The ArcPad Team Blog

Unofficial stuff from the team behind the World's leading mobile GIS platform

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Using the ArcPad Data Manager to Check Out and Check In Data

Wondering how to get started? Do you have data in ArcMap that you want to take into the field with ArcPad? Want to know how to bring the edits back?

Here are the steps that i would go through to take the Riverside sample data into the field, and bring the edits back.

Let’s create an ArcPad Project to collect data for Light Pole Inspections.
I begin by creating my project in ArcMap. All of my datasets are in a single geodatabase and they all have the same projection. I have added TEXT fields called ‘Photo’ to my data to incorporate photos into my project. I will be using a version of my geodatabase to allow me to verify all field edits from multiple sources before committing these changes to my DEFAULT version. All of my data and my related tables have been added to ArcMap. I will apply simple symbology and bright colours to optimise presentation and performance on a mobile device. I have set the extent of the map to my work area and saved my map document with an appropriate name (Light Pole Inspection Project.mxd).
Using the Get Data For ArcPad Wizard, the first step is to choose which layers I need to take into the field and then sort those into operational and background layers. I need to check-out the Poles Layer and the rest I will use as background data in a read-only AXF. Because they were present in my ArcMap Document, the related tables for the Poles Layer are included by default. If I am using Map Annotation for labelling or graphics, they will appear in the list of layers available for check-out. Each Annotation Group will have an ArcPad Graphics Layer of the same name created during the check-out process. I will add background imagery from ArcGIS Online using an internet connection and the ‘Add Data From Server’ Tool in ArcPad if I need it in the field. I will leave the ‘Select Existing Forms/Scripts’ box unchecked to create default forms for my project. If I do customise my forms and add scripts, I can use them again by selecting this option the next time I check-out this project.
On the next page of the Wizard, I have set the Picture Field for my Poles Layer and related tables to ‘Photo’. I have selected a folder to store the pictures on my computer. ArcPad will reference this path in the Photo Field and then copy any photos stored in the same folder as my AXF file to this location when I check-in my data. If I had a reference to existing pictures in my data and was using a UNC share or URL location to store my pictures, I could check the ‘Keep path of existing pictures in data’ option to allow me to access these pictures using an internet connection when in the field.
On the next page of the Wizard, I have set the spatial extent to the current display and will only check-out visible fields. I could use a selection to check-out a subset of features or if I was using definition queries, I could export these as filters to limit the amount of data exported or displayed in ArcPad. I have specified a path and a name for the folder where my ArcPad Project will be created. I want to create an ArcPad Map that will inherit the name from my ArcMap Document (Light Pole Inspection Project.apm). It is possible to encrypt and password protect your AXF during check-out to increase data security. It is recommended to validate your data when using ‘Get Data For ArcPad’ the first time.
On the last page of the ‘Get Data For ArcPad’ Wizard, I can create a ZIP or CAB file for easy distribution of my ArcPad Project. If my mobile device is already connected to my computer, the CAB file that is created will automatically deploy to my device as soon as the check-out process has completed. Now that I have configured my check-out I can either create my ArcPad Project now or save my settings to use later.
The results of the check-out operation are displayed at the end of the process. Before deploying your project onto mobile devices, you can customise your project using ArcPad Studio. I will simply take a copy of my project folder or CAB file on an SD card and deploy my project onto one or many mobile devices. Or I could copy the files directly to the device via a USB connection using the Windows Mobile Device Center. Using ArcPad on the mobile device, I can now open the Light Pole Inspection Project.apm and start making edits to my data using default forms.
To check my edits back into my Geodatabase, I first need to copy my Project Folder from the mobile device onto my computer. I will open the Light Pole Inspection Project in ArcMap and start editing the same version of my geodatabase I used during check-out. This is the only geodatabase that will accept the edits from my AXF. Then I will launch the ‘Get Data From ArcPad’ dialog.
After using the ‘Add AXF’ function in the top right corner, I can now see the Poles Layer and associated related tables. In this example, I have collected four new features, modified one feature and deleted one feature. I can now apply these changes to my geodatabase by selecting the checkbox next to the Poles feature class and clicking on ‘Check-in’. The results from the check-in process are displayed after the operation has completed. If I had an ArcPad Graphics Layer that I wanted to add to my project, I would use the ‘Import Graphics’ button to add the ArcPad Graphics to the Active Annotation Target in the Map Document.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

GIS Day 2011

Happy GIS Day from the ArcPad Team!!

GIS Day is a grassroots educational event that enables geographic information systems (GIS) users and vendors to open their doors to schools, businesses, and the general public to showcase real-world applications of GIS.

GIS Day is a global event. Organizations all over the world that use GIS, or are interested in GIS, participate by holding or sponsoring an event of their own. In 2005 more than 700 GIS Day events were held in 74 countries around the globe. The first GIS Day occurred in 1998.

GIS Day is held in the third week of November each year, on the Wednesday during Geography Awareness Week, a geographic literacy initiative sponsored by the National Geographic Society.

Source(s): Wikipedia

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

ArcPad and Python

As of ArcPad 10.0.3, the Windows (Desktop/Tablet) version now supports the Python (2.6) scripting language in addition to vbScript and Jscript. There is a port of Python to windows Mobile, you might want to try PythonCE - but do so at your own risk as it is not an "official" port.
  1. You can now write your applets and customizations in python and take advantage of many of the extra libraries that are available to Python users.
  2. Supports the ArcGIS implementation of ArcPy.
    • If you have ArcGIS installed on the same PC as ArcPad they are already there, or
    • Using ArcPad in conjunction with an ArcGIS Runtime license (I currently have this on my laptop).
It is important to note that this does not expose the ArcPad object model to be used in python scripts out side of ArcPad, in case you were thinking you could create ArcPad batch files.

Over the years many people have asked for more "analytical tools" for ArcPad, so now here is a method of accessing all of those lovely jubbly geoprocessing tools that you have all come to care for so dearly.

There is an applet posted on the ArcPad Resources Site that covers the two scenarios mentioned above - ArcPad Python Applet

There are some subtle differences in writing for python with ArcPad:

  • You must capitalize objects, methods and Events: Console.Print(Map.Layers.Count)
  • You must use the full path to the message box: Application.MessageBox("ArcPad Rocks!")
  • If you want to change the style of the message box you must use the index number of the MessageBox constant not the name:  Application.MessageBox("ArcPad Rocks!", 0) instead of  Application.MessageBox("ArcPad Rocks!", apOkOnly)
So now you have another scripting language choice moving forward when customizing ArcPad to fit your data collection/editing workflows.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Online training for ArcPad

RIA Mobile have now taken their instructor led courses online!

The content of these courses has been developed over the last 10 years, being the same as face to face courses run, with adaptions to better suit the online environment.

Currently, the courses require the attendee either to have a licensed version of ArcPad 10, or access to one somewhere in their organization.

The first offering is 9am-5pm AEST, Wednesday 30th November 2011.
Go to
to confirm the time in your time zone, and to sign up.

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Using Apps to work multi lingually with ArcPad

Each time we go through a round of localization of ArcPad, we work with the Esri distributors around the world to collect and organize the text that you see in ArcPad. It means switching between locales continually, and comparing the display of dialogs and tools in each language.
In preparation for the 10.0.3 round of localization I decided to create an ArcPad App for each supported language. The result was pretty cool, and I think would be really useful for anyone working with a multi lingual ArcPad project. You would be able to open your project in each language and compare them side by side (on a desktop or tablet PC). In fact this is also acts as a great demonstation on how you can build and use any collection of ArcPad Apps.

Here’s what I did:

1. First I created a set of ico files, one for each language. I used Axialis Icon Workshop for this task, and saved them into a icon library file (.icl)
2. I then created an apm for each language. This apm contained no layers, simply an empty map, with a name that matched each ico. NB: If you want to see different icons used in ArcPad in the title bar and Quick Action button for each App, you will need to ensure you have apm’s with different names.
3. I also created an ArcPadPrefs.apx for each language. The only thing that changed in each file was the locale property. I could have made the change in ArcPad, but instead i opened each apx in notepad and manually changed each locale string. eg: the locale string for Hungarian is <LOCALE lcid="0000040e" codepage="1250"/> (these values can easily be read from ArcPad’s locale tab in ArcPad Options)
4. I then created an ArcPad App for each language. I opened each apm in ArcPad, chose Create App Shortcut, gave the App a unique name, browsed to my custom icons and browsed to my custom apx files.
Each App is now an icon on my desktop:
and I can open any one of these side by side to compare and view ArcPad in any language:

Multi lingual ArcPad is awesome :).

Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Let's talk about ACCESSIBILITY!

Many of the same principles of cartographic accessibility apply to your ArcPad Projects. The focus on functionality and usability is the same. However, the colours and symbology you are using for map production may not be optimal for field data capture.
When you prepare your next ArcPad Project: Think ARCPAD

Area: The screen area of your mobile device is limited. Make the most of the space available without crowding or complicating your map. Be aware of size and keep it simple!
Resolution: Most mobile devices have a QVGA (320 x 240) or VGA (640 x 480) display. Your desktop PC will most likely have a much higher resolution. Optimise your map for use at a lower resolution by removing unnecessary detail e.g. use colour and symbols instead of text labels to describe features.
Colour: Be bold with colour! Make sure your operational layer is easily distinguishable from background data. For help choosing colour schemes that are colour-blind and laptop friendly visit
Place: Field data capture occurs in the field! Think about the effect field conditions such as light and glare. Take your project for a test-run in outdoor conditions before deployment.
Aesthetics: Resist the urge to overuse labels and complex symbology to improve the aesthetics of your project. Your map doesn’t need to look fancy, it needs to be functional!
Display: Only display data that is relevant. This includes using scale-dependent feature rendering as well as limiting the amount of data that is taken into the field. Keep your map display simple and easy to interpret.
Not only will this help your ArcPad Project to be more accessible, it will also help to improve performance!

Friday, November 04, 2011

ArcPad 10.0.3 Top 3

I know you are all as excited as I am about the release of ArcPad 10.0.3, but why are we so excited?

Let me break it down for you in a bit more detail with the ArcPad 10.0.3 Top 3:

#1 ArcPad AXF Extension for FME – This was one of the top ranked topics on the ArcPad Ideas Forum ( The ArcPad AXF Extension for FME allows ArcGIS users with FME 2011 SP4 to achieve the following:

  • Browse AXF files in ArcCatalog
  • Drag and Drop AXF files into ArcMap
  • Export AXF files into a Geodatabase

#2 Python Support in ArcPad for Windows – In order to use Python as a scripting language in ArcPad, both the Python programming language (typically installed with ArcGIS 10) and the PyWin32 Python Extensions for Windows, are required. This allows for the use of Python Scripting in the ArcPad for Windows environment only. In ArcPad Studio, a Python tool has been added to allow for the use of Python Scripting during customisation of ArcPad Projects. If you have ArcMap installed on the same machine, you can now access the ArcPy module from within ArcPad.

#3 Updated StreetMap Datasets – StreetMap is used for geocoding, high quality cartographic display and the calculation of routes with driving directions. The ArcPad StreetMap Extension is based on StreetMap Premium for ArcGIS data derived from the TomTom (formerly TeleAtlas) dataset and now includes data for Europe in addition to North America. This extension is part of core ArcPad functionality and is included at no extra cost. It supports the Smart Data Compression (SDC) format and enables display, address geocoding, reverse geocoding, and routing capabilities. TomTom have provided an update to the StreetMap Premium Datasets for Europe and North America.

We have also improved localisation, updated our documentation, improved the ArcPad Toolbox Tools and much more.

ArcPad 10.0.3 – Get Excited!

Thursday, November 03, 2011

Welcome Michele Mattix, Esri’s New ArcPad Product Manager

Hello Everyone,

I would like to introduce Michele Mattix, who is the new ArcPad Product Manager at Esri. Michele joined us from Sedona Arizona where she had her own company focused on helping clients integrate GPS and GIS technologies. Before that Michele worked at Esri as a software instructor and taught various ArcGIS intro and advanced courses. Michele brings to ArcPad team excellent technical knowledge and first-hand experience in working with clients using Mobile GIS. Welcome Michele!

I also want to use this opportunity to say good-bye to you all as I had moved on to a different role in Esri. I have always enjoyed working with everyone in ArcPad team and interacting with all ArcPad customers. I will miss you all.

Now I wish Michele and ArcPad team continued success!

Jian Lange


ArcPad 10.0.3 Now Available

ArcPad 10.0.3 is now available for download from the Customer Care Portal.

With this build we have fixed bugs and introduced a few new tools:
  • New ArcPad AXF Reader allows import of AXF feature layers into compatible formats using the FME Extension for ArcGIS.
  • Improved Python support in ArcGIS.
  • Improved geodatabase schema support for subtypes and domains.
  • Updated StreetMap Premium Data from TomTom.