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The Standard Toolbar – Another Unsung Hero of ArcMap

This post covers the tools available on the Standard toolbar in the ArcMap window.

In a previous post we looked at the Tools toolbar.  This time around we’ll look at the Standard toolbar and what can be done with it.  Once again we’ll start with the upper left hand corner of your ArcMap window:

ToolsAndMenus

The Standard toolbar sits in the middle and contains a lot of the common buttons you’ll see in applications.  The first four buttons in particular should be very familiar: NewOpenEtc.  As you’d expect with these, you use the first to open a new document (in this case a map document), in the second you can open an existing map document, the third lets you save the one you’re working on and the last opens the print dialogue.  The only real caveat is that if you’re in the Map View it will print what you see in the map window; if you’re in the Layout View it will print out your layout (which legend, title, scale bar, etc.)

The next four, Elements, have to do with map elements.  Map elements are things that you might see on a layout (legends, scale bars, north arrows) as well as shapes that you might draw using the Draw toolbar (rectangles, circles, lines).  So the tools don’t really relate to data (like shapefiles, features classes or grids) as much as with those things you add to the map to make it clearer.  These tools do very similar things to what you might see in Word, like cut, copy, paste and delete, respectively.

While the Undo/Redo buttons, UndoRedo, look very welcome, they don’t often do what you’d really like them to do.  They mostly work with map elements rather than data, so if you’ve just deleted a polygon by mistake and you want to get it back, I’m afraid you’re out of luck – it’s a goner.  But it will bring back a legend you’ve deleted or reinsert a north arrow after it’s been deleted.

Next we get to one of the most important buttons on the toolbar, perhaps even in ArcMap as a whole; Add Data, AddData.  Here’s how you add data to your map.  Clicking it opens the Add Data dialogue where you can make your way through all the possible folders you have access to (including GIS servers that might be on the internet):

AddDataWindow

Don’t forget the very useful Connect to Folder button, ConnectToFolder, that allows you to set up a shortcut to a folder – this can save you a lot of time of clicking through a hierarchy of folders.  Back on the Standard toolbar, note the black down arrow to the right of the Add Data icon – there are three options, Add Data (which gets us the Add Data window above), Add Basemap (which allows you to choose from a variety of standard basemaps) and Add Data from ArcGIS Online.  The good people at ESRI (the makers of ArcGIS) provide a surprising amount of data on-line, though only a small portion relates to New Zealand.  To get at these data you would need to register with a username and www.arcgis.com before you can connect to these layers (plus a few firewall hoops to jump through).

Next is the scale window: ScaleWindow.  the scale of your map is extremely important – it has a direct impact on the level of detail you can reasonably show (particularly important when we’re making maps).  The scale will automatically change whenever you zoom in or out, but with this window you can specify what the scale of your map window should be.  You can either type it in directly (after the “1:” or select from some predefined scales from the drop down menu).

Next is the Editor Toolbar button, Editing.  When this is clicked, the Editor Toolbar is added, opening the door to all your options for editing data (and safe the say, the subject of another post – there’s a lot to cover here, but this is a good start).

The next set of buttons, OpenApps, are gateways to other applications and tools.  The first is the Table of Contents button.  Sometimes, for reasons that are never very clear (but have been shown to have a connection to the presence of aliens) your Table of Contents disappears.  Clicking this button, TOC, restores it to its all important position.   (You can also do this from the Windows menu.)  Clicking the Catalog button, Catalog, opens a mini-ArcCatalog from inside ArcMap, handy for deleting or renaming layers but not for previewing.  The Search window is very handy, Search, as it allows you to search for tools, maps, data and images.  I end up using this one a lot for those tools that I can either never remember the name of (so doing a keyword search) or where they live (for example, I use one of the Clip tools to clip out grids but can never remember where it lives, so I type “raster clip” into the window, click “Tools” and it always comes up first):

RasterClip

The ArcToolbox button, ArcToolbox, opens up the ArcToolbox window:

ArcToolboxWindow

You could spend days wandering through here…take a GPS with you.

Next is the Python button, Python, opens up the Python console where you can execute scripts – not for the faint of heart.  We covered using Python scripts in another post and could easily teach a whole course on using Python alone.  Not enough time or space to go into it here.

Pshew – finally, the ModelBuilder button, ModelBuilder, a higher-end tool that helps you to build visual, flow diagram-like models that you can use to run complex models.  Say you’ve got a multi-part task that you do often, such as taking a shapefile in NZMG and projecting it to NZTM, and then clipping it to a polygon and then exporting it into a shapefile.  You could do it step-by-step everytime, or you could create a model that does the same thing everytime and then just run it whenever you need it.  That’s what ModelBuilder does.  Tools can be dragged and dropped into the ModelBuilder window straight from ArcToolbox (or even the Search window):

ModelBuilderWindow

So that’s the Standard toolbar – lots of useful and fundamental buttons that make life easier with ArcMap.  And most of you know that we need all the help we can get…

C

• 01/04/2014


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