Thursday, January 24, 2013

Controlling the "Digitizer Wiggle" and other editing options

Controlling The Digitizer Wiggle

Have you ever smudged your data when you selected a feature during editing that results in this?
I call this "The Digitizer Wiggle" -- something done accidently. The result may be just a few feet on the ground, but it really messes up your data and makes your work very sloppy. ADDITIONALLY, getting back to normal is a pain. So the important thing here is to control this so you don't do it in the first place! It's very easy to do.

When you don't need detailed feature editing (like when you are selecting features to edit the attributes and not the location), then all you have to do is go to Editor > Options (on the Editor toolbar) and set the Sticky Move Tolerance under the General tab.

The default Sticky Move Tolerance is 0 pixels. This mean you only have to move the feature 1 pixel (actually anything greater than 1/2 pixel) on your screen to complete the move. It is very difficult to see that small movement on your screen and very easy to do. For most anyone, I suggest that you set this to 3 pixels as shown above. 

How much is 3 pixels on the ground? Display scale and the resolution of your screen have to be factored in to figure this out. It really doesn't matter for attribute editing. When you want to do detail work, then set this to 0, but be careful! Remember, that fixing errors is a lot harder than not making them in the first place.  

So go ahead and experiment with this next time you're editing features. And by the way, look at some of the other options that are available!

Are there other examples of "The Digitizer Wiggle" (TDW)? Sure. I lump all shaky-hand and tentative editing into TDW. Editing skillfully takes lots of practice, knowledge (of many options), focus, interest and patience. It's not for everyone.

Some Editing Options

Do you know about the ArcMap Advanced Settings Utility? It's great, and I've had to use this a few times. Actually the Sticky Move Tolerance used to be included here, but esri moved into a more accessible area. So what is this ArcMap Advanced Settings Utility? Well, it controls all sorts of registry settings and any skilled user should know about it. You will find it located in:
c:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Desktop10.1\Utilities (at least on your pc) and named AdvancedArcMapSettings.exe.

Simply double-click to start it and take a look at all the options you can control! 

Most of these I've had no interest in at all. There is one, though, that students have asked me about frequently. This is how to control the mouse wheel and the action it performs. Click the Miscellaneous tab and note you can either scroll up/down with the mouse or zoom in/out. The scroll up/down used to be the default setting for early versions of ArcGIS Desktop.

Again, I urge you to explore the options and see if there's anything of interest. For instance, take a look at the Symbols/Graphics tab. 

Change Mouse Wheel Zoom Action From out/in to in/out

I've had a number of CAD users ask me how to control the out/in when zooming because they are used to in/out wheel control. Well, you find that in another menu! In ArcMap, go to Customize > ArcMap Options... (on the Main Menu), click the General tab and look towards the bottom. Viola!

As always when doing something like this, take the opportunity to explore other options. 

So have fun with some QDT today and keep an eye out for more of my blogs. (Many of my students know this term -- Quality Dink Time -- and if you're talking to your manager, call it Quality Development Time!!!)

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Evaluation of two ArcGIS utility tools: MXD Doctor and Document Defragmenter

There are utilities provided by esri that run outside of ArcMap and ArcCatalog that many users don’t ever see or know to look for them. I’m covering two of them today. I will add more at a later time. Certainly, check out the documentation on these utilities for more detailed information.

When did these arrive? I don’t know! All I know is that they’re there now. So let’s look at these utilities.

MXD Doctor

Find it at All Programs > ArcGIS > Desktop Tools. This stand-alone utility analyzes broken .mxd files. I’m not sure what ‘breaks’ them, but I do know they do get funky and just not run from time to time. I remember some in the past that I actually had to throw away – and now I wish I knew about this tool. I don’t presently have a broken map document, but I’ve run one through the tool.

First thing I noted about running this tool is that is boldly suggests right at the beginning to back up your map document. Hmmm, could this be that it might just destroy your map document? Well, it doesn’t matter because you’re probably grasping at straws trying to fix even a portion of your very valuable map document.

MXD Doctor analyzes: Maps and data frames; Page layout; VBA project; Style gallery; and Thumbnail preview.

Since I didn’t have a broken map document at the moment, I ran a good map document through the tool. It’s a very simple map document I was demoing for a class I was teaching. 

Interesting… after I analyzed my document as per the instructions, it said I had a problem with my Maps. There’s nothing wrong with my Maps. Everything was fine to start with!

I continued boldly on, following the instructions and ‘fixed’ the document. This took quite a while for my small map document, so I would suspect if you had a complex one it would take a long while.

The result creates a new map document (if it completes successfully) by creating it in the same location as your broken map document and appending  ‘_new’ to the name. Pretty nice there.
I opened up the new map document and all is there! Again, since I didn’t have a broken map document to test this on, I can’t vouch for its effectiveness. So if any of you out there have experience with this tool, please add to the blog!

My evaluation:
It ran as advertized, but since I didn’t have a broken map document, I can’t say for sure if it's helpful. BUT, I'd sure give it a try if I had a corrupted complex map document!

What I would change:
I would investigate why it’s throwing the red checkmark (saying my map was recoverable, although not completely) when there’s nothing wrong with the map document. This creates a lot of suspicion in my mind.

ArcGIS Document Defragmenter

Find it at All Programs > ArcGIS > Desktop Tools. This stand-alone utility defragments the storage inside an .mxd file to potentially reduce the file size. (I’m not sure how this actually differs from the normal defragging tools for your OS.) But, I gave it a run at one of my demo map documents that I’ve actually worked with quite a bit.

This utility does not warn you upon startup to copy your map document, but the documentation does. So you copy your map document (increasing storage on your computer, and possibly fragmenting your disk further). You can run this on a single file, a folder, or a folder and it’s subdirectories! Cool! Notice that it offers you some options for the file handling options. A nice thought there. I chose the options shown above.

Since my map document was small, I expected it to run fast, but hey! I never got a message that it was complete. A small ding against the tool there. So I inspected my map document file and saw that it was exactly the same size. Hmmmm. I can’t imaging my file had no fragments. Did my OS already clean that up?

My evaluation:
It basically ran as advertised  but it didn’t seem to do anything to my document. Not sure this would do anything more than my MS operating system already does.

What I would change:
Create a message that informs completion. Just a simple message perhaps overwriting the Defragmenting statement with Complete. 

It could also evaluate your input for how much fragmentation (similar to other defraggers I've worked with). This way you have a notion how badly your files are to start with.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Recover your lost toolbar

ArcMap and ArcCatalog remember where you place toolbars so the next time you start the application they are in the same location. This is a great capability until things go wrong.

If you use dual screens then switch your machine to a single screen, you may have 'lost' a toolbar or two. This fix is easy but is a wholesale change and affects all toolbar placements.

ArcMap and ArcCatalog remember these settings in 'Normal' files. On a windows os, they are stored in:


If you've lost a toolbar off-screen, follow these steps:

1) Close ArcMap and/or ArcCatalog (whichever one is causing the problem).
2) Navigate to the directory listed above.
3) Rename the Normal file to 'OldNormal'. (You should keep the old one just in case!)
4) Restart your application.

This creates a new 'Normal' from esri's install and places all toolbars in default position. Unfortunately, this procedure affects all toolbars which may cause you a bunch of work replacing them to your preferred positions. BUT, if you really needed the one off-screen, then this does the job.

I remember from way back there were other methods for toolbar recovery. If anyone wants to add their method, go ahead. I'll add to the list as time goes on.

Take care all!