Erase Features Within Polygon - Quickly

09-12-2016 09:54 AM
Status: Open
Labels (1)
New Contributor III

What I'm looking for, and am stunned does not already exist in the mess of tools ArcMap has...


A tool to simply draw or select a polygon around an area containing lines, points & polygons, and use this new polygon to cut & delete features from multiple layers inside that polygon. Period.  No new layers created.... the area inside the polygon is now empty... area OUTSIDE the polygon remains the same.


This would be different from existing tools - the erase and clip tools currently available create extra data (output classes) to juggle around.


In its simplest form, the way I see this being used:

  • Dataset could have lines/points/polygons.
  • User draws (or selects) cutting polygon, then selects this quick clip tool.
  • Any visible line or polygon feature (within current edit session) which crosses the cutting polygon gets split at that edge.
    • Afterwards, all features that are completely within cutting polygon are deleted.
  • User can then easily perform other operations in that void area.


This is useful for data sets where the above clipping operation needs to be done multiple times... it doesn't always make sense to deal with new data sets being created each time an erase operation is run.  In fact doing that and juggling all the layers can be a real waste of time.


I think this is a good idea but as I understand it why the tool does not exist is down to the design philosophy, you edit within a single workspace. So if your other layers all belong in different folders/geodatabases it could never work. This may be something that will change with ArcGIS Pro?


Thanks for reading the idea, and reply, Duncan; you make a good point. I did consider that, which is why I included the caveat that it would only affect features in the current editing session. In (my) particular use case, this tool would be used for updating map data… so the features I am deleting are likely to be replaced with NEW features from the same layer(s) – and in most cases the features would all be in a single GeoDatabase… so by default they would be in the same editing session.

If, perhaps some features WERE in another location – a user would simply have to stop editing session then start editing THAT layer and could reuse the same cutting polygon. Not elegant… but neither is the solution ESRI provides (which is create as many layers as possible using the most convoluted series of button clicks and toolbars to achieve a simple result.)

While I’m seeing more and more possibilities with ArcGIS PRO, I unfortunately don’t know how quickly we’d be able to move to that. A major use of ArcMap for us is to collect data from 3d imagery with a viewer that is tightly integrated into ArcMap by way of extensions… not sure how long it would take for all those tools to work in PRO.


Yeah I would be very weary on pulling the plug on ArcMap for ArcGIS Pro!