For Users: Some Tips & Tricks

Tips for Version 2... Clean/Build Functions...3D Functions...3D Solids Design

Set Palette Text in CAD Working in Projections
Fixing Junk Lines Tracing Bad Data Tricks with Grid Maker
Multiple BG Colour Shapefile Mismatch Overlaying Features
Tricks with Move Make Donuts Tricks XY Locations
Why UnMerge? Polygon Merge Dashed Lines
Lat/Long plotting Masking Images Character Limit
Wizards Tools Work Together Comments & Update


Set Palette (Top)

Prior to drawing any graphics in ArcView set the palette for a Colour fill and a line width of 2. This sets the graphics characteristics for the whole session. You can see the results of a graphics preview and from the 'features to graphics' tool.

Text in CAD (Top)

Before you AutoExtract CAD, open the table document and look for the TEXT field. Usually it is not checked 'on'. This is normal for the CAD reader. But the AutoExtract filters out, (does not include) any unchecked fields, this is done so you may decide in advance what fields you want. If you want text, then check the TEXT field.

Working in Projections (Top)

Have you run some functions only to find that your results disappear? You are likely working in a projected view. Do not run any serious processing in projected format. Projections are only screen coordinates modified in the view (that is, only a view is projected), and do not represent actual coordinates in RAM or on your hard drive. We have tried to have theEngine function in projected mode only to find that yes, it can be done, no problem, but it is slow and slower beyond belief. Thus we concluded that it is better to work unprojected first then project later, the lesser of two evils.

If you have run Projector.avx and rewritten the data, then call it up another clean view. Also you might recalculate the area, length etc. See 'Modify Data Table' for this.

Fixing Junk Lines (Top)

Two types of line problems are purposely left out of the automatic clean in the Topo builders for reasons of speed. First is the situation of large and small gaps being in the same file. You must manually close large gaps, and then set a tolerance for the small ones. Do not set a tolerance value that will span small pieces, and overrun your data.

Secondly, a single line that crosses itself a few times at one end is usually OK, but if both ends do that, then it may not split itself, in which case you will have to do it manually. See Fix Things for this tool.

Tracing Bad Data (Top)

Sometime hidden coordinates (like a vectorized font) in your data, can cause a crash. And if your data is large, it will be tough to find. A good technique is to run the grid maker in Fix Things to divide your map up into smaller 'grid' rectangles. Then select features grid-by-grid, and run the problem function until you find the grid where the problem is. Then look for the offending data.

Remember the grid maker produces a graphics preview that should be committed to a line file. You may also run Topo on this to make a polygon file, which in turn can be used as the selection theme.

Tricks with Grid Maker (Top)

The grid maker gives you first a graphic preview that you can edit, then a polyline shapefile, then a polygon shapefile, if you run Topo. And of course, you also get the node points if you run Topo. Save these points, they contain the XY coordinates of the grid intersections. Use them to Autolabel coordinates in or about your map.

A grid polygon file can also be attributed into zones (see 'Modify Data Table' and 'Edit Record' functions). You can now cut up your map into zones using the 'Intersect' function. Used frequently to cut up large maps into booklet sized ones.

The grid polygon file can be band buffered to form a very nice mask for photos or as a peek-a-boo for features.

See also 'Tracing Bad Data' above, and a great example on bottom of the 3D Extrude page.

Multiple Background Colour (Top)

Who would care? The grid polygon as described above serves this purpose, but remember you can stretch it to be larger than the map it is a background for, and then zoom in so you get a complete multi-colour background fill.

A Two-Colour checkerboard is a good example of a useful multi-coloured background.

What some do, is to use this as the floor in a 3D view of stacked vector files, using the '3D Extrude'. Note that you do not need to 'extrude' when you use this function, you can have many files stacked on Top of each other with a flat perspective look. The separation of each file is done by using the 'translate' function to move files vertically away from each other a precise amount. The multi-coloured grid is a good visual reference.

Avoiding Shapefile Mismatch (Top)

A familiar ArcView 'peculiarity' is that it could scramble up a shapefile when you delete more than one record at a time. Also familiar to long term G_Image and theEngine users is the work around for this. If you are concerned about your data, then use theEngine procedure as follows:

Select the records you want to delete. Select as many as you want. Open the table. Flip the table (there is an icon for this).

Now only the things you want are selected. Go back to the View. Run 'ExtractSel w/Attributes', and you will get a new file containing just the data you want.

Thus, the 'peculiarity' is avoided.

Features on Top of Each Other (Top)

Go to 'Super Buffer', and see the last example at the bottom of the page. Keep in mind that while the example is for points, there is no reason it cannot be used for lines or polygons.

This same technique can be used for multistory buildings, for example.

Tricks with Move (Top)

The move, stretch, rotate, 3D, and Georeferencing tools work on selected features, as well as complete files. This gives you CAD-like operations for editing single or groups of features.

The most common editing trick is to pull unwanted features off-map (to the edge of your view) to a 'grouping' location. When you are finished, select the unwanted items, flip the table to reverse the selection to the wanted items. Then 'ExtractSel' to a new file.

Make Donuts Tricks (Top)

The 'Make Donuts' function is not just for correcting Topo building errors. It turns out to be very useful for setting polygons within polygons for any purpose, or to simply make holes in polygons. Use the move tool to pull inner islands away from the center to do this.

XY Locations (Top)

To label XY locations on a map, just run the 'Collect Many' function on selected points and the XY coordinates are written to the database. First, Autolabel the X field, press F8 to activate the fonts, mouse move these a bit, deselect, then run Autolabel on the Y field.

You may also extract points from line or polygon features for this purpose. Use the 'Feature-to-Graphics' tool, convert to points with 'Assemble', select the points you want, then run 'Collect Many'.

Why UnMerge? (Top)

Sometimes a single record contains more than one feature. For example, a single polyline record can actually be many individual polylines merged into one. A single polygon can be constructed of many (in one record) as is usually the case of island structures. The UnMerge functions separate these into a single record for each.

Polygon Merge (Top)

Want to merge a bunch of polygons into one. Simply buffer (use 'merge' option) with zero distance.

Dashed Lines Not Wanted? (Top)

If you find that some incoming data has dashed lines (some indeed actually do), first use the 'Features-to Graphics' tool, clicking onto only one dash to find out if the dashed line is merged (see above). If so, you will see all dashes in that record as a graphic (otherwise you will see just one dash), in either case extract the lines to a new working file. If merged, run the UnMerge function (under 'Fix Things').

Run the 'Join' function to close the gaps if needed, and/or 'Polyline Topo Preview' (with 'Renode' option 'on') to make one line out of it.

Save it to a new file if necessary. But also send it to the original file. If you need to attach attributes, do that first. Select both the dashed line(s) and the new one, open the table, reselect only the dashed lines, return to the view, and with the move tool, pull then off map (see Tricks With Move above). Continue editing as usual.

Lat/Long plotting (Top)

The 'Eyeglass' button will switch from local or Lat/Long plotting depending on how you call up an image. So to get Lat/Long plotting just bring up one dummy image, to any Lat/Long location (you don't care where, it is only a switch), turn it off, and run the 'Eyeglasses'. Go to 'Modify Data Table' to calculate the equivalent decimal degrees.

Masking Images (Top)

Draw polygons over the parts of an image(s) you wish to see, do this first, then draw a rectangle over the complete image(s). Run 'Collect Many', then 'Make Donuts'. Pull the polygons you drew first out of the holes to expose the image(s), (that is, with the move tool pull them off map, and commit). Make sure the masking file is on Top of the image(s), open the legend and make both the outline and main part of the mask white.

Fix Character Limit in Table (Top)

You can make the number of characters available in a field larger than is allowed in ArcView by opening up the DBF part of the shapefile triplex in a database program. Set the new size, and save it back to a DBF file (careful about this part).

Wizards . . . (Top)

The buffer and geoprocessing wizards in ArcView 3.1 do not recalculate any attribute data, including area, perimeter, or length. If you don't care about attributes (and use the Wizards), but do about areas etc. then run 'Modify Data Table' afterwards to fix this.

Comments & Current Update (Top)

Version 2 is now shipping, and you should have received it by now. If not, please email us for a free update.

The community of theEngine users continues to grow. And of course, the more it does the more time we can spend developing it. So please tell your associates, or the 'L' list about us. Cheers!


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We would like to hear from you, but if you do not have theEngine, we cannot answer any ArcView technical questions. Naturally, from our point of view, if you use ArcView and don't have theEngine, you are seriously wasting your time.