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Create points on a map


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  • Video length: 3:20
  • This video was created with ArcGIS Pro 2.3

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.

There are many ways to create spatial data. In this tutorial, you'll 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 Set the help source in the topic 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 is 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 menu items on the left, click Open. On the Open page, click Portal and click Open another project at the bottom of the page.

  3. On the Open Project dialog box, under Portal Portal, click All Portal All Portal.
  4. At the top of the dialog box, in the Search box, type Create points on a map tutorial and press Enter.
  5. 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, look at the Owner column. Select the item with the owner name ArcGISProTutorials. If you don't get any search results, see Access the quick-start tutorials.

  6. 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, an inactive volcano, is in the center of the park.

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

    Imagery map of Taranaki region in New Zealand

    By default, the project is stored in your <User Documents>\ArcGIS\Packages folder. You can change this location in the Share and download options.

  7. On the ribbon, click the View tab. In the Windows group, click Reset Panes Reset Panes and click Reset Panes for Mapping (Default).

    This ensures that the Contents and Catalog panes are open and that other panes are closed.

  8. Click 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 Navigation in 3D and Use the on-screen navigator or complete 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 its essential properties, such as its name, geometry type, and coordinate system. Optionally, you can add fields to the table and set advanced properties.

  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 Create Feature Class pane appears. The pane contains six pages. Not every page needs to be completed.

  3. On the Define page, for Name, type ENP_Entrances. For Alias, type Park Entrances.

    In the feature class name, ENP stands for Egmont National Park. The alias is a user-friendly name that is given to map layers based on the feature class.

  4. For Feature Class Type click the drop-down arrow and click Point.

    Under Geometric Properties, the Z Values check box is checked by default. Point features added to this feature class will have z-values specifying their vertical position as well as x,y values specifying their horizontal position.

    The Define page of the Create Feature Class pane

  5. At the bottom of the pane, click Next.

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

  6. On the Fields page, under the existing fields, click Click here to add a new field.

    A new field is added. In the Field Name column, the default name is editable.

  7. Replace the default value with NAME. Press Enter.

    This field will store the names of park entrances. In the Data Type column, the default data type, Text, is correct.

  8. At the bottom of the pane, under Field Properties, double-click the cell next to Alias to make it editable. Click the cell again and type Entrance Name. Press Enter.
  9. Double-click the cell next to Length and replace the default value with 35. Press Enter.

    Field properties for the NAME field

  10. Add another new field with the following properties:
    • Field Name: DESCRIPTION
    • Data Type: Text
    • Alias: Description
    • Length: 15

    The Fields page of the Create Feature Class pane

  11. Click Next.

    On the Spatial Reference page, you'll select a coordinate system. You'll use the New Zealand Transverse Mercator, a common standard in New Zealand. Because this coordinate system is used by the Egmont 3D scene, it should appear by default in the Current XY box.

    The Spatial Reference page of the Create Feature Class pane


    If you see a different coordinate system in the Current XY box, click NZGD 2000 New Zealand Transverse Mercator under Layers to set it as the Current XY system.

    Learn more about specifying a coordinate system.

    You don't need to complete the remaining steps because the default settings are fine. To learn about these settings (tolerance, resolution, and database storage configuration), see The properties of a spatial reference and Configuration keywords for file geodatabases.

  12. Click Finish to create the feature class.

    The ENP_Entrances feature class is added to the project geodatabase.

    Catalog pane with new feature class in the geodatabase

    At the moment, the new feature class doesn't have any features in it. Before you add features, you'll make the following preparations:

    • Add metadata to describe the feature class.
    • Add the feature class to the scene as a layer and symbolize the layer.
    • Set feature creation rules with a feature template.

Add metadata

You'll add item description metadata to the feature class. An item description includes a summary, a description, and tags. It may also include credits and use limitations.

  1. In the Catalog pane, right-click the ENP_Entrances feature class and click Edit Metadata Edit Metadata.

    A metadata view opens. The elements of the metadata style are displayed in the Contents pane.

    Item Description element in the Contents pane


    If you're using the default Item Description metadata style, the only element listed in the Contents pane is Item Description. The metadata element is currently invalid Invalid Metadata because required information is missing. If you're using a different metadata style, you'll see other metadata elements as well. Item Description is the only element you need to edit in this tutorial.

  2. In the metadata view, in the Title box, type Egmont National Park Entrances.
  3. In the Tags box, type (or copy and paste) the following keywords: parks, Egmont National Park, Taranaki, New Zealand.

    Make sure the keywords are separated by commas.

  4. In the Summary (Purpose) box, add the following text: Identify road entry points to Egmont National Park.
  5. Click in the Description (Abstract) box.

    In the Contents pane, the Item Description element is now marked valid Valid Metadata because the required information is present.

  6. In the Description (Abstract) box, add the following text: Road entry points to Egmont National Park. The locations were identified with a park boundary layer and the Esri World Imagery basemap.

    If spell-checking is enabled on the settings page (as it is by default), unrecognized words are marked with wavy underlines. See Proofing options for information on spell-checking.

  7. On the ribbon, on the Metadata tab, in the Manage Metadata group, click Save Save.
  8. Close the ENP_Entrances metadata view.
  9. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click the Save button Save to save the project.

Add and symbolize a layer

You'll add the new feature class as a layer to the map and symbolize the layer.

  1. Confirm that the Egmont 3D scene 3D Scene View is the active view. In the Catalog pane, right-click ENP_Entrances and click Add To Current Map Add To Current Map.

    A layer is added to the Contents pane. Its name is Park Entrances because this is the alias you specified when you created the feature class.

    Contents pane with the Park Entrances layer
    The color of your Park Entrances symbol may be different.

    The layer is placed in the 3D Layers category because the feature class geometry stores z-values. The layer visibility check box is dimmed because you haven't created any features yet.

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

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

  3. Under the Primary symbology setting, next to Symbol, click the symbol patch.

    The pane shows options for formatting point symbols.

  4. Under Format Point Symbol, click the Gallery tab, if necessary.
  5. In the search box, type cone and press Enter.
  6. In the list of symbols, under ArcGIS 3D, click Standing Cone.

    Standing Cone symbol selected in the symbol gallery

  7. Click the Properties tab. Click the Symbol tab Symbol under it, if necessary.
  8. Under Appearance, click the Color drop-down arrow and click Beryl Green or another bright color.

    Color palette with Beryl Green selected

  9. Change the Size to 8 pt and press Enter. Click Apply.

    The symbol is updated in the Contents pane.

  10. 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, attribute values, and editing tools used in feature creation.

Before configuring the feature template, you'll make Park Entrances the only editable layer in the scene.

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

    An exclamation point Tiled service layers are not editable next to a layer means that this type of layer is not editable.

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

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


    Alternatively, you can right-click the Park Entrances layer and click 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 appears and displays the Park Entrances feature template.

  5. Under Park Entrances, click the Park Entrances template.
    Park Entrances feature template

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

    A construction toolbar also appears on the 3D scene to help you create and edit features. (You won't use it in this tutorial.)

    Construction toolbar

  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 won't set a default entrance name value. However, each feature will have the same description.

  7. Click the <Null> value next to Description and type Park Entrance. Press Enter.

    The default Description value of Park Entrance will be applied to new features as long as you edit the layer without interruption. It won't persist if you start editing a different layer or perform some other software operation. To make default attribute values permanent in the feature template, right-click the template in the Create Features pane and click Properties Properties. On 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. Hover over the Egmont 3D scene.

    The pointer changes to a precision pointer (a crosshair) with a symbol attached to it. If you click in 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 changes to a hand pointer Pan. As long as you hold the C key, you can navigate the map while keeping the current editing tool active. Click and drag to pan. 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 <Null> value 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. Click Apply.
  9. 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 463 meters.

  10. 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. Press and hold the C key. Navigate to the area where the road enters the park.
  3. Release the C key. Click to add a point on the road.
    Feature placed on Pembroke Road
  4. In the Attributes pane, for Entrance Name, type Pembroke Road. Press Enter and then click Apply.
  5. Go to the Manaia Road bookmark.
  6. Press and hold the C key. Zoom in and add a point.
    Feature placed on Manaia Road
  7. In the Attributes pane, for Entrance Name, type Manaia Road. Press Enter and then click Apply.
  8. On the ribbon, click the Edit tab. In the Manage Edits group, click Save Save Edits.
  9. On the Save Edits prompt, click Yes.
  10. On the Edit tab, in the Selection group, click Clear Clear.
  11. 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 provided. The values in the Shape field values are Point Z because the features have z-values.

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

    A view of the three park entrances looking east

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.

  1. In the Contents pane, under 3D Layers, right-click Park Entrances and click Copy Copy.
  2. Make the Egmont 2D map view active.
  3. 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.

  4. Optionally resize the symbol or choose a different symbol for the layer in the 2D map.
  5. On the Quick Access Toolbar, click the Save button Save.

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 have z-values derived from the scene's elevation surface, the WorldElevation3D/Terrain3D layer. You'll work more with elevation surfaces in the Convert a map to a scene tutorial.

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