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.

Statistics on the fly

 Want a quick summary of area from your dataset within ArcMap?  Use the Statistics option while the attribute table is open.

1) Open your Attribute table if it isn't already open.  Right-click on the theme's name and choose 'open attribute table'.  The attribute table will open. 

2) Right-click on the field in which to calculate statistics. Click on Statistics.

3) A Statistics window will appear outlining a summary of that field.   This is useful when in need of a quick count, a sum, etc.

Things to keep in mind:
    - If there are selected records, the statistics will be based on the selection.
   - You must perform this on a numeric field.

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.



Resource to check your maps and webpages for the color-blind

Are you a red means "Stop" and green mean "Go" kind of person?  You might want to rethink this approach for cartography.

Here's an example of just how poorly your maps may translate for the color-blind.

So before pressing print, save an image and run it through some software to see how it translates to those with Deuteronopia, Protanopia and Tritanopia:

  • Vischeck lets you upload images to their server to view with various kinds of colorblindness.
  • Color Oracle installs on Windows, Mac and Linux for local processing on large files.

Don't forget the real world too... ask around and find coworkers who can evaluate your maps before publishing.


About geographic transformations and how to choose the right one

I just stumbled on this most helpful post About geographic transformations and how to choose the right one by Aileen Buckley of ESRI's Mapping Center.  I even learned a few things from the comments...

I'd highly recommend the read, but if you only have a moment, read this:

So how do you choose the geographic transformation that should be used? Here are two Esri Knowledge Base articles that can help you:

HowTo: Select the correct geographic (datum) transformation when projecting between datums. This article contains links to downloadable zip files (for different versions of the software) that contain a list of all available datum transformations and their appropriate geographic areas of use.

HowTo: Determine which NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984 transformation to use.  The gist of this article is summarized below:

  1. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_1 - for the entire North American continent.
  2. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_2 - for the Aleutian islands.
  3. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_3 - for Hawai'i.
  4. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_4 - superseded by _5; this transformation method should no longer be used!
  5. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_5 - for the 48 contiguous United States.
  6. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_6 - for the Canadian province of Quebec.
  7. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_7 - for the Canadian province of Saskatchewan.
  8. NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_8 - for the Canadian province of Alberta.

Note that geographic transformations work in either direction. For example, the transformation listed as NAD_1983_To_WGS_1984_5 transforms from NAD 1983 to WGS 1984, as well as from WGS 1984 to NAD 1983. When using the Project Tool, the geographic transformation is recorded in the metadata.

GIS Q&A for Professionals

The best programming question and answer site on the web now has a dedicated GIS section.

This is a great resource to try next time you have a question that you know others have faced.  You can limit your results to just performing a google search by adding the parameters "" to your query.

Here's a demonstration


Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) Query

Looking for a town, city or place outside of Idaho? You can use this website to query geographic features for all of the United States and its territories at Of course you can use the IDFG GeoTools LayerFetcher to zoom to locations in Idaho in ArcGIS.