A New Way of Working with ArcPad – Templates

I am a big fan of the data dictionary functionality in programs like Trimble’s TerraSync.  It allows you to grab your GPS unit and start collecting the features and attributes relevant to your project without having to first check out the data or create new feature classes.  Now I can  take advantage of this grab-and-go functionality in ArcPad.  New with version 10 is the ability to create custom templates – ready-to-go projects with the layers and attributes specific to your project.

ArcPad QuickProjects

ArcPad has had the QuickProject functionality for some time but until version 10, you were limited to using the default project template which creates one point, one line, and one polygon shapefile with a handful of  attribute fields.   Now you can create your own templates in the office, load them onto your GPS unit, and choose your template when you start a new QuickProject.

Templates have completely changed my relationship with ArcPad.  I have a number of projects that I am working on and I don’t always have the time to go through the data check out process in ArcGIS before I can start collecting data in the field.  Now I have all of my projects stored as templates in ArcPad so I can just grab my GPS unit and start up a project with all of the background and editable layers ready to go.

Templates can be created from shapefiles or from geodatabase feature classes.  There are a number of workflows to choose from depending on if you want to integrate field data with an existing geodatabase, create a new geodatabase, or incorporate post-processing of your GPS data into the mix.  In this article, I will discuss creating a template from an existing geodatabase into which I want to be able check my field data.

Creating a Template

For those of you familiar with my training videos you know that I am an avid hiker and that I take my GPS unit along to collect trails and points of interest.  I have a master geodatabase that contains all of my GPS-collected data (trail heads, hiking trails, junctions, etc.) as well as background data (wilderness boundaries, streams, peaks, etc.).  I also have a master MXD where I store the symbology, labels, scale dependency, and other properties set for ArcPad field work.

Sedona Hiking MXD for ArcPad

I keep hiking trails, trail heads, and background data in this MXD

Once my data is prepared and ready for use in ArcPad, I create my template by first using the Get Data for ArcPad tool on the ArcPad Data Manager toolbar.  In the wizard, I specify which layers to check out for editing and which as background.  Editable layers are checked out as schema only and stored in an AXF file that will be named after the master geodatabase.  Background layers are stored in a background AXF.  The ArcPad map must be named Template.apm.

Get Data for ArcPad Wizard

Get Data for ArcPad wizard settings

When finished, I have a folder that contains my AXF files and the APM.  Next, I open the template.apm file in ArcPad on my PC.  This is so I can go into the map properties and change the title property to the name I want to appear in the template pick list in ArcPad — I name mine “Hiking”, sSave the APM and exit ArcPad.

ArcMap Title becomes ArcPad template name

Change the map title to the name you want to give the template.

Templates must be stored in zipped folders on the GPS unit.  I create a new zip folder that contains the AXF files and the APM and name it “Hiking”.  With the GPS unit connected to my PC, I transfer the zipped folder to the GPS unit and paste in the templates folder.   The default location is Program FilesArcPadTemplates but you can change the template path in ArcPad Options > Paths.  It’s important to place the zipped folder in the correct location, otherwise, it will not appear in the template pick list.

Using the Template

Now I’m ready to use the template.  I start up ArcPad 10, choose to start a new QuickProject and select my template from the picklist.

My templates appear in the pick list.

ArcPad creates the project with my editable and background layers ready to go.  The data will be stored in a newly created folder named with a time stamp.  I can create as many new QuickProjects as I want.  Back in the office, I can transfer the QuickProject folders to my PC and use the Get Data from ArcPad tool to check my field edits into my master geodatabase.

And that’s it!  A little bit of work to create the template and then it sits on the GPS unit ready to go whenever you want to collect data for a project.  You can create templates for all of your projects and share a template among multiple GPS units.

If you’d like to learn more about working with ArcPad 10 templates, we have a new and improved GPS Mapping and Workflows in ArcPad training video coming soon.