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ers, At my prior position, we "often" had to capture Geology data from geo-referenced images. Yes ... sometimes a necessary evil, but it has been a while since my hardcore digitizing days. Regardless, we used this handy add-on for ArcMap called ET GeoTools. We were able to simply digitize the polylines for the adjacent Geological categories, then run an analysis of over/undershoots. Once we had that issue fixed, you could simply convert the polylines to polygons and build your polygon attribution in to the Database from there. It was a beautiful thing!!!! I didn't have to concern myself with snapping to every node on adjacent polygons, and this little add-on had a number of other neat little capabilities as well. Now, I looked in to it, and it turns out they want $195.00 for the software. I don't have any knowledge of programming languages - I should make that clear too before I move on. Anyway, I wondered 2 things, and perhaps a few of you may have a suggestion or two. Does ArcMap 10 have this functionality (I am in 9.3 but soon to be using 10). OR .... is there a free add-on that can do this? Even if there's something out there that will export to .shp format, that will suffice. I'll just take care of the rest of the work in good ol' ESRI following the conversion. Anyone? Thanks in advance

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Today's cognitive dissonance: "It was a beautiful thing..." but not even worth $195. –  whuber Apr 12 '11 at 17:38
Amusing indeed whuber!! We actually have to get approval for new software packages/extensions where I work. This requires that we prove the worth "said software". Having said that, I need it "yesterday" and I don't have weeks on end to await approval. I thought someone might be aware of something similar that could achieve the same results. If it were my company, I'd purchase it -- trust me!! Perhaps you should get more detail prior to posting sarcastic remarks?? –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 18:05
@Dan The remark wasn't intended to be sarcastic. I'm sorry you found it to be so. "Winsome" would be a better word, or perhaps "puzzled." Sarcastic remarks aren't hard to think of and they would be far more biting--but inappropriate. –  whuber Apr 12 '11 at 19:14
@whuber - I may have misinterpreted your intentions. If so, I'm sorry as well. I felt you were belittling me (to be honest). I'm on here to find answers, learn, and perhaps even help other users if I can here-and-there. Anyway, let's call it water-under-the-bridge. Fair enough? –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 19:43
ET Spatial Technologies is a great company with awesome support. The tools are worth every penny they charge, and like mapperz said, you get upgrades. Most of their toolsets are available in a free version, but are limited to the number of records you can process (I think). –  Chad Cooper Apr 12 '11 at 21:47
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5 Answers

I've not been too up on ET GeoTools lately but if you can't bring yourself (just saying) to pay $200 for an extension to a very expensive piece of GIS software (ArcGIS Desktop), it might be time to move to a different platform.

I'd recommend gvSIG and SEXTANTE.

If English is your first language, take a look at the OADigital Branch.

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Thank you James. I will look into the suggestions you posted. I do understand what you're saying. It is only $195.00, but I have to get it approved, and that takes time at my office. I'm just trying to avoid "days" of digitizing, especially since it can be done in a few hours with the add-on (MEH!!). I have a lot of work to do on other projects. Thanks again for the suggestions. –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 18:13
No I totally get that as I used to work in a company that would break down like that. Moving to an open source environment protects you from that as you can use your time (which generally you have control over) to get things done. –  James Fee Apr 12 '11 at 19:30
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I believe ET Geowizard have a toolset that you can download for free to use it in ArcGIS 10. If you are only looking to convert polylines to polygon, ET Geowizard is just a right free tool that can be used with ArcGIS 10. There are so many other tools available on ET Geowizard for which you have to pay license fee. However, you can use this for free. Make sure you read the readme file before installing it.

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Hey Raj (and everyone else). I've got it sorted out over here. I did a quick test in AutoCAD Civil 3D, and I was able to achieve the polygon conversion there. That said, I'll just do the digitizing in there and convert the areas to "polygons" then head into ArcMap and query them from the polygon layer in the .dwg file. Then I can populate the attribute table in there. So many ways to do the same thing!! I appreciate the suggestion, and I will have a look for sure. –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 18:33
Civil 3d is a worthy opponent. However as Raj suggested there are literally dozens of other tools in ET tools/wizards that can be used for free. Also with the new edit features in ArcGIS 10, I am using heads up digitizing more and more in ESRI where I used to exclusively used Map 3d and export to shp. –  Brad Nesom Apr 12 '11 at 19:32
@ Brad - Yes .... Civil 3D is incredible. I find it really weak on the Geospatial side though!! I was sent to take a course on CAD/GIS integration through ESRI Canada about three years ago, and let me tell you guys, it has been "invaluable"!! I jump back-and-forth between the two, and utilise the strengths inherent to both packages. It's fun actually!!! I wish I were as strong a user as many of you. At any rate, I fully intend to get my grubby hands on GeoTools. It's just a waiting game for now. –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 20:04
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Does ArcMap 10 have this functionality (I am in 9.3 but soon to be using 10).

If you're licensed for ArcEditor or ArcInfo, I think you could use the topology tools to do this.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

As far as "free" add-ons that will accomplish polyline to polygon coversion are concerned, I never did end up going this route or finding any such add-on. I ended up resolving my own issue in AutoCAD Civil 3D 2011. This in no way negates the fact that ET GeoTools has some other great functionalities beyond this. Many of you had some really great suggestions too.

Granted, the process was a tad more involved with my Civil 3D, I still did manage to cut considerable time off the overall process. My workflow was as follows:

  • I georeferenced the data capture image, and brought it in to CAD with the "mapconnect" command;
  • I made a rectangle around my interest area, and drew lines which either ended at another polyline segment, or at the rectangle I created around my interest area;

The beauty of doing this in CAD, is that there are no under/overshoots due to the snapping capabilities. Additionally (unlike ArcMap), CAD allows you to zoom in & out with the roller on your mouse in a very controlled/dynamic fashion (very similar to Paint Shop Pro). You can also customise your snap settings (to node, nearest, endpoint, etc), and turn the snapping on & off by simply hitting the F3 button (very efficient once you get used to the interface!!!).

  • Once I completed the digitizing, I typed "bpoly" in my command line, and clicked inside each area, then hit enter. Hitting enter again re-activates the same command, and I repeated this process until all areas were converted to polygons;

  • I saved the .dwg file, projected it to the correct datum and zone in ArcCatalog;

  • I dropped the drawing file in ArcMap, and queried the appropriate polygon layer out of the drawing file, then exported it to a shapefile format;

  • With the image underneath, I started an edit session, and populated my "soil category number" colum with numbers (1s would = Sand & Gravel; 2s would = Silt ......).

It's FAR more efficient to assign a number to your classifications, especially if the category names are lengthy or difficult to spell - ie-ethyl flouranthene. You can always redefine them with a shortcut (my next step) as opposed to manually typing EACH category name in to the attribute table during the edit session. This also alleviates the possibility of putting accidental spacing in some of your fields. A former co-worker taught me this handy shortcut. Since that day, I've never bothered to type the same category names over-and-over in an editing session (HUGE waste of time!!).

  • Next. I queried each "number" from the "SOIL_NUM" column and populated a new column I created (SOIL_CL) with the appropriate classification in field calculator (choose "selected" ---- > right mouse on the column header and select field calculator ----- > type the soil classification in qoutes.

I have generalised this explaination somewhat (rather than explaining "every step" in great detail). Most of you are far more advanced users than myself anyway. For the benefit of Junior GIS professionals, it's the ability to "think out" shortcuts/solutions to augment efficiency and accuracy that differentiates the strong from the weak in our field!!! Use what you learn every day to solve issues/problems tomorrow!!

The key point here .... I cut my digitizing time by at least 80%. Thank you all very much for the feedback. I am very pleased with myself, as I was able to figure this one out on my own (thus avoiding DAYS of digitizing -- woow hoo!!).

Cheers everyone & thanks again!!

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EDIT: I understand your plight with getting approval to purchase software. In that light, my suggestion probably doesn't offer anything to help you out at the moment.

NeuraMap is not free by any means, so I apologize straight away if this isn't something you're interested in. However, I just finished digitizing more than 30 map plates from a couple of old USGS reports. The maps consisted of line features like structural contours as well as polygonal features such as rock outcrop areas. It doesn't do anything with regards to topology, but what it does do is it uses neural-network algorithms to auto-trace the maps you feed it. It takes some tweaking depending on the quality and color scheme of the map; you need good solid, outlines of contrasting-color to get good results. Feature attribution and exporting to .shp is very easy.

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Thanks to you as well Jason. Read my reply to james below (rather than repeating what I said there). I think I'm just going to run a quick test in AutoCAD Civil 3D and see if I can do a conversion in there. I believe that I might be able to convert the "areas" to polygons with a "bpoly" command in my the command line. If so, I'll just pump it into ArcMap afterwards and do the populate my Dbase in there. –  Dano Apr 12 '11 at 18:20
Sure thing, I guess the other answer came in between the time I started answering and when I finished chatting here with a couple of colleagues. Good luck! –  Jason Apr 12 '11 at 18:25
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