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GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods
1st Edition for v8 - discounted 50%!

ISBN 0-9679208-2-5
GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods combines the how and why into one complete reference. This book bridges the information gap between user manuals and textbooks by fusing ArcGIS v8 methods and techniques with a compilation of basic geographical concepts to benefit both beginners and experts. It is an ideal textbook for introductory GIS courses as it demonstrates how to display, query, edit, and analyze both feature and raster-based geographic data using ArcGIS, all within the broader context of fundamental GIS concepts.

Technically in-depth and easy to read, the book is organized by concepts from basic to advanced, making the ideas and techniques easier to comprehend. Numerous examples, step-by-step instructions, and references to the primary GIS and computer science literature can help you learn even more. Tips on how to transition from ArcView v3 to the current ArcGIS v8 software are provided. GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods is a complete cohesive reference designed to increase productivity for students as well as for professionals.


Table of Contents

Download the Table of Contents as a PDF (796 K)

1st Edition, September 2003

David M. Theobald, Ph.D.
Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory
Colorado State University

GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods

Copyright © 2003 by David M. Theobald. All rights reserved.

ArcGIS, ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcToolbox, ArcView, ArcInfo, Spatial Analyst, Shapefile, Image Analysis, 3D Analyst, and Avenue are registered trademarks of Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc.

Conservation Planning Technologies, 1122 West Mountain Avenue, Fort Collins, Colorado, 80521, USA. Phone: 970.980.1183.

For book inquiries, please visit the following website:

Published in the United States of America

ISBN 0-9679208-2-5 (paper)

CHAPTER 1 Introduction to GIS 1

What is special about GIS? 1
GIS defined 2
Maps and more... 3
Spatial analysis 4

Evolution of interface design 5

Desktop ArcGIS (v8.x) 7
Overview 7
ArcMap basics 9
ArcCatalog basics 16
ArcToolbox basics 22
Extensions 23
File and path names in ArcGIS 23
New features in ArcGIS v8.2 24
New features in ArcGIS v8.3 24
Key differences between ArcGIS v8.x and ArcView v3.x 25

CHAPTER 2 Data models and structures 29

Representing geographic features 29
Where, what, and when 30
Human cognition of geographic features 30

Feature data structures 32
Geometric data structure 32
Topological data structure 38
Network 44
Surface 47
Object-oriented data structure 48
Spatial index 52
Supported feature data structures 54

Field data structures 54

Non-spatial (attribute) data 56
Data types 56
Relating tables 58
Tables in ArcGIS 60
GRID attribute table 65

Importing spatial data 66
Importing feature data 67

CHAPTER 3 Coordinate systems and projections 69

Location, location, location... 69

Scale 70
Scale in a digital world 72

Geographic coordinate systems 74

Projected coordinate systems 75
Properties and characteristics 75
Projection types 76
Distortion patterns 79
Selecting a projection 80
Commonly used projections 80

Changing coordinate systems 86
Projection definition file 86
Permanent projection 88
Temporary, on the fly, projection 89

CHAPTER 4 Visualization of spatial data 91

Overview 91

Thematic mapping 93
Features map type 94
Categories map type 96
Quantities map type 98
Charts 112
Multiple attributes map type 113
Symbology 113
Styles 119

Landform maps 119

Labeling maps 121
Dynamic labels 122
Annotation 122

Graphs 123

Map layout 126
Templates 127

Exporting and printing 129
Creating interactive maps 132

CHAPTER 5 Querying a map 135

Overview 135

Where is…? Where are...? 136
Find 136
Select by attributes (SQL) 137
Definition query 140

What is here? 141
Identify 141
Interactive selection 142

How big? 144

How far? 145

What features are near another feature? 146
Spatial relation types 146
Buffered selections 148
Examples of common selections 148
What is adjacent? 149

CHAPTER 6 Creating and editing feature data 151

Overview 151

Creating a new dataset 151
Creating a new dataset 152
Converting a dataset 154
Sub-setting a dataset 155

Topology revisited 156

Feature-oriented editing 159

Feature editing basics 161
Starting an edit session 161
Snapping environment 162

Common editing tasks 163
Adding new features 163
Splitting a feature 167
Deleting features 168
Modifying features 168
Removing an overlap 171
Removing a sliver polygon 171
Patching a gap 173
Integration 173
Changing feature order 175

Map topology 175
Topology rules 176
Cluster tolerance 180
Topological or shared editing 180

Geocoding 182
Geocoding services 183

Editing attribute data 184
Common problems with calculator expressions 185
Advanced calculator expressions 185

CHAPTER 7 Raster basics and analysis 193

Overview 193

Raster representation 193
GRID 195
Images 200

Raster symbology 202

Analysis environment 203
Analysis extent 204
Cell size 204

Raster-vector conversion 205
Vector to raster 206
Raster to vector 208
Image-GRID conversion 208

Local functions 209
Cell Statistics 209
Reclassification 211

Focal functions 212
Neighborhood functions 214
Neighborhood statistics 215

Zonal functions 216
Zonal statistics 217

Global functions 218
Distance 218
Density 224
Surface analysis 226
Surface generation (interpolation) 238

Advanced raster modeling 244
Map algebra 244
Raster Calculator 245
Integer and floating-point math 247
Advanced map algebra expressions 248

Importing raster data 272

CHAPTER 8 Single-map analysis 275

Overview 275

Summarizing attributes 275
Basic statistics 276
Summarize 278

Measurement 279
Number 279
Area 279
Length 280
Shape 281
Fragmentation 283
Distance 287
Pattern 28

Proximity analysis 292
Buffering 292
Variable buffers 295
Neighborhoods 297

Transformations 297
Feature center and centroid 298
Dissolve 300
Eliminate 300
Generalization 301
Resampling 301

CHAPTER 9 Dual-map analysis and modeling 303

Overview 303

Overlay analysis 303
Clip 305
Intersect 309
Union 310
Merge 311
ArcToolbox overlay operations 313

Join by location 313
Nearest feature 315
Intersecting a feature 315
Inside a polygon 316

Modeling 316
Flow charts 316
Boolean model 320
Arithmetic model 321
Weighted arithmetic model 324

A glimpse of the future of GIS modeling 326

A relatively recent trend in the geographical information systems (GIS) industry is desktop GIS that utilizes graphical user interface components, and ArcGIS v8 is the most recent version of software produced by Environmental Systems Research Institute (ESRI). A natural outgrowth of desktop GIS is that the user base has become broader and more diverse. One of the consequences of the broadening of the user base is that documentation has become more general and less technical, even though the software is becoming more flexible and powerful. Much of the reasoning has been lost from user manuals behind why a certain option should be selected or which algorithm should be used. There are numerous good GIS textbooks that discuss basic concepts, but increasingly many users of GIS software are not aware of this foundation.

In the GIS field, as in other areas that are strongly influenced by technology, there seem to be two types of books available. First, training books provide a mechanical tutorial for specific software products. Educational textbooks, on the other hand, provide a conceptual basis and understanding for generic methods and techniques, and lend scientific rigor to the content. Students in formal GIS courses are provided general descriptions of analytical procedures through textbooks, but are left to determine which algorithm has been implemented and how it works. The result is that users frequently understand general principles, but lack knowledge of specific, technical details.

Four years ago I wrote the precursor to this book—GIS Concepts and ArcView Methods—to fill the void between textbooks and user manuals by fusing a grounded presentation of ArcView GIS software. Encouraged by the success of that book and stimulated by the significant changes that ArcGIS has brought, I have written the present one—GIS Concepts and ArcGIS Methods—in very much the same spirit, but addressing ESRI’s recent flagship software, ArcGIS. As the book title suggests, I have attempted to organize and frame the methods and techniques used in ArcGIS within the context of GIS concepts and principles. I attempt to describe why you should choose a particular method or technique, in addition to how to do it—without crossing the line where the forest is lost for the trees. The Internet is a great mechanism to provide feedback so this book can grow and constantly improve with your help. Please drop me a note at: David.Theobald@colostate.edu.

Dave Theobald
Fort Collins, Colorado
January 2003

Book organization
This book is organized roughly from basic to advanced concepts. I have chosen to provide fairly detailed information even in introductory chapters so that the text provides a full, cohesive reference book. Some of the information may be a bit too detailed for first-time users of ArcGIS and GIS in general. Please simply note that “there is something more there” and refer back to it at a later reading.

Chapter 1 introduces some basic geographical concepts and describes terms and concepts specific to ArcGIS. Chapter 2 describes data models and structures and provides detailed discussion about shapefiles and geodatabases. Chapter 3 provides a review of projections and concludes with specific projections supported in ArcGIS. Chapter 4 describes the basic steps of visualizing geographic phenomena with maps and printing maps. Chapter 5 describes the numerous ways you can query map and attribute data. Chapter 6 describes in detail how to create and edit both spatial and attribute data, including procedures for topological and nontopological editing. Chapter 7 describes raster-based modeling and the Spatial Analyst extension, including an in-depth section on the Raster Calculator. Chapter 8 describes how to analyze a single map, while Chapter 9 describes how to analyze the relationships and features between two or more maps.

Technical details are provided as footnotes at the end of each chapter, as are numerous citations to primary and secondary references. I have also commented on parallels to ArcView v3.x throughout in various footnotes. I conclude most sections with step-by-step instructions, rather than including them directly in the text.

I wish to thank my students who have helped me to continue to learn over the years and my colleagues at the Natural Resource Ecology Lab for providing such a stimulating and fun environment. I also am grateful to my numerous colleagues and friends for heartfelt discussions about ways to promote sustainable living and about the important role GIS can play. Thanks to Nate Peterson and Anne Smith who provided helpful feedback on an earlier draft. To Pam and Charlie—although I have tested your patience and good will yet again, you have responded with encouragement and support. I thank you for your love and understanding while I was periodically absorbed writing this book.