Layout View QOL Improvements

04-25-2019 05:48 AM
Status: Implemented
Labels (1)
New Contributor III

In testing a workflow I have used for over a decade in ArcMap I found a severe limitation in ArcGIS Pro.  I maintain a large set of maps across a large territory.  To build the maps, a series of grid features are used.  Since I am converting each area into its own separate page I typically view and edit in layout view.  In ArcMap this allows me to move features, edit annotations, pan the map, and pan the layout all in one view.  Its a very streamlined experience.

In Pro, this streamlined experience is not possible.  It seems you can only be in one editable context - either map or layout view.  While you can move the map in the layout view (by activating the map), it locks the layout itself (unable to pan).  Since I like to zoom in on the layout to make it easier to see the features and make edits, the full layout is not always visible in my work space.  This is why I pan the layout while editing annotation.  I can zoom in and out, and tile across a "map page" without changing map scale.  Now I would have to work a specific area with the map activated.  When I'm ready to move on to the next area I would now have to deactivate the map, pan the layout, then activate the map again.  To further add to the work - when you deactivate the map, the ribbon is set to the Insert tab, instead of the Layout tab.   This means you have to go back and click on Layout to get access to the Activate Map button.  You also have to keep switching to the Edit tab when switching to Map View. 

The hotkey "C" still seems to work in Pro (allowing click and drag to pan), it would be great to be able to use the another hotkey to pan the layout while the map is activated such as using Shift-C to pan the map while in Layout view.  This avoids having to click around toolbars to activate things and select buttons.  This used to be possible in older versions of ArcMap (before 10.2).  Hotkeys allow efficient maneuvering through an application.  Pro requires way too much clicking through panes and toolbars to get around.

This all leads to a ton of extra context changing and clicking around to do what was so simple in ArcMap.  It's almost at the point where I spend more time navigating Pro than navigating my data and performing edits. I'm sure this is an echo of the gripes with the change to a ribbon interface and limiting contextual environment.  When using ArcMap I had all the buttons/tools I commonly used all visible and usable from one omnipresent toolbar.  I'm smart enough to know what buttons I use most.  Pro seems to assume otherwise.

  • Please consider allowing map edits while in layout view and leave both map and layouts modifiable and pan-able. 
  • Use intelligent context switching (returning to previously selected tab in each context).  Or at least make this an advanced option.

Isn't this what you're talking about?

If you have the Explore tool (for the activated map) and the Navigate tool (for navigating the layout) added to your Quick Access Toolbar, you can switch back and forth.

And use keyboard accelerators to speed things up?


That is pretty close to what I would like, although its a bit more restricted compared to how it would function in ArcMap.  What I suggested would allow that, and allow you to modify the layout elements as well as well as allow both panning the layout and the map independently without changing contexts.  There doesn't seem to be much of a reason to why the tools are not enabled, the capability seems to already be in place.  For example, you can be in Layout mode without the map activated and use the fixed zoom in and out and it zooms the map.  Unfortunately the rest of the tools for map interaction seem to be artificially disabled.  In ArcMap if a tool was designed for a layout only element, it simply didn't do anything to the map and vice versa.  Why does Pro force you to switch contexts instead of being smart enough to just ignore the command if it won't work on the element.  (IE: move feature when pointing at a layout element and vice versa).  Switching contexts puts the work on the user instead of the application.  It just feels like a lot of busy work for the user.

The Explore tool is not enabled when in layout view, so while I have them both added to a quick access toolbar, only one will work at a time.  Ironically, the navigate tool is enabled in layout view when a map is activated, but it doesn't seem to work, it just moves the map view around like Explore does.  Either way, I shouldn't have to click on buttons to enable a tool as common as this.  In ArcMap you can use "C" or even the middle mouse button.  Middle mouse button isn't even an option in Pro.  I move tens of thousands of annotation features and want to keep my cursor on the map, near the next piece of annotation I'm going to move.  Having to move my cursor in every direction (up to change tool, context etc, down to change from move to rotate tool, left to manage the annotation attributes) just bogs me down and makes everything take so much longer.  

I have been experimenting with the keyboard accelerators, they can help a bit for sure.  With Pro its still more steps using them.  We are forced to use the Shift Key in setting them up (extra key press), and its still involves context switching.  The best I was able to come up with was setting an accelerator on the Activate Map tool, which allows flipping between layout and map view, and then panning around the map.  Its better than nothing, but definitely not ideal.  Its easy to forget which context you are in when panning around and ultimately leads to more clicks than are necessary thanks to the artificial limitation on tools being enabled based on context.  It would be nice if mouse buttons were assignable as well.


Got it.  Thanks for the additional details.  This illustrates the difference between ArcMap's ability to use the mouse wheel to quickly switch between map panning and page panning:

I'll share this with the layout team.

Thank you.


Hi John, 

After some investigation over here, I found out that you can hold the 1 key to enable layout navigation while the Explore tool is active.  This gives you the functional equivalent of the navigation you're seeking from ArcMap.  It doesn't look like that is included in the layout shortcut documentation so we'll look to get that updated.


Thanks Kory, this is definitely good to know.  How about making it so the user can assign a hotkey to this functionality?  Holding 1 and  C to move around, while on a tool other than navigate, is a fairly awkward hand position.  Shift-C would be great since this is how it used to be in ArcMap and much more ergonomic.  That way just C would be move the Map , and Shift-C would be move the layout.  


I took a closer look at your Gif and noticed that you are able to use both the navigate and explore tools while the map is activated.  For some reason I am not able to do the same?  I'm running 2.3.2.  The navigate button is enabled, but does not work at all while the map is activated.  Are you running the same version?  

I would assume that if I could get this tool working like you are, that I could set the hotkey as I desire, and it would solve that issue.


Noted - the Layout team is looking into this.


Sorry for the trickiness, John.  From my original comment (

*Note that currently adding the Navigate tool to the Quick Access Toolbar doesn't recognize the context you're in... i.e. you need to actually follow step 2 above by going to the Navigate tool from the Activated Map Frame tab.  We'll look into the possibility of connecting this through the QAT.

That improvement was made!  But in 2.4 so you won't see it in 2.3.2.  We're taking in all the feedback coming in across all channels and improving Pro all the time.


Ok thanks, I tested and yes I can get it to work that way.  Hopefully 2.4 allows you to use this navigate pane functionality in either context as you say, as well as allowing the use of an accelerator (the most important bit!) for its functionality.

Thanks again!

Status changed to: Implemented