Useful ArcMap tools: using Customize menu

There are a great number of useful tools available in ArcMap. Some of them most of Desktop users are familiar with, but some are not so well-known. Yet there are lots of handy tools one is not aware of just because they are not added to the standard toolbars by default, so it is not easy to get access to them. Today, I want to share with you just some of such tools – extremely helpful yet somewhat hard to find.

Eye Dropper
Imagine you have added a map service from an ArcGIS Server which represents the US states administrative boundaries layer. The features were symbolized as polygons with the pale yellow fill and the dark brown contours. Then you have added another map service which represents the shaded relief. If you draw the states over the shaded relief service, you cannot see the relief data. If the relief layer is drawn on top – the states polygons are not visible. The solution for this would be to make a certain color (the states map service polygon fill color) transparent while using the service in ArcMap. You are able to choose which color will be set as a background color for a map service while it is drawn in the ArcMap session. Activate the map service layer properties > Advanced tab > Transparent color section. But how do you know which color is used for the polygon fill? Here is when the Eye Dropper tool comes into play. Use the ArcMap main menu > Customize > Customize Mode > Commands tab > Page Layout in the Categories list. You will find the Eye Dropper tool in the Commands: list. After you have added the tool to a toolbar, activate the tool and click somewhere on the polygon fill area. The Color window pop-ups where you can obtain the RGB value of the color used. These values you want to use to define the color when setting up the transparent color in the map service layer properties. You can also use this tool to communicate the color values to someone who use a graphics processing or design software and need to find out quickly the color used for drawing any features on your map.

Load Objects
First, you will need to add the Load Objects tool to a toolbar in your ArcMap session. This tool lets you load features into a feature class from another feature class while respecting certain mapping and geodatabase behavior rules. For instance, you can set to honor the current snapping environment of your ArcMap session which lets you snap the features coordinates as they load in case the features do not match precisely at the vertices, for instance. Another thing is that the tool takes into consideration attribute domains and geometric network connectivity rules. ArcMap will even add a record to the linked annotation feature class as each feature is loaded in case you load data into a feature class that has feature-linked annotation set up. Very handy and powerful tool indeed.

Map Service Publishing toolbar in 10.1
Have you ever wanted to check the performance of your map in 10.1 when published as a map service but did not want to go through the fairly long publishing process with the File > Share as workflow? Or do you miss the Map Service Publishing toolbar from 9.3.1? Use the Preview Map tool which lets you preview the map as it will be drawn in ArcGIS Server.  This and other tools from the Map Service Publishing toolbar introduced in 9.3.1 yet not any longer available in ArcGIS 10.1 are available from the ArcMap main menu > Customize > Customize Mode > Commands tab > Map Service Publishing category. This will get the Prepare window display, too, so you can check if there are any issues that could potentially influence the map service performance.

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