Create a trace network

A trace network provides the framework to visualize, manage, and work with simple connectivity models. A trace network represents the connectivity relationship between a collection of feature classes in a feature dataset where each feature class has either the role of a junction or an edge. Multiple feature classes can participate in each role in a single trace network.

The basic methodology used to create a trace network is to determine which feature classes will participate in the network and the role each will play. A trace network can be created with either the Create Trace Network tool or the Convert Geometric Network to Trace Network tool.


A trace network can be created with z-enabled feature classes to support 3D capabilities. Connectivity is established based on x, y, and z coincidence when the network topology is created. Connectivity is not determined using z unless all feature classes that participate in the trace network are z-enabled.

Create Trace Network tool

The Create Trace Network tool is used to create a new trace network in a feature dataset using the specified feature classes.

Requirements and prerequisites

The requirements and prerequisites for creating a trace network are as follows:

  • An existing feature dataset must be specified for the Input Feature Dataset parameter.

  • The input feature dataset must reside in a file geodatabase.

  • The feature classes must reside in the same feature dataset as the trace network.

  • At least an input junction or an input edge is required.
  • Only point and line feature classes are supported as input. The feature classes cannot participate in another trace network or other advanced geodatabase functionality such as a topology or network dataset.

Create a trace network in a geodatabase

To create a trace network in a geodatabase, complete the following steps:

  1. On the Analysis tab, in the Geoprocessing group, click Tools Tools to open the Geoprocessing pane.
  2. In the Geoprocessing pane, search for and select Create Trace Network.
  3. For Input Feature Dataset, browse to an existing feature dataset Feature dataset within your geodatabase. By default, geodatabases are created under Databases Databases in the Catalog pane.
  4. Specify a name for the Trace Network Name parameter.
  5. For the Input Junctions parameter, choose input junctions from the available point feature classes Point feature class. These feature classes must reside in the input feature dataset provided in step 3.
  6. For the Input Edges parameter, choose input edges from the available line feature classes Line feature class. These feature classes must reside in the input feature dataset provided in step 3.
  7. Click the Connectivity Policy drop-down menu to specify whether the input edge feature class should be set as a simple or complex edge.
  8. Click Run to execute the tool.

The selected feature dataset is now populated with a trace network. You can now enable the network topology to establish connectivity.