Is there a way to load 17 big cadastar plans of urban area in ArcMap and make it "invisible" and use data only when printing to PDF?

Total amount of data is too big to work with and I use it only as a base for urban plans. There are 17 cadastar plans covering area of 220 square kilometers. Cadastar plans are in shp format, made of polygons, lines and points. Largest cadastar plan is around 50MB of shape files and total amount of all of thm is 650 MB.

Every cadastar plan is in separate group of layers. I have adjusted scale ranges for every layer in group of cadastar plan. This way when I zoom in certain part of data shows up.

This is still too much data to process for i7 proc, 16Gb RAM, SSD... Should I create geodatabase file for every cadastar plan? Is there another way to reduce this load? I need every detail of every cadastar plan. Should I remove every attribute I don't need? Will that help?

I can't uncheck group of layers in TOC because data driven pages will need data from all layers, since data is all over city area.

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    This is the entire purpose behind scale dependency. Please edit the question to reflect Rendering large amounts of data -- Importing data is something entirely different. – Vince Dec 27 '15 at 22:35
  • @Vince please make this an answer – Brad Nesom Dec 28 '15 at 4:48
  • Your comment on an answer indicates that this problem description is inaccurate. Please edit this question to provide a complete description of what data you have, and what you are trying to accomplish. – Vince Dec 28 '15 at 18:29

Simply unchecking the data layer in the TOC (Table of Contents) in the left part of the ArcMap window when you don't need the layer, and re-checking it when you need to export to PDF, should do the job.

If the data layer seems to jam ArcMap when you re-check it to make it visible again due to its size, then simply "pausing" the display of ArcMap (|| button below the display window) before toggling it on, should prevent this, and still allow you to export to PDF.

The display of ArcMap does not have to show anything, in order for you to be able to export to PDF. So pause the display when needed.

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  • I'm aware of all this things. But this isn't the solution.When I turn all needed elements of cadastar plan ArcMap becomes useless. I'm trying to make 1000+ PDFs and all of them need cadastar plan. I'm planing to use data driven pages to do that and I'm looking for a way to load data, turn it off but printed in PDF. – vldmrnnc Dec 28 '15 at 17:28
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    Please clarify, you are now suggesting that instead of having one huge layer of the cadastral plan in whatever format it may be, that you actually may have hundreds of cadastral plans loaded in ArcMap, each of them needed for one or more of your 1000+ output PDFs. Having one or hundreds of layers makes a huge difference. Please state 1) in what format you loaded the cadastral plan(s) in ArcMap. 2) How many of them you have. 3) If case you have multiple cadastral plans, did you create a Group Layer for them? – Marco_B Dec 28 '15 at 18:14

One more another idea here is to use the bookmark and setup what scale you want and then bookmark each section you want.


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Every layer in ArcMap has properties that include scale dependency. This property can be found by right-clicking the layer, choosing "Properties...", and selecting the "General" tab:

property sheet

The Scale Range property can be used to implement best practice of leaving all layers "on", but only having them draw when appropriate. This includes only rendering complex layers when appropriate, and not rendering simplified layers when inappropriate.

It is not possible to make layers spontaneously render for various output products, though it is possible to script map generation, adding and removing layers as necessary (which is far too complex to detail here).

It is important to understand there is a significant difference between "importing" or "loading" data using ArcMap (which is generally interpreted to mean data conversion) and simply rendering data which has been previously converted.

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