Geospatial Analysis Skills: Review and Self-Assessment

Setting up Your Workspace

Table of Contents

  1. Geospatial Analysis Skills: Review and Self-Assessment
  2. Setting up Your Workspace
  3. Datums, Projections, and Spatial Reference Systems
  4. Working with Database Tables
  5. Adding XY Data
  6. Proximity and Overlay Operations

By now, you should be familiar with file management protocols for GIS. In a typical workflow, you work on geospatial data using a local hard drive. When done, you compress your data and back up your work to your cloud storage so that you can retrieve the files from anywhere. When referring to a local hard drive, it means you are working on data physically located on the computer in front of you. In contrast, some computers also include networked drives. Networked drives link to cloud storage and save the data elsewhere. Examples include services like OneDrive or Google Drive. You should never use networked drives while you work as they can cause unforeseen problems.

For this tutorial, use the desktop as your local hard drive location. You may also use an external USB drive if you plan to work in multiple places.

DO NOT use networked drives while you work. They increase the processing time and can cause technical glitches.

In this tutorial, you use a particular folder structure. Start by creating your workspace folder on the local hard drive. A workspace is a folder or series of folders that contain all of your project files. The top-level folder in your workspace should indicate the lab assignment or the project. Organize all of your work within the workspace folder. On your desktop, create a new folder and give it a descriptive name, such as Geospatial_Review. Be sure there are no spaces. You may use underscores instead of spaces. Inside this folder, create the following three subfolders: original, working, and final. Having a standardized folder structure helps to keep a project organized, primarily when you are working with multiple partners. The folder structure you see here (Figure 1.2) is the standard used in each of the tutorials presented in this book.

Figure 1.2: This diagram represents a basic folder structure used in this book.

As the name indicates, use the original folder for storing original, unaltered data. As you are working on a project, if for some reason your working version of the data gets lost or corrupted, you can go back to your original folder and find a fresh copy of the data. Use the working folder for data that you create or alter while working on your project. Use the final folder for storing any output you produce as a result of your work, such as images, maps, tables, or reports. Setting up the standard folder structure for a project is good practice and a habit you want to develop.

Disable Background Geoprocessing

In the ArcGIS software, the Background Geoprocessing setting is often turned on by default. This setting allows users to continue to work while a tool is running in the background. However, sometimes, this setting will stop tools from running or cause other unforeseen problems. To reduce that chances of the ArcGIS software crashing during this exercise, turn this setting off. After launching ArcMap, open the Geoprocessing options from the Geoprocessing menu. Under Background Geoprocessing, uncheck the box next to the word Enable.