ArcGIS Tricks

Since I now use ArcGIS for my job (instead of QGIS, which I used for everything else, except for Drupal, where I use OpenLayers), I have to re-learn everything I once knew.  Part of this involves the nitpicky issues that span both ESRI’s programming choices and their documentation.  I will continue to update this post as I learn more.

ArcGIS 10.1:

  • When using the Contour tool, there cannot be any spaces in the output path.  Not just the filename, but the whole path to that file.  The full list of characters you can’t use (just to be safe) is here (even though the output is a vector).
    • Errors you may get: 010328 : Syntax error, 010267 : Syntax error in parsing grid expression.
  • When exporting a shapefile that has a joined table (i.e., to create a new shapefile so you can query the joined data), the filename of the table that is being joined needs to be pretty short.  Otherwise, the shapefile is not exported completely and there are no errors–Arc actually “finishes” and lets you add the new shapefile.  Taking spaces out of the filename probably can’t hurt either.

Getting Started with Spatial Modeling Environment

UPDATE: This attempt has been abandoned at the advice of one of the SME developers. R was suggested as an alternative.

Sometime this week I hope to get the Spatial Modeling Environment up and running on at least one of my computers (office Windows 7 PC, Macbook Pro OS X Snow Leopard, or Ubuntu 12.04(?) in VirtualBox), but I’m posting this as a shoutout to anyone who has attempted this before: the README is pretty technical, and I could use some help.

This is also a note to developers (even if they are scientists) who write “user-friendly,” “icon-based” software and then make you jump through command line hoops to install it. Stop it. What are you trying to accomplish? The more people who can install your software, the more people will use it, and the better it will become.

I don’t think I’m being unnecessarily harsh. Luckily, I really want to use this software and I’m fairly comfortable following detailed specifications and dealing with the command line, but there are others who aren’t. Hopefully I can follow the directions and install this software and use it for my dissertation; hopefully I can put together some sort of installation tutorial that is clearer than the README; and hopefully this will help someone in the future.

P.S. I’m working through Landscape Simulation Modeling this week as well, and I’m pretty pumped to try SME. How’s that for an endorsement?

Note [QGIS tip]

To delete something in the print composer in QGIS, the correct key combination on a Mac (after selecting what you want to delete) is fn-delete, NOT just delete. It took me days to figure this out. I like the program because I think it has promise, but the lack of documentation and certain useful buttons is rather annoying.