Provide an Element Stack Window for the Layout View

09-20-2012 05:36 PM
Status: Implemented
Labels (1)
Occasional Contributor III
Complex map layouts can have many overlapping elements - multiple data frames, numerous text boxes, various graphics, logos and images, legends etc. Ordering these elements can become quite tedious and requires a degree of guess work to establish the order in which the elements are stacked.  The Layout View could benefit greatly from the introduction of an Element Stack (similar in concept to the Layers pane in many image editing porgrams) to enable the intuitive re-ordering of layout elements without the guesswork that is involved with the "Send to Back/Send Backwards/Bring to Front/Bring Forward" options in the "Order" context menu. Dragging and dropping an element from the bottom of the stack to the middle of a 20 element stack would be far better than right-clicking the element 10 times and selecting "Bring Forward".
The stack could be a simple list of element labels, or a better option would be a list of thumbnails of each element.
This functionality is available with the Production Mapping Extension:

Layout Window
Thank you for pointing that out Chris. I would still like to think that this is a feature that should be incorporated into the base package (if not at Basic then perhaps at Standard or Advanced licence levels) as dealing with many elements and complex map layouts is not particular to "Production Mapping".
It's a shame that such standard features are not part of the core. What others offer naturally, ArcGIS serves as "special extension". Production Mapping should be the basic part of the ArcGIS.
I've had a look at the functionality provided in the Production Mapping Extension (ah the joys of an enterprise licence agreement!). From what I can tell, it still requires a right-click and then selecting "Send to Back/Send Backwards/Bring to Front/Bring Forward". This doesn't help if I have 20 elements and want to move the bottom element to the middle of the stack - I still have to right-click and select "Bring Forward" ten times which is far from efficient. A drag and drop interface would be much more useful.

I agree that this should be part of the core product, not an extension. But if you go through a few more pages from the link Chris provided, you find this:

  1. If necessary, click the Layout window button on the Production Cartography toolbar to display the Layout window.
  2. Select one or more elements.
  3. Right-click and do one of the following:
  • Choose Bring to Front to move the selected element to the top of the draw order
  • Choose Send to Back to move the selected element to the bottom of the draw order.
  • Choose Bring Forward to move the selected element up one position in the draw order.
  • Choose Send Backward to move the selected element down one position in the draw order.

Note: You can also change the draw order of elements by dragging and dropping them to a new location in the window.

Similar ideas: 
Layout management in ArcMap is a complete tragedy. To meet professional standards it needs a very serious upgrade in functionality, usability, interactivity and intelligence. ESRI could just take inspiration from Adobe, Corel or Autodesk solutions. Besides this issue ArcMap's Layout needs:
I think placing objects/graphics etc into the main TOC would be messy. Perhaps the objects could be placed in their own tab within the TOC window.
Status changed to: Implemented

This is available with the Contents Pane for the layout view in ArcGIS Pro.