QT056 – Quickly Navigating Text Fields with Ctrl+Arrow

Working in GIS, often you need to save or navigate to files with extraordinary long path names or file names. Today I have a very small tip to let you edit those a little faster, and that can be useful not only in ArcGIS but also in most applications where you enter text into a field.

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Quick Tip 55 – Backups, Dropbox, and Editing Carefully

A general principle when working with digital files is to save frequently. When working in ArcGIS, QGIS, or working with geospatial files generally, another good idea is to iterate frequently. Saving frequently will help preserve work in case of crashes or power outages, but if you make a mistake and accidentally erase needed data, saving will do little to prevent that, unless you have been saving multiple copies of the file.

Usually, whenever I am making a change to a file that has not been changed in a while, or whenever I am making a significant change, I will make a copy, append _v2 to the name, and work with that file_v2.shp. This way, if something goes terribly wrong while I am working on complicated_border_analysis_v5.shp, I can load up _v4, instead of having to recreate the whole thing from scratch.

Another measure that makes it easier to recover from errors is using Dropbox. This week, I made a copy of a file that had lots of data, of which I needed three attributes. I then deleted all but those three attributes from the copy. Except I copied the wrong file and then actually deleted the attributes from the original file. It was not a disaster, though, because these files were saved on Dropbox, which has version recovery: it just took a minute or two to remove it from ArcGIS, look through Dropbox’s event history to find the file.dbf, file.shp, and file.shp.xml, revert them back to the previous version, and load that in ArcGIS to verify that all the data had been restored.

It is less about the specifics of whether you use Dropbox, GeoGit, OneDrive, Git, or some other cloud tool, or whether you manually or automatically iterate files, and more that you have thought out a plan to deal with these issues. Because that forethought can save a lot of annoyance later on.

Quick Tip 53 – Changing Field Ordering in Attribute Tables

ArcGIS 10.2.2

If you are working with census data, or any other dataset that has many fields in an attribute table, chances are the fields you are interested in will not be right next to each other. Fortunately, there is a simple way to change the field order so you can line up all the fields you are interested in.

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Quick Tip 52 – Making Sense of Slope in ArcGIS

ArcGIS 10.0.0

Elevation and slope are pretty fundamental data that are necessary for a large number of GIS applications. Almost every project that I have worked on at my job has required an analysis of slope to satisfy various requirements, and there are a few common trip-ups when working with slope in ArcGIS that I am going to discuss today: z-factors, slope as degrees versus slope as percent rise, and anomalously high percent rise values.

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Quick Tip 51 – Magnifier Windows in ArcGIS

ArcGIS 10.2.2

Yesterday I covered the viewer window, and today I am going to cover its closely related relative, the Magnifier window. To recap, one of the main advantages of using these windows vs. zooming the map is that the magnifier window will load and reload imagery without causing the main map display to reload data. This can save you a lot of annoyance if you have really extensive datasets or lots of datasets loaded up in ArcGIS.

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