Quite often I have to create 3 different exhibits for the same project and it can get quite tedious, I was wondering if there was a way using python, modelbuilder, etc. to do this programmatically. Each mxd will be based off a specific template also.

To be clear, I do not mean to completely create the finished exhibits, but rather to sety up the three mxd's to be populated.

closed as unclear what you're asking by Farid Cheraghi, user2856, blah238, BradHards, user30184 Oct 3 '15 at 14:03

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  • As you mentioned, you can use .mxt template files. With the arcpy.mapping module, you can automate quite a bit. – Paul Oct 2 '15 at 19:37
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    seems like you could use arcpy.mapping and os to build that into a script tool that just copies the three mxds you use into a specified folder, and gives them new names based on the project, or whatever, it's for. then you could incorporate the tool into your arc toolbox and run it from arccatalog. are you looking for starter code or just some ideas? – CSB Oct 2 '15 at 19:46
  • I am a very inexperienced user of python so please dumb down your responses lol – Trose14 Oct 2 '15 at 19:49
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    i think at this point the best approach for you may be to look into an arcpy.mapping tutorial and python, and just start trying to figure stuff out. that's the best way to learn. help.arcgis.com/EN/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#//… – CSB Oct 2 '15 at 19:59
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    @Paul Although you can still open *.mxt files, they effectively went extinct (except for Normal.mxt that the system creates) at ArcGIS 10.0: help.arcgis.com/EN/arcgisdesktop/10.0/help/index.html#//… – PolyGeo Oct 2 '15 at 23:10

For an inexperienced Python user my recommendation would be to author three MXDs that will be your templates. These would have your layout set up any data frame(s), scale bar(s), legend(s), north arrow(s), company logo, etc that you want in every map (perhaps a background layer too), while omitting any theme layers (which you would add each time you do your next project).

You can then use the Copy tool to copy each of these template MXDs into your new project folder, so that you can add the new theme layers to them.

To turn what you did using the Copy tool into Python code you can go to the Geoprocessing | Results window, right click on where the tool successfully ran and choose Copy As Python Snippet, which can then be pasted into your script.

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