Finding polygons within polygon using ArcGIS Desktop?
I am new to GIS and ArcGIS.
I have a set of polygons, some of which enclose other polygons. They are lake polygons, and within lake polygons, are smaller island polygons.
If I have a given lake polygon, how can I select or get a list of enclosed island polygons?
Also, some islands may contain lakes within the island. I would like to select those as well.
I'm assuming the lake polygons are in the same feature class as the island polygons? Also, I'm assuming ArcGIS 10, but the below method will work in 9.3 etc. also.
But the simplest way of doing this, assuming that you don't need to know which island/lake is contained by which other lake (ie, just a selection of islands in lakes) then in the table of contents for ArcGIS duplicate the layer (add it to the ArcMap session twice) and rename one so they have different names.
The from the first feature class (I'll call it 'A') select all lake features as an attribute selection. This can be done with Select by Attributes from the Selection menu.
Then from the Selection menu choose Select by Location. We want to select features from 'B', so check that in the box up the top. In the drop down choose 'A' as the selection feature and make sure that 'Use Select Features' is checked. The from the selection type choose select within and you should be done.
If you have many lake features and island features to match, you may want to perform a spatial join with the target layer being the islands. By spatially joining, you are assigning attributes from a source layer (here lakes) to the target layer based on how the layers overlap/contain/intersect one another. All island features will theoretically be assigned to the lake they fall within.
There is a spatial join function both in the toolbox and in the main interface; the toolbox version gives you a bit more control as to how to perform the join, and how large a radius to consider for each match. I use that if it is a large dataset, i.e. more than a few 1000 points for performance reasons.
If you store the result in a personal geodatabase, you can then go into access if you are licensed and query the result(or you could get the same results from just looking at the attribute table, sorted):
select [lake], [island] from [layersAndIslands] order by [lake],[island];
You should get a list of all the islands, preceded by which lake it falls in.
Summarize Within (GeoAnalytics Desktop)
Overlays a polygon layer with another layer to summarize the number of points, length of the lines, or area of the polygons within each polygon and calculates attribute field statistics about those features within the polygons.
- Given watershed boundaries and land-use boundaries by land-use type, calculate total acreage of land-use type for each watershed.
- Given county parcels and city boundaries, summarize the average value of vacant parcels within each city boundary.
- Given counties and roads, summarize the total mileage of roads by road type within each county.
The input raster from which cells will be extracted.
A polygon (or polygons) that defines the area of the input raster to be extracted.
Each polygon part is a list of vertices defined by Point classes. Optionally a Polygon class can be used to define a list of polygon parts.
The points are specified as x,y coordinate pairs. The form of the object is:
Note that the last coordinate should be the same as the first in order to close the polygon.
Identifies whether to extract cells inside or outside the input polygon.
- INSIDE — A keyword specifying that the cells inside the input polygon should be selected and written to the output raster. All cells outside the polygon will receive NoData values on the output raster.
- OUTSIDE — A keyword specifying that the cells outside the input polygon should be selected and written to the output raster. All cells inside the polygon will receive NoData values on the output raster.
The output raster containing the cell values extracted from the input raster.
Combining Spatial Data in ArcMap
You want to combine your data. Okay, so which tool should you use?
Do you ever want to combine multiple spatial datasets in ArcMap, but you aren’t sure which tool to use? You may wonder if you should use Merge, Append or Union , or if there are other tools available. Seriously – what does Dissolve do!? ArcGIS has a lot of tools that perform many useful operations, but sometimes it can be hard to figure out which one to use. Here we’ll take a look at the differences among these tools to help you decide which one will help achieve your particular goal. Merge
The Merge tool combines multiple input datasets of the same geometry type (e.g., polyline, polygon, or point), or tables, into a new feature class. The output will have an extent that encompasses all of the features included in the merge. The relationship of input features relative to each other does not change, so the physical boundaries of the features are not actually blended together - the features simply belong to the same feature class after the Merge. Therefore, the number of features in the output is equal to the sum of features used in the Merge. No new features are created for where areas overlap.
With Merge, you can decide which attributes are transferred to the output, and these can be any combination of the input attribute fields. It is not necessary for inputs to have the same coordinate system to be merged, as the tool does this on-the-fly. However, the output defaults to the coordinate system of the first input unless specified in the Environment Settings. Example: Your colleagues collected data in different parts of the state. One collected population and age data for the western counties, while the other collected population, age, and gender information for the eastern counties. You obtain the two feature classes from your colleagues and use Merge to create a single feature class with population and age attribute information for the entire state. Append The Append tool does exactly what the name implies: it adds, or appends , data from one feature class to another feature class of the same type. No new dataset is actually created , so you have to be sure you want to change the original data before using this tool. You can use Append for point, line, or polygon feature classes tables, rasters, raster catalogs, annotation feature classes, or dimensions feature classes – the only requirement is that the inputs are the same type as the target. In this case, you can choose to only append feature classes with the same schema (set of attributes, domains, and so forth), or you can choose to append different schemas. If appending a feature class with a different schema other than the target, the attributes will not be transferred to the target feature class.
The full geometry of the underlying features is preserved, and the number of features in the output is equal to the sum of the features from the appending layers and the target layer. Example: You work for the Department of Parks and Recreation for your city, and you have a detailed feature class with all the spatial and attribute information for city parks. A new park was just finished in the downtown area, and you have been asked to update the master parks polygon feature class. Your colleague sends you a shapefile of the new park polygon with all the required attributes. After ensuring the shapefile is correct and contains the right information, use Append to add the shapefile to the master parks feature class. Union Union can do some nifty things, but here’s the catch: it only works with polygons. This tool is interesting because the output of the tool contains features and/or parts of features representing areas of unique intersection, as well as features and/or parts of features representing no intersection among all the features in the input feature classes. Attributes from all features involved in the intersection are contained in the output record for the newly created feature that represents the intersecting feature or feature part. Features in the output representing areas with no intersection will have the FID_<FcName> value of -1. Example : You are looking for regions with specific combinations of soil and rainfall to help you find a good place to grow certain crops. You have two feature classes: one with the location of certain soil types and the other with ranges of precipitation. You use the Union tool to find all the areas with unique combinations of rain and soil. Other Tools: Dissolve Dissolve is used for combining features from a single dataset based on a common attribute . The tool dissolves the boundaries between features to aggregate them by category. If you have a feature class with a polygon representing each state and you just want a feature class that represents the United States, use the Dissolve tool and specify the 'country' field as the dissolve attribute. If you select the multi-part option, the output contains one polygon with no boundaries between states. You can also choose to calculate statistics of attributes during the dissolve. For example, you can calculate the sum of all state populations to get the population for the entire US. Aggregate Polygons This tool combines polygons within a specified distance of each other into new polygon features. The input is a single polygon layer with multiple features, and the output is a polygon layer with a reduced number of polygons encompassing the area of the input features. You can set the distance for aggregation and choose to preserve orthogonal angles in the output.
Note: Aggregate everything within a 500 meter radius. Spatial Join The Spatial Join tool does not combine the physical features of two datasets. Rather, it appends the attributes of a layer to a different layer. A new feature class is created based on the geometry of the target features, but the attributes of the joined features are added to the output attribute table. This tool is useful when you are looking for statistics about features located in relation to other features. Additionally, the inputs can have any combination of feature types – points can be joined to polygons, polygons can be joined to lines, and so forth. Combine This tool is specific to raster datasets. The Combine tool combines raster datasets in such a way where each output pixel has a value indicating a specific combination of input values. This is really useful for categorical raster data. For example, if you have three raster datasets, and each represents a different type of risk (e.g. drought, earthquake, and floods), use the Combine tool to find all the different combinations of risk that exist throughout an area. Which areas have a high risk of earthquakes and floods, but a low risk of drought? This combination is represented by a specific value in the output of the Combine tool. Intersect The Intersect tool calculates the geometric intersection of all input features. So what’s a geometric intersection? It’s the physical geometry of the overlapping features. If you have different input types (e.g. points and polygons), the output will use the lowest dimension points have a lower dimension than lines, and lines are lower than polygons. Use this tool when you are only interested in the unique intersections between features in all your inputs, and when an intersection between the inputs is not important for the analysis. Erase
I include the Erase tool here because it does the opposite of the Intersect tool - the Erase tool removes overlapping areas of input feature classes. Use the Erase tool to remove features or parts of features representing an intersection between the input feature classes. The output feature class only contains features or parts of features that do not intersect with the erased feature class.
There are many tools you can use to combine, overlay, or spatially relate data that share common locations– but don’t worry. The next time you're confused about which of these tools to use, ask yourself this question: "What information do I want in my output?" Use this blog as a guide to discover the best tool for you. Julia L. - Geodata Support Analyst
Follow these best practices to accurately map your data.
Use the appropriate location information in the Location field
- Address information—Depending on the geographic region of your organization, address data can be composed of any of the following: address, neighborhood, city, subregion, region, state, province, postal code, United States ZIP Code, country, and so on. The more address elements your data contains, the more accurate your results will be.
When you geocode addresses, you can add a maximum of 3,500 points to an ArcGIS for Power BI visualization as a standard user or 10,000 points if you're signed in to your ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise account.
The Location field well accepts only a single value. Because of this, if your address information is contained in separate columns, it's important to combine the information into a single, comma-separated location column. You can then place the combined column data in the Location field well to add data to the map.
In some cases, ZIP Codes may be associated with nonresidential P.O. boxes these codes do not have boundaries associated with them, and the GeoEnrichment service does not maintain demographic data for this type of ZIP Code. If you're creating a map using nonresidential ZIP Codes, use the Points location type. Using the Boundaries location type will result in errors during geocoding.
If no metadata is found, ArcGIS for Power BI searches for supported keywords in the name of the data fields that correlate to standard administrative boundaries. The following table lists the standard administrative boundaries and related keywords. Keywords are not case sensitive.
Finding neighbours from voronoi polygons within a set map area
After a rather unsuccessfully written question, I hope this one is more clear and direct, and any help at all with it is much appreciated.
I want to create voronoi/thiessen polygons around a set of points within a given 'map' in order to determine which points are neighbours (share a boundary line) with each other within this given area.
Considering the situation where I have 14 locations I am interested in:
within the given polygon (map)
and this polygon (map) has a set hole in it of:
I now need to know the first order neighbours between each of the points of interest, but where the voronoi polygons around the point of interest cannot extend out of the map boundaries, or into/through the hole.
simply gives the voronoi polygons (and first order neighbours) without these constraints.
For illustrative purposes only and to further explain what I mean with an example, if we were to plot the polygons in a usual way:
and then if I plot my constraints over this to demonstrate what I mean
I am wanting to have it so when I use the deldir command (or something similar?), '3' would not be classed as neighbours with '1' or '2', nor would '10' and '8' be classed as neighbours with each other etc.
I have since found this. It sounds similar to what I need (with the 'extent' option) but was hoping to carry it out without the use of ArcGIS software.
The sections below describe the functionality of the Summarize Within tool.
Square and hexagonal bins can be generated for aggregation areas rather than summarizing features into an input area layer. The bins are generated in a custom, area-preserving projected coordinate system using the specified size dimensions to ensure the sizes are equal and appropriate for the area of interest. An appropriate equal-area projection and parameters are chosen based on the geographic extent of the input layers. Once bins are created, they are projected back to the coordinate system of the input data before being used in the analysis.
After the analysis is complete, the result is projected to Web Mercator for display (the default) or to the projection of your custom basemap. A Web Mercator projection may cause your results to appear distorted, especially for large bins or bins near the polar regions. These distortions are part of the display only and do not reflect an inaccurate analysis.
Average and Std Deviation are calculated using weighted mean and weighted standard deviation for line and area features. None of the statistics for point features are weighted. The following table shows the equations used to calculate standard deviation, weighted mean, and weighted standard deviation:
Weighted Standard Deviation
Null values are excluded from all statistical calculations. For example, the mean of 10, 5, and a null value is 7.5 ((10+5)/2).
Point layers are summarized using only the point features within the input boundary. The number of points that are within each input boundary is only included in the results if the Count of Points box is checked. The results are displayed using graduated symbols.
The figure and table below show the statistical calculations of a point layer within a hypothetical boundary. The Population field was used to calculate the statistics ( Sum , Minimum , Maximum , Average , and Std Deviation ) for the layer.
Point layers are summarized using only points located within the boundary layer. An example attribute table is displayed above with values to be used in hypothetical statistic calculations.
A real-life scenario in which you can use this analysis is determining the total number of students in each school district. Each point represents a school. The Type field contains the type of school (elementary, middle school, or secondary) and a student population field contains the number of students enrolled at each school. The calculations and results are provided for District A in the table above. From the results, you can see that District A has 2,568 students. When running the Summarize Within tool, the results are also provided for District B.
Line layers are summarized using only the proportions of the line features that are within the input boundary. When summarizing lines, use fields with counts and amounts rather than rates or ratios so proportional calculations make logical sense in your analysis. The results include the number of lines that are within each input boundary and are displayed using graduated symbols.
The figure and table below show the statistical calculations of a line layer within a hypothetical boundary. The Volume field was used to calculate the statistics ( Sum , Minimum , Maximum , Average , and Std Deviation ) for the layer. The statistics are calculated using only the proportion of the lines that are within the boundary.
Line layers are summarized using only the proportions of the lines located within the boundary.
A real-life scenario in which you can use this analysis is determining the total volume of water in rivers within the boundaries of a state park. Each line represents a river that is partially located inside the park. From the results, you can see that there are 5 miles of rivers within the park and the total volume is 900 units.
Area layers are summarized using only the proportions of the area features that are within the input boundary. When summarizing areas, use fields with counts and amounts rather than rates or ratios so proportional calculations make logical sense in your analysis. The results include the number of areas that are within each input boundary and are displayed using graduated colors.
The figure and table below show the statistical calculations of an area layer within a hypothetical boundary. The populations were used to calculate the statistics ( Sum , Minimum , Maximum , Average , and Std Deviation ) for the layer. The statistics are calculated using only the proportion of the area that is within the boundary.
Area layers are summarized using only the proportions of the areas located within the boundary.
A real-life scenario in which you can use this analysis is determining the population in a city neighborhood. The blue outline represents the boundary of the neighborhood and the smaller areas represent census blocks. From the results, you can see that there are 10,841 people in the neighborhood and an average of approximately 2,666 people per census block.
There are various methods to create polygons from points in ArcGIS Pro. Follow any of the methods below depending on the objective.
Use the Aggregate Points (Cartography) tool
Use the Aggregate Points tool from the Cartography toolbox to create polygons around clustered points located within a specific aggregate distance.
- Click Analysis > Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane in ArcGIS Pro.
- Search for the Aggregate Points (Cartography) tool and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Aggregate Points pane.
- Select the layer containing the points data for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan.
- Specify the value and unit for Aggregation Distance, that is, 250 Kilometers. This is the maximum distance in which points are aggregated into the same polygon. Points located beyond this distance are not aggregated.
The image below shows four polygons created from points located within a maximum distance of 250 kilometers from one another. The two points (outliers) located beyond the aggregation distance are not included in any polygon.
A stand-alone one-to-many relationship table is created to link the polygons created (OUTPUT_FID) to the source points (INPUT_FID, same as OBJECTID of point features). Only points aggregated into polygons are listed in this table outliers are excluded.
Use the Minimum Bounding Geometry (Data Management) tool
Use the Minimum Bounding Geometry tool from the Data Management toolbox to create the smallest bounding polygon enclosing all input points based on the specified attribute and geometry.
- Click Analysis > Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane in ArcGIS Pro.
- Search for the Minimum Bounding Geometry (Data Management) tool and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Minimum Bounding Geometry pane.
- Select the layer containing the points data for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan.
- Select Convex hull from the drop-down list for Geometry Type. This creates the smallest convex polygon enclosing all point features.
- Select List for Group Option.
- Select the attribute(s) to draw the polygon(s) for Group Field(s), that is, LOCATION. Polygons are created based on the location attribute.
The image below shows five convex polygons created at five different locations, namely, Hokkaido, Honshu, Izu, Kyushu, and Ryukyu.
Use the Create Thiessen Polygons (Analysis) tool
Use the Create Thiessen Polygons tool from the Analysis toolbox to create Thiessen polygons (also known as Voronoi polygons) that enclose point features. Any location within a Thiessen polygon is closer to the associated point feature compared to any point feature in other Thiessen polygons.
- Click Analysis > Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane in ArcGIS Pro.
- Search for the Create Thiessen Polygons (Analysis) tool and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Create Thiessen Polygons pane. Select the layer containing the points data for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan.
The image below shows Thiessen polygons created around point features. One point feature is associated with one polygon. Any location within a Thiessen polygon is the nearest to its associated point compared to adjacent points in other Thiessen polygons.
Use the Points To Line (Data Management) and Feature To Polygon (Data Management) tools
Use the Points To Line tool to create lines from points, followed by the Feature To Polygon tool to create polygons within line feature boundaries.
- Click Analysis > Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane in ArcGIS Pro.
- Search for the Points To Line (Data Management) tool and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Points To Line pane.
- Select the layer containing the points data for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan.
- Select an attribute to draw the line for Line Field, that is, LOCATION. Line features are drawn separately at different locations, and are based on the OBJECTID sequence.
- Check the Close Line check box to create closed line features.
The image below shows closed line features drawn according to the OBJECTID sequence at five different locations.
- Search for Feature To Polygon (Data Management) tool in the Geoprocessing pane and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Feature To Polygon pane. Select the output from Step 3 for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan_PointstoLine.
The image below shows polygons created within the line feature boundaries.
Use the Points To Line (Data Management) and Feature Envelope To Polygon (Data Management) tools
Use the Points To Line tool to create lines from points, followed by the Feature Envelope To Polygon tool to create polygons enveloping the lines. The steps below describe how to create polygons from points.
- Create lines from points using the Points To Line (Data Management) tool in ArcGIS Pro.
- Search for the Feature Envelope To Polygon (Data Management) tool in the Geoprocessing pane and click it.
- Configure the parameters in the Feature Envelope To Polygon pane. Select the output from Step 1 for Input Features, that is, VolcanoJapan_PointstoLine.
The image below shows five polygons enveloping the line features created at five different locations.
Step 1: Digitizing and Geo-referencing
First things first, some terms and preparation:
- Digitizing is the tracing of object boundaries or areas into computer-readable formats. By scanning maps into image formats such as .tif, .jpeg, .png, we can digitize them for GIS use. For this exercise, I will be using an 1890–95 map of Erzurum Province of the Ottoman Empire drawn by French Geographer Vital Cuinet. The map was extracted from Cuinet’s well-known work La Turquie d’Asie, Géographie Administrative as a .jpeg file.
- Geo-referencing is the process of ascribing geographic information to an image that does not contain any such information. Because our .jpeg file was taken out of a book, it contains no geographic information, we must therefore geo-reference it to be able to interact with it in ArcGIS.
- At this point we can go ahead and launch ArcGIS. Before we start the exercise, it is important that we link our project folder to ArcGIS. Folders on your computer are revealed by clicking the catalogue icon (seen below). Click “Connect Folder” and choose the folder that you are using for this project (keep all your files here). This will make it easier to drag, drop and save files connected to the project. Note that once you are in ArcGIS, files must be managed (renamed, deleted, etc.) through the ‘Catalog’ window.
- It is also helpful to load a Basemap, as this not only allows us to see where our data is located, but (if added first) also defines a projection system for the project to add a basemap click on the dropdown arrow next to “Add Data” icon (seen below) → Add Basemap → Any option.
Now we are ready to add our (digitized) historical map. As mentioned above, we must geo-reference it. For most historical maps, you are most likely to encounter this issue. If we enter our digitized map in ArcGIS (simply click catalogue, find your connected folder and drag-drop the digitized image to the center of the screen, it should now appear in the “Table of Contents”), we will get the following error message:
And if we go ahead and ignore the alert by clicking ok, we will see that our map is located somewhere in the middle of the ocean:
Clearly this is not correct. To ground the digital object to real world locations, we need to add ‘control points’ (also called ‘tie points’) in ArcGIS. The number of control points we need will depend upon the size of our digitized image. It is best practice to add between 10-30 control points to a digital object or area.
Control points have to be locations that we know the exact geographic coordinates to. Accordingly, I select 17 major cities charted in the map:
- Erzeroum (Erzurum),
- Izpir (İspir),
- Kouroutehai (Kuruçay),
- Baibourt (Bayburt),
- Mamakatoun (Tercan),
- Ilidja (Ilıca),
- Kighi (Kiğı),
- Khinis (Hınıs),
- Hasankale (Pasinler),
- Erzindjan (Erzincan),
- Nikagh (Tortumkale),
- Toutak (Tutak),
- Karakilise (Ağrı),
- Diadin (Diyadin),
- Bayazid (Doğubayazıt).
You will notice that most of the names in the above list and on the map have different names. This is because the names of these locations were transliterated or have changed since the creation of the map. This is a common problem in Historical GIS research. For this reason, it is best practice to consult historical gazetteers that allow you to trace the toponymical evaluation of each location. For Ottoman place names I consult Tahir Sezen’s Osmanlı Yer Adları (Ottoman Toponyms).
Next, I use google maps to find the exact coordinates of each town. (If you are dealing with a larger geographic area there are also batch geocode options online). Alternatively, I can also use the basemap to link each of these historic locations to modern cities.
To add a control point in ArcGIS, you must make sure that Customize → Toolbars → Geo-referencing is selected. Once your geo-referencing tab is visible, make sure your digitized map is selected from the drop down, and click the “add control points button” (seen below).
Next, left-click a location on your historical map that you want to geocode. If you know the exact latitude and longitude of the location, you can right click immediately and enter this information. Alternatively, you can select the ‘true location’ by using your base map. Similar to entering coordinates, right click on the city on the historical map and right click again on the true location on the basemap. Repeat this process for all of the 17 points and make sure your control points are evenly spread (see below).
It is important to remember that adding more control points does not always equal better. An excessive amount of control points can result in artifacting, i.e. the distortion of the digital object or area due to over-correction. As you become more proficient in geographic analysis software it is worthwhile to check the residual distance error of your georeferenced imaged as this will tell you how much error was involved in your geo-referencing process. As you add your control points, you will notice that the historic map will move closer to its true location, and look something like this:
Another important point to remember is that these maps were created before satellite imagery. While cartography had advanced considerably by the second half of the nineteenth century, you will never get a perfect match between a historical map and your basemap.
ArcGIS version history
Version Released 8.0 1999-12-27  8.0.1 2000-01-13  8.1 2001-05-01  8.2 2002-05-10  8.3 2003-02-10  9.0 2004-05-11  9.1 2005-05-25  9.2 2006-11-14  9.3 2008-06-25  9.3.1 2009-04-28  10.0 2010-06-29  10.1 2012-06-11    10.2 2013-07-30   10.2.1 2014-01-07  10.2.2 2014-04-15  10.3 2014-12-10  10.3.1 2015-05-13  10.4 2016-02-18  10.4.1 2016-05-31   10.5 2016-12-15   10.5.1 2017-06-29  10.6 2018-01-17 10.6.1 2018-07-16 10.7 2019-03-21  10.7.1 2019-06-27   10.8 2020-02-20  10.8.1 2020-07 
Prior to the ArcGIS suite, Esri had focused its software development on the command line Arc/INFO workstation program and several Graphical User Interface-based products such as the ArcView GIS 3.x desktop program. Other Esri products included MapObjects, a programming library for developers, and ArcSDE as a relational database management system. The various products had branched out into multiple source trees and did not integrate well with one another. In January 1997, Esri decided to revamp its GIS software platform, creating a single integrated software architecture. 
ArcMap 8.0 Edit
In late 1999, Esri released ArcMap 8.0, which ran on the Microsoft Windows operating system.  ArcGIS combined the visual user-interface aspect of ArcView GIS 3.x interface with some of the power from the Arc/INFO version 7.2 workstation. This pairing resulted in a new software suite called ArcGIS including the command-line ArcInfo workstation (v8.0) and a new graphical user interface application called ArcMap (v8.0). This ArcMAP incorporating some of the functionality of ArcInfo with a more intuitive interface, as well as a file management application called ArcCatalog (v8.0). The release of the ArcMap constituted a major change in Esri's software offerings, aligning all their client and server products under one software architecture known as ArcGIS, developed using Microsoft Windows COM standards.  While the interface and names of ArcMap 8.0 are similar to later versions of ArcGIS Desktop, they are different products. ArcGIS 8.1 replaced ArcMap 8.0 in the product line but was not an update to it.
ArcGIS Desktop 8.1 to 8.3 Edit
ArcGIS 8.1 was unveiled at the Esri International User Conference in 2000.  ArcGIS 8.1 was officially released on April 24, 2001. This new application included three extensions: 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, and GeoStatistical Analyst. These three extension had become very powerful and popular in ArcView GIS 3.x product line. ArcGIS 8.1 also added the ability to access data online, directly from the Geography Network site or other ArcIMS map services.  ArcGIS 8.3 was introduced in 2002, adding topology to geodatabases, which was a feature originally available only with ArcInfo coverages. 
One major difference is the programming (scripting) languages available to customize or extend the software to suit particular user needs. In the transition to ArcGIS, Esri dropped support of its application-specific scripting languages, Avenue and the ARC Macro Language (AML), in favour of Visual Basic for Applications scripting and open access to ArcGIS components using the Microsoft COM standards.  ArcGIS is designed to store data in a proprietary RDBMS format, known as geodatabase. ArcGIS 8.x introduced other new features, including on-the-fly map projections, and annotation in the database. 
ArcGIS 9.x Edit
ArcGIS 9 was released in May 2004, which included ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Engine for developers.  The ArcGIS 9 release includes a geoprocessing environment that allows execution of traditional GIS processing tools (such as clipping, overlay, and spatial analysis) interactively or from any scripting language that supports COM standards. Although the most popular of these is Python, others have been used, especially Perl and VBScript. ArcGIS 9 includes a visual programming environment, similar to ERDAS IMAGINE's Model Maker (released in 1994, v8.0.2). The Esri version is called ModelBuilder and as does the ERDAS IMAGINE version allows users to graphically link geoprocessing tools into new tools called models. These models can be executed directly or exported to scripting languages which can then execute in batch mode (launched from a command line), or they can undergo further editing to add branching or looping.
At the 2008 Esri Developers Summit, there was little emphasis on ArcIMS, except for one session on transitioning from ArcIMS to ArcGIS Server-based applications, indicating a change in focus for Esri with ArcGIS 9.3 for web-based mapping applications. 
In May 2009, Esri released ArcGIS 9.3.1, which improved the performance of dynamic map publishing and introduced better sharing of geographic information.
ArcGIS 10.x Edit
In 2010, Esri announced that the prospective version 9.4 would become version 10 and would ship in the second quarter of 2010. 
The ArcGIS 10.3 release included ArcGIS Pro 1.0, which became available in January 2015.
On October 21, 2020 Esri publicly announced that this would be the last release of ArcGIS Desktop.  Its products, including ArcMap, will be supported until March 1, 2026.  This announcement confirmed predictions that ArcGIS Pro (and related products) was planned to be a complete replacement for ArcMap.
ArcGIS Pro Edit
ArcGIS Pro is a 64-bit GIS software that is the more modern version of ArcGIS Desktop. Unlike ArcGIS Desktop, the ArcCatalog and ArcMap functionalities are accessed through the same application, most commonly through the Catalog pane.  The graphics requirements for ArcGIS Pro are considerably higher than for ArcGIS Desktop in order to support the upgraded visualization. ArcGIS Pro also supports streamlined workflows that involve publishing and consuming feature layers using ArcGIS Online. 
ArcGIS Pro 1.0 was released in January 2015. 
ArcGIS Pro 2.6 was released in July 2020.  Noted features added included: 
- Voxel layers
- Trace networks
- Interactive suitability analysis using the new Suitability Modeler
- Graphics layers
- Parcel adjustment
- Link analysis
- Project recovery
Data formats Edit
Older Esri products, including ArcView 3.x, worked with data in the shapefile format. ArcInfo Workstation handled coverages, which stored topology information about the spatial data. Coverages, which were introduced in 1981 when ArcInfo was first released, have limitations in how they handle types of features. Some features, such as roads with street intersections or overpasses and underpasses, should be handled differently from other types of features. 
ArcGIS is built around a geodatabase, which uses an object–relational database approach for storing spatial data. A geodatabase is a "container" for holding datasets, tying together the spatial features with attributes. The geodatabase can also contain topology information, and can model behavior of features, such as road intersections, with rules on how features relate to one another.  When working with geodatabases, it is important to understand feature classes which are a set of features, represented with points, lines, or polygons. With shapefiles, each file can only handle one type of feature. A geodatabase can store multiple feature classes or type of features within one file. 
Geodatabases in ArcGIS can be stored in three different ways – as a "file geodatabase", a "personal geodatabase", or an "enterprise geodatabase" (formerly known as an SDE or ArcSDE geodatabase).  Introduced at 9.2, the file geodatabase stores information in a folder named with a .gdb extension. The insides look similar to that of a coverage but is not, in fact, a coverage. Similar to the personal geodatabase, the file geodatabase only supports a single editor. However, unlike the personal geodatabase, there is virtually no size limit. By default, any single table cannot exceed 1TB, but this can be changed. Personal geodatabases store data in Microsoft Access files, using a BLOB field to store the geometry data. The OGR library is able to handle this file type, to convert it to other file formats.  Database administration tasks for personal geodatabases, such as managing users and creating backups, can be done through ArcCatalog and ArcGIS Pro. Personal geodatabases, which are based on Microsoft Access, run only on Microsoft Windows and have a 2 gigabyte size limit.  Enterprise (multi-user) geodatabases sit on top of high-end DBMS such as PostgreSQL, Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, DB2 and Informix to handle database management aspects, while ArcGIS deals with spatial data management.  Enterprise level geodatabases support database replication, versioning and transaction management, and are cross-platform compatible, able to run on Linux, Windows, and Solaris. 
Also released at 9.2 is the personal SDE database that operates with SQL Server Express. Personal SDE databases do not support multi-user editing, but do support versioning and disconnected editing. Microsoft limits SQL Server Express databases to 4GB.
ArcGIS Pro (which is a 64-bit application) does not support the personal geodatabase format but can convert them into supported formats using geoprocessing tools. 
ArcGIS Desktop Edit
Product levels Edit
ArcGIS Desktop is available at different product levels, with increasing functionality.
- ArcReader (freeware, viewer) is a basic data viewer for maps and GIS data published in the proprietary Esri format using ArcGIS Publisher. The software also provides some basic tools for map viewing, printing and querying of spatial data. ArcReader is included with any of the ArcGIS suite of products, and is also available for free to download. ArcReader only works with pre-authored published map files, created with ArcGIS Publisher. 
- ArcGIS Desktop Basic, formerly known as ArcView,  is the entry level of ArcGIS licensing. With ArcView, one is able to view and edit GIS data held in flat files, or view data stored in a relational database management system by accessing it through ArcSDE. One can also create layered maps and perform basic spatial analysis.
- ArcGIS Desktop Standard, formerly known as ArcEditor, is the midlevel software suite designed for advanced editing of spatial data in shapefiles and geodatabases. It provides tools for the creation of map and spatial data used in GIS, including the ability of editing geodatabase files and data, multiuser geodatabase editing, versioning, raster data editing and vectorization, advanced vector data editing, managing coverages, coordinate geometry (COGO), and editing geometric networks. ArcEditor is not intended for advanced spatial analysis. 
- ArcGIS Desktop Advanced, formerly known as ArcInfo, allows users the most flexibility and control in "all aspects of data building, modeling, analysis, and map display."  ArcInfo includes increased capability in the areas of spatial analysis, geoprocessing, data management, and others. 
Other desktop GIS software include ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGIS Engine. ArcGIS Explorer is a GIS viewer which can work as a client for ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, ArcWeb Services and Web Map Service (WMS).
- ArcGIS Online is a web application allowing sharing and search of geographic information, as well as content published by Esri, ArcGIS users, and other authoritative data providers. It allows users to create and join groups, and control access to items shared publicly or within groups.
ArcGIS Desktop consists of several integrated applications, including ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcToolbox, ArcScene, ArcGlobe, and ArcGIS Pro. ArcCatalog is the data management application, used to browse datasets and files on one's computer, database, or other sources. In addition to showing what data is available, ArcCatalog also allows users to preview the data on a map. ArcCatalog also provides the ability to view and manage metadata for spatial datasets.  ArcMap is the application used to view, edit and query geospatial data, and create maps. The ArcMap interface has two main sections, including a table of contents on the left and the data frames which display the map. Items in the table of contents correspond with layers on the map.  ArcToolbox contains geoprocessing, data conversion, and analysis tools, along with much of the functionality in ArcInfo. It is also possible to use batch processing with ArcToolbox, for frequently repeated tasks.  ArcScene is an application which allows the user to view their GIS data in 3-D and is available with the 3D Analyst License.  In the layer properties of ArcScene there is an Extrusion function which allows the user to exaggerate features three dimension-ally.  ArcGlobe is another one of ArcGIS's 3D visualization applications available with the 3D Analyst License. ArcGlobe is a 3D visualization application that allows you to view large amounts of GIS data on a globe surface.  The ArcGIS Pro application was added to ArcGIS Desktop in 2015 February.  It had the combined capabilities of the other integrated applications and was built as a fully 64-bit software application.  ArcGIS Pro has ArcPy Python scripting for database programming. 
There are a number of software extensions that can be added to ArcGIS Desktop that provide added functionality, including 3D Analyst, Spatial Analyst, Network Analyst, Survey Analyst, Tracking Analyst, and Geostatistical Analyst.  Advanced map labeling is available with the Maplex extension, as an add-on to ArcView and ArcEditor and is bundled with ArcInfo.  Numerous extensions have also been developed by third parties, such as the MapSpeller spell-checker, ST-Links PgMap, XTools Pro  and MAP2PDF for creating georeferenced pdfs (GeoPDF),  ERDAS' Image Analysis and Stereo Analyst for ArcGIS, and ISM's PurVIEW, which converts Arc- desktops into precise stereo-viewing windows to work with geo-referenced stereoscopic image models for accurate geodatabase-direct editing or feature digitizing.
Address locator Edit
An address locator is a dataset in ArcGIS that stores the address attributes, associated indexes, and rules that define the process for translating nonspatial descriptions of places, such as street addresses, into spatial data that can be displayed as features on a map. An address locator contains a snapshot of the reference data used for geocoding, and parameters for standardizing addresses, searching for match locations, and creating output. Address locator files have a .loc file extension. In ArcGIS 8.3 and previous versions, an address locator was called a geocoding service. 
Other products Edit
ArcGIS Mobile and ArcPad are products designed for mobile devices. ArcGIS Mobile is a software development kit for developers to use to create applications for mobile devices, such as smartphones or tablet PCs. If connected to the Internet, mobile applications can connect to ArcGIS Server to access or update data. ArcGIS Mobile is only available at the Enterprise level 
Server GIS products include ArcIMS (web mapping server), ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Image Server. As with ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server is available at different product levels, including Basic, Standard, and Advanced Editions. ArcGIS Server comes with SQL Server Express DBMS embedded and can work with enterprise DBMS such as SQL Server Enterprise and Oracle.  The Esri Developer Network (EDN) includes ArcObjects and other tools for building custom software applications, and ArcGIS Engine provides a programming interface for developers. 
For non-commercial purposes, Esri offers a home use program with a lower annual license fee. 
The ArcGIS Engine is an ArcGIS software engine, a developer product for creating custom GIS desktop applications.
ArcGIS Engine provides application programming interfaces (APIs) for COM, .NET, Java, and C++ for the Windows, Linux, and Solaris platforms. The APIs include documentation and a series of high-level visual components to ease building ArcGIS applications.
ArcGIS Engine includes the core set of components, ArcObjects, from which ArcGIS Desktop products are built. With ArcGIS Engine one can build stand-alone applications or extend existing applications for both GIS and non-GIS users. The ArcGIS Engine distribution additionally includes utilities, samples, and documentation.
One ArcGIS Engine Runtime or ArcGIS Desktop license per computer is necessary.
ArcGIS Desktop products and ArcPad are available with a single-use license. Most products are also available with concurrent-use license, while development server licenses and other types of software licenses are available for other products.  Single-use products can be purchased online from the Esri Store, while all ArcGIS products are available through a sales representative or reseller. Annual software maintenance and support is also available for ArcGIS.  While there are alternative products available from vendors such as MapInfo, Maptitude, AutoCAD Map 3D and open-source QGIS, Esri has a dominant share of the GIS software market, estimated in 2015 at 43%. 
Issues with ArcGIS include perceived high prices for the products, proprietary formats, and difficulties of porting data between Esri and other GIS software.   
Esri's transition to the ArcGIS platform, starting with the 1999 release of ArcGIS 8.0, rendered incompatible an extensive range of user-developed and third-party add-on software and scripts. A minority user base resists migrating to ArcGIS because of changes in scripting capability, functionality, operating system (Esri developed ArcGIS Desktop software exclusively for the Microsoft Windows operating system), as well as the significantly larger system resources required by the ArcGIS software.  
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