Archive for the ‘arcgis’ Category

I have a love-hate relationship with ArcGIS. For all its power and simplicity, it is very inconsistent. For example, some things are located in toolboxes which is good, while others are hidden away in various locations in the editing toolbar, for example.

The editting toolbar is bad. Firstly, your feature has to be in editting mode, which is slow and a pain in the neck. Edits made in the editting toolbar aren’t recorded in your spatial data files metadata. They can’t be automated, so you can put make them in model builder or call them from a Python script.

One of the few reasons I use the editting toolbar is for the Planarize tool, tucked away in the “More editing tools” -> “Topology” toolbar. It turns out, that for line shapefiles, the “Feature to line” toolbox does exactly the same thing. No more edit sessions for me!


Sometimes ArcGIS just can’t put the labels somewhere sensible, and no amount of Maplex options will help you. Here’s what you do if you want to move them manually.

1) If you want to label all features, it’s best to add them at the start. Right click the layer and select Properties, then Labels, then Placement properties and tick Place overlapping labels.

2) Right click on the layer and select Convert labels to annotations... and choose to Store Annotations In the map.

3) Show the Drawing toolbar, click the Select elements (arrow/cursor tool) and then double-click on the dataframe.

4) Click and drag on the labels.

5) If you didn’t do step one and thus need to add some new labels, select the Label tool on the Drawing toolbar (often hidden behind the New text tool) and click on the feature you want to label.