Our Insights

ArcGIS Pro Tips and Tricks: Editing

February 23, 2018

by Robert Krisher
Senior Consultant at POWER Engineers
This article was originally published as a LinkedIn Article

With the release of ArcGIS Pro 2.1 I wanted to take an opportunity to look at the current state of the editing environment in ArcGIS Pro. Like most things in ArcGIS Pro it’s so different that it can be a little confusing at first, but once you get used to it you realize that this is because they’ve greatly streamlined the whole experience. The best example of this is that you can no longer start or stop editing, you are simply always editing.

Editing Grid

One of the biggest improvements made to the editing environment in ArcGIS Pro is the way the application handles snapping. While the new snapping rules are automatically enforced with every click that you make there is another more hidden set of tools that can be used to create high quality, consistent edits. Right next to the snapping manager at the bottom of the screen there is another menu that lets you adjust your snapping grid.

Esri has added the ability to dynamically draw and snap to a grid in the map. In keeping with their usability enhancements it can be accessed using a flyout menu at the bottom of the map. This menu provides options to quickly turn the grid on, off, adjust the grid size, and even provides several different tools for re-orienting the grid on the fly. The most powerful of these tools is the ‘origin and rotation’ tool which allows you to set both the origin and rotation of the grid by snapping to existing features.

In this example there is an existing run of primary that needs a new run of secondary that is offset 5 feet from the line. After setting the grid size to the appropriate offset click on one end of the line to set the origin of the grid and then anywhere along the line to orient the grid with the line. This solution isn’t as perfect as tracing along the actual feature since it can’t be adjusted if the line changes direction at a vertex, but requires significantly fewer clicks and is suitable for many use cases.

This technique applies equally as well for when you need to precisely sketch and connect multiple point features. In the following example I use a 1-foot grid to draw a switching cabinet along with all of its internal bus and connection features.

Preset Templates (multi-feature stamp)

While feature templates have been around since ArcGIS 10, Esri recently added support for several new kinds of templates. The most common of these new types of templates are called preset templates and they effective allow you to save of a set of features and attributes in the map and clone them for use later. They’re used for creating complex groups of features with a specific cartographic representation, similar to the switch cabinet drawn in the previous section. To get started with creating a preset template the first step is to select a set of features on the map.

Next open up the manage templates tab and navigate to the layer you would like to associate the preset template with. Right click on the layer and click the “New” menu and select “Preset Template using the Selected Features”.

In the resulting dialog the template gets named, can have tags associated with it, and adjustments can be made to the attributes for any of the features that will be placed.

To make use of the new template simply go to the corresponding layer on the create features tab, select the new preset and sketch it on the map like any other template.

Once the preset is placed each individual feature can then be moved, rotated, or edited like any other normal feature.

Group Templates (one sketch, many features)

While preset templates are good for placing a static set of features over and over again they lack the ability to interact with an edit sketch to intelligently place features. This is where group templates come into play as they allow a single sketch on the map to create a pre-defined set of features according to a set of cartographic rules. Common examples of this includes tapping new services off of existing lines or placing underground features that include different combinations of distribution line as well as a trenching or conduit packages.

The first thing to do is to determine which layer to associate this with as this will control the snapping and editing rules that will be applied to your sketch. Select that layer in the manage templates tab and select the “Group Template …” option in the “New” menu.

In the resulting dialog adjust the name and tags of the template then go through and add in all of the features you wish to create. The biggest limitation of group templates is that it can only include existing templates and does not provide the ability to adjust attributes within the group template itself. If there are a specific set of attributes that need to be set up on a feature in the group template, those values will need to be created as a feature template ahead of time. For particularly advanced cartographic standards one or more preset templates can be included in a group template.

There any many options that control how features are placed within the sketch including at which vertices features should be placed and which offsets, if any, should be used. In this example a service line will be placed along the length of the sketch, a connection point will be placed at all the intermediate vertices, and a service point will be placed at the end of the service.

In this example the group template includes all of the features necessary to create a run of secondary with a service drop. Once the group template is created it is placed like any other feature. Creating our first service in this example takes 5 clicks, one for the low side of the transformer, one for each structure the cable is attached to, and another click for the location to install the meter.

Because of how the template is set up it can be re-used multiple times to create multiple service drops. Each subsequent service drop only requires two clicks, one at the location where we tap off and one on the location where the meter is to be installed.


Creating templates for common editing tasks is a great way to not only cut down the amount of time it takes to get work done but is also a great way of ensuring consistency across a team of editors. In the current release of ArcGIS Pro templates live in the maps and layers in which they are created, however Esri recognizes the importance of templates within large organizations and is currently investigating different ways to move templates between different layers or even map documents.

If you have any questions about templates or editing in ArcGIS Pro please reach out to me on LinkedIn or directly at robert.krisher@powereng.com.

About the Author:

Robert is a Senior Consultant in POWER’s Geospatial and Asset Management group with over 10 years of industry experience. Robert excels at pushing the boundaries of what is possible with GIS and related technologies at utilities, often by re-purposing proven technologies and methods in clever ways. As an active member of many early access programs across the industry and author of more than a dozen published articles, Robert is a recognized expert with Esri’s latest technology including ArcGIS Pro and the new Utility Network. He loves finding innovative solutions to complex challenges and sharing his insights with the GIS community. If you have any questions or comments for Robert, you can contact him at robert.krisher@powereng.com.