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Create points on a map

Tutorial summary

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  • Video length: 2:16
  • This video was created with ArcGIS Pro 2.0.

In this tutorial, you'll create 3D point features in a scene. 3D features have z-values that specify their elevation. Z-values define the position of a feature relative to mean sea level or another vertical benchmark. They are not a measure of the feature's bottom-to-top height.

There are many ways to create spatial data, including point features. In this tutorial, you will use an editing tool to draw features on an imagery basemap. The features you create will be saved in a feature class in your project geodatabase.

  • Estimated time: 30 minutes
  • Software requirements: ArcGIS Pro

The tutorial steps in the online help reflect the look and capabilities of the current software release. If you have an earlier software version, use the offline help system to open the tutorial. To switch from the online to the offline help system, see About ArcGIS Pro Help. If you don't have ArcGIS Pro or ArcGIS Online, you can sign up for an ArcGIS free trial .

Open the project

Your study area will be Egmont National Park in the Taranaki region of New Zealand. You'll create 3D point features to represent road entrances to the park.

  1. Start ArcGIS Pro and sign in if necessary.
  2. On the start page, under your recent projects, click Open another project.

    If you already have a project open, click the Project tab on the ribbon. In the list of tabs on the left, click Open.

  3. On the Open project page, click Portal and click Browse Browse.
  4. On the Open Project dialog box, under Portal Portal, click All Portal All Portal.
  5. At the top of the dialog box, in the Search box, type Create points on a map tutorial and press Enter.
  6. In the list of search results, click Create points on a map to select the project package.

    If there is more than one project package with this name, make sure to select the correct one. In the upper right corner of the Open Project dialog box, click the Show/hide details panel button Show/hide details panel. The owner should be ArcGISProTutorials.

  7. Click OK.

    The project opens to the Taranaki region on New Zealand's North Island. The boundary of Egmont National Park is drawn with an orange outline. Mount Taranaki, a strikingly symmetrical inactive volcano, is in the center of the park.

    The active view is a 3D scene named Egmont 3D. There is also an open 2D map named Egmont.

    Imagery map of Taranaki region in New Zealand

    The project is stored in your <user documents>\ArcGIS\Packages folder.

  8. On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Egmont 3D Bookmarks, click View from above to zoom to the park boundary.
  9. Explore the scene with 3D navigation techniques and bookmarks.

    With the Explore tool Explore Tool selected on the Map tab, you can navigate with the mouse. You can also use the on-screen navigator Navigator in Full Control mode.


    If you're not familiar with 3D navigation, see the help topics Overview of 3D Navigation and The on-screen navigator or try the Navigate maps and scenes tutorial.

  10. When you're finished, return to the View from above bookmark.

Create a feature class

You'll create a feature class in your project geodatabase to store the park entrance features. When you create a feature class, you specify essential properties the features will have in common, such as their geometry type and coordinate system.

  1. In the Catalog pane, on the Project tab, browse to Databases > create_points_on_a_map.gdb.

    The project geodatabase already contains one feature class called ENP_Boundary. This feature class is the source data for the Egmont National Park layer in the Contents pane.

  2. Right-click create_points_on_a_map.gdb and click New > Feature Class Feature Class.

    The Geoprocessing pane opens to the Create Feature Class tool.

  3. For the Feature Class Name, type ENP_Entrances. ENP stands for Egmont National Park.
  4. Click the Geometry Type drop-down arrow and click Point.

    Toward the bottom of the pane, the Has Z parameter is set to Yes by default. Point features added to this feature class will have z-values to define their vertical position as well as x,y values to define their horizontal position.

  5. Click the Coordinate System drop-down arrow and click Current Map [Egmont 3D].

    The coordinate system changes from the Web Mercator system to the New Zealand Transverse Mercator system used by the map. This coordinate system is a common standard in New Zealand.

  6. For the Feature Class Alias, type Park Entrances.
    Create Feature Class tool

    The alias will be used whenever the feature class is added as a layer to a map. The alias allows you to associate a standard, user-friendly layer name with the dataset.

  7. Click Run Run to create the feature class.

    When the tool is finished, a new feature class is created in the project geodatabase and a layer called Park Entrances is added to the map. In the Contents pane, the new layer's visibility check box is dimmed because the layer doesn't have any features.

  8. In the Catalog pane, browse to Databases > create_points_on_a_map.gdb if necessary.
    Catalog pane showing the new feature class in the geodatabase

    The ENP_Entrances feature class has been added to the geodatabase. Its icon indicates that it is a point feature class.

    Before you add features to the new feature class, you'll make the following preparations:

    • Add metadata to describe the feature class
    • Specify the table attributes that the feature class will store
    • Choose a map symbol for the features
    • Set default feature creation rules with a feature template

Add metadata

You'll add an item description, a simple form of metadata, to the feature class. An item description includes a summary, description, and tags. It may also include credits and use limitations that describe how the data may be shared or reused.

  1. In the Catalog pane, right-click the ENP_Entrances feature class and click View Metadata View Metadata.
    Empty item description in Catalog pane

    The catalog view opens. It displays an empty item description for the ENP_Entrances feature class.

  2. On the ribbon, on the Home tab, in the Metadata group, click Edit Edit.

    The ENP_Entrances metadata view opens. The input boxes for tags and a summary are highlighted in pink. This information is required if you want to share the map to an ArcGIS Online or ArcGIS Enterprise portal. (You won't share the map in this tutorial, however.)

  3. For Tags, type (or copy and paste) the following: parks, Egmont National Park, Taranaki, New Zealand.
  4. For Summary, type the following: Identify road entry points to Egmont National Park.
  5. For Description, type the following: Road entry points to Egmont National Park. The locations were identified with a park boundary layer and the Esri World Imagery basemap.
  6. On the ribbon, on the Metadata tab, in the Manage Metadata group, click Save Save.
  7. Close the ENP_Entrances metadata view and close the catalog view.

Add fields to the layer attribute table

By default, a new feature class has only two attributes: ObjectID and Shape. You'll add fields for a feature name and description.

  1. In the Contents pane, if necessary, click the Park Entrances layer to select it.
    Contents pane with Park Entrances layer selected
  2. On the ribbon, under Feature Layer, click the Data tab. In the Design group, click Fields Fields.

    The Fields view for the layer opens.

  3. On the ribbon, the Fields tab is selected. In the Changes group, click New Field New Field.

    A new field is added to the table.

  4. In the Field Name column, replace the value with NAME. Press Enter.
  5. In the Alias column, type Entrance Name. Press Enter.
  6. In the Data Type column, double-click the default value to display a list of data types. Click Text.
  7. In the Length column, replace the value with 35. Press Enter.

    If you make a mistake, click in the appropriate cell and correct it. If necessary, you can select the row containing the field and press the Delete key to start over.

  8. Add another new field with the following properties:
    • Field Name: DESCRIPTION
    • Alias: Description
    • Data Type: Text
    • Length: 15
    Field view of table with two new fields
    Not all fields are shown in the image
  9. On the Fields tab, in the Changes group, click Save Save to save your changes.
  10. Close the Fields view.

Symbolize the layer

When you add features, the default symbol may be difficult to see against the basemap. You'll choose a more suitable symbol. You'll also rename the layer to something easier to understand.

  1. In the Contents pane, right-click the Park Entrances layer and click Symbology Symbology.

    The Symbology pane opens. The Symbology method is set to Single Symbol, which means that all features in the layer will have the same symbol.

  2. In the Symbology pane, click the current symbol.

    The pane state changes to show options for formatting point symbols.

  3. In the Symbology pane, under Format Point Symbol, click the Gallery tab, if necessary.
  4. Scroll to the bottom of the gallery. Under ArcGIS 3D, click Standing Sphere.
    ArcGIS 3D symbols in symbol gallery
  5. At the top of the Symbology pane, click the Properties tab.
  6. On the Symbol tab Symbol, under Appearance, change the color to Mango. Change the Size to 6 pt.
    Color palette
  7. Click Apply.
    Contents pane with renamed layer

    The new symbol appears in the Contents pane.

  8. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click the Save button Save to save the project.

Configure the feature template

Feature templates streamline data creation by specifying default properties for new features. These default properties include symbols and attribute values, as well as the editing tool used in feature creation.

Before configuring the feature template, you'll make Park Entrances the only editable layer in the scene. This will prevent you from accidentally editing the Egmont National Park layer.

  1. At the top of the Contents pane, click the List By Editing tab List By Editing.

    The red exclamation points next to World Boundaries and Places and World Imagery mean that these layers cannot be edited.

  2. Under 2D Layers, uncheck the box next to Egmont National Park.

    This layer can't be edited until the box is selected again.


    You can also right-click the Park Entrances layer and choose Make this the only editable layer Make this the only editable layer.

  3. At the top of the Contents pane, click the List By Drawing Order tab List By Drawing Order.
  4. On the ribbon, click the Edit tab. In the Features group, click Create Create Features.

    The Create Features pane opens and displays the Park Entrances feature template.

  5. Under the Park Entrances heading, click Park Entrances to expand the template.
    Park Entrances feature template

    The Point tool Point is selected as the default tool for creating new point features.


    Hover over the tools to see descriptions.

  6. Click the Open the active template pane button Open the active template pane to specify attributes for features you are about to create to set default attribute values for new features.

    Each feature will have a different name, so you can't set a default value for Entrance Name. However, each feature will have the same value in the Description field.

  7. Next to the Description attribute, type Park Entrance and press Enter.
  8. At the top of the pane, click the Back button Back.

    The default Description value of Park Entrance will be applied to new features as long as you edit the layer without interruption. It will not persist if you start editing a different layer or perform some other software action. To make default attribute values permanent in the feature template, right-click the template in the Create Features pane and click Properties Properties. In the Template Properties dialog box, click the Attributes tab. Enter the attribute value you want and click OK.

Create a park entrance feature

There are three road-based entries to the park. First, you'll create a point feature to represent the Egmont Road entrance.

In the Park Entrances feature template, the Point tool for creating features is active and you can begin editing. To keep the tool active as you navigate the map, you'll use a keyboard shortcut.

  1. Click the Egmont 3D view tab to make the scene active. Make sure you are looking at the 3D scene and not the 2D Egmont map. Hover over the scene.

    The pointer icon is a crosshair with a point symbol attached to it. If you click on the scene, you'll create a point feature wherever you click.


    If you add a feature in the wrong place, click the Undo button Undo on the Quick Access Toolbar.

  2. On the ribbon, click the Map tab and click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Egmont Bookmarks, click Egmont Road.

    The map zooms in to the road.

  3. Press and hold the C key on the keyboard.

    The pointer icon changes to a pointing finger Pointing finger icon. As long as you hold the C key, you can pan to different locations by dragging the map. To zoom in and out, use the mouse wheel or hold the right mouse button and drag.


    You can also use the on-screen navigator Navigator to navigate while an editing tool is active.

  4. Navigate to the area where the road enters the park.
    Zoomed-in view of park entrance

    The park entrance is where the cleared land ends and the forest begins.

  5. Release the C key. Click on the road at the entrance to the park.
    Feature placed on Egmont Road

    The feature is added to the map and is selected. You'll add an attribute value for the name of this entrance.

  6. On the Map tab, in the Selection group, click Attributes Attributes.
  7. In the Attributes pane, click the input box next to Entrance Name. Type Egmont Road and press Enter.
    Egmont Road feature attributes

    The description has already been added, as specified by the feature template.

  8. Next to the Attributes tab, in the middle of the pane, click the Geometry tab.
    Geometry tab in the Attributes pane

    Along with the x and y values, a z-value is part of the point feature's geometry. The z-value should be close to 471 meters.

  9. Click the Attributes tab to show the feature's attributes again.

Create features for the other park entrances

You'll follow the same process to create features for the other two park entrances.

  1. On the Map tab, click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Egmont Bookmarks, click Pembroke Road.
  2. If necessary, click the Egmont 3D view tab to make the scene active.
  3. Press and hold the C key. Navigate to the area where the road enters the park.
  4. Release the C key. Click to add a point on the road.
    Feature placed on Pembroke Road
  5. In the Attributes pane, for Entrance Name, type Pembroke Road and press Enter.
  6. Go to the Manaia Road bookmark.
  7. Press and hold the C key. Zoom in and add a point on the road where it enters the park.
    Feature placed on Manaia Road
  8. In the Attributes pane, for Entrance Name, type Manaia Road and press Enter.
  9. On the ribbon, click the Edit tab. In the Manage Edits group, click Save Save Edits.
  10. On the Save Edits prompt, click Yes.
  11. On the Edit tab, in the Selection group, click Clear Clear.
  12. In the Contents pane, right-click the Park Entrances layer and click Attribute Table Open Table.
    Park Entrances attribute table

    The table has three records with the attribute values you entered. Notice that the Shape field values are Point Z, showing that the features have z-values.

  13. Close the table view.
  14. Click the Map tab and click Bookmarks Bookmarks. Under Egmont 3D Bookmarks, click View from above.
  15. On the Map tab, in the Navigate group, click the Explore tool Explore Tool.
  16. Navigate the scene in 3D and examine the park entrance symbols from different perspectives.

View the layer in the map

Any layer can be displayed in either a 2D map or a 3D scene, regardless of whether the layer has z-values. You'll copy the Park Entrances layer from the Egmont 3D scene into the Egmont map so the map and the scene have the same layers.

  1. Confirm that the Egmont 3D scene is active.
  2. In the Contents pane, under 3D Layers, right-click Park Entrances and click Copy Copy.
  3. Make the Egmont map view active.
  4. In the Contents pane, right-click the Egmont map name and click Paste Paste.

    The Park Entrances layer appears at the top of the layers in the Contents pane.

  5. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click the Save button Save.
  6. Close any open panes other than the Contents and Catalog panes.

Map features—the points, lines, and polygons that represent geographic locations—are typically stored in a feature class. A feature class stores the geometry and attributes of features so they can be added to new maps, processed and analyzed with tools, and managed together with your other data.

The park entrance features you created had accurate z-values assigned to them. At the Egmont Road park entrance, the elevation is about 471 meters. At the Pembroke Road entrance, it's about 577 meters. At the Manaia Road entrance, it's about 520 meters. These z-values were derived from the scene's elevation source, the Terrain3D map service. To work more with elevation sources in scenes, try the Convert a map to a scene tutorial.

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