Tips for figuring out what is going on when things aren’t working in ArcMap
Have ever you called Esri Support Services (ESS) with one question and the analyst asks you a seemingly unrelated question? Perhaps you are trying to open a DBF in ArcMap, and we want to know what version of Excel you use. Or perhaps you cannot access printing drivers and we ask you how much memory ArcMap is using. Sometimes the questions we ask can seem random, but they help us narrow down the root cause of the problematic behavior. Most processes in ArcMap involve multiple parts and file locations, so it can be difficult to determine what drives a specific behavior without taking a systematic approach to ruling out possible causes. To that end, this post provides a series of questions that will help you narrow down what may be causing problematic behaviors.
Do you Meet the Minimum System Requirements?
This is a simple question and hopefully one that was asked prior to installation, but it is always encouraged to check, particularly if you recently upgraded your software. A quick way to check if you meet the system requirements is to use the Can You Run It tool. If your system does not meet the requirements, you may need to upgrade your system.
Does ArcMap Open?
If ArcMap does not open, or crashes when opening a new, blank map document, this indicates that either something is wrong with the installation of ArcGIS Desktop or with the local customization of the program. In this case, here are a few troubleshooting steps:
Note: the AppData folder is a hidden folder, so you may need to unhide it.
Is the Issue MXD Specific?
When encountering a problematic behavior in ArcMap, a good place to start is to determine if the problem only occurs in a specific MXD. You can do this by opening a brand new MXD, dragging and dropping the data from the original MXD to the new one, and then trying to reproduce the issue. You can also copy and paste layout elements from one MXD to another. If the issue does not occur in the new MXD:
Is the Issue Workflow Specific?
Many users have multi-step processes in ArcMap as a part of their workflow; however, the more steps used, the more likely it is that an error can creep in. An error early on in a multi-step process can make it difficult to determine the root cause, as the issue can be introduced several steps before being observed.
Some steps that can assist in sorting out these workflow issues are:
Is the Issue Data Specific?
If the issue still occurs when you move the data to a new MXD, it is possible that the issue is data specific. To see if this is the case, test similar data that is stored in the same location, is in the same format, and contains similar features. For example, if you have trouble editing a shapefile containing points, edit a different point shapefile. If you do not have appropriate data to test with, you can also create a new shapefile, add some features to it, and test with that. If the issue only occurs with a specific dataset, then it is possible to take some basic data troubleshooting steps such as:
Is the Issue Location Specific?
Another potential cause of unexpected behavior is the location of the data. Location includes both the physical location (local machine drive versus server) and the workspace (geodatabase or folder). If the data is being accessed over a network, any issues or restrictions on the network may affect the way the data behaves in ArcMap. Likewise, any issues or permission limitations in the geodatabase can contribute to problematic behavior. If you suspect the issue is location specific:
Is the Issue Install Specific?
If the problematic behavior persists in all MXDs and with different datasets in different locations, there may be an issue with the installation. It is possible that either the installation file was corrupt or that the file was corrupted after installation. The troubleshooting steps in this case are the same as those for when ArcMap does not open at all. If you suspect the install file might have become corrupt during download, you can re-download the install file from My.Esri.com and reinstall.
The Internet Is Your Friend (Mostly)
Most of the time, you aren't the first person to experience a particular issue and chances are, you can unearth some relevant findings on the internet. A good starting place is always ArcGIS documentation. If an issue is particularly common, it may be documented in Esri’s Knowledge Base, a collection of technical articles written by Esri staff. Larger issues, such as troubleshooting ArcMap performance or not being able to load Esri basemaps, may have been topics on the ArcGIS Blog or Support Services blog. Additionally, Esri hosts a very active user forum, GeoNet, where developers and other members of the Esri community can ask or answer posted questions. However, if you do find a suggested workflow, always remember that what works for someone else may not work for you. Therefore, it is highly encouraged to make copies of any MXDs or data, and proceed with caution.
The above steps do not address all possible issues, but they are effective and thorough starting points when trying to narrow down issues in ArcMap. If you still cannot narrow it down, give Esri Support a call! Our job is to assist you with these particular issues, and we always enjoy helping our customers resolve whatever issues they may be facing! When you do have to call, we kindly ask that you have the following information available so we can route you to the best analyst for the job and ensure that analyst has the information needed to begin troubleshooting with you!
Note: You can contact ESS through phone, web chat, and web form. Start here.
We look forward to hearing from you!
Rebecca R. - Desktop Support Analyst
Username: “User logon name” for Windows domainPassword: Windows domain passwordDomain: [DOMAIN]
Other fields like “Base URL” and “Mechanism” can be left as it is.
For practice I tried to perform a simple Projection on a Feature class. The original Projected Coordinate system was NAD_1983_StatePlane_California_VI_FIPS_0406_Feet and the output was into NAD_1983_StatePlane_California_V_FIPS_0405_Feet. (The only change was from FIPS_0406 to FIPS_0405).
The result was a red circle with an "x" and next to it was 000000_12301899 (which I assume was the error).
Below that it showed that the output was empty.
My version of software is ARC_GIS 10.4.1.
I have a Windows 10.
Again this was for practice so you dont have to spend much time on this but I do like to know what the problem is.
PS. I attached two screenshots. One is with the Hiearchy Tree unopened while the other is opened. The two extra errors at the Bottom are just another iteration of me running the tool.
3D File Coordinate Systems
Tools to Create 3D Data
Understanding 3D Data
I’ve installed the new PerfTools add-in for ArcGIS Pro; what are some scenarios in which this new tool can help optimize performance?
Have you created a series of spatial bookmarks in your ArcGIS Pro project? A one-line script command (ZoomToBookmarks all) can zoom through these spatial bookmarks and log draw time, frames per second (FPS) metrics, and other timestamps. No bookmarks? No problem…you can also specify extents by providing 2D or 3D camera positions in the same spatial coordinates as your data.
Have you added an animation? Using the PlayAnimation command returns measures of total elapsed animation time, as well as average and minimum FPS.
To build a thorough display cache or simulate navigation through large datasets without specifying bookmarks or camera positions, you can use the roaming capabilities of PerfTools. This allows you to virtually “walk” across the active view, starting from the upper left and moving row-by-row towards the lower right. The total draw time, in addition to average and minimum FPS, are logged for your reference.
Moving from a file geodatabase to an enterprise geodatabase? Or have you updated your spatial index? You can examine the impacts these changes have on making spatial selections in ArcGIS Pro. The SelectFeatures command allows you to specify your selection bounding box in screen coordinates on the active 2D or 3D view. PerfTools logs a count of the features selected, as well as the selection and draw complete times.
Most power from the PerfTools add-in comes through a comprehensive scripting language that allows you to assemble several commands into a more comprehensive scenario. With this functionality, you can simulate typical user interactions with ArcGIS Pro, including creating and opening projects, panning, zooming, selecting, and so forth. You can add delays or “think time”, as well as looping commands (ForCount, ForFile, ForFolder, and ForTime) to repeat key parts of your workflow. Via script command, you can also control key aspects of logging content and structure in PerfTools.
Not finding the script command you’re looking for? PerfTools allows you to create your own commands through leveraging the ArcGIS Pro SDK. Part of the PerfTools download includes documentation and a sample, “T1Command”, that gets you started with your own customizations.
After installing the add-in and opening Pro, Take a look in your Documents\ArcGIS\AddIns\ArcGISPro\PerfTools folder. You should see a PDF there titled "PerfTools_for_ArcGIS_Pro.pdf". This contains comprehensive documentation and sample code snippets.
Is PerfTools comprehensive? You bet! We’ll be taking a closer look at some of these techniques in upcoming blog posts. In the meantime, feel free to download the PerfTools AddIn and try it out for yourself!
The ArcGIS geoinformation model is a framework that lets users easily build informative and compelling maps by pulling different layers together.