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- View Offline
- 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
Skill Level Beginner
Geospatial data files can be as simple as a single table, or a complex assortment of files that make up a geo database. When working with geographic information, it's important to make sure that you do it inside of an environment that's custom built to understand how geo spatial files work and how to interpret their contents. ArcGIS comes packaged with a program that is built to make sure that you get the most information out of your data files. And it's called ArcCatalog. You might have noticed that it's installed right along ArcMap inside the ArcGIS program group. I'm going to go ahead and start ArcCatalog. I'm going to press the Windows key and either choose the ArcCatalog tile or type in ArcCatalog to search for it.
And choose its tile here, and that'll start up the program. Now our catalog is similar in appearance to ArcMap and it often uses the same interface techniques. So for instance over here on the left instead of a table of contents I have this catalog tree. But I can use the same pin or unpin features here, just like I can with the table of contents in ArcMap. I can also drag the catalog tree and attach it to different areas on my screen. So I can drag it up to the top I can attach it over to the right, and so on. I'm going to drag it and attach it back to the left-hand side here. Now instead of a table of contents, the catalog tree allows me to connect to various data servers that my data might be housed in.
So I can connect to GIS servers or make some database connections or even connect to hosted internet services. In this case, I want to browse files on my local computer. There's a couple of different ways to do that. First I have this folder connections option here, and if I go up to this menu, I'll choose connect to folder, this button right here. When I connect to a folder, that'll allow me to browse my computer and add a specific location to this folder connections option. I'm going to go ahead and choose My Computer, and choose local disk C, and say OK. Now I can get access to my local C drive, and browse all the files within that C drive.
Let's add a couple more. And go up to Connect A Folder here. And this time I'm going to choose my exercise files, which is on my desktop, exercise files. And inside of there, I'm going to choose the data files folder. Once that's selected, I'll go ahead and say OK, and that creates a reference to my data files location. So I can jump right there. Now it comes in with the full name of the path, as the name of the connection. We can change that. I'll just right click on it and say rename, and I'm just going to call this data files. I'm going to get rid of everything else, and we'll collapse this here. So there's my data connection right there.
Now even though I just renamed it to data files, you can see where that path is pointing to down on the status bar at the bottom. So you can see it says c colon users, Adam Wilbert, desktop, exercise files, and then the data files. So that's where that location is going. Regardless of what I've named it up here under folder connections. Let's add one more for our working folder. Once again I'll connect to folder. This time I'll go into my exercise files, data files, and choose the working folder. I'll go ahead and say okay. And one more time I'll rename this to just working. So I'll right click on it, rename, and I'll get rid of everything here.
And press enter, and that adds that folder to my list. Let's go ahead and collapse this C drive again. Now, each time I'm doing that, it's also showing me the same location on the C drive, so it's following the same path into my users, Adam Wilbert and so on. So you can see how creating a connection is a much shorter way than traversing this file path every single time I want to get there. Let's go ahead and remove this C drive connection here. I'll click on it and I can either right-click and say, Disconnect folder Or I can press the same button up here on the toolbar to disconnect from the C drive.
So now I've got two folder connections. One to the data files, and one to the working folder. Now inside of the data files folder, are a couple of additional folders. We'll see them over here on the contents window. Inside of data files, I've got global, Seattle, Washington state, and then that working folder, which is the same folder as referenced here. If I expand the plus sign, I'll see these same folders appear here. And when I expand, for instance, the global folder I'll see all the data files that are inside of there. So for instance, I've got the airport files we were looking at, the graticules, the populated places, and so on that we've been working with in chapter one.
Now the main part of the window right now is showing a display of the contents. And it's showing me a thumbnail version of what these contents are. So, for instance, when I've clicked on populated places, it shows me a thumbnail of those places. Now right now it's showing me just a standard default thumbnail, or just an icon, and we can populate that in just a moment. The next tab over shows preview, and if I choose that it's going to show me a preview of that data that I've just selected. So if I have populated places and taking a look at its preview, it shows me a preview of all these points. If I choose Time Zones and choose Preview, it'll show me a preview of this data.
Now, if I want to make a thumbnail out of this, what I could do is press this button here on the ribbon called Create Thumbnail. And when I press that, it'll create a thumbnail that was viewable when I go to Contents. So now if I switch back to Contents, you can see a new thumbnail instead of the default icon. So, I can go through some of my other data files here. Populated places, go to Preview, and I can create an icon for that as well. So, you can see how this can work, and if I go to Content, I'll see that this now has a preview of what that file looks like. Now, back in that Preview tab we have the option to view the geography which is what we're looking at right now.
Or we can view the attribute table which we looked at in the last movie. So here's my attribute table for the populated places. And you can see we have the same exact functionality that we had inside of ArcMap. I can scroll through, I can see the various field names. I can right click on them and sort them and so on. Let's go ahead and scroll back here to the beginning. And then finally this last tab here says description. The description will give us the metadata about who created this file and why. It takes a little moment to populate so just be patient. And there we go, we have a quick description, the name of the file, the icon that we just gave it and if we had some summary information, that would all appear here about the who created it, when, why if there's any use limitations and so on.
Lets go back to the contents preview. So our catalog is the primary way that we will interact with the data files on our computer. So over here we're seeing this global folder and all the different files within that folder and for instance we have that 10 meter airports file and it's showing up as a single file. If I were to go out to Windows, let me minimize our catalog here. And go into my exercise files folder, and into the data files. And then into the global folder. We'll see that those airport files are actually a whole bunch of files that all work together. So that's why we want to interact with our files only within our catalog.
If we were to rename the airports file, or move it to a new location, we want to make sure that those changes happen to all the files at exactly the same time. Let me go ahead and close the Window Explorer window and move back into ArcCatalog here. Inside of ArcCatalog, it works just like Windows Explorer, so if I want to move the file around, all I need to do is click on it and drag it to a new location. So for instance, I can drag airports and drop it in the Seattle folder, or I can move it back. Let me go back in here and drag it back out and drop it back in the global folder. So it works exactly the same way as what you're probably used to as far as moving and renaming files.
To rename them you would just right click on it and rename them there. Now the functionality in our catalogue is so useful that they've actually built in a small version of it inside of ArcMap. So let me switch over to ArcMap real quick and I'll show you what that functionality looks like. I'm going to go ahead and start up ArcMap. And I don't need to open up any file for this, so I'll just cancel out of the Getting Started screen. And if you remember back to the very beginning we had this Catalog option over here on the far right. I'll go ahead and click it and I'll pin it open so it stays open for a moment. Now the Catalog option is exactly the same as that file tree over on the left-hand side in our Catalog.
We have the option to browse through our folder connections. And you can see the same folder connections have come across over here to the catalog window inside of ArcMap. We have access to the same folder. The global folder. And decided there's our airport data and so on. So we can browse our data files right in here in ArcMap as well as ArcCatalog. So I'd estimate that about half the time spent making a map is really spent inside of ArcCatalog, gathering and organizing your data, and making sure that it's prepared properly before attempting to visualize it in ArcMap. ArcCatalog is a key component of the ArcGIS suite, and helps you maintain all of your geospatial assets in a single location.