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The mystery of the non-editable zip code values

I finally fixed something that has been bugging me for a while now. When adding new addresses in our GIS database, certain zip code values (owner zip only) from out of state would be kicked out. It happened to me today so I decided to look at the properties of the fields in the database. It turns out that field was set up as a short integer. Now short integers (unsigned ones) allow values from -32,768 to 32,767 so a zip code of 34465 (the one I just tried) is out of range.

Scratch Workspace

A short script with a few inputs and outputs is one thing but when you have a script that performs a series of operations, some outputs are bound to be temporary intermediate outputs. For this reason, I wanted to explore using the scratch workspace in the general environment when formulating a large python script for ArcMap.
I finally found some useful information showing that you can output temporary feature layers like this ...


This works just fine for me and when I'm done I'll typically do this sort of thing to clean up the mess.

if arcpy.Exists(TMP_OUTPUT):

What Option Do I have ?

Fun at work !

ArcMap has stopped working

Pasting Features from one layer to another in ArcMap

I'm sure most everyone knows how to do this but being old school (ArcInfo) I still get a kick out of some of the editing features in the newer (9.3) software. I really should be trying out version 10 but I might be overwhelmed.

I get a kick out of the ability to paste features from one layer to another. I've been digitizing a lot lately for a project. Here is how it works. In an edit session, clear all selections, then select the features you want to copy (in the from layer). Set target layer to the one you want to paste into. Open the from layer's attribute table and go to Edit - Copy. Then open the to layer's attribute table and go to Edit - Paste.

Excel Column Chart Weirdness and Workaround

Ok If I really wanted control over my graphs, I'd be using "R" (but I haven't installed it yet). Instead I'm using Excel 2007 at work today and I'm trying to make a column chart with labels on the X axis. The values on the X axis are numeric. The problem is if I create the chart just using the y data, it doesn't know what x is so it just numbers them 1 through n. If I select both columns it treats them both as data. Even formatting the cells as text didn't work. Typing the numeric values in as alphanumeric (i.e. one, two, three, four etc.) works !

When to Automate

I'm just pondering something that I think about fairly often when I'm asked to do some immense task like create output for 2,256 watersheds. That was today's task ... and by “today” I mean ... I'm not going to finish it today, it was just added to my inbox today. I have to use the 2001 NLCD to create forest/non-forest data and then clip out a piece for each of the 2,256 sheds to run Fragstats on. What I wonder about is how much of this can I automate with a script. The answer usually boils down to efficiency. I mean how much time would it take to write the script vs. how much time would it take to do it manually. Usually there are several steps (as in the present case) so I have to answer the question for each step. Sometimes a script can be useful in the future so it may be worth writing one even if it takes a little longer to write than to do it manually (because it will be so much quicker next time you have to do a similar task).

Missing VB Editor (follow up)

As a follow-up to my last post, completely uninstalling the program didn't work. Then our systems administrator asked if the toolbox worked as a different user. It did work as a different user so I had to kill my user account on my main machine. It wasn't a terrible ordeal but also not the greatest solution but at least I've got my toolbox back.

Missing VB Editor in ArcGIS 9.3 installations

Let me start by saying that I am not putting blame on ESRI for this. Its probably mostly my fault. I use automated or silent installations whenever I install ArcGIS and that is how I got tripped up. I noticed that whenever I installed the latest version of ArcGIS (version 9.3), ArcMap did not show the Macros and VBA Editor. Apparently the line
\\Desktop\Desktop\setup.msi -qn ... didn't also run the file at \\Desktop\Desktop\VBA\1033\VBAOF11I.msi. Probably setup.exe takes care of that but running the msi did not. I simply added it to my batch file and got it to work.

ArcGIS Service Pack 5

The new service Pack is here. It came out right around the same time as the beta for 9.3 so I'm guessing this will be the last one before the new release. I didn't see much in the way of new features in the service pack but I'm sure I'll go ahead and install it. Maybe I'll do my machines before doing the entire computer lab.

More info here

Hey ESRI ... why can't you fix this ?

Take a quick look at the photo. It probably looks familiar to ESRI ArcGIS software users. Does the file exist or doesn't it. I found it by browsing to it with your software and yet your software doesn't think it exists. Why can't someone fix this annoying frustrating problem.
screen shot

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