Pro - Create composite locator that uses the same address locator twice

07-16-2020 10:36 AM
Occasional Contributor II

My agency produces several address files that have address1, address2, city, state, and ZIP code fields.  The address1 field is supposed to have the full street address (i.e. house number, prefix, street name, suffix), such as 1789 W. Jefferson St.  The address2 field is supposed to be for additional information, like apartment or suite numbers.  However, field staff don't always put the street address in the correct field.  Almost every address dataset I receive have most of the street addresses in the address2 field.

In ArcMap, I built a composite address locator that combines various address locators from multiple services, including a point address locator (i.e. the style is US Single House Address).  I was able to the point locator twice to the composite locator so when geocoding an address, on first pass, the address1 field will be used with the city/state/ZIP code fields to try and find a match.  If a match is not found, then the same address is run through the same point locator but uses the address2 field to find a match.  Designing the composite locator this way has really saved me a lot of time and headache cleaning the address data file before geocoding it.

When I tried to create this same locator in ArcGIS Pro, I got an error message that the same locator can't be added twice to the same composite locator.  I tried asking someone at the ESRI UC about this and the suggestion was to rebuild the individual address locators so they can accept multiple address fields.  However, the address locators I use are from third-parties and I can't redesign them.  For now, I've been continuing to use ArcMap for any geocoding I need to do.

Is there a workaround to this?  Or is this something I need to submit as an idea?

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4 Replies
Esri Regular Contributor


I may have spoken with you at the UC about this issue, this time there are more details... I understand that you are already massaging the address tables and that duplicating the locator in the composite has saved some headache, but will any of the following workarounds work for you in ArcGIS Pro?

  1. Concatenate the Address1 and Address2 fields into a single field and only adding the point locator once to the composite locator. You may need to do a few select by attribute and calculate field operations to get everything into the single field.
  2. Rename the point locator if it is not a service before adding it a second time to the composite locator.

Do you know if the agencies you work with that provide the locators you use are planning to transition their locators from the classic locators built with the Create Address Locator tool to locators built with the Create Locator tool?

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Occasional Contributor II

Hello Shana,

I think it was you that I spoke with during the UC about this.  Thank you for the suggestions.  Unfortunately, suggestion 1 won't work because acronyms in the second address field can sometime be misinterpreted by the locator.  For example, I've seen people abbreviate suite as "St," which the locator tries to interpret as "street" and geocode to the wrong location or raise an error.  For example, "123 First Ave., St 1" will be interpreted as "123 First Avenue Street 1."  For suggestion 2, I tried that where I made a second copy of an address locator.  That seemed to work.  The only downside I saw with that is it requires 2 copies of the same locator, doubling the storage size.

I think I found a workaround.  I created two composite address locators, both using the same address locator, but I named one CompositeAddress1 and the other CompositeAddress2.  Then I combine them both into a third composite locator and set it up so CompositeAddress1 searches using the Address1 field and CompositeAddress2 searches using the Address2 field.  My tests have been successful so far.  However, it took almost all day to build the composite locator in this way.  Plus, building this type of locator in ArcMap was much easier.

What is the difference between the Create Address Locator and Create Locator tools?  I know the Create Locator tool is an updated version but I didn't see anything that explained the advantages over the Create Address Locator tool.  As a test, I tried building some of my address locators using the Create Locator tool and it didn't go well.  The locators didn't work well and it forced me to have a bunch of input fields.  For example, I was creating a city center locator.  The only inputs needed to be city and state.  However, the Create Locator tool added on other input fields, like subregion, address, and about 5 other fields.  I couldn't find a way to turn those off.  

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Esri Regular Contributor


Shana and I discussed this and i wanted to provides some additional information for you.

There are many benefits to the locators created with the Create Locator tool over the Create Address Locator tool and I will outline some of these benefits below.

1. These locators support Address, Address2, Address3 inputs right out of the box so there is no need to create a composite locator for what you are trying to do.

2..They are faster and smaller

3. They have improved match quality and the ability to handle extra information in the text much better.  For instance, if you have "Attn: Joe" in the input string, this will be handled much better in these locators.

4. Improved suggestions for interactive geocoding such as suggestions for intersections and verifying the house number when showing suggestions.  Other improvements are the ability to get suggestions with a locator in Pro without publishing it to Enterprise.

5. Create one unified locator instead of a composite locator.  You can now create a multirole locator that combines many datasets into a single locator.  This allows user to combine Rooftop, street centerline, postal, city, etc... into a single locator instead of creating separate locators and combining them into a composite.  This allows the locator to be smaller and not duplicate information across multiple locators.  A mutlirole locator will also be much faster than a composite locator.

These are the highlights but there are more and we continue to improve these locators each release.

With regards to the standard set up input fields, yes, all fields will be displayed if you build a locator with only a city role because we have a unified set of input fields.  Typically users build a city locator only to include in a composite as fallback so there is really no need to do that going forward because it will just be part of a multirole locator.  In addition to that, the "SingleLine" input field can always be used simplified input for the locator, there is no need to use the multiple input fields.

Lastly, you mention "The only downside I saw with that is it requires 2 copies of the same locator, doubling the storage size." in the first paragraph above.  Are your locators quite large?  If your organization can't currently migrate over to the create locator tool, the workarounds above are probably your best bet.


MVP Esteemed Contributor

What is the difference between the Create Address Locator and Create Locator tools?

Create Locators is a complete overhaul to generating locators.  I suggest you give them a try, especially if you've already ugraded to 2.6. While I haven't yet, it's on my docket for the next week or so; the 2.6 release has a ton of improvements to geocoding that personally, I'm looking forward to.

Complete dislcosure: I'm a user just like you and have used what I refer to as 'classic address locators' including composites for many years. (Shana Britt and Brad Niemand will attest to my longitivity, at times aka PITA...)  At any rate, you will need to wrap your head around the new approach and take some time to get used to it.  It's a total paradigm shift.

But give it a chance to sink in; like anything new, it takes a couple trips around the block before you remove the training wheels, and then you'll be off to the races.

can't wait to retire....
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