Up and Running with ArcGIS
Illustration by John Hersey

Up and Running with ArcGIS

with Adam Wilbert

Video: Creating new data files

Not all geospatial data comes from field surveys. I'm going to leave the .gdb extension to indicate that this is a file geo database.

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with ArcGIS
3h 13m Beginner Mar 11, 2014

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Get up and running with ArcGIS, a true geographic information system (GIS) that allows you to dig into highly accurate geospatial data in a way other mapping applications can't compete with. It's great creating maps, analyzing data for land use studies and other reports, and preparing data for use in an application or database. Let Adam Wilbert show you how to display, analyze, and illustrate geospatial data with ArcGIS. He explores how to import data from multiple sources, manage it with the ArcGIS catalog, and then start making maps. Learn how to lay out your data in the ArcMap component; add symbols, scale bars, and legends; and get your maps out of ArcGIS and into the real world, whether it's for printing or export to another application.

Topics include:
  • Understanding vector vs. raster data
  • Modifying metadata
  • Adding data to a map
  • Importing data from online providers
  • Labeling features
  • Joining data
  • Clipping data to a study area
  • Working with map layouts
  • Creating a legend
  • Printing and exporting the map to a file
Business Developer IT
Adam Wilbert

Creating new data files

Not all geospatial data comes from field surveys. In fact, sometimes you can create your data set right inside of ArcGIS. In order to start, though, we'll need to set up the data files and set up all the parameters in order to give our data a place to live. Then, once that's done, we can populate the files with the features and attributes that we want to store. We're going to start the process here in our catalog. Instead of the data files folder, there's a working folder that we can save our file to. I'm going to right click on it and go down to the new option. Now, we have lots of different things that we can create inside of this working folder.

I can create new additional folders. I can create a file geo database or a personal geo database. I can create new layer groups, or new shape files. I want to choose to create a new file geo database. I'll go ahead and select that option, and then it appears in my contents panel over here. Now I'm going to go ahead and give it a new name. I'm going to highlight it, and click on it again, and I'm going to highlight this text here, and I'm going to call this Seattle Buildings. I'm going to leave the .gdb extension to indicate that this is a file geo database. I'll go ahead and press enter, and my geo database is saved. Let's go ahead and expand the working folder over here, and we'll see it here.

Now if I expand my geo database, you'll see there's nothing inside of it. So now we need to put stuff into the geo database. Let's go ahead and right-click on it. And I'm going to go down into the Import section. One way that we can bring stuff into our geo database is to create files inside of it. I'm going to choose to import a single feature class. Here. That'll load up a window, that allows me to include a new feature class into my geo database. Let's go ahead and look into our Seattle folder here, and then inside of the Seattle neighborhoods. We'll see a neighborhood shape file. Let's go ahead and bring a copy of that into our geodatabase.

I'll just click it here, and drag it and drop it on the input features section here. And so it's going to input the neighborhoods into our Seattle buildings geo database. We need to give it a new name though instead of our geo database. I'm just going to call it neighborhoods. Once that's done, I'll press okay. And ArcMap will process the request. And it'll place a copy of the neighborhoods shape file inside of our geo database to keep all of our data organized. I can expand that and see it here. Now, that's importing data into our Geo Database. Another way that we can get items into the Geo database is to create them directly inside of here.

So once again, I'm going to right click on my Seattle building's geo database, go down to new and this time, I'm going to create a new feature dataset that will store some outlines of some buildings that we'll create in the next movie. Let's go over here to feature class. We're going to go ahead and give our new feature class a name. And for this we're going to be storing information about buildings in Seattle. I'll call it Seattle Buildings. We can give it an alias that'll show up in our table of contents. I'll call it Seattle Buildings, but with a space between em. And next we can choose which type of feature we're going to be storing. We have the option of polygon features, line features, point features, and so on.

Really starting to, building footprints, so that's going to be a polygon feature class. Let's go ahead and say next. The next option asks me which coordinate system I'm going to be using for my new feature. Now it's identified already the NAV 83 HARN State Plane, Washington South projection system because that's the same system that our neighborhoods file is already in. So by default It wants everything in the geo database to be the same projection and coordinate system. Well go ahead and accept that default and go ahead and say next. Here, we can just accept the default tolerance and resolution. Go ahead and say next again and again the default configuration keywords, go ahead and say next.

The next thing we to do is tell it which attributes we like to keep track of in our Seattle buildings file. We've already got a couple of attributes for object ID and shape. I'm going to add a new one for name, by typing in name here in the field name. It's data type is going to be text. The next thing I want to know is the date that the building was opened. So I'll call it, date opened. And we'll also store that as text there. And the last thing I want to do is include a website, or a URL for this particular building. So I'll call it website. And that once again will be a text data type. Okay, once those three are in, go ahead and say finish, and we get a new feature class including our Seattle buildings here.

Now if we try to take a look at its preview, we'll see that there's nothing here in the geography, and if I switch my preview to the table view, you'll see we have no attributes either. So that's how you create new shape files of geodatabases in ArcCatalog. It's a perfect example of how this program fits into the ArcGIS suite. Now that our file is all prepared, it's time to add the actual location information. The points, lines, and polygons and attributes that we want to store. And we'll do that back in ArcMap.

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