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Michele Mattix is the owner of GeoMattix, LLC, a woman-owned, SBA small business focused on helping clients integrate GPS and GIS technologies. GeoMattix is an ESRI business partner and Michele is an ArcGIS, ArcPad, and GPS trainer with a large offering of training videos, e-training and … More »

A New Way to Work with ArcPad – Templates

April 18th, 2011 by GeoMattix

By Michele Mattix

I am a big fan of the data dictionary functionality in programs like Trimble’s TerraSync.  It allows you to grab your GPS unit and start collecting the features and attributes relevant to your project without having to first check out the data or create new feature classes.  Now I can  take advantage of this grab-and-go functionality in ArcPad.  New with version 10 is the ability to create custom templates – ready-to-go projects with the layers and attributes specific to your project.

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Favorite Things about ArcGIS 10 – Map Packages

November 29th, 2010 by GeoMattix

Written by Michele Mattix, owner of GeoMattix

As many frustrated ArcGIS users have discovered, sharing only an MXD file will open a blank map full of angry red exclamation marks indicating broken data links.  Even including the data with the MXD file, the data links will be broken unless the sharer is extremely careful in preparing the map and data.  Now with ArcGIS 10, sharing your map is very easy.

Continuing with my What I Love about ArcGIS 10 series, today I write about map packages.

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Favorite Things about ArcGIS 10 – Basemaps

October 21st, 2010 by GeoMattix

When ESRI announced that they were going to call the latest release of ArcGIS version 10 instead of version 9.4, it was obvious that there would be some big changes.  Now that version 10 is out and I’ve had some time to work with it, I want to share with you some of my favorite things about it.  Each blog entry will focus on one aspect of the new functionality.  Today I’m writing about access to free basemaps.

How to Use CAD Annotation in ArcPad

January 22nd, 2010 by GeoMattix

How to Add Digital Photos to Your GIS – Part 1

October 2nd, 2009 by GeoMattix

Written by Michele Mattix – Owner of GeoMattix, LLC

 While there are many ways to add digital photos to your GIS, I find that using GPS is the easiest – provided you have a useful workflow.  Finding that workflow, however, can be extremely frustrating due to the myriad of GPS and camera hardware and software options. In this multiple-part blog, I will attempt to shed light on this topic so you can find the equipment and workflow that’s right for you.  The information for these articles is taken from my Adding Digital Photos to Your GIS e-course.

 Georeferenced Photos as Layers

 You’ve decided that you want to add digital photos to your GIS.  Great!  Now you need to determine how you’d like the photos to behave.  Basically, you have two options. One is to have a georeferenced photo that is added as its own layer in ArcMap.  Because it is georeferenced, the photo is mapped in projected coordinate space so you can see it on your map in its proper location.  This method is useful for showing landscape features, perhaps to show how features and terrain change over time.  It is also a good way to create a geoscrapbook to document a journey as I’ve done for one of my Sedona hikes, below.

Michele's geotagged photo from the end of a Sedona hiking trail

Michele’s geotagged photo from the end of a Sedona hiking trail

There are a number of ways to use GPS to georeference digital photos.  The workflow you use depends on the hardware and software you want to use.  The goal of each is the same – assign geographic coordinates to the EXIF header of your photos – a process called geotagging.  Equipment options include the following:

  • A GPS unit with an integrated camera
  • A GPS unit with a connected camera
  • A GPS unit with a stand-alone camera and office software for photo-linking

 Digital Photos as GIS Attributes

 The second way to store digital photos in your GIS is to include them as attributes of your GIS features.  Here, the photo itself is not georeferenced but is instead tied to a GIS point, line, or polygon.  For example, I maintain a GIS point dataset for Sedona hiking trails called ‘Trailheads’.  I store a photo of each trailhead as an attribute of the feature in a field named ‘Photo’, see below.  Though the photo will not appear as its own layer in ArcMap, I can use the Identify and Hyperlink tools to open the photo when clicking on the feature.

Here Michele's photo is stored as an attribute of the trailheads dataset

Here Michele’s photo is stored as an attribute of the trailheads dataset

For this type of GIS photo storage, you will need to create a text field in your GIS attribute table to store the path and name of the photo. You can add your photo paths and names manually in an edit session – just type the pathname in the appropriate attribute table cell.  Depending on where you store the photos relative to where you store the ArcMap MXD, you can omit the full path name as I did in the example above.  If you only have a few photos, then manually entering the text is acceptable.  If you have a lot of photos, however, this method is inefficient.

This is where GPS can help.  GPS can automate the photo-linking so that digital photos taken in the field are automatically linked to the appropriate GIS feature.  Again, there are a number of workflows you can employ to accomplish this task – each based on your GPS and camera hardware and software tools.  These include the following:

  • GPS unit with an integrated digital camera and appropriate field software
  • GPS unit with a connected digital camera and photo-linking field software
  • GPS unit with a stand-alone digital camera and photo-linking software for use in the office

Once you’ve decided whether you want your GIS photos to be georeferenced layers or stored as attributes of other features, you can begin to identify the appropriate GPS, camera, and software tools you will need.  In the next article, I will go into more detail about using GPS to geotag your photos.

Michele Mattix is an ESRI authorized ArcGIS trainer and certifed Trimble GPS instructor.

What’s Great About ArcPad 8

September 28th, 2009 by GeoMattix

A review by Michele Mattix, owner of GeoMattix, LLC

When ESRI announced that ArcPad 8 would have a brand new interface, I figured it would be a mild face-lift of the same cluttered interface.  Boy was I mistaken!  For those of you who are unfamiliar with older versions of ArcPad, one of the main problems with the interface was the three main toolbars stacked on top of each other which effectively gobbled up the top portion of the screen.  If using ArcPad on a small mobile device where screen real estate is pricey, the stacked toolbars took up too much space to comfortably work with your map.

New Look

With ArcPad 8, you see the improvements immediately upon start-up.  The new Open Map dialog shows the name and now a thumbnail image of your ArcPad map documents.  And those clunky toolbars are gone!  Ditto for the outdated tool icons.  ESRI adopted the ribbon concept introduced by Microsoft Office 2007 – with a clean ribbon of tabbed toolbars.  ArcPad 8 now has three tabs across the top of the screen – each representing the same functionality as the original toolbars – standard, browsing, and editing tools.  If you elect to install the StreetMap extension, you will see a fourth tab for those tools.  You now have the option to dock the ribbon in various places as well as hide it.

For long-time ArcPad users, you will not have to relearn tool locations.  The same tools are still available and grouped on the same toolbars where they always were – they are just more efficiently presented.


The new Open Map dialog shows thumbnail images

New Functionality

Beyond these cosmetic enhancements to ArcPad, there are some smart inclusions to the new interface.  One is the Quick Action button – a customizable dropdown list where you can place commonly used tools for easy access.   If you or your field workers only use a handful of the available ArcPad tools, you can place all of them in the Quick Action menu and even order them to match your workflow.

Another new feature is the Map Navigator.  It is a group of the four basic navigation tools (zoom in, zoom out, pan, full extent) that appears translucently in the top left of the map.  Using these Map Navigator tools allows for a one-shot use of the tool.   For example, if you’d like to zoom in while in the middle of editing a polyline, you can tap the Map Navigator zoom-in tool, drag a box to zoom-in, and then automatically go back to having the edit polyline tool be active.  If you were to use the regular zoom-in tool on the Browse toolbar in this scenario, activating the zoom-in tool would keep that tool active until you tap to re-activate the edit polyline tool.


ArcPad 8 interface enhancements

GPS Enhancements

For GPS users, there are several improvements in ArcPad 8.  There is a new GPS Status Panel which is a translucent panel at the bottom of the screen with current XY coordinates and other GPS information.  The background color of the status bar changes based on GPS signal quality.  Tapping on it opens the GPS Position window which has been completely updated.  It is now a single window with four tabs that show data, compass, skyplot, and quality information with much-needed modernized graphics for compass navigation and satellite information.

Updated GPS Position window

Customizing ArcPad

ArcPad 8 now comes with ArcPad Studio.  With previous versions, you had to make a separate purchase of ArcPad Application Builder to customize ArcPad with custom buttons, tools, and behavior.  If you know a scripting language, you can create custom forms, automate tasks, and customize ArcPad behavior.  If you’re not a programmer, the ArcPad Toolbar Manager allows for some basic drag-and-drop customization.

Other enhancements to ArcPad 8 include changes to the Data Manager Extension for checking or copying out data from ArcGIS for use in ArcPad.  You have more options for how you want to work with your GIS data in the field – either as read-only background data or editable data that can be integrated with an existing geodatabase.  For those using ArcGIS Server, the new ArcGIS Server ArcPad extension allows for synchronization of your ArcPad fields edits with an enterprise geodatabase.

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