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What's new for editing in ArcGIS 10

At ArcGIS 10, the ArcMap editing environment gets an updated look with streamlined access to functionality, a new feature template palette for creating features, and a more interactive snapping environment. The result is reduced button clicks, simpler workflows, and quicker completion times for all your data compilation tasks.

Enhancements to the general editing environment and user interface

The first major difference you will notice is the redesign of the Editor toolbar. Items from the Task list have been converted to individual tools and redeployed on the Editor toolbar, the Topology toolbar, and a few other places where they are combined with other tools that function in a similar environment. Other items such as the Select by Line and Select by Polygon items are now capabilities within the standard selection functionality, so they are available outside the editing environment as well. The Target list (which was built on a geodatabase-centric view of the data) has been replaced with a new concept, feature templates. Templates are used to define the types of objects that you create on a map or layout.

Starting an edit session

At ArcGIS 10, there are two main ways to start an edit session: by clicking the Editor menu on the Editor toolbar or by right-clicking a layer in the table of contents, which automatically starts an edit session on the entire workspace containing that layer. If you use the Editor menu to start editing on a data frame that contains data from multiple workspaces, you are prompted to choose the workspace to edit. The dialog box that appears when you start editing with multiple workspaces in the map has been redesigned to show more clearly the layers in the map and workspaces containing them.

When ArcMap encounters any issues when starting an edit session on the data you chose, a dialog box now appears with a list of the specific error messages. You can double-click each problem to open a help topic that provides more information and a solution.

Creating features using feature templates

Creating features is accomplished through the use of feature templates. Feature templates define all the information required to create a feature: the layer where a feature will be stored, the attributes a feature is created with, and the default tool used to create that feature. Templates also have a name, description, and tags that can help you find and organize them. If templates are not present when you start editing, they are automatically created for each layer in the current editing workspace. Templates are saved in the map document (.mxd) and the layer file (.lyr).

Editing using templates is a very map-centric user experience. Templates are displayed with a symbol and a user-defined name. The symbol represents how objects created using the template will appear on the map (by virtue of their target layers' symbology and their default attributes). Once created, templates can be added, updated, copied, and deleted depending on your needs. Adding a new feature is now as simple as clicking on the type you want from the window and defining the feature on the map. There is no need to define the target, set the task, and activate the Sketch tool.

A new window, the Create Features window, is the central place to create and manage templates. The Create Features window has three main components: a toolbar to manage your templates and their properties, a list of templates used to create new features, and a set of tools used to define the features' shape.

Anytime you create features on the map, you start with the Create Features window. Choosing a feature template on the Create Features window sets up the editing environment based on that feature template's properties; this action sets the target layer in which your new features will be stored, activates a feature construction tool, and prepares to assign the default attributes to the feature you create. To reduce clutter, templates are hidden on the Create Features window when layers are not visible.

The top panel of the Create Features window shows the templates in the map, while the bottom panel of the window lists the tools available to create features of that type. The availability of the feature creation tools, or construction tools, depends on the type of template you have selected at the top of the window. For example, when a line template is active, you can see a set of tools for creating line features. If you choose an annotation template instead, the available tools change to those that can be used to create annotation.

The Annotation and Dimensioning toolbars have been removed in ArcGIS 10, as their tools are now integrated into the Editor toolbar and Create Features windows. The process to create new annotation and dimension features is similar to creating other types of features: choose a template and a construction tool and click the map to create the feature.