Frequently Asked Questions

Schematics generalities

What is a schematic?

One definition of schematic is a simplified representation of an object or a set of objects that is intended to explain its structure and make the way it operates understandable. In ArcGIS Schematics extension, an object is a network, and the set of objects is the internal information related to network components.

Another explanation is that a schematic is a way to represent any type of network within a symbolic system or a defined space without scaling constraints. For example, a defined space is a piece of paper where numerous pieces of information are displayed by optimizing the placement of the features.

Learn more about schematics in general and about ArcGIS Schematics extension

Does ArcGIS Schematics extension come standard with ArcGIS 10.1 for Desktop? Is it an extension that needs a separate license?

What license level is needed?

What ArcGIS license level do I need to use ArcGIS Schematics extension?

Schematics is an extension to ArcGIS for Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS for Server that can be licensed for single or concurrent use.

With ArcGIS for Desktop, Schematics can be licensed to:

  • View schematic diagrams—ArcGIS for Desktop Basic license.
  • Access all the Schematics functions; that is, create, edit and configure schematic datasets, generate, update and edit schematic diagrams, etc—ArcGIS for Desktop Standard or Advanced licenses.

Those three license levels are also available for ArcGIS Engine (Runtime or Developer Kit).

ArcGIS for Server includes Schematics with no additional charge with ArcGIS for Server Standard and Advanced license. It's not licensed with ArcGIS for Server Basic.

For what purposes are most of your core Schematics users apply to this software—which industry uses it most?

Today, the largest Schematics user is Telco, then Electric utilities. But, we are seeing an increased usage in Rail and Military.

In all cases, the reason is to get different ways to visualize and understand their data

Schematics input

If I use Schematics tool, should I use Network Analyst to create network?

We don't have a geometric network or network dataset for our data. Do you recommend we create one or should we just start using ArcGIS Schematics extension without?

Having your data organized into a Network Dataset or a Geometric Network facilitates your Schematics configuration, but it is not a pre-requisite for generating schematic diagrams. Schematics can deal with different kind of input data:

  • GIS data organized into a geometric network, or into network dataset, but also simple GIS features or objects stored in a geodatabase.
  • Data stored in any kind of database (Access, Oracle, etc).
  • Data coming from external applications such as industry applications (for example, Network Engineer), ERPs (for example, SAP), PLMs (for example, Matrix One), or analysis packages (for example, CYME).

What are the basic elements/relationships of a data set to make it suitable for schematic generation?

Your data are suitable for Schematics if they respect at least one of the followings:

  • Your data is organized into a network with which Schematics knows how to deal; for example, a geometric network or a network dataset.

    In these cases, Schematics can be configured to decode the network topology and transform this network data as schematic nodes and connected schematic links.

  • In your geodatabase, there are relationship classes that relate your GIS features or objects.

    In that case, Schematics can be configured to represent the relations between your features or objects as schematic links connecting those elements.

  • You know your database model and you can configure SQL queries to identify the origin and extremity of each link you want to be displayed in your diagrams.

    In that case, the queries results return the set of schematic nodes and connected schematic links Schematics must build for your diagrams.

  • Based on your data, you can build XML data for each node and its connected links you want to be represented in your diagrams.

    In that case, Schematics can deal with this XML and build the associated schematic nodes and links.

For a multi modal transportation can I assign the cost of changing the kind of transport?

Solver for a route is all on the Network Analyst side, so calculating based on cost, etc… is just whatever Network Analyst offers. Using Schematics from network analysis solvers is just a different way to visualize the results.

What specific details do you need to put in your setup of Network Analyst?

There are no specific details required on the Network Analyst side if you want Schematics operates from your network data or solved network analysis.

On the Schematics side, to generate diagrams from network dataset, you must configure a schematic diagram template based on one of the two following schematic builders:

  • The Network Dataset builder if you want to generate diagrams from any network analysis layer containing a performed route, closest facility, service area, or vehicle routing problem network analysis.
  • The Standard builder if you want to generate diagrams from any set of network elements.

Learn more about schematic diagrams from solved network analysis layers

Learn more about schematic diagrams from network elements

Can I use ArcGIS Schematics extension if the feature classes to select before generating the diagram are ArcFMized?

Yes, of course. Moreover, ArcFM extends some of its components; for example, Fiber Manager, to easily generate schematic diagrams from traces performed on its networks.

Is it possible to create a schematic based on both physical connectivity as well as logical connectivity (relationship classes) in the same dataset?

Yes, you can configure several types of diagrams in the same dataset. Each type of diagrams can be configured to work from physical connectivity only, from logical connectivity only, or from both physical and logical connectivity.

Can Schematics read data from an Excel file?

Not directly, but you can develop some code to transform your Excel data as XML items and generate diagrams from this XML.

Does Schematics also work based on shape files?

Can shape files be added to schematic networks or do all of the participating feature classes need to be in geodatabases?

No, Schematics can't work from shape files directly. You first need to import your shape files as feature classes into a geodatabase. Moreover, if you need to get schematic links in your diagrams from the line features that were initially stored in shape files, you will have to tell Schematics how those links are connected.

Can you make a globe based schematic?


Is it possible to import AutoCAD diagrams into Schematics diagrams?

No, AutoCAD diagrams are dead drawing schemas. Schematics can't translate them as connected graphs.

Can Schematics integrate with the modeling of different elements of a component, like a DSLAM, splitted into cabinets, shelves, etc?

Schematics can be used for these situations and some partner solutions tackle certain parts of this for Telecommunications. But, note that Schematics doesn't provide out-of-the box layout algorithms for this kind of diagrams for now.

Could you use ArcGIS Schematics extension to model a computer network, such as servers, desktop computers, etc.?

Yes. The complexity of the Schematics configuration will only depend on the data model; that is, how easy or complex it is to retrieve the connectivity.

Can Schematics deal with different phases of electricity?

Schematics can build diagrams from whatever is selected or traced in a utility network.

  • If you select or trace individual lines by phase, you can generate a diagram containing all those selected or traced individual lines.
  • If you select an only line representing multiple phases and you want to get a diagram representing the underlying individual lines, you can also configure an Expand Links rule to be executed so that, based on the phase attribute, Schematics automatically builds those multiple lines in the resulting diagram.

Schematics database, Schematics data storage

Where do you store schematic diagrams? In the geodatabase?

Yes, schematic diagrams are always stored in geodatabases. They can share the same geodatabase as your GIS features or a different geodatabase.

How can we view the Schematics data/table/feature classes?

In ArcMap, in the same way you can do from standard GIS feature layer, you can open the attribute table from a schematic feature layer in the TOC. Moreover, you can use the Identify tool to view the schematic feature attributes.

In Catalog, by right-clicking a schematic dataset entry and clicking Show/Hide Schematic Classes, you can also preview the schematic feature classes content where are stored all the schematic features in the generated diagrams. The schematic feature classes' content displays as a Geography or Table preview in the exact same way you can do for a GIS feature class.

Does ArcGIS Schematics extension work with ArcSDE?

Yes,Schematics can work with ArcSDE.

You can generate schematic diagrams from data stored in an ArcSDE geodatabase and you can also store your schematic diagrams in an ArcSDE geodatabase.

Your GIS and schematic diagrams can shared the same ArcSDE geodatabase, or be stored in different ArcSDE geodatabases.

You can also work from GIS data stored in an ArcSDE geodatabase and store your diagrams in a personal geodatabase, or conversely.

Do you need a versioned geodatabase for Schematics editing capability?

No, a schematic diagram can be based on versioned GIS data as well as non-versioned GIS data, but the diagram itself is never versioned.

A schematic diagram can be edited at any time; you can edit it manually, apply algorithm on its content and save your edits. You can also go back to its initial layout at any time. You can maintain several 'versions' of your diagrams if needed by copying them under other names.

Schematics and GIS data

Our company has strict rules regarding editing our GIS data. Does ArcGIS Schematics extension make any change to our existing GIS data behind the scene?

No, Schematics never changes your GIS data. It works from your GIS data and build its own specific schematic features in a different dataset for each generated diagram. Editing a schematic feature never affects the associated GIS features.

Do the GIS attributes follow the Schematics items?

Can we get the ArcMap attributes (lat / long, etc.) from the Schematics? That is, does the schematic still hold the ArcGIS attributes, spatial and otherwise?

Yes, at any time, for each schematic feature in a diagram, you know from which GIS feature(s) it comes and you can view all the related GIS features attributes. For example, when you use the Identify tool on a schematic feature which comes from GIS features, you view the schematic feature own attributes, but also the related GIS features attributes.

Moreover, you can configure joins on the schematic feature layers to directly get all the associated GIS feature attributes. You can then use those GIS attributes to display labels on your schematic feature or display your schematic feature symbol according to those GIS attribute values.

Note that you can also configure schematic attributes on your schematic features that are directly associated with the GIS attributes or based on a combination of those GIS attributes.

In some cases, we need to keep our diagrams as they are, even if we make changes to our GIS data. Will the changes we make in our GIS data apply automatically?

This depends on your schematic dataset configuration:

  • If there are joins between your schematic feature layers and your GIS data, and you used joined GIS attributes for labeling or symbolizing schematic features contained in your diagrams, any change on those GIS attributes will be visible on your diagrams.
  • If you created schematic attributes related to GIS attributes, the evaluation mode configured for your schematic attributes will be decisive when your GIS attributes change:
    • When schematic attributes' evaluation mode is On Generate/Update, diagram content will reflect the related GIS attribute changes only after updating your diagrams.
    • When schematic attributes' evaluation mode is On Start Editing, diagram content will reflect the related GIS attribute changes as soon as you start an edit session on your diagrams.
    • When schematic attributes' evaluation mode is On Redraw/Refresh, diagram content will reflect the related GIS attribute changes as soon as your diagram content is redrawn.
However, whatever the attributes' evaluation mode is, if the changes on your GIS data concern feature removal, the schematic features associated with those removed GIS features will be removed on diagrams where they appear only after updating those diagrams regarding to the GIS database.

To conclude, changes that may have impacted your GIS data are not automatically reflected in your diagrams when your configuration verifies the two following conditions:

  • There are no joins with your GIS data on your schematic feature layer.
  • Your schematic attributes are all evaluated on Generate/Update.
With those conditions, GIS changes are reflected in your diagrams after update only.


If you need an archive diagram copy that never changes, you can use the Convert Diagram To Feature geoprocessing tool to export your diagram content into features.

Learn more about joins on schematic feature layers

Learn more about schematic attributes evaluation

Learn more about updating schematic diagrams

Do you need to re-generate the schematic every time you post up to default?

Schematic diagrams can be based on versioned GIS data, but diagrams themselves are never versioned. You can generate several diagrams from several versions of your GIS data and keep them as they are for their entire life.

If you update a diagram initially generated from a given version, its content is updated regarding the same GIS version, and the update reflects the changes that may have impacted this version.

But, you can also choose to change the initial version-based of a diagram to another version and update its content regarding this other version.

Learn more about changing schematic diagram reference version

Schematics algorithms, analyzing, editing

Is there a spatial view that shows some separation between pipes located in the same ditch?

Yes, the Geo - Partial Overlapping Links schematic layout algorithm should give you good results if you want to separate pipes located in the same ditch.

This algorithm is an out-of-the-box schematic layout algorithm that automatically detects and groups together the parts of link segments, close to each other, more or less parallel, and having more or less the same length. Each set of segments detected in the schematic diagram are then spread equally on the left side and the right side of the middle of the set of segments.

Learn more about the Geo - Partial Overlapping schematic layout algorithm

Can you lock certain schematic features so that an algorithm won't move these features?

Yes, schematic layout algorithms can apply on the entire content of your diagram, but also on diagram parts. In that case, you only need to select the set of schematic features on which you want to apply the algorithm; the schematic features that are unselected will not be impacted by the algorithm execution.

Moreover, some algorithms like the Rotate Tree, allow you to specify the links for which you want to prevent the algorithm to be executed beyond them.

Learn more about laying out your schematic diagrams

What kind of specialist do we need for developing our own custom algorithm?

Schematics provides a COM API that allows developing your own custom schematic algorithm. The developer can code the algorithm in any COM language. He doesn't need to have a complete knowledge of the Schematics extension, but must know developing with ArcObjects libraries, in particular Geometry library. He must have good mathematical and geometric notions (angle, projection, translation, etc).

Is there a snapping tool that you can use for moving nodes to specific points?

There are no snapping schematic tools. But, there are a large set of editing tools you can use to move your schematic nodes, edit your schematic links (add, move, remove vertex, move segment), align schematic nodes (vertically, horizontally, along a particular axis). Note also that when using the Edit/Move Schematic Features tool while moving a set of nodes, you can hold down the Shift key to lock the movement of your nodes to horizontal or vertical. You can also use the Reconnect Link tool to disconnect a schematic feature link from one of its node extremity and reconnect it to another node. This tool can also be used to reconnect schematic links at specific ports.

Can users perform 'break' analysis with Schematics? i.e., identify what is affected downstream from one point 'breaking'?

Yes, the Schematic Network Analysis toolbar regroups schematic network traces you can execute on your schematic diagrams—Find Connected, Find Loops, Find Overlapping Links, and Find Path.

The Find Connected schematic trace can be configured to work with flow direction and so return the set of downstream or upstream schematic features connected to a given schematic node.

Learn more about schematic analyst trace tasks

Schematics and symbology/labeling

Labeling is a very important part for our diagrams. How easy is to add and modify labels on diagrams in Schematics?

Labeling schematic features is done using the Standard and Maplex Label Engines in ArcMap. You can configure labels on your schematic features in the exact same way you do on GIS features.

Labels can be based on schematic attributes stored in the schematic feature classes—schematic attributes with Field storage—or on any other attribute returned by a join specified on the feature layers related to the schematic feature classes.

When you have configured all the labels you want to display on the schematic features contained in a given diagram, you can export the schematic diagram layer as a layer file and import this layer as the default for its diagram template. Then, all existing and future diagrams based on this diagram template will automatically display with the same kind of labels.

Learn more about labeling schematic features

We create our diagrams with different symbology and labeling depending on what we need to use our diagrams for. Can we have some preset settings for symbology and labeling?

Yes, you can set up symbology and labeling per diagram template so all the diagrams based on a template display with the same settings.

To define these settings, you can do the followings:

  1. Generate a first diagram based on your template in ArcMap.
  2. Define how schematic features in each feature layer that composes this schematic diagram layer will look—that is, set up the labels and symbology you want through the Layer Properties dialog box.
  3. Export the schematic diagram layer as a layer file.
  4. Edit your schematic dataset within schematic dataset editor.
  5. Import this layer as the default symbology for the diagram template and save the schematic dataset.
Then, all existing and future diagrams based on this template display with the same settings for symbology or labels.

Learn more about schematic layer properties

Schematics for Server

How can we view Schematics data in the field?

The schematic datasets you create using ArcGIS Schematics extension can be published to ArcGIS for Server and exposed in desktop, mobile, and web applications.

Learn more about working with Schematics on the web

If we have ArcGIS 10.1 for Server, can we use schematic datasets in an SDE that is 9.3.1 or 10?

Publishing schematic diagrams on ArcGIS server depends on the schematic dataset version, more than the SDE database version because a 9.3.1 SDE database can contain 10 and 10.1 schematic datasets. Whatever the SDE database version, diagrams contained in 10 or 10.1 schematic datasets can be published on an ArcGIS server, but those stored in pre-10 schematic datasets—for example, 9.3.1 —cannot be published.

In that case, you must migrate your pre-10 schematic dataset into a 10 or 10.1 schematic dataset to be able to publish your schematic diagrams on ArcGIS server.

Can I have diagrams on my web service only for viewing?

Yes, you can publish Schematics services for viewing schematic diagrams only. Besides, this is the default when publishing a schematic service—the Query operation is the only operation allowed.

If you want to publish schematic diagrams in order to edit their contents and save these edits, update them, or have the ability to generate new schematic diagrams, you must enable both the Query and Editing operations when publishing your schematic service.

Learn more about Schematics services

What functionality don't we have on Server that we do have on Desktop?

The Schematics functions you need to edit and configure your schematic dataset as most of the functions you have within Catalog (create schematic folder, export diagram to XML document, copy/paste schematic diagram, rename a schematic dataset, folder or diagram, etc) are only available on Desktop.

However, most of the Schematics functions you have on ArcMap are available on Server.

Will the other users see my changes right away while I modifying my diagram on server?

Yes, after you save your edits, the other users can view the modified diagram.

What are the options to make the diagrams available to our Adobe Flex web application?

Can Schematics Services be used within the flex viewers?

Yes, Schematics service can be consumed in any Flex application.

Can we digitize through a client application using Schematics services?

Yes, you can digitize schematic features in both Desktop and Client applications. But, there is no out-of-the-box digitizing tools for digitizing.

Schematics rules

How can users create the rules? SQL, Python?

Schematic Dataset Editor provides functions to create, modify, and visualize all your schematic dataset resources and configuration.

Rules are configurable at the diagram template level when editing your schematic dataset within Schematic Dataset Editor.

There are a set of eight predefined schematic rules installed with ArcGIS Schematics extension that you can set up. Using the Schematics API, you can also develop your own custom rule and set up its parameters for the desired diagram template in the same way as any standard rule.

When rules are configured for a diagram template, they automatically enter into action when a diagram based on this template is generating and updating.

Learn more about schematic rules

Can we use as many rules as we want for a diagram template?

Yes, several rules can be configured to be executed during each diagram generation/update. They are chained each in turn in their entry sequence order.

Learn more about specifying schematic rules on schematic diagram templates

Schematics and performance

What is the performance of Schematics for a network with 2 thousands of features? How it is scalable to hundreds of thousands features?

Is there a limit to the number of features that Schematics can handle?

How big of a geometric network is possible to work with in version 10.1?

Schematics can create diagrams from large amounts of data. However, since the goal of a diagram is to better understand how things are connected and how things work together, large diagrams don't really meet these goals.

Note that if you want to do simple shape transformation in almost the correct geographic positions, you should look into Cartographic Representations.

Some customers manage only a couple of diagrams and some others manage several thousands of diagrams. Diagrams all vary as to how many features they contain.

How many schematic diagrams can one dataset support?

Some of our Schematics customers manage several thousands of diagrams in a schematic dataset. There are no real limitations on the number of schematic diagrams in a schematic dataset. This depends on the geodatabase size limitation, when such a limitation exists for the geodatabase itself.

However, when you have a large number of diagrams in a schematic dataset, it is strongly recommended to organize those diagrams in schematic folders instead of keeping all of them at the schematic dataset root. Such a filing significantly enhances performance and responsiveness; in particular, when diagrams are consumed through a Schematics service.

Pre-10 schematic datasets

We have ArcGIS Schematics 9.3.1. What we can't do in 9.3.1 that we can in 10 and 10.1?

For end users, the Schematics functions in pre-10 and 10.x are not so different; that is, they can generate the same kind of diagrams and edit them in a similar way.

But, Schematics 10 introduces major changes that bring the user experience closer to that of a standard feature class or feature dataset and made the usability and configuration of schematic datasets quite simpler and easier to understand for ArcGIS users.

Starting at 10, elements contained in schematic diagrams are real ArcGIS features, called schematic features. This allows Schematics to take advantage of core ArcGIS symbology and labeling. Schematics features contained in diagrams are now organized into feature layers that are completely customizable in the exact same way as standard ArcGIS layers. Drawing a schematic layer using one symbol or showing categories, setting layer visibility, labeling it, configuring joins, and defining how schematic features in this layer will look when they are selected are customisations that can now be performed through the Layer Properties dialog box in the exact same way as for standard geographic feature layers.

Learn more about what's new in Schematics 10.0

Learn more about what's new in Schematics 10.1

We are still using ArcGIS Schematics extension 9.3.1. Can we use our 9.3.1 datasets and diagrams in 10 and 10.1?

Schematics 10 and 10.1 allow you to display schematic diagrams stored in pre-10 schematic datasets, but no change can be saved for these diagrams—that is, even if an editing session can be started on these schematic diagrams, diagram edits cannot be saved. Updating schematic diagrams or generating new schematic diagrams in pre-10 schematic datasets are also operations that cannot not be done using Schematics 10.x. In the same way, even if Schematic Dataset Editor allows reading pre-10 schematic dataset configuration parameters, no edits can be saved.

To be able to get the 10.x full Schematics functions to operate on a pre-10 schematic dataset, you must migrate this schematic dataset into a new 10.x schematic dataset

Learn more about migrating pre-10 schematic datasets


What type of the person do we need for configuration part?

The person in charge of your schematic dataset configuration must have a good knowledge of the data and understand the needs of the users who will generate and consume the diagrams.

Can a linear reference data using the schematic links features as the route?

Yes, but that data needs to be in a format that is suitable for consumption in Schematics.

For linear referencing, Schematics provides particular type of schematic features, called node-on-links and sublinks. Those objects are represented on link schematic features, their reference links, and depend on those reference links—for example, when a reference link moves, all its node on links and sublinks also move; when a reference link is removed, its node on links and sublinks are also automatically removed, etc. Node on links and sublinks can be placed at a relative or absolute distance from the origin or extremity of their reference links. They can bring their own attributes, display with their own custom symbols and labels.

Learn more about node on links and sub links

Does Schematics consider Z values or just X and Y coordinates?

No, Schematics doesn't consider Z values. It only works from X and Y coordinates.

Is there a way to add an HTML pop-up to explain to the end-user of a schematic diagram a particular point?

Yes, you can configure an HTML Popup on schematic features in the exact same way you can do on standard GIS features. Moreover, when you have configured all the HTML pop-ups you want to display from the schematic features contained in a given diagram, you can export the schematic diagram layer as a layer file and import this layer as the default for its diagram template. Then, the HTML pop-ups will be available in all existing and future diagrams based on this diagram template.

Can you export a diagram to AutoCAD?

Not directly, but there is a workaround.

The schematic features contained in your diagrams are all stored in specific feature classes in your schematic dataset. Since those specific feature classes mix features coming from several diagrams, you can first run the Convert Diagram To Features GP tool to export the diagram content you want in separate feature classes. Then, you can use the Export To CAD GP tool to export the resulting feature classes to CAD.

I have never used Schematics. What is the best way to learn using Schematics?

A good starting point for learning ArcGIS Schematics extension are tutorials:

  • Schematics in ArcMap tutorial exercises allows you to find out what you can do with Schematics in ArcMap.
  • Schematics Configuration tutorial focuses on Schematics configuration using Schematic Dataset Editor.
Then, you can start learning more about Schematics for Server through the ArcGIS for Server Help System.

Learn more about Desktop Schematics tutorials

Learn more about Schematics for server

Where do you find the Schematics toolbar?

Once you've installed ArcGIS for Desktop with the ArcGIS Schematics extension, the Schematics toolbars are available in ArcMap. There are three Schematics toolbars—Schematic, Schematic Editor, and Schematic Network Analyst. Those toolbars regroup commands and tools to generate, update, edit and analyze your schematic diagrams.

Within Catalog, when the ArcGIS Schematics extension is enabled, you have access to another set of Schematics functions which allow you to manage your schematic datasets, folders, and diagrams.

Learn more about Schematics in ArcMap

Learn more about Schematics in ArcCatalog

How can you add features (equipments) to an existing electric diagram?

There are several ways to add features to an existing diagram:

  • When your diagrams come from a geometric network, you can simply append new features in a diagram by updating it using the Append new features to the active diagram option.
  • Suppose you generated a diagram at a time from a trace executed on your utility network that was stopped at some locations due to the status of GIS equipments. In this case, if the equipments status changed until the diagram generation and you update your diagram using the Synchronize against original selection/trace/query option, you will automatically get new features in the update diagram if the trace now executes beyond these equipments.
  • You can also digitize schematic features in your diagrams if you want. There are no out-of-the-box digitizing tools, but within the ArcObjects SDK for the Microsoft .NET Framework setup, you will find an add-in tool you can use to digitize schematic features in your diagrams.

Learn more about updating diagrams using the Append new features to the active diagram option

Learn more about updating diagrams using the Synchronize against original selection/trace/query option

Learn more about the Schematics SDK sample digitizing tool add-in

How can I Program Schematics with 'python geoprocessing'?

The Schematics toolbox installed with ArcGIS for Desktop contains tools to perform the most fundamental operations on diagrams; that is, generation and update. This allows you to set up batch programs to automate the update of existing diagrams or the generation of new diagrams.

Learn more about Schematics geoprocessing tools