Open side-bar Menu
 GISCafe Voice
Susan Smith
Susan Smith
Susan Smith has worked as an editor and writer in the technology industry for over 16 years. As an editor she has been responsible for the launch of a number of technology trade publications, both in print and online. Currently, Susan is the Editor of GISCafe and AECCafe, as well as those sites’ … More »

Preparing and Deploying Data to ArcPad

July 13th, 2016 by Susan Smith

The ArcGIS Apps technical sessions in the Exhibit Hall were among the most popular attractions at the Esri User Conference 2016 this year.  This technical session was about managing and deploying your data on devices, namely, the iPad with ArcPad, presented by Esri’s Denise King.

appsArcGIS Online Base Maps

Planning field projects is not just about data, it is about devices and type of project. What are you trying to accomplish? Editable data is operational vs. background.

Vector data is either:




Pros & Cons: Shapefiles as background:


  • No or little preparation needed. Copy and go.
  • Draw fast in ArcPad when not editable
  • Great for large read only layers e.g. contours
  • If made editable, could be used as an advanced graphics layers


  • Many files
  • Users can make editable (even when you don’t want them to)

AXF as Background:


  • Single file for many layers
  • Can be made read only
  • Can contain related records for viewing


  • Can be slow when contain features with large number of fields or coded value domains
  • Has storage limit: 4gb

Pros and Cons: Rasters

  • Can display vast amount of features and complex labelling
  • Choose single or multiple files
  • Fast to draw
  • Transparency
  • Read only


  • Cannot turn on or off parts of the image (all or nothing)
  • Many file types supported, not all are as good as each other – choose carefully.

Planning Field Projects – Device Considerations

Most vendors are not offering upgrades for anything below Microsoft 10, because they have less supportability. ArcPad will be around until around 2019, said King, and will improve the product for you. “If you’re working with a large area of data, you may want to consider a Windows 8 or Windows 10 tablet, because performance Is much better. My favorite mobile device is Mesa Juniper – runs Windows Mobile that has been deprecated by Microsoft. Minimize your project size. Divide it into quadrants.

Windows Mobile runs on 32 MB. Trimble is the same size, and reduces project size at one time. It takes 11 MB just to launch ArcPad. You can turn off different modules on your device to reduce that performance hit.”


  • Light conditions/glare
  • Temperature

Screen Area

  • Mobile Device
  • Tablet/laptop

Screen Resolution

Device OS

Pros and cons of using different file formats –

AXF is the ArcPad file format where you can put everything together in one file.

If you have a large number feature layers, but with many fields, you need to minimize these projects to what you need to edit at that time. Otherwise you will run into performance issues, such as with Trimble handhelds.

Preparing data –

You need to have best practices going forward. “Who says data has to stay together?” King posed the question. “How will you manage going backward and forward between field users and office?”

  • Editable data is slower to draw
  • Empty AXF for new data collection, reference AXFs for background
  • Determine what can be rasterized.
  • MXD Preparation
  • Color and symbology
  • Be bold for your editable features

Use the category section

  • Unique values symbology, ties into gdb domains

Practice your scales

  • Increase performance
  • Better aesthetics

Generalize in ArcMap

  • Smooth, generalize tools (less features, less redraw)

Remember background layers can be manipulated as much as possible to help with performance.

Field Map Vs Production Map

Field Map should never be the same as the production map. Field has to be as simple as possible.

Field Map –

  • Practical
  • Simple
  • Bold symbology
  • Select features

Production Map –

  • Pretty
  • Complex
  • Beautiful symbology
  • All features

Validating Features with Get Data for ArcPad.

Maintain attribute integrity of your ArcPad project. When you check in from ArcPad to ArcGIS, that’s when it’s going to fail if you haven’t used the Get Data for ArcPad feature.

ArcToolbox has tools that can be added. In Get Data for ArcPad you want to check out for disconnected editing in ArcPad. Check out lights and lights inspection table (with poles), for example, and you can include what type of lightbulbs are being used. In the ArcPad checkout folder, you know where that data is and when you’re done you can delete copy.

Select options output, which gives the opportunity to change the extent of map.

You may want to validate feature classes before checking out because you want to make sure you can successfully check back in on the backside. It will tell you why if it fails to check out.

Validating features:

  • Subtypes
  • Range domains
  • Coded value domains
  • Related tables
  • Default values

Get Data for ArcPad:

  • Checkout Data
  • Checkout Schema only
  • Background data (SHP)
  • Background editable data (AXF)
  • Background data (AXF)
  • Background editable data (SHP)


How to get data onto the device

ArcPad Data Manager

  • ArcGIS for Desktop
  • ArcGIS Toolbox

ArcPad Apps

ArcGIS Online


  • FTP – Download sample
  • Download Web Link

Creating an app shortcut is done with the checkbox toggle called Quickaction. It automatically stores it in your programs in your iPad apps folder.





Tags: , , , ,

Categories: ArcGIS, ArcGIS Online, ArcPad, Big Data, Esri, field GIS, geospatial, GIS, mapping, mobile

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *



This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

University of Denver GIS Masters Degree Online

Internet Business Systems © 2019 Internet Business Systems, Inc.
25 North 14th Steet, Suite 710, San Jose, CA 95112
+1 (408) 882-6554 — Contact Us, or visit our other sites:
TechJobsCafe - Technical Jobs and Resumes EDACafe - Electronic Design Automation GISCafe - Geographical Information Services  MCADCafe - Mechanical Design and Engineering ShareCG - Share Computer Graphic (CG) Animation, 3D Art and 3D Models
  Privacy PolicyAdvertise