I am very new to ArcGIS Desktop.

I have a jpeg showing an old map of NYC zones. I was able to georeference this image with a shapefile of NYC blocks. I wish to now create a new feature class where I can trace these zones from the old jpeg onto the new feature class layer using the blocks shapefile as a reference. I will also wish to trace along the blocks in that blocks shapefile layer.

I've been following this thread's advice (second reply) so far. It is as follows:

Add your empty feature class/shapefile to arcmap, and click your Editor button and go to Start Editing. (Assuming you are using V10?)

If you plan on following existing geographic features, look at using the Trace tool. Hint: When tracing, whatever feature you want your line to follow, it has to be Selected.

There are several ways to select a feature: ...by Location ...by Attribute ...by Graphic

Try to explore the Feature Construction toolbar and the various segment creation tools.

However, after I create this blank feature class and add it as a layer, I cannot edit it! I go into "Start Editing" mode, choose the blank feature class, but I cannot trace or do anything after that.

Is there any hope for me?

2 Answers 2


You need to make a new feature template first before you can create any new feature classes (via tracing, etc.) I believe this is new to version 10. See http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2010/03/19/creating-and-using-feature-templates/ In short, if I remember correctly, from the editor menu you go to more winodws -> create features. Then click "new" to make a new feature template.

  • After I create a feature template I can draw things but I'm not sure how to save them as a new layer. At this point I think I've rushed into something I wasn't prepared for. This all seems too complicated for me. Thank you for your help, though.
    – rdoge
    Commented Mar 2, 2014 at 22:46

I sympathise with this problem. This is something that ought to be very simple but is actually quite confusing in ArcGIS10.

When you say:

'I can draw things but I'm not sure how to save them as a new layer.'

It makes me think that you haven't created a new layer first for editing. For your task it sounds like you want to create a new layer first (I usually use catalogue). In catalogue right-click on the folder you want to work in and select 'Add new Shapefile Layer'.

Then do your tracing etc on this new layer.


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