ArcView Tutorial - GIS Software Tutorial -
ArcView Tutorial

Introduction to ArcView

ArcView GIS is a desktop GIS package from ESRI, Redlands, California. Arc View GIS works with tables, maps, and charts, all in one application.It consists of windows that present information in different ways.Rows of menus, buttons, and tools at the top of main application window allows viewing and performing analytical operations on the data in the database.It comes with some ready to use data so that we can get started immediately.It is your tool to help you access spatial data, use the information to create maps of cities, topography, etc., and process spatial data.ArcView stores data in "projects." Several types of data-- tabular data and geographic data, which includes vector, image, and raster data-- can be stored in a project. It stores maps, charts, and tables you create in a project.It enhances your maps with a wide range of image and raster formats including SPOT, TIFF, JPEG, and ERDAS IMAGINE. You can also use ArcView GIS software's multimedia links to add pictures, sound, and video to your maps.

Key Features

  • Easy-to-use interface
  • Integrate charts, maps, tables, and graphics
  • Dynamic data updating
  • Exceptional analysis capabilities
  • High-end address matching and geocoding
  • Robust editing environment
  • Geographic hot links to all supported data formats
  • Integrate images, CAD, map data, tables, and SQL databases
  • Seamless client/server access to data warehouses
  • Extensible architecture
  • Completely customizable
  • Comprehensive developer environment
  • Projection utility.

ArcView Extensions

ArcView extensions are add-on programs that provide specialized GIS functionality. They increase the power of ArcView in solving real world problems.

Spatial Analyst  
creates, queries, maps, and analyzes cell-based raster data and to perform integrated vector-raster analysis and spatial modeling.
Network Analyst  
solves a variety of problems using geographic networks (i.e., streets, highways, rivers, pipelines, electric lines, etc.) such as finding the most efficient travel route, generating travel directions, finding the closest facility, or defining service areas based on travel time.
Internet Map Server  
is used for publishing ArcView GIS maps on the World Wide Web.

allows street-level geocoding and display for the entire United States.
is a graphics metafile rasterizer that enables ArcView GIS users to enhance their capabilities for outputting high-quality maps.
3D Analyst  
creates, analyzes, and displays surface data.

Image Analysis 
complements the existing raster-based spatial analysis of ArcView Spatial Analyst, providing a simple and intuitive extension to ArcView GIS for accessing a wide range of image data types and performing image visualization and enhancement, map registration, feature extraction and image categorization, and simple change detection.
Tracking Analyst  
direct feed and playback of real-time data, such as Global Positioning System (GPS) data, within the ArcView GIS environment.


Views display geographic data organized by theme. A theme is a set of related features, such as nations, districts, cities, streets, parcels, utilities, or bus routes, along with the attributes for those features. A view consists of a map display area on the right and a Table of Contents, or legend, on the left that tells you what themes are contained in the view and which ones are currently displayed.


A table displays records as rows and fields as columns. In tables that are linked to a theme, called theme attribute tables, each record represents a single feature and each field represents a single attribute for that feature.


Charts display tabular data graphically. In ArcView, charts are fully integrated with tables and views.


Layouts are documents on which you can arrange views, tables, charts, and images as graphic elements. They are the maps people think of when they think of GIS. Layouts can be sent to a printer or plotter to create a hard copy product.


Avenue is ArcView's programming language .You can write a script to add a new button to the interface or delete tools and popup menus that you don't need in a specific application. Avenue is fully integrated with ArcView and the work you do will run on any of the platforms for which ArcView is available.

Feature data sources

Data that represents geographic features as geometric shapes that can be used as ArcView feature data source themes. Shapes files generally draw faster than other theme sources and you can edit them to reflect changes in the source data .Any of the feature data sources Arc View supports can be converted to a shape file and then modified. ARC/INFO in GIS software from ESRI, the creators of Arc views stores sets of features and their attributes in its own format called as coverage. A coverage can be represented as a theme in Arc View. Shape files are Arc View’s own format for storing features and their attributes. Converting other spatial data sources , by drawing shapes in themes you create or by using the tabular data containing location information. CAD drawings are another type of spatial data that can be used to create themes Image Data Sources. Arc View can read many images formats as well as ArchInfo’s raster data format,called a grid. The Arc View Spatial Analyst extension allows accessing and manipulating Arc Info grids and performing complex spatial modeling and analysis on them. Images themes do not have attributes tables , but we can still manipulate their display with image legend editor. Images themes formats supported by Arc View are TIFF,TIFF/LZW,ERDAS,BSQ,BIL,BIP,RLC, and Sun raster files. Any numbers of themes can be added or deleted. When a theme is added Arc View automatically assigns a color to it. A theme , which is active ,appears raised in the table of contents .Many operations you perform in a view work only on active themes. You can use them several times and just not keep it in active mode if you don’t want to use it. A theme attribute table contains descriptive information about the features in the theme. It is formatted in rows and columns called records and fields.

GIS with ArcView

Getting Started

ArcView Project files contain several elements:
Views - where the Themes (coverages, shapefiles, etc.) are displayed;
Tables - where you can manipulate the attribute information from the Themes;
Charts - where you can make charts from tabular data;
Layouts - You'll want to use Layouts to make professional looking maps with text, scale bars, etc.;
Scripts - In Avenue, the ArcView programming language, you can add scripts for more functionality. There are many user- and ESRI-written scripts available from the ESRI website. This is a great source to start working with scripts.
Opening a View. After opening a new View, try these functions:
Adding a Theme - View Menu: Add Theme
Renaming View - View Menu: Properties
Setting View measurement units - View Menu: Properties
Changing symbols, colors - Legend Editor, Symbol Palette
Zooming - View Menu: Zoom to Theme, Zoom to Selected Features, Zoom In, Zoom Out
Defining Working Directory - File Menu: Set working Directory

Getting Data into ArcView

Arc coverages:
Copying Arc coverages: You must copy coverages in Arc from directory to directory,
Copying across platforms: you must export the coverages, and import them in Arc or ArcView,
Arc Export Files: (.e00) - Use ArcView Import utility.
ArcView Shape files:
Copying shapefiles is much easier than copying Arc coverages; just make sure you get all the associated files (i.e. filename.shp, filename.shx, filename.dbf)
ArcView supports DBase files (*.dbf), delimited text files (*.txt) and INFO files from Arc.
The following is an exercise in adding a file of point data into a View. It is assumed that you have a file that contains x and y coordinates for a series of points.
For example, a file of 2 points in decimal degrees might look like this:
Longitude, Latitude, Value
36.0043, 47.3423, 42
36.2487, 47.2165, 45
First, add the table to your project: Project Window: Add Table, then add table to a View: View Menu: Add Event Theme and Select X and Y
If you use a text file, from EXCEL or anything else:
points must be in a text file, comma delimited
must include "event locations" (X, Y coordinates)
Columns should be labeled
If you have any text or comment information, it must be in "", with no commas included in any text information.
.dbf format is the easiest by far.
Creating new shape files - View Menu: New Theme

Importing data

Editing Data

Editing Shape files - Theme Menu: Start Editing, then change features as you might in a graphics package, Stop Editing when you are finished
Editing tables - Table Menu: Start Editing, Stop Editing
Edit Menu: Add Field, Delete Field, Add Record, Delete Record
Field Menu: Calculate
Working with Tables
Selecting what you want to see - Table Menu: Table properties
Linking tables - Table Menu: Link
Selecting / Querying Data
Spatial Queries
Using selection tool
Using graphics to select features from another theme - Select features using graphics button
Using another Theme - Theme Menu: Select by Theme
Tabular Queries - Theme Menu: Query Builder and Promote Reporting Selection
General Statistics - Field Menu: Statistics
Statistics on an Item - Field Menu: Summarize
Creating New Data
Making shapefiles
From selected features - Theme Menu: Convert to Shapefile
From selected graphics - View Menu: Create New Theme, Theme Menu: Start Editing Add graphics, then Theme Menu: Stop Editing
From arc coverages - Theme Menu: Convert to Shapefile

Making Grids

Convert to Grid - Theme Menu: Convert to Grid
Joining two themes to make more information
Spatial Join - Select two tables, Spatial Join
points and lines = yields distance from point to line
points and polygons = yields inside polygon

Data Output

From Tables (this is similar to the "unload" option in Arc)
With table active - File Menu: Export


Setting Analysis Window - Analysis Menu: Properties
Spatial Overlay - Analysis Menu: Map Calculator, Surface Modeling - Analysis Menu: Slope, Aspect, Hillshade, Contours Interpolation - Analysis Menu: Interpolate Surface
Create Contours - Analysis Menu: Create Contours Distance, buffers - Analysis Menu: Find Distance Modeling

Statistical analysis

There are limited Statistics in ArcView. These are mostly descriptive stats.
Often, the output data is exported to SAS, or other packages.


You can make histograms, pie charts and others, but there seems to be a limit on the number of data points that you can use.


Making a Map is much easier in ArcView.
First, create a View, specifying the view needed, and adding colors and symbols.
Then, create a Layout. You can add charts, tables and north arrows here among other things. Add the view by delimiting a frame in the Layout window using the globe tool.

Output Devices

Printers - save in Enhanced Postscript format, or print directly to a printer
Slides - Save as Landscape, no taller than 7"
You can embed the windows meta file format (*.wmf) nicely in Word documents.
GIFs, TIFs, etc. - Use something like "xv" to screen capture
Adding functionality using Avenue can be useful. a good place to start is from ArcView help.
Go to ArcView Help, Type Scripts, samples
Choose a script,
Copy the entire script, and paste in a New Script window
Compile, run

Working with Spatial Data

In Arc View GIS, we can measure distance and area in a view whether the feature locations are stored as unprojected geographic coordinates or as projected x ,y coordinates but we need to specify the units of measurement. When its not known to the user the units of the stored data he may need to consult the data dictionary. If the data is an Arc/Info coverage or grid, it may contain a text file that describes the coordinates system and units the data is stored in. The measure tool on the GUI of Arc View is used to determine the distance from one place to another.
The Arc View reports two values ,length and segment .Segment length is the length of the current line segment and length is the total length of all segments that comprise the line and for the first length both values are same. So in this way Arc View makes the user measure the distance on the computer instead of in the field and hence save a lot of labor time and time. Hence the lengths can be measured and their cost can estimated in minutes  rather than in hours.
When working on an area that covers large portion of the earth’s surface and when you want to preserve a particular property spatial property ,such as shape, area ,distance or direction, you can choose a map projection that preserves that property and apply it to Arc View . The unprojected data in the decimal degrees can be projected to planar x, y coordinates using any projection of Arc View .
Arc View applies projections only for the feature data and not the image data. If working with projected images themes and unprojected feature themes in the same view, image themes projection should be applied on the view. Arc View  will project the feature themes and leave the image themes alone

Querying Data

A powerful function that GIS software can perform is locating data within large databases. In ArcView, another way to locate data is to query and select it using the Query Builder tool. The Query Builder allows you to build up expressions and values that select all the features meeting a particular set of conditions.
One common type of GIS query is determining what exists at a particular location. In this type of query, the user understands where the features of interest are, but wants to know what characteristics are associated with them. This can be accomplished with GIS because the spatial features are linked to the descriptive characteristics. Another type of GIS query is to determine which location or locations satisfy certain conditions. In this case the user knows what characteristics are important, and wants to find out where the features are that have those characteristics.

Query Builder (Dialog box)

Building a query

To build a query, choose a Field, then an Operator, then a Value. You build a query by double-clicking on these options with the mouse or by typing your query directly into the query text box. By default, the query is contained within parentheses, but the parentheses may not be required, depending on the complexity of your query.
If the Update Values choice is on, click once on a field name to list its values in the Values list. Field names are always enclosed in square brackets ([ ]).
If the value you want to use in the query is not in the Values list, type it into the query text box.

For example, to select all the houses of more than 1,500 square feet, you could use the query:
( [area] > 1500 )
Strings such as names are always quoted in queries. Strings are case insensitive, so you can select California with:
( [state_name] = "california" )
Use * as a multiple character wildcard. For example, to select Mississippi you could use the query:
( [state_name] = "missi*" )
Use ? in a string as a single character wildcard. For example, to find Catherine Smith and Katherine Smith, use:
( [owner_name] = "?atherine smith" )

To select all the cities with names starting with the letters M to Z, you could use:
( [city_name] >= "m" )

Values in date fields contain eight digits in the format YYYYMMDD. For example, the 2nd of May 1961 would be represented as 19610502. Dates are handled as date objects. So when you are querying a date field you can select all dates before today by using:
( [date] < Date.Now )
To select all the dates before a specific date, you could use:
( [date] < 19920717.AsDate )
If you double-click a date in the Values list in the Query Builder dialog .AsDate is entered into your expression automatically. It tells ArcView that the eight digit number is to be treated as a date in the expression.
Another way to specify a date in an expression is to give the date as a string and then tell ArcView what format you have given it in, so ArcView can convert it to a eight digit date for you:
( [date] > Date.Make("03/15/1993", "MM/dd/yyyy") )
The month format is given as "MM" to distinguish it from "mm" for minutes. Date.Now and Date.Make in the above expressions are actually Avenue statements. They use Avenue's object.request syntax. You can include Avenue statements in query expressions in order to perform operations on dates, times, strings, numbers and boolean fields. See Performing operations on date fields for more information.
Values in boolean fields are either True or False. So when you are querying a boolean field you can select all the true values by using:
( [Wetland] = True )
To select all the records that are true you could also use:
( [Wetland] )
To select all the records that are false you could also use:
( [Wetland].not )
See Performing operations on boolean fields for more information.
Complex queries can be built by combining expressions together with the And and Or operators. For example, to select all the houses that have more than 1,500 square feet and a garage for three or more cars, use the query:
( [area] > 1500) and ( [garage] > 3 )
Use the Not operator to exclude. For example, to select all the New England states except Maine, use the query:
( [sub_region] = "N Eng") and ( not ( [state_name] = "Maine") )
Queries can compare the values of two fields. For example to find all the counties with a declining population, use the query:
( [pop1990] < [pop1980] )
Calculations can be included in queries. For example, to find the counties with a population density of less or equal to 25 people per square mile, you could use the query:
( [pop1990] / [area] <= 25 )
Normally ArcView evaluates a query from left to right, but expressions that you enclose in parentheses are evaluated first. For example, the query:
( [netvalue] > [area] * [price] + [tax] )
will be evaluated differently from:
( [netvalue] > [area] * ( [price] + [tax] ) )

Dialog box options

Fields    This lists the fields in the theme or table you are querying. If the Update Values choice is on, click once on a field to see all its values listed in the Values list. Double-click on a field to place it into the query text box. If you type in the name of a field instead of clicking in this list, field names are not case sensitive, so typing Area, area or AREA are all allowed.
Fields that have been hidden do not appear in the Field list. If field name aliases have been defined these aliases appear in the Fields list.

Operators    Use these operators to specify relationships between Fields and Values in a query. Either click or double-click an operator to place it into the query text box.

=          equals
>          greater than
<          less than
<>        not equal to
>=        greater than or equal to
<=        less than or equal to
( )        expressions enclosed in parentheses are evaluated first.
and     both expressions are true, e.g. [area] >= 100 and [area] <= 200
or         at least one expression is true, e.g. [rainfall] < 20 or [slope] > 35

not      excludes, e.g. not [name] <= "california"

The mathematical operators + - * / and arbitrary Avenue expressions can also be used in queries.
To enclose an expression in parentheses, select it in the query text box by dragging over it with the mouse, and then click the ( ) operator. Parentheses will enclose the selected part of the query.
Values    This lists the values for the chosen Field. Only unique values are listed. So for example if 5 features or records in the theme or table you are querying have the same value for the chosen field, this value is only listed once in the Values list. Double-click a value to place it into the query text box. If the value you want to use is not in the list, type it into the query text box. Values cannot be displayed for tables containing more than 30000 records.

Update Values    By default, the Values list updates each time you choose a field. If there are a lot of values, it may take a moment for the values to be updated. Click this choice off if you don't want to update the values. This is particularly helpful if your query compares one field to another and you don't need to see their values, or if want to type specific values into the query text box instead of choosing them from the Values list.
Query text box    This is where your query is displayed as you build it.

Performing a query on a view or a table

If you are using the Query Builder to select features on a view or records in a table, the following options are available for performing your query:
New Set   Makes a new selected set containing the features or records selected in your query. Features or records not in this set are deselected.
Add To Set    Adds the features or records selected in your query to the existing selected set. If there is no existing selected set, the features or records specified in the query become a new set. Use this option to widen your selection.

Select From Set    Selects the features or records in your query from the existing selected set. Only those features or records in this existing set that are selected in your query will remain in the selected set. Use this option to narrow down your selection.

Performing a query to define a feature selection for a theme

If you are using the Query Builder from the Theme Properties dialog box to define a feature selection for a theme you will see OK and Cancel buttons instead of New Set, Add To Set and Select From Set.

OK    Selects the features in your query and makes this query the feature selection definition for the theme. Only those features that meet this definition will be represented in the theme. The query is added to the Theme Properties dialog box.
Cancel    Closes the Query Builder without running the query.
You can copy and paste queries. For example, you might use the Query Builder on a view to query a theme then decide to use this query as the theme's feature selection definition. In this case, you can copy the query, open the Query Builder from the theme's Theme Properties dialog box, and paste the query in. To copy all or part of a query, select what you want to copy and then press CTRL+C. To paste, press CTRL+V. There may be additional keyboard shortcuts on your platform, e.g., in Windows you can also copy with CTRL+INS and paste with SHIFT+INS.

Managing Tabular Data

Working with attribute tables

Spatial data sources such as ARC/INFO coverages or ArcView shapefiles have attribute tables containing descriptive information about their features. You can work with these tables in various ways. Adding your tabular data to a view
You can join your existing tabular data to the attribute tables of spatial data sources. This lets you symbolize the spatial features according to the values they have for the fields in your own tables. It also lets you select features according to these attributes. See Joining tables.

Working with event tables in ArcView

Events enable you to map data that contains geographic locations but which is not in a spatial data format.
For example, you might have a file of customers and want to make a map showing how they are distributed throughout the region. Or you may have a table of accident information and want to display the accidents with reference to their milepost locations along a route. Or you might have a table with information about bird sightings, with the latitude-longitude location of each sighting as fields in the table. In ArcView these are all examples of events.

Here are the types of events that ArcView supports:

 XY event tables

These tables contain the exact position of features as XY coordinates, such as the location of fire hydrants in a city or the points where soil samples have been taken. XY coordinates can be obtained by reading a map, measuring positions on a view, field surveying, using a GPS (Global Positioning System) receiver, geocoding the table that contains address information, etc. The XY coordinates can be in any coordinate system and units, such as longitude-latitude, or meters.

 Point event tables
These tables contain the locations of points specified as positions on a route system in an ARC/INFO coverage. For example, a point event table might record the location of bus stops along a bus route defined by their distance from the start of the route, rather than their XY coordinate location. "At 12.5 miles along Route 10" is an example of a point event.

 Linear event tables

These tables define the from and to position of events along a route system in a coverage.  For example, a line event table might record the pavement quality along different sections of a highway, where the sections are defined by distance along the highway.

 Continuous event tables
These tables define linear events that record only the point where a change occurs. This is a useful method for recording data which has no gaps, such as the location of speed zone changes along a highway, with the location defined by distance along the highway.

 Address event tables
Address event tables contain the street addresses or certain kind of locational identifiers of anything: customers, suppliers, competitors, branch offices, facilities, crimes, etc. See Tables that can be geocoded and Address components for information about the formats of address you can use for geocoding.

Analyzing Spatial Relationships

Spatial analysis operations available in ArcView include:
Find point features that are nearest to the selected point or line features
Find point features according to the polygon features they fall inside. (Point-in-polygon).
Find line features according to the polygon features they cross. (Intersection).
Find polygon features according to the polygon features they coincide. (Intersection; Polygon-in-polygon).
Find features that are adjacent to the selected features
Create new features by merging a set of adjacent features into one single feature or aggregate disjunct features.

Presenting Information

Creating Charts

Create a chart comparing the values of the Length attribute in the table.
With the attribute table active, click the Create Chart button  to open the Chart Properties dialog box. In the Name input box, change the name to River Lengths.
The Fields scrolling list displays the names of all chartable fields in the active table. In this case, there is only one. (Hidden and non-numeric fields are not chartable.) Click on "Length" in the Fields scrolling list, then click the Add
button. The Length field is placed in the Groups list to be charted.
Below the Fields list, a drop-down list (Label series using) displays the fields you can use to label each item in your chart. From the Label series using drop-down list, select "Name." Click OK. ArcView plots the river lengths in the default chart
format. A colored bar, or data marker, indicates the length of each river. The name of each river appears in the chart's legend. The y-axis shows the range of values for the river lengths.

Modifying charts

When you create a chart, ArcView displays it with the default format, axes, title, and legend. A default set of colors is applied to the data markers. You can change the chart's appearance by modifying any of these characteristics.
With the chart active, click on the Chart Element Properties tool , then click anywhere on the y-axis of the chart. The Chart Axis Properties dialog box displays. In the Scale max text box, highlight the default value and type
3500. This sets the upper limit on the y-axis. (The lower limit is already set to 0, although this new value hasn't yet been applied to the chart.) In the Major unit text box, replace the default value with 500 to adjust the increment along the y-axis.

Querying and editing charts

Because ArcView charts are dynamically linked to the tables from which they're created, you can get information from the table simply by clicking on the
chart. You can edit or select records in the charts source table and see the change reflected immediately in the chart. You can also modify the chart by deleting data markers. Each data marker in your chart corresponds to a record in the attribute table and a feature in the view. With the Identify tool, you can click on any data marker to get information from the table. Make sure the chart is active by clicking on its title bar. Choose the Identify tool from the Chart tool bar if it's not already selected. Click on a few additional data markers to add them to the identify Results dialog box. Close the Identify Results dialog box when you're finished. If the chart is not already active, make it active.