James D. Carroll


More info:

Refer to the links below to learn more about the use of different ArcMAP tools and resources.


- Interface Customization

- Create New Toolbar

- Spatial Techniques Custom Tools


Customization for ArcMAP

The Problem

This exercise is an introduction to the customization capabilities within ArcGIS Desktop software to create a more usable and efficient interface working environment. The first task is to create a new Toolbar containing 5 new tools and a drop-down menu with 2 new tools. The second task is to download and install the Run EasyCalculate add-in tool, and then use it to calculate the polygon centroids for the XCENTER and YCENTER fields for the Police Districts layer for the final task of the exercise geoprocess. The third task is to create another new toolbar with 4 tools. The fourth task is to customize a context menu with two new tools. All toolbars and tools were to be features which are not in the default ArcMAP tools set. The new tools are to be tested and and verified for usability, and then the geodatabase for the map file is to be edited and saved in a transportable map format.


The ESRI Tutorial 3, Chapter 6, Customizing the Interface was used as reference material and for instructions. The ArcMAP Customize Mode/Customize toolbox and tools will be used to customize the ArcMap interface, and will also be used to manually modify the new toolbars, tools, and context menu as necessary for better usability. The Run EasyCalculate add-in tool wll be used to perform polygon centroid calculations, and the geodatabase will be configured with only the necessary layers and features, and then produce a transportable map file.


Part One:
1. Open the ESRI Tutorial 6-1.mxd file.
2. Determine the necessary data files, features, and attributes needed for the customization and geoprocess.
3. Verify and configure the Coordinate system for the map file.
4. Use the Customize Mode/Customize dialog box and Toolbar/Command tabs to make a new "New Tools" toolbar with 5 tools (Tool #1, Tool #2, Tool #3, Tool #4, Tool #5) and a "New Menu" for a drop-down menu, Snap Shapes, with 2 tools (Tool #6, Tool #7). These tools with be manually modified for usability.
4. a. In the Toolbars tab select "New" option and name a new toolbar, "New Toolbar #1". From the Command tab drag the five selected tools into this new toolbar, then Right click the new tools and select "Image and Text" to edit their configurations.

4.b. Then select "New Menu" in the Command tab and drag it into the new toolbar, this will create a drop-down menu. Right click and change its name to "New Menu 1". Drag two new tools from the Command tab into it. Right click and edit their name and comfiguration.

5. Repeat the method for #4.b. to make a the new drop-down toolbar "New Toolbar #2", Right click the Edit its configuration also.
6. Next, in the Toolbars tab select "Context Menu". Select and open the Context Menu, the scroll to view and select a menu to add new tools to. From the Command tab select and drag each new tool into the selected context menu.

7. Save as the map to a "New_Name".mxd file
8. Add the PoliceDistricts_Boundaries and Police Districts feature layers to the data frame.
9. Add two new fields to the Police Districts layer named XCENTER and YCENTER.
10. Locate and Download ESRI Add-in "Run EasyCalculate" from the website:
11. Install Run EasyCalculate into ArcGIS.
12. Add the Run EasyCalculate Tool to the first new toolbar which was created. Using the Customize Mode/Customize in the Commands tab select "Add-In Controls", and add-in to the first new created toolbar.
13. Run the add-in tool Run EasyCalculate to calculate the X and Y values for the Police Districts polygon centroids. Select category "geometry", Select Expression "polygon_Get_X_Center, Select Police District feature layer and the newly defined fields. Run the tool to populate the field. Repeat the same process for the YCENTER field.

14. Edit the geodatabase to include only the one feature class, Police Districts, showing the new toolboxes and calculated fields.
15. Save the new map and geodatabase files to integrate the new tools for future use.


The knowledge learned in this assignment will be very useful for customizing anyone's ArcMap interface. It is usually one of the first things learned about and implemented for new software. It is very important to make the interface more efficient, usable, and faster for how someone works. Unfortunately, usually one needs enough experience with a software before knowing what is important for the type of work done, and what functions best for specific tasks, especially often repeated actions.
I did find there were a few minor issues which had to be dealt with during the ArcMAP interface customization process. First, it was necessary to become more familiar with the Customize Mode interface and its nuances to use it well. Secondly, the new toolbars will not necessarily maintain their new size and configuration/settings. Third, it is necessary to first install the Run EasyCalculate add-in to ArcMAP on another computer which is being used to test a transportable map file, otherwise the new populated fields will be missing. The Run EasyCalculate add-in is a very useful feature to have for use in ArcMAP.

Words of Wisdom for Living with GIS Uncertainty:

  1. Understand what you don't know about your data. Read the metadata. Don't use data that have no provenance and cannot be researched.
  2. Investigate alternative outcomes using what you know about the error in your data. Try to get a sense of how wrong your analysis might be.
  3. Rely on multiple data sources if you can. Datasets produced in different ways by different vendors can act as checks and balances on error.
  4. Document your own uncertainty in the notes you publish with your analysis.


The End