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Create segments by tracing other features

In the Create Features pane, feature templates for polyline and polygon layers include Trace Trace. This tool creates single-part and multipart polyline and polygon segments by tracing other features. This tool is also available on the construction toolbar and it can be used interchangeably with other segment tools to create complex shapes.

When you create z-enabled 3D polyline or polygon features, vertices are assigned the current z-coordinate elevation setting. For steps to specify z-values, see Specify an elevation for 3D features.

Trace

To create segments by tracing other features, click Trace Trace, click the feature you want to start tracing, drag the pointer across the feature, click again to stop tracing, and click Finish Finish.

  1. In the Catalog pane, do one of the following to add the layer to your map:
    • Expand Databases Database Folder, expand the database containing your data, and drag the feature class onto the map.
    • To create a new data source, right-click the default database, click New, click Feature Class Polygon feature class, type the feature class name, choose Polyline for the geometry type, select the coordinate system, and click Run Run.

    The layer is added to the current map, and a feature template with default settings is automatically created.

  2. On the Edit tab, in the Features group, click Create Create Features.

    The Create Features pane appears.

  3. In the pane, click a polyline feature template.

    The template expands to show the tool palette and the construction toolbar appears in the current map.

    Construction toolbar
  4. Next to the tool palette, click the forward arrow Forward.

    The tool palette and the feature attribute table for the active template appear in the pane.

  5. In the attribute table, type the values you want to apply to the new feature.
    • If you are using a group template, in the Templates section, click a template to display its attribute table.
  6. On the Edit tab, in the Snapping group, click Snapping List By Snapping, enable your snapping preferences, and move the pointer back to the map.
  7. Click Trace Trace.
  8. Click the feature you want to trace and create the first vertex.

    The first vertex is created and a dashed line appears along the feature as you drag the pointer.

  9. Drag the pointer along the feature or features you want to trace.
    • To temporarily turn snapping off as you create the polygon, press the Spacebar.
  10. To complete the trace, click the map.
  11. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcutFunctionDescription

O

Options

Opens the dialog box to configure the tool.

Tab

Negative Offset

Draws the offset at the opposite side. Press Tab again to toggle off.

Ctrl

Trace selected features

Traces only selected features when you press the Ctrl key and drag the pointer. When the optional setting Trace selected features only is enabled, you can trace selected and unselected features.

Keyboard shortcuts for the Trace segment construction tool

Trace with an offset

Use the Trace with an offset option to create segments at a specified offset. For example, you can click a water main feature template, set an offset of 7 meters, and trace along a parcel boundary to create water mains that run parallel to the parcel boundary at a constant offset.

  1. Click Trace Trace.
  2. Right-click and click Trace Options.

    The Trace Options dialog box appears.

  3. Check the Trace with an offset check box.
  4. Click the Units drop-down menu, set the format, and type the offset distance in the text box.
  5. Click OK.

    Your settings are saved and the dialog box closes.

  6. Trace the existing feature or features.
  7. Tip:

    Press the Tab key to toggle the offset to the opposite side of the feature.

  8. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.

Remove self-intersecting loops

Use the Remove self-intersecting loops option to prevent self-intersecting loops from occurring when Trace with an offset is set to a large offset distance.

  1. Click Trace Trace.
  2. Right-click and click Trace Options.

    The Trace Options dialog box appears.

  3. Check the Remove self-intersecting loops check box.
  4. Click OK.

    Your settings are saved and the dialog box closes.

  5. Trace the new feature.
  6. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.

Limit trace length

Use the Limit trace length option to limit the length of traced segments to a distance you specify.

  1. Click Trace Trace.
  2. Right-click and click Trace Options.

    The Trace Options dialog box appears.

  3. Check the Limit trace length check box.
  4. Type the distance and set the Units format.
  5. Click OK.

    Your settings are saved and the dialog box closes.

  6. Trace the features.
  7. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.

Trace selected features only

Use the Trace selected features only option to limit tracing to only the features you select in the map.

  1. On the Edits tab in the Selection group, click a selection Select tool and select the features you want to trace.
  2. Click Trace Trace.
  3. Right-click and click Trace Options.

    The Trace Options dialog box appears.

  4. Check the Trace selected features only check box.
  5. Click OK.

    Your settings are saved and the dialog box closes.

  6. Trace the selected features.
  7. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.

Corners

Use the Corners option to control the shape of corners.

  1. Click Trace Trace.
  2. Right-click and click Trace Options.

    The Trace Options dialog box appears.

  3. Click one of the following settings:
    • Mitered
    • Beveled
    • Rounded
  4. Click OK.

    Your settings are saved and the dialog box closes.

  5. Trace the features.
  6. To finish the feature, right-click and click Finish Finish or press the F2 key.