Geography 353 Cartography and Visualization

...to Geog 353 Main Page and Course Description
...to Geog 353 Syllabus
...to Geog 353 Course Schedule and Lecture Outlines
...to Geog 353 Laboratory Information and Student Projects


Geog 353 Lab 4: Introduction to ArcGIS
Update: 9/13/17
30 points
ASSIGNED: Wednesday September 20
DUE: Monday September 25


The ubiquitous Environmental Systems Research Institute better known as ESRI, pronounced "esz-ree" if you want to sound like a GIS nerd, is a leading purveyor of GIS software: they are the Microsoft of the GIS world.

The core GIS product ESRI sold for years was ArcInfo. ArcInfo used to be a nasty, command driven software package that was difficult to learn and use. ESRI developed ArcView as a simple GIS package intended, initially, to allow users unskilled in the intricacies of ArcInfo to view ArcInfo maps: ArcView had a more user-friendly menu driven interface. Over the years, ESRI added more GIS functions to ArcView, and ArcView version 3.2 became a very popular GIS software package, with Windows, UNIX, and Macintosh versions.

Nearly a decade ago, the entire array of ESRI software was re-programmed for the Windows environment, and the result is ArcGIS: an integrated set of GIS software components, including ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox. ArcMap is where you perform GIS analysis and make maps. ArcCatalog helps with managing data, and ArcToolbox helps with data conversion and additional data management. In this course, we will focus on using ArcMap to process our U.S. Census data, link it to digital base maps, and to create a series of population change maps.

Of course nothing remains the same. As we speak, ArcGIS Online is where GIS seems to be heading - promising to be the future of ESRI's GIS software. This is "cloud" computing (GIS) where you create an account and pay for the functionality you use.

For now, however, we are not in the clouds (except for our web pages, an blog, and map mashup). I guess we are semi-cloud.

This Lab consists of an introduction to the main components of ArcMap, enough to familiarize you with the software so that you can use it in Labs 5, 6, and 7. A bit of review for those of you moving backwards through the OWU GIS courses!

Lab 4 Goal: Familiarize yourself with ArcGIS basics, complete a pair of maps of Ohio demographic data, define some jargon, and explore the ESRI WWW site. Comment on all of these tasks in your Luxurious Lab Blog.



Learning ArcMap

We will only touch on a few of the many capabilities of ArcMap in this preliminary exercise. You will grow more familiar with ArcMap over the course of the semester, and do not be afraid to use the help (built into the software), your instructor, or other students.

If you have already used ArcGIS in Remote Sensing or in some kind of fabulous internship, this review should be a breeze.

1) Start ArcMap (on the desktop). ArcMap should start with a new, empty map. You can also open an existing map here (if you have one...but you don't at this point).



ArcGIS won't start: it says something about a license server and contacting The Pope immediately: Ok, it actually might say that you should contact your system administrator (me, mostly). ArcGIS requires a license that is sitting over on one of the servers in Corns. The software checks that the license is valid as it is starting up. If the building or campus internet is down, or the internet connection on your computer is down, or the internet cable disconnected from your machine, you won't be able to use the software. Check these potential problems, and maybe reboot the computer. Wait a few minutes and check if Firefox or some other browser is connecting to the internet. If it still does not work, let me know ASAP.


2) A morass of icons and windows greets you. Like most Windows software, you can move the tool bars in different configurations. If you manage to remove a window you need check teh view or windows menus.

The window to your left will list map layers (when you add them) and is called the table of contents.

The word Layers should be in the table of contents and is a data frame. A data frame holds a series of map layers, and information common to all those layers, including the map projection and coordinate system of your map layers. The maps will be displayed in the large window on the right.


3) Right-click on the data frame called Layers and a menu will pop up:


4) Add a map layer to your data frame called World. There are several ways to do this:


5) Change the map projection. The map projection (how the surface of the spherical earth is flattened out) affects all layers in a frame, and is changed in the data frame properties box.


6) Add another map layer (from the same world folder). Notice that you can turn layers off and on with the check box next to the map layer name.


7) Save your work: the map document (.mxd) file contains all files and settings for a project - all the layer files, etc. Save the file in your ArcGIS folder (create one if you don't have one).


8) ArcGIS allows you to access the table of attribute data associated with each map layer. Right-click on one of your layers and select Open Attribute Table to view the table. Click on a row of data, and that country should be hi lighted on your map: thus the map and the data are connected. You may also select the identify tool (the same letter I in a circle), click on a country, and see the data associated with that country.


9) Close all attribute tables and deselect any countries you selected (from the Selection menu choose Clear Selected Features).


10) Map the data in the attribute table:


11) Finally: map out a US State by Census block groups:

To toggle between two or more map frames: if you are working on your world map, then want to see your state map, right mouse click on the state data frame and select Activate from the menu. To go back to the world data frame, right mouse click on the World data frame and select Activate.


12) Explore ArcGIS a bit and document two interesting things you figure out how to do with the software. You may do these things to your world data, your state data, or you may want to use the Delaware County Data (in the Delaware Data folder on the C drive). Use the Help in ArcGIS (it is helpful) - and many functions (such as Buffering or Geoprocessing have wizards to help you. Document these two features, and note your results on the lab blog.


13) Define the following list of ArcGIS terms in your Lab Blog:

14) Go explore the ESRI WWW site and explore a bit. Find two issues of interest to you - anything at all - and note them in your Lab Blog. Also, Jot down a few thoughts about your initial impressions of ArcGIS in your Lab Log.


When you are done, by end of class on due date: email me the link to your blog entry for Lab 4. This should include



E-mail: jbkrygier@owu.edu

...to Geog 353 Main Page and Course Description
...to krygier teaching page.
...to krygier top page.

OWU Home
OWU Geology and Geography Home