The new "Align to Shape" tool provides excellent, high quality results for matching the edge of one feature to another to create a seemless boundary. In particular, the results are ideal even with high values for tolerance- on the order of tens of meters. Other tools designed to provide the same or similar functionality (such as snap, integrate, and topologies) typically only provide quality results with low values for tolerance- on the order of fractions of a meter.
The functionality of the "Align to Shape" tool is severely limited, however, by allowing only the use of tracing to select features/feature edges to align to. This makes the tool practically unusable for large, complex data sets, as the amount of time it can take to trace every edge is prohibitive and inefficient.
The following options for selecting edges to align to should be added to the "Align to Shape" tool:
1. The ability to indicate that the entire edge of a feature class should be used for alignment. This would allow users to quickly and easily use a complex feature class without needing to trace any edges.
2. The ability to use selected features as the features to be aligned to. In the case of polygons, the entire edge of the selected feature(s) would be used. This would allow the use of "Select by Attribute", "Select by Location," and the select features mouse tool to quickly select portions of complex feature classes for use in alignment.
3. The ability to select all edges of a feature class within a bounding box traced by the user. This would allow the quick selection of only portions of edges of a complex feature class without needing to trace any edges.
With the addition of these three methods for edge selection, the usefullness of the "Align to Shape" tool would increase significantly.