Join Adam Wilbert for an in-depth discussion in this video Exploring ArcToolbox, part of ArcGIS Essential Training.
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- One of the biggest features of ArcGIS is its powerful geoprocessing capabilities. Geoprocessing, which is sometimes referred to, simply, as GP, is any operation or transformation that you apply to a set of input data. Once the geoprocessing task is complete, an output file is saved with resulting modified, or created, features. All of the geoprocessing tools that you have access to are found in an additional window, called ArcToolbox. Now, I want to start up a new ArcMap document. I could start ArcMap the normal way, but since I'm inside of ArcCatalog at the moment, I'm just going to press this button, up here, to launch ArcMap.
From the Getting Started screen, I'm going to choose My Templates, and then Blank Map. Before I press OK, I'm going to take a look down here where it says the Default geodatabase for this map. I can see that it's currently saved inside of my Documents folder, a folder called ArcGIS, and then the Default.gdb. In just a moment, we're going to change our default geodatabase for this particular map file. For now, just leave it the way it is. Go ahead and say OK, and a new map document is created. In order to open up the ArcToolbox window, I'm going to come up to the Standard Toolbar, and press this button right here.
That'll open up a new window on the screen. This window functions just like all of our other windows. I can drag it around the screen, and I can dock it wherever I'd like. Traditionally, most people put the ArcToolbox right over here, to the right side of the Table of Contents. We can also Pin it, so that it automatically hides, if we like. I'm going to go ahead and make sure that it stays pinned, so it's locked on. Now, before we start digging into the various toolboxes to see all of the tools that are inside of here, I want to take a look at this Geoprocessing menu, at the top. The Geoprocessing menu includes a couple of commonly-used tools, including the Dissolve tool that we'll use in just a moment.
Let's skip over all of these, and take a look at this Search For Tools option, here. When I click on Search For Tools, it just opens up the standard Search tab that we have, usually, over here on the right. It jumps over to the Tools group. We can use this to search for tools by keyword, rather than trying to find them by navigating through all of these folder structures inside of ArcToolbox. We can also get to the Search option by clicking on this button, over here, or just opening up Search, and switching to this Tools group. Let me go ahead and click off of it, and the Search tab will disappear. Let's go back to Geoprocessing. We'll notice that we have another way that we can launch the ArcToolbox.
This option, here, is exactly the same as this button back over here. Let's take a look at this Environments setting. The Environments set global options that will apply to most of the tools. Such as, if we go into Output Coordinates, we can make sure that all of our output data follows into the same coordinate system. Or, if I scroll down, we can make sure that all of our rasters follow the same parameters. Let's go ahead and just say OK, without making any changes. Next up, in the Geoprocessing Menu, is this Results window. If I click on it, you can see a Results window opens up on the screen. The Results window will allow you to view a log of the current session's geoprocessing tasks, and any status messages or errors that the tools have returned.
At this point, there's nothing in it, because we haven't run any tools. Let's just go ahead and close the Results window. Finally, in the Geoprocessing menu, we have an option, here, for Geoprocessing Options. That'll give us the option to either log geoprocessing tasks to a file that we can refer to, or enable or disable background processing. Let's just leave our Options the way they are, and say OK. Let's go ahead and start using one of the geoprocessing tools. I'm going to go ahead and open up the Catalog window, over here, and browse into my Folder Connections, ExerciseFiles. I'm going to go to Chapter<u>07, Chapter</u>07_Data, inside of the States_Provinces.gdb, and find the States_Provinces file.
Let's go ahead and click, and drag and drop it over in the Layers panel. Also, in the Catalog window, I want to set the default location where my geoprocessing results will save. We saw that, earlier, the default geodatabase was inside of Documents, in ArcGIS. Inside of Catalog, we can see it's highlighted here, in bold font. If I want to change that, I just find a different geodatabase. For instance, inside of Chapter_07 folder, I have one called GeoprocessingOutput.gdb. If I click the plus, you'll see that it's just an empty geodatabase right now. What I can do is right-click on it, and say Make Default Geodatabase. Now, any geoprocessing task that I run will default to saving in this geodatabase.
What I want to do, for this particular map, is consolidate all of my states into single countries. If I press the Identify tool, here, and then just click on one of my states, here, we can see all of the different attributes that are associated with each of our states. If I scroll to the very bottom, we'll see that we have a field, called admin, here. It has the name of the country that it's in. What we can do with the Dissolve tool is combine all of the states, that have the same country, into a single feature. Essentially, what we're going to do is create a layer that, instead of showing States and Provinces, will just show world countries. We'll go ahead and close the Identify tool, and start the Dissolve tool.
I can find it, here, by going up to the Geoprocessing menu, and finding Dissolve, since it's a common tool. Let's go ahead and try and find it a different way. Instead, I'll click Search for Tools, which will open up the Search window, over here. We'll do a keyword search for Dissolve. When I do, it shows me all the different tools that have the word Dissolve in them. The one I want, here, is the second one, the Dissolve (Data Management). If I move my mouse over this file path, here, we can see it's inside data management tools, generalization, and dissolve. Let's go ahead and go find that inside of ArcToolbox, instead of running it directly from here.
Inside of ArcToolbox, I'm going to find Data Management Tools. It's this group, here. Inside of that, let's look for a folder called Generalization. We'll go ahead and expand it. Inside of there is where the Dissolve tool lives. In order to run the tool, I'll simply double-click on it. The Dissolve tool requires a couple of things. I need some Input Features. I need to know where to save it. And, I need to know which fields I'm going to Dissolve by. For the Input Features, I can either use the drop-down list to choose from available features that are currently in my map document. I could choose Browse, here, to find a new file.
Or, I could simply just drag and drop from my Table of Contents, and drop it right here on Input Features. Next, it wants to know where it's going to save. The Output Feature Class, now, is going to go into that GeoprocessingOutput.gdb. If I click on it, I can see where it's going to save. It's going to save it with the name States<u>Provinces</u>Dissolve. Let's just go ahead and accept this default name. Finally, we need to know which fields we're going to Dissolve on. If I scroll down to the bottom, I can find the one called admin. I'll place a check in it, and say OK. As the Dissolve tool runs, you can see a little notation down here in the bottom.
If I'm quick, I can click on it to open up the Results window. Here, I can keep an eye on my tool to see what's going on. If the tool seems like it's stuck, what we can do is right-click on it, and stop the tool from here. But, this tool finished too quickly. What I can do is, if I wanted to, I can double-click on Dissolve to reopen it with the same parameters that I just had. Let's go ahead and close this out, and close the Results window. Now, the Dissolve tool has finished, and it added the new feature to my map. I can see that I have this States<u>Provinces</u>Dissolve, which is now just showing me countries. If I go ahead and take a look in the Catalog window, the inside of my GeoprocessingOutput.gdb, I can expand it to see that the new feature class has been saved inside of that.
As you can see, there's a ton of power in the geoprocessing tools within the ArcToolbox. We've barely scratched the surface of what's available. Depending on your particular ArcGIS license level, and what add-on extensions you've activated, there might even be more tools available to you. Since the ArcToolbox tools are built right inside of both ArcMap and ArcCatalog, they're always at your fingertips, ready to help you with your geospatial analysis. If you just can't remember the name of the tool that you're looking for or, more often, which category group it's buried within, remember that the Search window can help you quickly locate it, and even allow you to run it directly.
- Getting to know the ArcMap interface
- Geocoding addresses
- Measuring distances
- Adding and importing data
- Labeling and adding graphs
- Editing layer properties
- Seeing multiple views
- Making selections
- Exploring geospatial data with ArcCatalog
- Working with vector and raster data
- Styling the map
- Adding your own data
- Using the ModelBuilder
- Adding a legend and annotations