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ePermit Boundary Shapefile Submittal Support Training Series. Shapefile Creation in ArcGIS. Making the Boundary Shapefile from an AutoCAD DWG. The Basic Workflow. There are several different workflows that can be used.

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The Basic Workflow
  • There are several different workflows that can be used.
  • All of the them are good as long as the submitted shapefile meets DMP GIS specifications.

Source CAD Drawing

ArcGIS Shapefile

Boundaries Only DWG

Save Down or Export

Attach to GIS Map

the source cad file
The Source CAD File
  • It is your decision whether to make any changes to the layer structure in your current CAD template.
  • The object is to move certain selected elements from the source CAD drawing into a separate DWG file that will containonly those features required by the DMP.
  • If placing these features on different layers, renaming layers, or establishing any other standards that facilitate an eventual export, copy, or save down into this separate DWG will speed or enhance this process, then you might make these types of modifications to your CAD workflow.
  • The challenge on the CAD side is to make this process as seamless and easy as possible. Ideally, once the separate specific boundary DWG is created, the CAD operator should not have to perform any additional edits or modifications, and should be ready to attach this DWG to an ArcMap project immediately and begin attributing the features.
  • How you, as CAD operators, get to this point is up to you, as only you know what will work best within the CAD framework and software you operate with.
the boundary dwg
The Boundary DWG
  • Kentucky Single Zone Coordinate System
  • Contain only the following features
    • Proposed Boundary
    • Current Approved Boundary
    • Fills
    • Permanent Impoundments
    • Haul Roads
    • Bonding Increment Boundaries (if applicable)
  • All features must be closed polygon elements.
  • Make sure to save the DWG down to ACAD version 2007.
  • For haul roads, the polygon area would be the right of way edges but if the roads are polylines these could be buffered into polygons.
  • The DMP Shapefile Specification can be downloaded from the website at document contains detailed information regarding the shapefile format.
creating the shapefile
Creating the Shapefile
  • Start ArcMap
  • Set the Coordinate System of the Shapefile to Kentucky Single Zone NAD83 units in feet.
  • OR – simply attach the empty shapefile Empty_DMP_Shapefile.shp to the Table of Contents (TOC) and the coordinate system will automatically set to the proper values.
  • Attach the Boundary DWG last.
  • These two files are all the data you need.
Add Data Button

Table of Contents (TOC)

Map Display Area

(1) Click on the Add Data Button

(2)Select the Empty DMP Shapefile to add First

The Empty DMP Shapefile is added to the TOC – it’s empty – so no data displays.

Doing this sets your coordinate system. If you add the DWG first, the coordinate system might not set.

If you accidentally add the DWG file first, you will probably get the message below. Your file will still attach, but your coordinate system will NOT be set correctly and your shapefile will not meet the specification.
Using the Add Data button again, double-click on the Icon for the DWG file to see the component elements. (see next slide)

We don’t want the whole DWG, just the polygons.

Files for each of the component elements of the DWG will list out.

Select the “Polygon” element and click the “Add” button to add it to the TOC

All the data you need is now added to your ArcMap project – in order to see the data you will need to Zoom In to its location. (next slide)
(1) Right Click on the Polygon layer (highlighted) and a context menu will appear.

(2) From this menu left click on “Zoom to Layer” and your data should appear.

If you do not see your data, it is probably because the features are polylines and not polygons, or something happened during the export or save down procedure.You will need to go back into AutoCAD and convert, edit, or otherwise make sure that all of these elements are polygons, then re-add the new polygon layer to the TOC and see if that fixes the problem. If your elements are polygons then…
now change the symbology to see all of the features
Now Change the Symbology to See All of the Features

(2) With the symbology expanded you see that your layer is currently set to solid-green (in this example)

We need to change this to “Hollow” so we can see all our data.

(1) Click on the Expand box to see the layer symbology

Solid filled polygons can mask out other features.

The color of the boundaries may be different on your display – it doesn’t matter.

Also, you may not see some of the features, such as impoundments or roads, because they are beneath other boundaries that are solid filled, such as the proposed permit boundary. This is caused by the order in which the elements were originally digitized and does not matter.

By Changing the Fill Selection You Can See All Your Features

Change your solid fill color to “Hollow” so that you can “look through” stacked features and see all of your data.

To do this double-click on the color box under the polygon element class in the TOC.

Double-click on this box

A Symbol Selector Box Will Appear

(1) Click this one “Hollow”

(2) Then Click “OK”

Your Data Should Look Similar to This

Note: ArcMap assigns symbology to attached layers at random – that means that it might just come up in “Hollow” to begin with, and you won’t even have to do this step!

At this point in the process you need to ensure that you have ALL your data present and that it consists entirely of closed polygons.
  • Proposed Permit Boundary(s)
  • Current Approved Permit Boundary
  • Impoundments
  • Fills
  • Haul Roads
  • Bonding Increment Boundaries (if applicable)
Current Approved Boundary


Haul Roads

Proposed Boundary(s)


Now would be a good time to double-check to see that your coordinate system is Kentucky Single Zone.

(2) Next click on the “Properties” option at the bottom.

(1) Right-Click on “Layer” at the top of the TOC to highlight it and see the drop-down context menu.

The Data Frame Properties menu will display. It doesn’t matter which tab it comes up in, you want the “Coordinate System” tab to be the active one. If it isn’t, then click on it.
Your coordinate system must be shown here as NAD 1983 StatePlane Kentucky FIPS 1600 Feet. If it is anything else your shapefile will be incorrect and you should not proceed.
if the coordinate system is wrong or undefined you can
If the Coordinate System is Wrong or Undefined You Can
  • Close ArcMap, then start over and make sure to add the Empty_DMP_Shapefile.shp to the TOC first.
  • At the bottom of the Coordinate System dialog box you have displayed, click the folder icon for Predefined, then click Projected Coordinate Systems, then click State Plane, then NAD 1983 then scroll down to the very first entry for Kentucky and click it. The coordinate system box at the top will reflect the change. Click OK and the box will close. You have just reset your coordinate system to the correct one.
  • The data may disappear from the screen because it has been reprojected, if so, just right click on the Polygons layer and click “Zoom to Layer” from the drop-down context menu.


But if the coordinate system is correct – and all your data is present in polygon form….you are ready for the next step, which is to create the shapefile that you will be sending to the DMP.
Shapefiles are for GIS systems.As you may already know, the power in a GIS lies not in the graphics but in the underlying database tables whose records of information are attached to every map feature in the shapefile.In this section you will create the shapefile and populate its table with the appropriate information that describes your boundary polygons.
Each of the attendees of this training presentation has been given a copy of the specification for this DMP Shapefile. Inside this specification you find requirements for field names, acceptable values, etc. There are several ways to create this shapefile, some easier than others. For example, from the ArcMap project you have been working with , at this point, you could just export the polygon layer into a shapefile format.But if you did that, all of the AutoCAD fields – 30 of them – would be inserted into the attribute table. You would have to delete these fields, then add the 7 fields the DMP requires in the specification. Try this if you like…..But there is a much simpler way -
The Empty_DMP_Shapefile.shp that you attached to your ArcMap project at the beginning of this exercise contains the coordinate system information you need, but it also has all seven of the fields you will need to populate already defined for you.Also, this shapefile is defined as a polygonal shapefile type, and will not accept any geometries other than polygons.The easiest thing to do would be simply to merge AutoCAD polygons into this prepared shapefile, and then you don’t have to deal with creating and naming fields in the attribute table – it will all be done for you.
Your screen should look like this. You will need to see the TOC so if the Merge dialog box is too large and obscures the TOC just resize its window.
On the Merge dialog box, click on the Input Data drop-down button and you will see the available layers that you can merge. Click on the Empty_DMP_Shapefile first.
Notice that the layer goes into the

list of files to be merged

And that it’s table fields go into this list. Note that these are exactly the fields called for in the specification.

Click on the Input Data drop-down button again and add the remaining DWG polygon layer to the merge list.
Now we have both the files we need for the merge. But first we need to clean up the fields.

Notice that the 30 AutoCAD fields have been added to the Field Map section below the required shapefile fields. We don’t want these and we need to delete them out of the list so that they do not merge into our shapefile and create more work for us.

(1) To delete these fields, first highlight the field you want to delete by clicking on it.

(2) Then click the delete button in the panel to the right of the field list.

The field will delete and one beneath it will become highlighted. So you should only have to click the delete button until the unwanted fields are all gone. Because we added the Empty DMP Shapefile first, and its fields are on top, this task is made easier.

If you accidentally delete a field you need, just close the Merge tool dialog box and reopen it. It will come up blank and you can just start over again.
Almost ready – now you have to tell it where to put the resulting merged shapefile and what to name it.

This Output Dataset box will always have something it in, but it will never be named what you want, so will always have to change this value before you merge.

Remember that the naming convention for the shapefile you submit to the DMP is specified in the Specifications document. It is critical that you name your shapefiles according to the spec.

Permit Number, Action, and Action number (if Applicable) – use only underbars and no spaces.

Make sure the directory exists or you could get an error icon.

A process box will appear showing you the progress of the merge. If there are errors it will tell you. Otherwise it states that the merge was completed successfully.

Just close the box when finished.

Notice that your new merged shapefile has been added to the TOC and has been assigned a solid green symbology. You might have to “Zoom to Layer again to see the data.
You can dismiss the Arc Tools directory, you don’t need it anymore. Just click the “x” here.

Time to clean up the project a little.

Right-click on the polygon and Empty DMP Shapefile layers and select “Remove” from the context menu that appears.

This doesn’t delete the files, just removes them from the TOC.

Notice the “Donut”. If you have proposed boundaries or other features in AutoCAD that have holes in them, you need to make sure that these features export, copy or save down correctly. Depending on the version of ACAD or the type of extension software you have, the process or workaround for doing so is up to you.
Now lets take a look at what got created.Drive to the directory you specified when you gave the merge file a name, and look at the new file created by the Merge Tool.
Here we see that a “shapefile” is really a collection of six separate files. What these are is explained in the Specification Document, but together they comprise the geometries, attribute table, spatial indexes, and coordinate system information required for a shapefile to display, even though when you attach it to the TOC in an ArcMAP project, it appears as a single file. When you send the shapefile to DMP you must include all of these files.
Notice the file with the extension PRJ. This is the projection file that contains the coordinate system information. If you want to see it, it can be opened with any text editor, such as Notepad.
The next section will be to populate the attribute table.For this we will need the Editor toolbar to be attached to our project.
There are many toolbars in ArcMap and we need the one that lets us edit a shapefile.

On the top menu bar, click on View

A context menu appears, hold the mouse cursor over “Toolbars” and a menu of toolbar choices will appear.
This is the editor toolbar. All ArcMap toolbars are dockable. Just use the mouse to drag it up toward the other toolbars and it will dock when it gets close.
How to Display the Attribute Table

Right-click on the layer and select “Open Attribute Table” from the context menu.

The attribute table appears in its own window – you may want to resize it. Note that all of the fields required by the DMP specification are empty. In this section we will populate those fields.

If you have dual monitors, it’s easier if you drag the attribute table into the other monitor.

attribute table terminology
Attribute Table Terminology

Fields = Columns




each record is attached to a feature on the map and contains information about that feature
Each Record is Attached to a Feature on the Map, and Contains Information About that Feature.
To explore this relationship, click on the “Select Features” tool on the menu bar, then click either a feature on the map, or on a record in the attribute table.
select tool behavior
Select Tool Behavior
  • The tool works with the usual Windows functionality
  • By holding the shift key down you can select more than one feature
  • By holding the left mouse button down, you can drag a box that selects everything it touches.
  • To “unselect”, click the “Clear Selected” tool or click in an unoccupied map area.
Notice that although you can mouse click on a record value in a field and highlight it, it won’t let you type anything in.
In order to add, delete, or edit either records or map features (geometries) – the Layer must be Open for Edit.

(2) Click on Start Editing. If you only have the one layer attached to the TOC, the editor will immediately open your shapefile for edit.

(1) Click on the “Editor” drop-down box to see the context menu.

Now you are ready to add the attribute values that describe the features in the map.The first thing you notice is that some of fields will contain the same value, while others will contain all different values.
The field values for PermitNo, AppType, AppNum and Subdate will have the same value for every record.You could highlight the PermitNo field for the first record, type in 8380005, then cntrl-C (copy) cntrl-V (paste) it into all the records below it using the down arrow key to move your way down the records, and that will work fine. But there is a faster way.You can use the Field Editor.
field editor behavior
Field Editor Behavior
  • The field editor will automatically populate records in a specific with a value you type in.
  • It will populate all the records in a selected field unless you have any map features selected. In that case it will populate only those features that you have selected.
  • Therefore, to populate ALL of the records in a field, make sure that you have nothing selected – click on the “Clear Selections” button. No records in your attribute table should be highlighted.
using the field editor
Using the Field Editor

In this example we will auto-populate the value “8380005” into ALL of the records for the PermitNO field.

Click in the Field Name box to highlight all the record values for that field.

(1) Now Right-Click inside the field-name box for PermitNo to display the context menu.

(2) Click on “Field Calculator” to bring up the dialog box.

Because you already highlighted the field PermitNo, the calculator already has this field selected as the field that will be modified.

PermitNo =

So all we have to do is give it the value. Since it is a text field (they all are) we should enclose our value in double quotation marks


With that done, just click the OK button to populate your records.

All of the record values for PermitNo are now populated with the value you typed in.

This is the fastest way to do this kind of edit, and because you didn’t have to type each value in, the odds of making a typo error are greatly reduced. In this case the values are either all right or all wrong.

now repeat this workflow for
Now repeat this workflow for:
  • AppType (the type of application, AM, NW, etc)
  • AppNum (if applicable – NW will not have an AppNum so just leave it blank)
  • SubDate (the date you will submit the permit – doesn’t have to exact as long as it is more current than the last boundary shapefile you may have submitted for the same permit number.) Take care with the format on this value! mm/dd/yyyy – 01/21/2011
all that s left is to populate feattype featcls and smiscode
All that’s left is to populate FeatType, FeatCLS and SMISCode.
  • These have to be populated record by record as each may have different values depending on what kind of feature it describes.
  • It is critical that you are sure the record you are populating belongs to the feature on the map that it describes.
  • It is equally critical that the values you enter are taken from the list of approved values in the DMP shapefile specification document.
overview of the remaining fields
Overview of the remaining fields
  • FeatType – the type of feature the record describes. Every record will have a value – no blanks.
  • FeatCLS – the kind or category of the feature, for example the FeatType may be IM for impoundment, but what kind of impoundment? DGO for dugout, EMB for embankment, etc. Some features, such as haul roads and increment boundaries, will not have a value and the field will be left blank.
  • SMISCode – within the permit application are tables where names have been assigned by the applicant to delineate haul roads, impoundments, fills, and bonding increments. This field will contain the values from this (these) tables appropriate to the feature they describe.
To see which record belongs to which feature just click (select) the record and look at the map to see what feature highlights.

(2) Then see what highlights on the map.

This happens to be a Current Approved Boundary Area

(1) Click the box area to the right of the record to select it.

Click on the field for your highlighted record and a dark outline will appear, then just type in the value.

Remember to refer to the specifications for a list of approved values.

Approved Boundary features do not get a SMISCode value according to the spec. Just leave it blank.

Now select the next record. This one is a proposed permit boundary. But we know that for this application, there are two separate proposed permit boundary areas. We will save time by combining both features into a single record.
In ArcMap you can connect, or Merge, separate features so that selecting one of them will select all of them, and all of them will be described by the same record in the attribute table. This different from the “Merge” application you used to create the shapefile so don’t get confused.In our boundary shapefile these features are called “multi-part polygons”.You can only do this when the attributes of ALL of the polygons you will merge are identical for the entire record.
  • Select ALL of the proposed permit boundary areas (only two in this example).
  • Click on the Editor drop-down list button to see the context menu for the editor.
  • Click on the “Merge” command (will only enable if two or more features are selected)
  • Click “OK” to the Merge Message Box (the features are the same, it doesn’t matter which one merges with which)
  • All done. Populate the record.
(2) Select all of the proposed boundary polygons on the map. In this example there are only two.

(1) Using the Select Tool…

The 2 records will highlight in the attribute table indicating they are selected..

(1) Click on the drop-down box on the Editor tool bar to display the context menu…

(2) Then click on the Merge command.

The Merge command’s confirmation box will appear. At least one entry in the list must be highlighted, then you can click the OK button. All of the features in the list will be merged into the highlighted one, but since they are all the same type of feature (proposed boundaries) their records are identical so it doesn’t matter which one gets merged into.
After the Merge the map will still show the features as highlighted, but there will be only one record describing them in the attribute table. You have created a multi-part polygon. Clicking on one proposed boundary area will highlight them all, and when you attribute the record, they will all carry the same descriptions.
Now click inside the appropriate fields to populate the record.

Notice in this example that the total number of records went from 28 to 27 after the merge.

They are still there, it’s just when you did the merge ArcMap resequenced the display order and they are lying “underneath” the permit boundary polygon, which is solid filled.
Remember you can just change the symbology to “Hollow” to see all of the data at any time. Unlike AutoCAD, symbology attributes are never held in the shapefile, so it doesn’t matter about color, weight, or style.

If I can merge all the permit boundaries together and just have to attribute a single record for them, why can’t I merge all of my impoundments, haul roads and other like features together the same way?


Because the attributes for FeatCLS and SMISCode could be different for each case of the remaining features. The SMISCode values will never be the same. Haul roads have the same blank FeatCLS value but the SMISCode will be different. Impoundments may have different FeatCLS values as well as different SMISCodes. These are not good candidates for merging and have to be populated one by one.

So one by one…

(1) Select the record in the attribute table

(2) See what kind of feature gets highlighted on the map

(3) Click on the selected field and type in the value.

(4) Repeat until all records are populated. Refer to the specification for approved field values.

Highlighted embankment pond

To complete the attribution you must “Stop Editing” and save your edits.

(1) Just click on the drop-down button for the Editor

(2) Then click on “Stop Editing”

If you haven’t already saved your edits (which you are free to do at anytime during this process by clicking on “Save Edits” in the Editor context menu) you will be prompted to do so now.

Click “Yes” to save all of your edits, or “No” to completely roll back all your edits to the last save. So if you haven’t saved at all, and you click “No”, no changes to the attribute table will be saved..

Navigate to where your shapefile is located and include all of the files in your permit application to the KY Division of Mine Permits.
where to get help
Where to get help.

Call or Email

Jeffrey Laird or Daryl Hines at the Division of Mine Permits

(502) 223-2320

[email protected] daryl.[email protected]

You can email me the shapefile and/or DWG you are working on. Make sure that you have a phone by your workstation. Then we can work through it together both looking at the same shapefile.