ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Production Mapping and ArcGIS Defense Mapping: Getting Started with Generalization

Introduction to Generalization in ArcGIS

Generalization in ArcGIS refers to the process of simplifying and reducing the complexity of geographic data while preserving its essential characteristics. It involves transforming detailed and large-scale data into generalized and smaller-scale representations by removing unnecessary details, such as small features or fine-scale variations. Generalization is commonly used in cartography and spatial analysis to create maps at different scales or to optimize data for specific purposes, such as improving visualization or reducing storage requirements. The generalization process in ArcGIS involves techniques such as simplification, aggregation, smoothing, and displacement to transform the data from the input scale to the desired output scale.

ArcGIS Pro provides a range of geoprocessing tools for generalization techniques that are optimized for different criteria, such as geometry feature type. For example, there are specific tools for simplifying buildings, lines, and polygons, as well as a tool for maintaining coincidence of lines and polygons during simplification. Choosing the appropriate tool depends on the data type and the desired outcome. Typically, more than one technique is applied to generalize a feature, requiring the combination of multiple geoprocessing tools. This can be achieved using geoprocessing models created in ArcGIS Pro’s ModelBuilder, which provides an intuitive interface for linking and combining tools. These models document the process and can be executed repeatedly. For example, a model can be created to select small building polygons, convert them to points, and identify clusters of buildings to delineate as built-up areas. However, these building blocks can be overwhelming, especially for those new to generalization in ArcGIS, as there are numerous tools to choose from and models can become complex.

Generalization tools in Topographic Mapping extensions

Esri provides additional generalization capabilities as part of the ArcGIS Production Mapping and ArcGIS Defense Mapping extensions (jointly referred to as Topographic Mapping) that are designed to help you get started with generalization faster and easier. These extensions provide various tools, models, and rules configuration options to support generalization, allowing you to automate the process and achieve consistent and standardized cartographic production. Topographic Mapping comes with a set of pre-built generalization models to perform the most common generalization operations for different themes of data. These models can be used as samples to learn from or run as is with your data.

To help you get started quickly, we’ve created an informative video series.

Video 1: “Introduction to Generalization” Discover the fundamentals of generalization and learn about the key concepts and building blocks involved. Explore how ArcGIS Pro supports generalization and uncover unique capabilities in ArcGIS Production Mapping and ArcGIS Defense Mapping.

Video 2: “Geoprocessing Tools for Generalization” Get an overview of a few essential geoprocessing tools available in ArcGIS Pro for generalization. Explore the additional tools provided in ArcGIS Production Mapping and ArcGIS Defense Mapping.

Video 3: “Generalization Models” Delve into the world of generalization models in ArcGIS. Learn about the pre-built models available and the approach used for data generalization. We will also explore some of the models built for each data theme.

Video 4: “Generalization Rules Configuration” Discover how to configure generalization rules to refine the output of the generalization models.

Video 5: ” Create, Validate, Upgrade Generalization Rules” Learn how to create, validate, and upgrade the generalization rules file.

Video 6: “Run Generalization Tool” Watch an overview of the Run Generalization tool that explains its parameters and outputs as well as the properties in the generalization rule file that can modify the tool’s behavior.

Enhance your understanding of generalization in Topographic Mapping and take your generalization skills to the next level!

About the author

I am a Sr. Product Marketing Manager at Esri who is responsible for messaging, positioning, and branding for an elite portfolio of products. Outside of work, I love traveling and I am a novice birder!

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