What's new for editing in ArcGIS 10.1

At ArcGIS 10.1, the ArcMap editing environment contains significant improvements to working with feature templates, editing coincident features and topology, and editing parcels, as well as some general enhancements.

Creating features and feature templates

With the introduction of feature templates in ArcGIS 10.0, it was sometimes difficult to determine when feature templates were created automatically and why feature templates were not displayed on the Create Features window. ArcGIS 10.1 reduces this confusion by creating templates at the layer level and providing more guidance about why templates are hidden.

With ArcGIS 10.1, feature templates are created on a layer-by-layer basis, rather than for a workspace. If you start editing and no feature templates are present for a particular layer, they are created automatically for you. Previously, feature templates were only created the first time you started editing in a map, so you had to create them yourself more often.

When feature templates for editable layers are not being displayed, a message appears at the top of the Create Features window. Click it to see a list of any hidden feature templates and get an explanation why they are not being shown.

Create Features window indicating templates are hidden

The following are the main reasons why templates for editable layers are hidden and what you can do to make them appear on the Create Features window:

Feature templates not listed in the Create Features window

The reasons why feature templates are hidden remain the same as at ArcGIS 10.0; however, you now have better feedback about it. To learn more about feature templates, see Best practices for using feature templates.

Creating feature templates from the properties of existing features

You can use an existing feature as the source for the properties of a new feature template. When you do this, any attribute values for the fields in the existing feature are automatically entered as the new feature template's default attribute values. This allows you to create other features with the same attribute values as the existing feature and avoid manually reentering the values on the Template Properties dialog box.

Once the feature template is created, you can review and change its properties. The feature's attribute values, excluding system fields such as Shape_Length or OBJECTID, are listed as the new template's default attribute values. In addition, other template properties, such as name, target layer, and symbology, are also populated in the new feature template. The name of the new feature template is obtained from the display expression of the selected feature, but it may receive a generic name when no existing text is found. The target layer and symbology for the new feature template are the same as the selected source feature.

To do this, select the feature you want to use as the basis of the new feature template, open the Organize Feature Templates dialog box, click the New Template drop-down arrow, and click New Template From Feature New Template From Feature.

Other enhancements to feature templates

  • In ArcGIS 10.0, the Create Features window opened automatically at the start of every edit session to help familiarize editors with the new environment. With ArcGIS 10.1, it opens for the very first edit session; after that, the window retains its previous state of being docked, pinned, or closed. For example, if you close the Create Features window because you are only editing existing features or attribute values, it will still be closed the next time you start editing—even in a different map or ArcMap session. When you need the window, display it again from the Editor toolbar. This framework change has been applied to all windows used in the editing environment, such as the Attributes or the Edit Sketch Properties windows. If any editing-related windows are open when you are not in an edit session, the windows are shown in gray to indicate they are inactive.
  • Searching for feature templates on the Create Features window uses AND logic, rather than OR. This gives you better search results than before. For example, if you search for fire stations, only feature templates containing both words, fire and stations, are displayed.
  • The Define New Feature Type wizard now supports tags as well as unique values on two fields. Previously, you had to add tags later and could only use this wizard for unique values symbolized on only one field.
    Define New Feature Type wizard
  • You can use the Organize Feature Templates dialog box to update properties of multiple feature templates at once. To do this, select the templates, click Properties, then update the default construction tool or attribute values, for example.

New Auto-Complete Freehand tool

If you are creating polygons of land uses, soils, counties, or property ownership, for example, you often need to create polygons next to one another. The polygons should share a border, but you want to avoid digitizing the border twice or having overlaps or spaces between polygons. You can use the Auto-Complete construction tools when creating new polygons to help ensure that your data forms a continuous fabric. The new polygon can share a border with one or more existing polygons, although the polygons must all be from the same layer as the new feature you are creating. There are two construction tools you can use to create adjoining polygons: Auto-Complete Polygon and Auto-Complete Freehand.

The Auto-Complete Freehand tool Auto-Complete Freehand is new in ArcGIS 10.1 and appends polygons to existing ones by creating the shape of the new polygon by drawing a line that follows the movement of your pointer. The new segments are smoothed into Bézier curves when you are finished. For example, when you are digitizing a layer of land cover, you might draw lakes or forested areas with the Auto-Complete Freehand tool so you can more easily digitize the curved shapes.

Creating annotation

You can use Find Text Find Text on the Annotation Construction window or CTRL+W iteratively to choose which feature will provide the text for new annotation when there are overlapping features. Now, you can press the N key to cycle through the text strings derived from underlying features after you have used Find Text. Previously, only the topmost feature would supply the text.

Better support for tablet computing when creating features

Keyboard shortcuts have been added to several construction tools to make it easier for you to digitize using a pen. Press the M key when in streaming mode to digitize while the pen is pressed down and stop digitizing when you lift up the pen. The M key also works for the Freehand tool Freehand and the new Auto-Complete Freehand tool Auto-Complete Freehand, so you can draw a freehand line when the pen is pressed down and stop the line when you lift up.

Feature Construction toolbar enhancements

The Feature Construction toolbar is turned off by default and no longer appears automatically while sketching. However, you can display it temporarily if you want to access a command on it. When the toolbar is visible, you can move it and it retains its position relative to the sketch each time you click the map. This is helpful since the toolbar sometimes is positioned where you want to place the next vertex.

If you want to display the Feature Construction toolbar only when you need it, you can press the TAB key to show it temporarily. For example, to create a parallel segment, press the TAB to display the Feature Construction toolbar, click Constrain Parallel, and close it or press TAB again to hide the toolbar.

If you want the Feature Construction toolbar to appear anytime you are sketching, you need to enable it on the Editing Options dialog box. Click the Editor menu and click Options. On the General tab, check Show feature construction toolbar.

Option to snap to feature services and basemap layers

You can now choose whether to snap to features in basemap layers and feature service layers. Previously, snapping was always enabled for all available layers, which caused performance to decrease in some cases. To enable snapping, click the Snapping menu on the Snapping toolbar, click Options, and check Snap to feature service layers or Snap to basemap layers. These options are off by default.

A basemap layer is a special type of group layer that is drawn using optimized map display logic and utilizes a local cache to refresh the map quickly. Basemap layers also help reduce network traffic since ArcMap does not need to contact the server repeatedly to retrieve the map extent. Basemap layers can contain any layer format, such as feature classes, shapefiles, web services, or rasters. If you place feature layers in the basemap, you can snap to their features while editing, measuring, georeferencing, and using other tools that work with the Snapping toolbar.

Although you cannot edit the layers inside a basemap, you can snap to feature layers in a basemap layer. For example, if you were creating a new waterline in relation to building locations, you can still snap to the Building Footprints layer even though it is inside the basemap. Keep in mind that if your features are very large or complex, enabling snapping to basemap layers may reduce the performance benefits provided by basemap layers.

On another occasion, you are making updates to a city's parks and recreation geodatabase. Roads and utility infrastructure data are shared with you as web-based feature services. When you are creating a new open space area in your parks geodatabase, you can snap to the roads and other features from the feature services.

Editing topology

Many vector datasets contain features that share geometry. For example, a forest border might be at the edge of a stream, lake polygons might share borders with land-cover polygons and shorelines, and parcel polygons might be covered by parcel lot lines. When you edit these layers, features that are coincident should be updated simultaneously so they continue to share geometry. Topology allows you to perform edits in this manner.

In ArcGIS 10.1, it is easier to create and edit topology. The new Select Topology dialog box integrates the experience of using the Topology toolbar drop-down list to choose the topology and opening a different dialog box to create a map topology. You can now perform these from a single dialog box, Select Topology.

In addition to these changes, there have also been enhancements to selecting and editing topology edges. For example, you can select edges by tracing along them, reshape more than one edge at a time, move them quicker than before, and generalize them while maintaining coincident geometry.

Setting up topology

To activate a topology during an edit session, click the Select Topology button on the Topology toolbar. This opens a dialog box that allows you to set the type of topology to edit. If you have a geodatabase topology in your table of contents (and ArcGIS for Desktop Standard or ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced license), you can edit shared features using geodatabase topology. Otherwise, use the Select Topology dialog box to create a map topology by specifying the layers that should be edited together. If you click a topology editing tool without having an active topology, you are prompted to create a map topology using this dialog box.

Select Topology dialog box

Editing with a map topology

A map topology creates topological relationships between the parts of features that are coincident, which allows you to simultaneously edit features that share geometry. You can create a map topology for point, line, or polygon layers from shapefiles or geodatabase feature classes. The features can be in one or more layers and have different layer types.

It is easy to create a map topology. You simply choose the layers to participate and set the cluster tolerance. Map topology also now uses layer information and reflects layer properties, including name and visibility. Previously, map topology showed feature class names and allowed you to select topology elements even if the layer was turned off in the table of contents.

Since a map topology is based on the layers in the map, layer visibility, such as definition queries and scale ranges, is respected. Only visible features are edited when you use the topology tools with a map topology. For example, you have a polygon layer that contains land uses and administrative boundaries but only want to update the land-use features. You can set a definition query on the layer to show the land-use features and hide the administrative boundaries. Since the administrative features are not visible on the map, they will not be updated when you perform topology edits.

Selecting, reshaping, and editing topology edges

It is easier to select topology edges. You can hold down the left mouse button while dragging along an edge with the Topology Edit tool Topology Edit Tool, or use the new Topology Edit Trace tool Topology Edit Trace Tool to select a series of edges that form a path.

Selecting a path is especially useful for reshaping edges, since the Reshape Edge tool Reshape Edge Tool now allows you to update more than one edge as long as they form a connected path. Previously, only one edge at a time could be reshaped. Reshape Edge allows you to set options for working with other connected edges. When you reshape an edge, edges that connect to the selected edge are adjusted as well. This allows you to maintain coincident geometry for edges that are not selected. You can control this behavior on the Topology tab of the Editing Options dialog box.

Once you have selected topology edges, open the Shared Features window Shared Features to see which features are part of the selected edge. The Shared Features window has been redesigned to be dockable, which allows you to interact with the map while the window is open. This way, you can select and deselect topology edges without having to close the window. The Shared Features window also uses the layer's display expression to list features in it.

Shared Features window

It is now easier to disconnect and reconnect edges, also known as performing a split-move of an edge. Previously, you needed to select an endpoint node and the edge to move; now, you simply select the edge. As you rest your pointer over the endpoint you want to move, the pointer changes shape Reconnect pointer to indicate you can disconnect the edge. Simply click, move the edge, and snap it to a new location. By default, when you move edges, the surrounding features stretch to maintain the general shape. If you want topology elements to move independently without having connected features update as well, uncheck the option for proportionate stretching on the Topology tab of the Editing Options dialog box.

Detaching an edge and reconnecting it

New Generalize Edge command to simplify topology edges

Generalize Edge Generalize Edge on the Topology toolbar allows you to simplify edges while maintaining coincident geometry.

Generalizing simplifies the shapes of features and is an important technique for collecting and integrating GIS datasets. You might generalize data to reduce the vertex count in features that were captured in too much detail, eliminate true curves in features, or standardize datasets to a given resolution because features were created at different scales.

For example, in a coastal area, you have a polygon layer of administrative areas and a line layer representing the coastline. The features in these layers are coincident and share edges. However, the edge is too detailed at the scale you are using and has many unnecessary vertices. By setting a proper deviation for the generalization, you can keep the general shape of the coastline while reducing the number of vertices. The Generalize Edge dialog box provides a preview to help you determine the deviation before you perform the edit.

Generalizing topology edges

Generalize Edge is used on topology edges, allowing you to maintain coincident geometry between features when you simplify them. All features that share the edge are updated at once. On the other hand, other generalization tools in ArcGIS could introduce gaps or other errors in your data because they do not use topology.

Simplified topology user interface

The Topology toolbar has been redesigned so it contains commands that are directly related to topology and require a topology to use. Therefore, the Construct Polygons Construct Polygons, Split Polygons Split Polygons, and Planarize Lines Planarize Lines commands have been removed from the Topology toolbar and are now located on the Advanced Editing toolbar. As in previous releases, these commands require an ArcGIS for Desktop Standard or ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced license.

Advanced Editing toolbar
ArcGIS 10.1 Advanced Editing toolbar
Topology toolbar
ArcGIS 10.1 Topology toolbar

The menu that appears when you right-click the map with the Topology Edit tool has been simplified to show only the most common tools. If you need any of the commands that were previously on this menu, you can still add them to the user interface from the Customize dialog box.

New tools for aligning data

When editing, you commonly compile data from various sources with different levels of quality assurance. Unfortunately, this can often result in data alignment problems and topological errors. ArcGIS 10.1 includes a suite of new tools that are designed to help you make your data coincident. Some of these tools work with features, while others require a topology. To learn more about the available data alignment tools, see About aligning features.

The new tools include the following:

Align Edge

Sometimes you might find that portions of an existing feature do not line up properly with other features. The Align Edge tool allows you to match one edge to another edge quickly so they are coincident without having to trace or reshape the edge manually. You can click one edge and click another edge, and the first edge instantly matches the second. For example, you have a polygon layer representing land uses and find that some of the polygons need to be modified to make their boundaries align. This tool is particularly helpful when you are working with polygons that contain gaps.

Align Edge

Align To Shape

You can use Align To Shape to adjust layers to a shape you trace. This is useful if you want to match features to the edges of other features. This scenario commonly happens when layers were captured at different resolutions, scales, or time periods—causing edges to become braided, overlap, or have gaps between them. For example, you have a hiking trail that was digitized from very accurate GPS measurements. The trail follows along the banks of a stream at the edges of two types of forests. The stream and forest boundaries should actually be coincident with the trail. However, those layers originated from a coarser resolution or different scale, so they zigzag across the trail. There are also gaps between the polygons and areas where the polygons overlap. You can use Align To Shape to draw a path interactively so the layers are aligned to the trail line and the polygons form a continuous fabric.

Align To Shape

Replace Geometry

The Replace Geometry tool allows you to create an entirely new shape for a feature. One of the most common workflows for Replace Geometry is when you have features that should align with adjacent features. In some cases, a feature's shape is significantly different from that of other features with which it should share a boundary. In these instances, particularly when the feature is deemed to be less accurate than the surrounding ones, it is often easiest to recapture the geometry of the feature rather than modify its existing shape.

To use Replace Geometry, you need to select a point, line, or polygon. When you click the Replace Geometry tool, the original feature is still selected but is displayed transparently so you can see its current location. You can then completely replace the shape of the existing feature with a new shape. To sketch its new shape, you can snap to or trace along other features, including the original geometry for the feature you are modifying. All the feature's attributes are maintained; its shape is simply updated.

Replace Geometry

Editing features and attributes

Updating the geometry of existing features by sketching

The Continue Feature tool Continue Feature Tool allows you to update the geometry of an existing feature using a sketch. This allows you to extend a line by digitizing new segments or add a part to a multipart feature.

Although these workflows were available in ArcGIS 9, they were deprecated in ArcGIS 10.0 with the introduction of new feature construction tools that distinguished between creating new features and editing existing features. Since this functionality was commonly requested for ArcGIS 10, it was reintroduced in ArcGIS 10.0 Service Pack 2 through the Continue Feature tool. This tool is found on the Edit Vertices toolbar in ArcGIS 10.1.

Edit Vertices toolbar
ArcGIS 10.1 Edit Vertices toolbar

Stretch geometry proportionately when moving a vertex option added to Edit Vertices toolbar

If you need to move a vertex but keep the general shape of a feature, you can proportionally stretch a feature's geometry. When you drag a vertex to a new location with proportional stretching on, the proportions of the feature's segments are maintained, thereby maintaining the general shape of the feature.

The Edit Vertices toolbar now contains Stretch Proportionately Stretch Proportionately, which is a shortcut to the setting on the General tab of the Editing Options dialog box. This option applies to editing vertices in features and on topology edges.

Better keyboard navigation in the Attributes window

You can use keyboard shortcuts to navigate the Attributes window and attributes grid. In the top of the window, use the up and down arrow keys to navigate through the list of selected features and the right arrow key to expand the tree. In the attributes grid, press the up and down arrows to move to the previous and next rows. Press the ENTER key to start editing the current row, type the attribute value, and press ENTER again to commit the edit and advance to the next row.

For fields containing drop-down menus, such as coded value domains or subtypes, press the ENTER key to open the menu. You can type the first letter of the list item to move to it or use the up and down arrow keys, then press ENTER to choose the value.

Editing annotation

Editing the shape of curved annotation has been enhanced to be more similar to the experience of editing Bézier curve segments in lines and polygon. The vertices change the shape of the baseline and the Bézier handle control points change the curvature.

When editing annotation in follow feature mode, you can now drag annotation across multiple features. For example, if you have road names that follow along centerlines, the annotation smoothly follows along each connected line feature. This allows you annotate the road even if it is split and composed of many separate line features. You can also drag multipart annotation in follow feature mode.

Other enhancements to editing features and attributes

  • When working with related features and records in the Attributes window, related information is now listed under the relationship label, which is specified when a relationship class is created. By default, the label is the name of the destination feature class or table. If the label is different from the feature class or table name, the name and label are both shown in the Attributes window tree. For example, in a relationship between parcel polygons and a table of landownership information, you might set a label to show that a parcel is owned by a landowner. In this case, the related records are listed under the node for landowner - is owned by.
  • Modifying features shows the feature transparently, allowing you to see the shape of the original feature when you are moving vertices and performing other edits.
  • The new Attachments geoprocessing toolset helps you manage attachments on multiple feature classes or tables at once. You can now attach multiple files to one or more features or records.
  • The icons for Generalize Generalize and Smooth Smooth on the Advanced Editing toolbar have been updated to resemble the icons for the new alignment tools. The functionality has not changed.

Tracking who edited data

Through editor tracking, ArcGIS can automatically record the following information for each feature or table record in a geodatabase dataset:

This information is recorded in attribute fields directly in the dataset. Editor tracking can help you maintain accountability and enforce quality control standards.

Edits are tracked when items in personal geodatabases, file geodatabases, and ArcSDE geodatabases are edited in ArcGIS for Desktop. In addition, you can also track edits made to data served as feature services in ArcGIS Server. Before you can track edits, you need to enable editor tracking on the dataset.

ArcGIS 10.1 and subsequent clients record editor tracking information. ArcGIS 10.0 and 10.0 Service Pack 1 clients can access datasets that have editor tracking enabled, but any edits made in these releases are not tracked. You should avoid making schema changes when using these clients because doing so will disable editor tracking on the dataset. ArcGIS 10.0 Service Pack 2 and subsequent 10.0 service pack clients cannot access datasets that have editor tracking enabled.

Editing parcel fabrics

At ArcGIS 10.1, significant improvements have been made to the management and editing of parcel fabrics.

Parcel fabrics

Parcel fabric feature classes and tables can be accessed by expanding the parcel fabric dataset in ArcCatalog or the Catalog window. You can now add parcel fabric sublayers to ArcMap without having to add to the parcel fabric layer.

Parcel fabrics or selections of parcel fabrics can be copied and appended using the new Append Parcel Fabric and Copy Parcel Fabric geoprocessing tools.

Parcel fabric replication

At ArcGIS 10.1, parcel fabrics are supported by replication; however, they are excluded from any replicas you create with the simple model option.

All internal parcel fabric tables are synchronized except for the Jobs table. Any feature class associated with the parcel fabric will not be synchronized.

Annotating parcel fabrics

You can use theAnnotate Parcel Courses tool Annotate Courses to create and remove duplicate annotation from a selection of parcels. The tool can be used to convert labels to and remove duplicates from new annotation or the tool can be used to overwrite and remove duplicates from existing annotation.

Editing parcel fabric attributes in the Attributes window

At 10.1, the nonsystem-managed attributes of individual, selected parcel features can be edited in the Attributes window. The Attributes window Attributes is located on the Editor toolbar.

Learn more about editing the attributes of parcel fabric features and tables

Parcel traverse

At ArcGIS 10.1, undo/redo functionality works with the parcel traverse. You can undo and redo any data entry changes made in the parcel traverse grid under the Lines tab of the Parcel Details dialog box.

Parcel traverses can be adjusted to eliminate a closure. You can specify which adjustment method to use on the new Closure tab on the Parcel Details dialog box. There are three adjustment closure methods that you can choose from:

  • Compass adjustment
  • Transit adjustment
  • Crandall adjustment

On the Closure tab, you can also specify a starting point or starting coordinate for your parcel traverse. If you are traversing an unclosed parcel, you can specify an ending point or ending coordinate.

Curves greater than 180 degrees are now supported in the parcel fabric traverse at ArcGIS 10.1.

Learn more about the parcel traverse tool

Parcel remainder

At ArcGIS 10.0, remainder parcels could only be created from a single overlapping parcel. At ArcGIS 10.1, remainder parcels can be created from multiple overlapping parcels.

Learn more about creating remainder parcels

Duplicating parcels

At ArcGIS 10.1, parcels can be duplicated multiple times. You specify number of times the parcel is duplicated. You also have the option to increment a long integer, nonsystem field on the parcels table with a numeric value each time a parcel is duplicated. This is useful for adding multiple floor-level parcels to condos. For example, if you add a Floor_Number field to the Parcels attribute table, you can choose to have the Floor_number field incremented by a value of 1 each time a parcel is duplicated.

Duplicate a Parcel dialog box

Learn more about duplicating parcels

Parcel joining

At ArcGIS 10.1, parcels being joined are cartographically fitted to the surrounding fabric even when join parcel lines and existing fabric lines do not match up or align with each other. Straight lines are bent or flexed to fit the location of line points and parcels are joined such that there are no slivers, gaps or overlaps remaining in the fabric.

Parcel point added as a line pointLine is flexed or bent to line point


During a least-squares adjustment, any bent or flexed lines are straightened and line points are moved onto the straightened lines. However, if a line point is significantly offset from its straight line, you can choose to keep the straight line bent to the line point.

Learn more about the least-squares adjustment

Creating join links using the new trace link tool

Instead of establishing join links individually point by point, you can use the Trace Fabric To Create Join Link tool Trace fabric to create join links located on the Join Parcel dialog box to create join links along traced boundaries. The trace link tool detects join links between the joining parcel line and the traced boundary line if the joining parcel line lies within the specified trace link buffer.

Learn more about parcel joining

Transforming parcels

The Transform Parcels toolbar can be used to provisionally move a selection of parcels in the parcel fabric. For example, you would want to move parcels so that they line up with an underlying orthophoto. Parcel points can be snapped to existing control points but are not linked to the control point. You would link a control point to a parcel corner point when you want to use that control point in a least-squares adjustment of the parcels.

Learn more about transforming parcels

Establishing line points

At ArcGIS 10.1, you can merge collinear line segments into a single line. These line segments should form one single line but have been split by adjacent parcel points during data migration. Once the line segments are merged into a single line, any adjacent parcel points sitting on the line become line points. The Merge Parcel Courses toolcan be used to merge adjacent line courses that differ by an angle less than the tolerance you specify on the Merge Parcel Courses dialog box.

Regenerating parcel fabric geometry

The Regenerate Fabric tool Regenerate Fabric can be used in an edit session to regenerate the geometries of fabric feature classes. Only geometries are regenerated; no points are moved.

When the parcel is regenerated, the geometries of the parcel polygon and parcel lines are re-created. If there are gaps from line points that do not sit directly on top of their adjacent parcel line, the gap is eliminated, and the adjacent parcel line is regenerated to become coincident with any line points. If there are unclosed parcels that are missing buffer geometries, these buffers geometries are regenerated.

Related Topics