on the Editor toolbar prior to accessing the command.
  • The Annotation toolbar and Dimension toolbar contain the tools used to create those feature types.

Data Frame Tools Toolbar

A handy little toolbar you may have never used:

Ever need to rotate a map?  It will even rotate the north arrow in Layout View.

The My Places dialog box lets you create and work with a list of your most frequently used or favorite addresses, locations, features, and spatial extents. You can use this dialog box to navigate around to view these places. You can also annotate your map to show their locations and add the places into the route finding dialog boxes as stops and barriers. Adding items to the My Places list makes it easy for you to store your frequently used addresses, gazetteer locations, features, and extents and use them to navigate around maps and globes.

Click the My Places button  Description: My Placeson the Data Frame Tools toolbar to open the My Places dialog box. You can also open the My Places dialog box by right-clicking a location that you find using the Find dialog box or the Geocoding toolbar and clicking Manage My Places.

Your list of places is available regardless of which map you are using. Places are stored in a separate file on your computer, not in the map document, as is the case with spatial bookmarks. So you work with the same list of places in any application that supports them.

You can add items to the My Places list using the buttons on the My Places dialog box or through the Find dialog box.

  • Right-click an item you find in the Find dialog box or Geocoding toolbar, or any stop or barrier you define in the Find Route dialog box, and click Add To My Places.
  • Select one or more features on the map or globe and click Add From > Selected Feature(s) on the My Places dialog box.
  • Select one or more graphics on the map or globe and click Add From > Selected Graphic(s) on the My Places dialog box.
  • To add a spatial extent to the list, first zoom or pan to the extent you want to add, then click Add From > Current Extent on the My Places dialog box. This option is unavailable if you are working with a globe.

Each place is shown with an icon indicating what type of place it is. Double-click a place to flash and pan to it. Right-click to get a menu of options that apply to the currently selected place or places in the list. You can also click a place's name to rename it and click the column headings to sort the list by type or name.

You can export places to a file on disk. This allows you to share places with other users, for example, you can send a list of point locations to another user via e-mail. Sending a places file saves you from having to send a shapefile or whole geodatabase if you want to quickly share a location (keep in mind, though, that places are just coordinates with a label, and they don't have other attributes or symbology). Saving and loading your places also makes it easy for you to copy the places onto a different machine or install a common set of places, such as study areas, on a number of machines in a workgroup so that all team members can access them. An ArcGIS Place File (.dat) can be loaded into either the My Places list or as spatial bookmarks.

Batching - Running Geoprocessing Tools Multiple Times Automatically

Let’s say you have a polygon shapefile that you want to buffer using 3 different buffer distances.  You can use the Batch command to do this automatically; you just have to fill in the necessary information. (Note: Batch can be performed for any tool in ArcToolbox).

o   Find the Buffer tool in ArcToolbox, right click it and choose Batch… The dialog box will ask you for all of the same information that the regular Buffer tool dialog box asks for, the only differences is you can make multiple entries by clicking the  button.

Most Frequently Used Coordinate System

Most Frequently Used Coordinate System

In the ArcCatalog, drag and drop your most frequently used coordinate systems into the top level of the Coordinate Systems folder to put a copy of them into that location for quick access to them on dialog boxes.

o   In ArcCatalog, choose Customize ► ArcCatalog Options… from the main menu bar.  In the General tab and check the box next to Coordinate Systems.

o   Expand the Coordinate Systems folder to where your desired coordinate systems are and then drag them up to the main Coordinate Systems folder.

Large Menu & Toolbar Buttons

For those of you who have a hard time seeing the small tool buttons (commands) on your toolbars, it is possible to make them larger.

o   Choose Customize ►Customize Mode…from the main menu bar.

o   Choose the Options tab and check the box next to Large icons.

Regular Menu & Toolbar Buttons:

Large Menu & Toolbar Buttons:

Customize ArcMap 10 Toolbars

Creating custom toolbars is one of the easiest ways to tailor ArcGIS desktop applications to the way you work. In addition to positioning toolbars in a specific area of the application, you can group commands on a custom toolbar.  Save mouse clicks by creating a new toolbar that contains frequently used menu choices, new macros, or custom commands from another source.

o  Choose Customize ►Customize Mode… from the main menu bar.

o   To turn toolbars on/off simply check/uncheck the box next to the toolbar in the Toolbars tab.

o   Shortcut:  right-click on the standard toolbar (just below the main menu bar) and the select the toolbar(s) you would like to be visible. 

o   Toolbars can be docked anywhere or float in the application.

o   While the Customize dialog box is open, the tool buttons on visible toolbars can be rearranged and new tool buttons (aka commands) can be added from the Commands tab, just drag and drop the tool button to the visible target toolbar.

Adding X,Y Centroids to Polygons in ArcGIS ArcView

Creating a centroid point file from a polygon in ArcEditor or ArcInfo is quick and painless.  In ArcToolBox go to Data Management Tools/Features/Feature to Point and follow instructions.

There is a downside to this convenience however.  8,910 dollars of them in fact, the cost of an ArcInfo license.

How to calculate centroids in ArcView.

  1. In the attribute table of your polygon layer and under Options choose Add Field.
    Add Field


  2. Add an X and Y field of type Double
    Add Field Dialog
  3. Right-click on the New X Column Header and choose Field Calculator.

  4. In the Field Calculator Dialog that opens, click Help

    Here's all the instructions you need, but they are written in ESRI.  Allow me to translate.  Copy this section:
      Dim Output As Double
      Dim pArea As IArea
      Set pArea = [Shape]
      Output = pArea.Centroid.X

    Paste it into Field Calculator.  Check Advanced, and enter Output into the final textbox.

    Like this:
    Field Calculator


  5. Click OK and repeat for Y.

You now have the X,Y coordinates of the polygon centroids.  If you really need a separate point layer, copy the DBF file for your polygon layer to a new file and add as a point layer using the Add X,Y Data... dialog under the Tools menu.

Font problems with your ArcMap exports?

When you need to export a PDF, EMF, EPS, AI or other vectorized graphic for a report or other format, you will inevitably run into the fonts problem. Especially when collaborating.

Here's a fix for you to consider.  

When exporting your map, you click "File --> Export Map"  The following dialog appears (this one for PDF export). The options available change depending on the export type, but the options to look for typically are always available:

This screen shot is from ArcMap 10, but the properties are similar in previous versions. Look for the following checkboxes, and mark them: 

  • Embed all document fonts
    • this will keep the funny fonts you might have loaded on your machine within the document
  • Convert Marker Symbols to Polygons 
    • this makes your graphic more portable between machines with different configurations


That's it. Your exports shouldn't give you and your collaborators a font headache if you use these steps.



Using the Google Maps API v.3 and the Roadkill API to add a Real-Time Map to your webpage or blog

NOTE: This is an update to an earlier demonstration post using the Google Maps API v.2 to add recent roadkill information to your webpage or blog.

STEP 1. Configure the URL to request

Visit and design your query using the editor.  For example, you may just be interested in one Highway section such as the first 22 miles of Highway 21.

Stripped of the empty parameters your url should now resemble:

Now, we can add some special parameters to grab the most recent observations.  Add to your url the following &start=-365&end=now to limit your results to the last year of observations.  The -365 is the number of days before the current date and time to include.  You may tailor this to your needs.  You can of course also use full dates, but this allows your query to be dynamic and useful in the future.

Possible parameters for date fields Observed Date (start, end) and Reported or iNsert Date (nstart, nend) include:

  • Valid dates in the format 1/10/2008
  • Now - current system datetime in Mountain Standard Time
  • Today - current day in Mountain Standard Time
  • Yesterday - previous day in Mountain Standard Time
  • Integer - positive or negative offset in days

Finally, add the kml extension, by copying the path from the kml icon or copying the following:


STEP 2: Add the Code

<!DOCTYPE html>
<meta http-equiv="content-type" content="text/html; charset=UTF-8"/>
<title>IFWIS Roadkill API Google Maps JavaScript API v3 Example</title>
<script type="text/javascript" src=""></script>
<script type="text/javascript">
function initializeMap() {
  var mapCenter = new google.maps.LatLng(43.58, -116.06);
  var myOptions = {
    zoom: 12,
    center: mapCenter,
    mapTypeId: google.maps.MapTypeId.TERRAIN
  var map = new google.maps.Map(document.getElementById("map_canvas"), myOptions);
  var ctaLayer = new google.maps.KmlLayer('', {preserveViewport: true});
<body onload="initializeMap()">
  <div id="map_canvas">Map Loading...</div>


STEP 3: Enjoy

Here's a Live Example


What you see here is a live example of the same code from Step 2 above except instead of using the onload event of the html body, the scripts are placed immediately following the div element inside the html body.  Using this method you may place live maps on blogs, forums and other websites.

Explore the Google Maps Javascript v3 API and IFWIS Core API for more mashup ideas!