ESRI ArcGISI’m shifting my gears this morning and going to a session on ArcMap. I got a little ArcGIS Server overload yesterday so I’m going to see how much ArcGIS Desktop I can absorb today. You can always visit ESRI.com and view the “What’s Coming in ArcGIS 9.2” for more detailed info.

ArcMap 9.2 tries to improve the desktop platform (quality, documentation, productivity) and add some new things as well (graphing, animations, intelligent symbology). The team fixed over 600 “issues” and worked toward consistency to make sure that everything is the same among Map, Globe, Scene and Reader.

There are hundreds of new shortcuts for faster navigation. There is now a new “go to X/Y”, area and snapping measure tool as well as better scale control. As I said Monday you can now set the default relative/absolute pathing rather than per document. You can also set up something called “My Places”. You can pretty much figure out how something like that works. Unlike bookmarks, these are available in all map documents and you can share them with others.

Tables are almost totally different than before. As I said you can start working with attribute tables the same way you use Excel. The wrapping of fields is really nice and makes the tables so much more readable. You can now calculate area/length very easy on tables as well as hiding of fields and other Excel type functions (mimics how Excel handles spreadsheets). Plus you can finally add Excel tables to your layers. When you see Excel documents in ArcCatalog you can view the sheets inside the document much like you view datasets inside a geodatabase. Of course you need to have your Excel table structure set so ArcMap can read it, but you can set named range is complex Excel documents. So much like the sheet names, these named ranges show up in ArcCatalog.

New ArcPress drivers include HP Universal and EPSON Universal so you’ll have better result printing to the latest printers. Export PDF has been improved (the font embedding issues have been fixed) and there is now the ability to use layers within PDFs (big news for PDF exporters). Maplex has also been much improved with performance and adds leader line support.

Graphing support is almost totally redone. There are tons of new tools for creating graphs. There are better graph styles, the color can match your map documents, selections are synchronized for graphs and maps, pan and zoom on graphs and if you for some reason still want to use the old graph tools, they are still there. Graphs can also be used with time based animations. The graphs look very close to how Excel does them. There are wizards to help you create these graphs and the graph manager is much improved.

Animation has been brought over from ArcGlobe so you can now create animations in ArcMap. There is a new time layer animation type and NetCDF is supported. Just about anything in ArcMap can be animated (including graphs). Plus you only need an ArcView license to create animation (no 3D Analyst or ArcEditor/ArcInfo needed). And yes you can save out as an AVI.

Finally the Cartographic representations allow map makers to have more control and precision over their symbology. These are stored within the geodatabase and can even be published on the web with ArcGIS Server. These representations are a way to symbolize features carographically according to rules that you set. The simple fact that you no longer will have to export to Illustrator or Freehand to create high quality maps will save much time. The same data can be symbolized in different ways and map makers can choose which one they want to use for a particular map. Both versions are stored in the data and not in map documents and layers. They days of editing your features to improve the clarity of your map are over. The geometry stays the same and just the symbology changes. If you have specific ways you need your symbology to work, there is a SDK to create your own. You can even define any property in a cartographic representation from your attribute table (line width, color, rotation). The cartographic representation really changes workflows for ArcMap cartographers. Remember though you’ll need at least an ArcEditor license to create these representations. ArcView can read them though (similar to how ArcView can read SDE layers, but not create or edit them).