Create annotation feature classes

Available with Aviation Charting license.

Feature-linked annotation allows you to store customized chart annotations and their configurations as an editable feature class. This allows you to manage different sets of annotations for a wide range of charts from the same feature class. For example, you may need to display ADHP features on a VFR chart differently than an enroute chart. In this case, you can configure two label classes on annotation features: one class for displaying features on a VFR chart and one class for displaying features on an enroute chart.

ArcGIS Aviation Charting includes tools for use with feature-linked annotation when it comes to aeronautical chart production. You must configure the annotation feature classes for the tools to function properly.

Create feature-linked annotation feature classes

Complete the following steps to configure feature-linked annotation for Aviation Charting.

  1. Open or create a project in ArcGIS Pro containing an AIS geodatabase.
  2. In the Catalog pane, right-click your AIS geodatabase and click New > Feature Class.

    The Create Feature Class pane appears.

  3. On the Define page, type a name for the annotation feature class in the Name text box.

    To differentiate main features and cartographic features from annotation features, you can append _Anno to the name of the annotation feature class.

  4. Optionally, type an alias for the annotation features in the Alias text box.
  5. Click the Feature Class Type drop-down arrow and choose Annotation.
  6. Click Next.
  7. On the Fields page, add the following fields to the table:

    Field nameData typeDefault valueDomainDescription

    Text (length: 255)



    The map identifier assigned to the annotation features. This field allows you to identify the specific chart with which the annotation feature is associated.


    Short Integer



    Determines whether the feature is visible on the chart.





    Overrides the annotation features' font sizes when the chart scale differs from the reference scale of the annotation feature class.

  8. Click Next.
  9. On the Spatial Reference page, choose the same coordinate system that the cartographic features use.

    Cartographic features are appended with _C. For example, ADHP_C is a cartographic feature class for the ADHP feature class.

  10. Click Next.
  11. Click Next.

    You can skip the Tolerance page.

  12. Click Next.

    You can skip the Resolution page.

  13. Click Next.

    You can skip the Storage Configuration page.

  14. On the Annotation Properties page, check the Link annotation to the following feature class check box.
  15. Choose the cartographic feature class you want the annotation feature class to link to from the drop-down menu.
  16. Click the Reference Scale drop-down menu and choose a reference scale for the annotation features.

    Choose a reference scale in the range of the chart you are supporting. For example, a reference scale of 1:500,000 is suitable for charts with reference scales between 1:250,000 and 1:1,000,000.

  17. Click the Map Units drop-down menu and choose a unit of measurement.

    The unit of measurement must match the unit of measurement used on the chart.

  18. Check the Create annotation when new features are added check box.

    By checking this check box, annotation features are automatically created after creating cartographic features from your main aeronautical data. The annotation that is created will have empty strings.

  19. Optionally, check the Update annotation when a feature's shape is modified check box.
  20. Click Next.
  21. On the Annotation Classes page, add the label classes you want to use for the annotation features.

    The Aviation Charting product files contain label expressions that you can use to set up the annotation feature's label classes. If you installed the product files, you can browse to the layer packages at the following location on your hard drive: <installation location>\SampleConfigs.

  22. Click Finish.

Configure feature-linked annotation feature classes

When cartographic features are created, annotation features are automatically generated. Annotation features are empty until you run Prepare Aviation Data to populate the fields on the cartographic features that are referenced by the label expression. Complete the following steps to create an attribute rule to ensure the MapId_Txt field populates.

  1. Right-click the feature class you created and choose Data Design > Attribute Rules.
  2. On the Attribute Rules tab, in the Add Rules group, click Calculation Rule.

    Attribute rules are only applied if the cartographic features have GlobalIDs enabled. This is the default if your AIS database was generated at ArcGIS Pro 2.9 and later. If your AIS database was created earlier than ArcGIS Pro 2.9, you must enable GlobalIDs manually using the Add Global IDs tool.

  3. Choose Immediate Calculation from the drop-down options.
  4. In the New Rule pane, provide a name for your rule.
  5. Optionally, provide a description.
  6. Choose MapId_Txt for Field.
  7. Check the Editable check box.
  8. Configure an expression using the Expression Builder button Set an expression and verify that the script is valid.
  9. The following sample expression for airport annotation (ADHP_C_A) references the airport cartographic feature class (ADHP_C) in the FeatureSetByName() function call. Change the feature class in this function call to reference the cartographic feature class that corresponds with the annotation:
    if (!IsEmpty($feature.MapId_Txt)) return;
    var parent_id = $feature.FeatureGlobalID;
    if (IsEmpty(parent_id))
    return parent_id;
    var parent_class = FeatureSetByName($datastore, "ADHP_C", ["ObjectID", 'MAPID_TXT'], false);
    var parent_records = First(Filter(parent_class, "GlobalID = @parent_id"));
    return parent_records['MapId_Txt']

    This sample arcade expression, populateMapID_Attribute.lxp, is available in the Aviation Charting product files located at <installation location>\SampleConfigs\Common\ArcadeExpressions and can be used as a template. You can modify this file to fit your specific cartographic feature class name.

  10. Check the Insert and Update check boxes.
  11. Click the Save button on the Attribute Rules tab.

You have now configured an attribute rule to populate the MapId_Txt field when annotation features are created.

Create feature-linked annotation

As an alternative approach, you can create feature-linked annotation from input cartographic features using the Create Aviation Feature Linked Annotation tool. The Aviation Charting product files at <installation location>\Utilities\Scripts contain the Aviation Tools Python toolbox. You can use this toolbox to automate your charting workflow. The Aviation Tools toolbox contains the Create Aviation Feature Linked Annotation (CFLA) tool.

You must configure at least one annotation feature class before you can use the CFLA tool.

The following steps outline the workflow for using the CFLA tool with your data.

  1. Open or create a project in ArcGIS Pro.
  2. In the Catalog pane, right-click Toolboxes and choose Add Toolbox.
  3. Browse to the Aviation Tools Python toolbox and click OK.

    You can find the Aviation Tools Python toolbox in the Aviation Charting product files at <installation location>\Utilities\Scripts.

  4. Expand the Aviation Tools Python toolbox in the Catalog pane.
  5. Double-click the Create Aviation Feature Linked Annotation tool.

    The Create Aviation Feature Linked Annotation tool appears in the Geoprocessing pane.

  6. Choose a map for the Input Map parameter.
  7. In the Annotation List(s) parameter, choose one or more features to process:
    • Input Carto Layer—Processes the cartographic feature layer to an annotation feature layer, for example, ADHP_C.
    • Annotation Layer—Processes the name of the annotation feature layer with features from a cartographic feature layer, for example, ADHP_C_Anno.
    • Annotation Label Class—Processes the chosen annotation label class.

    For layers with a large amount of label classes, you may notice a delay when choosing them.

  8. Click Run.

    The CFLA tool runs on the features and populates annotation features based on the input cartographic features.