Toggle for only showing Selectable Layers in the Field Mapping dialog drop-downs

11-23-2021 02:31 PM
Status: Open
Labels (1)
New Contributor III

Add a toggle switch that reduces the available layers to only the selectable and/or editable layers for both the Target and the Source drop-downs within the "Field Mapping" setup for the Attribute Transfer Tool. 


Status changed to: Needs Clarification

Thank you for the feedback @SamMontoia1. Can you please clarify what this Idea is regarding?

The Field Mapping dialog applies to more than just Attribute Transfer. For example, it applies to Copy/Paste, Copy Attributes and Paste Attributes (in the Attributes pane), Mirror, Copy Parallel, custom tools, and possible future core tools.

Is the idea to limit the list of layers that appears in the Target and Source dropdown the Field Mapping dialog (perhaps the list of layers is too long when you have many layers in the map)?

Or is the Idea meant to address something more specific about Attribute Transfer? For example, are you wanting the Attribute Transfer tool to only execute on specific layers?

Thanks for any clarification,


P.S. This may help (depending on the problem), but the Attributes pane’s Copy Attributes and Paste Attributes commands will respect the current Field Mapping settings between layers. So that would be one way to select features in multiple layers and copy and paste specific attributes between them:






As a frequent user of the Attribute Transfer tool I know that the tool only operates when the source and the target layers are both selectable.  More often than not, I fail to think about the selectable state of my layers when I set up the Attribute Transfer Mapping and use an unselectable layer that will disable the tool until I change that layer to selectable,  There is no message that ever appears saying that either layer is unselectable at any point, and the user is completely on their own to figure out why the tool won't work when they try it and troubleshoot it.

It would be helpful if the Attribute Transfer Mapping tool at least gave a warning when I close the tool that one or more of the layers set up for the transfer is unselectable so that I would immediately make the connection between the tool and the cause of it not working.  Ideally the warning would also list the unselectable layers that have been used in my setups.  Even better, if the message would give me the option to make all of the layers set up for transfer selectable, I would almost always use that option. 

I don't really want the proposal offered by this idea, because putting the selectable state of my layers as the control of the transfer setups I can do is backwards to me.  To me that just moves the confusion about why I can't setup the tool to do what I want inside the tool and makes me have to exit the tool to change my selectable layers before I can even create a setup with the Attribute Transfer tool.  When I use the Attribute Transfer setup I want to be able to set up any transfer that I want and be able to expect it to work immediately upon exiting the tool or warned that the tool won't work until I fix the selectable state of the layers I set up.


Yes, Exactly.  My idea is to limit the drop-down lists of layers for Target and Source within the field mapping dialog with a check box that would confine these lists to either the selectable layers or the editable layers. Toggled on the Target/Source layer lists would only show editable or selectable layers, toggled off it would show all layers. 

Also I didn't know that the copy/paste is controlled by the field mapping.  So thanks for that bit. 

I also noticed that selectable layers are the only ones that allow attribute transfers too, which is fine behavior; but all the more reason to limit the layers in the drop-down when doing the field-mapping dialogue.  Or at least have an option to limit the list. 




@SamMontoia1Your suggestion doesn't help very much in my opinion.  It would show me what won't work, but only if I take action to use the new options you are adding.  I most likely won't ever use those options, because, as I mentioned, I rarely consider the selectable state of my layers while I setup a transfer.  Your proposal continues to make me responsible to think about the selectable state of my layers and that responsibility should not fall on me, it should fall on the designers of the tool.  Additionally, I don't want the tool to show me that it currently won't allow me to do what I want, I want the tool to assist me with getting to the point where it will do what I want.

My goals is not to prevent myself from setting up the transfer I want.  My goal is to make the transfer I set up actually work with as little thought about the selectable state of my layers as possible.  I want it to be the tool's responsibility to think about and help me correctly setup the selectable state of my layers for every transfer I set up by the time I have exited the tool, regardless of whatever selectable state my layers were in before I entered the tool..


@RichardFairhurstIt isn't a huge help; and I guess I was thinking of ways of limiting a very long list of layers in the Source/Target drop downs.  And this toggle switch would just limited the drop downs to Selectable layers. 

Something like this: 


Status changed to: Open

@SamMontoia1 Thanks for clarifying the Idea.

@RichardFairhurst Thanks for your input as well. We will consider adding messaging to the Attribute Transfer tool when there are no selectable layers. The field map is not tied to one particular tool, and if one is not set up, a default one still exists for the tools to use. Perhaps some logic can be added to detect if a non-default field map is being used and tools can respond accordingly? Feel free to add a new Idea on the topic if you have further thoughts.




Edit:  I originally wrote that I withdrew my comments, but I am reversing that comment.  I see this is about the Attribute Transfer Setup in Pro.  I know my comments are relevant to ArcMap Desktop, and to the extent Pro behaves the same my comments apply.

The tool won't work unless both layers are selectable in Desktop and the same is true in Pro.  At least the Desktop help explains this relationship between the selectable state of the layers and the tool, but I just read the Pro help and there is no mention about it  Since the tool simply won't work in Pro if either of the layers mapped are not selectable, the omission of this information in the Pro help for this tool is astounding to me.

The restriction to only using selectable layers is frustrating to me, but I understand the behavior and can troubleshoot it.  However, no one I have trained understands it and they just think the tool doesn't work as advertised and give up on it when they try to transfer feature attributes and the tool randomly (to them) works or doesn't work when they click on the source or target feature.  At no point did the set up or the use of the tool explain that their layer selection settings are central to the way this tool behaves, and unless I am there to fix it for them, they give up.

At minimum an additional comment at the bottom of the setup screen should be included that reads something like: "The Layers mapped should be selectable under the List By Selection Contents button"  This would give my users a clue about why the tool doesn't work, since if they do try to do any troubleshooting, they usually check their field mapping settings and would see this essential comment about the tool's behavior and where they should look to fix it.

Field Capture Tool.JPG


Maybe a more appropriate title/caption for the check box-switch would be "use selectable layers only", and it should be above Target and Source drop downs or even below all of this would be ok to me, but it is just a check box and its only function would be to reduce the above Target and Source Drop downs in this menu to match the selectable layers when it is checked.  And in my mind it would be so transient as to really only affect those two drop downs.  As it stands I have 20+ layers that are reference layers in this particular project and I don't transfer attributes from them.  But I find myself constantly having to ensure that the layers I do want to transfer attributes between, I just have to re-map them early and often because I am never quite sure that the transferring is happening as I am expecting/wanting.  Plus the names of my fields are different between the target and the source layers.

I find that controlling the selectable layers in a Pro Project is a nice way of mapping my reference layers without having them clutter auxiliary menus. 



As proof of the relevance of my comments, see this post:


The esri community is the primary source of help on the real world requirements of the Attribute Transfer tool.  That should be the job of the tool designers and the help authors.