ESRI apparently stopped work on annotation back before 2012. They are too busy adding new unfinished features to finish the existing ones.
I was blindsided by this last week. It's such a big problem for me that I thought maybe it would all be better on Monday, but no, it's still here.
You can LOOK at symbol properties but all changes are disabled. This feels cruel to me. You get one chance to get it right when creating a new symbol, once it's created you can only delete it and try again. You cannot test and refine without paying a heavy price in hours spent.
There is so much unfinished work in Annotation Feature Classes, none of this surprises me. Okay-- so it's a pain because you have to do a lot of fiddly work to change a symbol, no big deal, we have ARCPY!!!
Oh oh... go look at the Arcpy toolset for annotation feature classes... it's, well, nonexistent.
Be warned, anno feature classes look and act like normal feature classes and you can try to treat them as such but none of the arcpy tools will work. I tried everything.
You can't change old symbols.
You can't automate creating new symbols.
You can't iterate over an annotation feature class.
When you create a new symbol it will be assigned a sequential number and you have to use Field Calculator (or Calculate Field in a model) to update the old number to the new one. This means creating a mapping to move the old number to the new one. There is no way to export the existing symbols for reference.
If you get it wrong, you end up with empty red boxes where your annotation used to be, and there seems to be no way back from that.
I know this topic was written before Pro was even out, but I'm still hoping they might make this change in Pro. It's a real pain right now when we have 12+ different annotation feature classes (for different scales).
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