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The ArcGIS Results Window is an incredibly useful way to keep track of what has been done in a particular map. I use it constantly as a means of documenting the essential parts of a project's workflow, re-using often accessed geoprocessing tools, and archeology (now, what the heck did we use for the input last time? today's result doesn't $%^#$%& match!).

However, it's also frustrating, because some things which ought to be straightforward just aren't, and it's easy to inadvertently lose stuff you want to keep. Does anyone have any solutions for these friction points? Namely:

  • ArcCatalog results are not saved at all, if you don't consciously save them they're gone baby.
  • ArcMap results are only kept if you save an .mxd. If I created an .mxd every time I needed to do a few things my document management overhead would go through the roof. (Imagine needing to create a .doc for every email of moderate import.)
  • nasty addition to previous: if your ArcMap session crashes, say goodbye to all your results since last save.
  • Many operations never show up in the Results panel (e.g. Context menu >> Data >> Export). As end users, I suspect there's little to nothing which can be done about this, but it's related to keeping track of steps and is a frequent source of irritation. ;-)
  • You can drag and drop from Results panel to a model, but not to anywhere else. I want to also copy to a personal toolbar, another map, a folder, a toolbox, a Word document, a ... (Wouldn't it be great if you could just plunk a significant geoprocessing step straight into the metadata editor?)
  • Some results are Favourites that should are kept indefinitely, e.g. this map project will always need to buffer the selection area of interest by 3km. Currently you can set ArcMap to keep results for a few days, months, or forever. The default of 2 weeks is way too short, and forever will get very very messy and ugly.
  • Results stay with the map, this is good, but they are also confined to that one .mxd. They're in jail; not so good. It's rare for a project of any significance to have only 1 or 2 .mxd's. Sharing the results is laborious. (This is actually just a restatement of a previous point; light from another angle reveals more facets.)

* there is a "Shared" item in the results list (see bottom of graphic), but it doesn't seem to do anything. You can't drag a Current or Previous Session into it and it doesn't have a context menu. ((Drag from "Previous Session" working as of 10.3.1. As there is little to know discussion of this elsewhere it may have just been a bug with my local install.))

These result things, the record of steps taken, are important. I want to treat them that way. Not as temporary chaff swept up by the night time cleaning staff on the weekends when I'm not around.

This is a rant, but it's not just a rant. I'm convinced there are means and methods of utilizing what Esri already provides in an improved manner. Let's flush them out of the brush, dust 'em off, and dress up for general consumption.

ArcGIS Results panel

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I see that this is a rant rather than a question. However I would like to share my comments:

  1. ArcCatalog results are not saved at all, if you don't consciously save them they're gone baby.

I doubt it how it is necessary

  1. ArcMap results are only kept if you save an .mxd. If I created an .mxd every time I needed to do a few things my document management overhead would go through the roof. (Imagine needing to create a .doc for every email of moderate import.)

You can enable geoprocessing logging which writes a geoprocessing to a well-known xml foramt. you can enable this in Geoprocessing menu > Geoprocessing Option > log geoprocessing operations to a log file

  1. nasty addition to previous: if your ArcMap session crashes, say goodbye to all your results since last save.

See the previous note

  1. Many operations never show up in the Results panel (e.g. Context menu >> Data >> Export). As end users, I suspect there's little to nothing which can be done about this, but it's related to keeping track of steps and is a frequent source of irritation. ;-)

Because not all operations are geoprocessing. results pane is limited to GP tools. However for many operations there are an equivalent GP Tools (e.g. FeatureClass to FeatureClass convertion for "export data")

  1. You can drag and drop from Results panel to a model, but not to anywhere else. I want to also copy to a personal toolbar, another map, a folder, a toolbox, a Word document, a ... (Wouldn't it be great if you could just plunk a significant geoprocessing step straight into the metadata editor?)

To have a result in another map (or folder) simply save the result as a result file (.rlt) and then drag it to another map. To add a result to a toolbox, create a model and then drag the result to the model. I agree dragging to a toolbar is great feature. I suggust to post this idea in ArcGIS Ideas website

  1. Some results are Favourites that should are kept indefinitely, e.g. this map project will always need to buffer the selection area of interest by 3km. Currently you can set ArcMap to keep results for a few days, months, or forever. The default of 2 weeks is way too short, and forever will get very very messy and ugly.

Simply drag the result to the Shared section of the result pane

  1. Results stay with the map, this is good, but they are also confined to that one .mxd. They're in jail; not so good. It's rare for a project of any significance to have only 1 or 2 .mxd's. Sharing the results is laborious. (This is actually just a restatement of a previous point; light from another angle reveals more facets.)

  2. there is a "Shared" item in the results list (see bottom of graphic), but it doesn't seem to do anything. You can't drag a Current or Previous Session into it and it doesn't have a context menu.

actually you can drag successful tool execution to this section

  • Thanks for some things I didn't know about! Rebuttals: saving arccatalog results: I use Arccatalog when no map needs making, e.g. data conversion. It's generally faster to start than Arcmap, and doesn't has as much stuff in the way. Bottom line is: I use a tool to do a chain of things, I want to save the steps.; Fc2Fc gp tool is not same as Data>Export (e.g. no "selected records"); Drag to shared: nope, can't do it. When I let go nothing happens; maybe a version bug? Using 10.3. Knowing it works for others, I'll dig. – matt wilkie Mar 14 '15 at 1:52
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I think some or most of what you want to do can be done using the geoprocessing log files. In addition to the Results window, geoprocessing results can also be saved to XML log files. Check this box under Geoprocessing -> Geoprocessing Options, General:

enter image description here

According to the help, log files should be kept for geoprocessing done under either ArcMap or ArcCatalog. The XML files will be saved to a folder under your user profile. Here's the relevant part of the ArcGIS help:

There is one log file for each application (such as ArcMap or ArcCatalog) session. A session is defined by all the work performed from the time you open the application to the time you exit.

On Windows XP, the log files are written to C:\Documents and Settings\\Application Data\ESRI\Desktop10.2\ArcToolbox\History.

On Windows Vista and Windows 7, the log files are written to C:\Users\\AppData(Local or LocalLow or Roaming)\ESRI\Desktop10.2\ArcToolbox\History.

The name of the log file contains the date and time when the application was opened: H_.xml.

There is also an arcpy function to turn on logging in your standalone scripts, I don't know whether it will store the log in the same folder:

arcpy.SetLogHistory(True)
  • Thanks! It's under %AppData%\Roaming for me. That does look to be a trove of good information for what-happened-here forensics. It's usability leaves much to be desired. For instance the command lines are full of '" and would need to parsed before re-using or keeping for documentation. I wonder what the relationship between these logs and results are? If we could feed the logs to (the better parts of) Results UI there's a lot more things possible. – matt wilkie Mar 14 '15 at 2:18
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I've cobbled something together which helps a little bit: Create a "Results Log.mxd" whose only purpose is to store results, there are no feature classes or map layers. From the ArcMap or ArcCatalog sessions containing notable work:

  1. Rename result as makes sense to your workflow
  2. Drag and drop to Results Log >> Results >> Shared.

Caveats:

It's a good idea to prefix names with step numbers or letters as there is no control over list order, and the order will shift from one saved session to another.

Dragging from "Current Session" doesn't work. Save and re-open the mxd, then drag from "Previous Session".

Example results-only map

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