Can Data Driven Pages accomplish what we are trying to do?

Discussion created by jread on Dec 14, 2011
Latest reply on Dec 15, 2011 by jread
A little background:  we have an old VB6 application, partially developed by ESRI and partially slapped around by our own programmers until we got it to work.  It basically creates .PDF maps of various grids throughout our city depending on which grids had their data updated in a certain time frame.  We have three different datasets, with multiple featureclasses under each dataset.  Each featureclass has a field called "LastModified", which is the date that each feature was last edited.  When we run our map creation program, it prompts us for a "Last Modified" date, then creates new .PDF maps based on which grids have updated data in them after the input date (this saves us from having to recreate every grid map for the entire city every week).

As you know, VB6 is no longer supported in ArcGIS 10, and frankly the program is clunky and hard to work with anyway, so we'd like to develop a new way to create our grid maps using the newer tools.  I think that Data Driven pages can accomplish this to a certain extent, as we can build layouts for the different maps and then create the .PDFs, but there are various things that need to happen for it to work and we would certainly like to automate this as much as possible.  So, the questions is, can we accomplish the following process using Data Driven Pages with Python, .NET or whatever is available:

1.  Build layouts with a data frame, legend, etc. that are at a certain scale/page size
2.  Feed in a list of grids that need to be updated
3.  Have it use the appropriate layout based on each dataset and create new .PDF maps for each grid that is in the list
4.  Update the grid number (page number) for each grid as it is created
5.  Build this as a script/application that can be set off and left to run until it is finished

One important note is that our grid layer is composed of irregular grids, meaning they are not all the exact same size.  From what I've seen, Data Driven Pages does not like this at all.  Is that going to be a roadblock in the end?

I appreciate any advice you may have on this.