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Unlock your map-making potential with the latest updates to ArcGIS Pro 3.1

With the updates to ArcGIS Pro 3.1, we have more control over layouts than ever before. Join me as I use these tools to create a map of Bon Echo Provincial Park. 

As the summer season slowly fades and cooler days approach, I've seized every opportunity to embrace the remaining sunny weekends with camping adventures. While exploring Ontario's parks, I was inspired to create a personalized map of a cherished childhood campsite – Bon Echo Provincial Park. Thanks to the latest enhancements in ArcGIS Pro 3.1, I can craft a map that perfectly suits my vision.  

Feature Drawing Order 

I have begun working on a map of the park, highlighting the camp area along with various points of interest and individual campsites. However, I encountered a notable issue – while labels for different camp areas are visible, the corresponding polygons fail to appear on the map; they seem to be rendering beneath the Bon Echo Camp polygon. 

A map showing Bon Echo provinical park. Yellow boxes highlight three areas where labels are showing for different campsite areas but the polygons outlining those areas are not showing on the map.

The labels for the different campsite areas are visible on the map but the polygons are being drawn under another polygon from that same feature. 

While addressing this challenge could have been a time-consuming task in the past, the updates to ArcGIS Pro 3.1 bring a swift solution. This software release includes the innovative 'Symbol Layer Drawing Order' feature, which allows users to adjust the default symbol drawing order on maps effortlessly. To implement this, I select the campsite areas layer within my table of contents and access the symbology pane. Within the symbology settings, I navigate to the 'Advanced Symbology Options' section. 

A screenshot of a the symbology propetries pane highlighing the icon that opens the Advanced Symbology settings.

The setting for feature drawing order can be found in the advanced symbology options. 

Within the advanced symbology options, I find the 'Feature Drawing Order' section, allowing me to specify a field that dictates how the polygons are displayed. I configure the order based on the area names, ensuring that the highest name appears on top. In this context, 'highest' refers to the area with the last name alphabetically, such as Sawmill Bay, while Bon Echo occupies the bottom layer. As a result, all the areas now appear clearly on the map. 

Screen recording showing the advanced symbology settings, expand the feature drawing order option, and reordering the feature by name so that all polygons are visible on the map.

Changing the feature drawing order to sort the polygons by name brings the hidden features to the top. 

Disperse Markers

Now that the polygons are displayed as intended, a new challenge has emerged in my map. Many of the points of interest I've added to the map overlap, causing visual clutter or hiding important features.

A screenshot of a map with a point feature selected. The attrible table is opened for that layer showing that there are four points in that location selected despite only one being visible on the map.

Four points of interest are drawn atop one another, allowing only one to be visible on the map.  

Fortunately, ArcGIS Pro 3.1 offers a solution through its cartography tools. 'Disperse Markers,' found in the cartography toolbox, identifies overlapping or closely positioned points of interest and arranges them in a dispersal pattern. This tool provides a choice of ten patterns for dispersing point markers, including two new options introduced in ArcGIS Pro 3.1: 'Row' and 'Column.'

A chart showing blue dots, reperenting map point features, in different dispersal patterens. From left to right they show: (Top) a cluster of points before dispersal, the points equally spaced around the origin point using the "Expanded" method, the points spaced out unevely around a central point in a "Random" pattern, the points spaced in concentric squares around an origin in the "Squares" pattern, (middle) the points spread in one large square around an origin in the "Square" pattern, the points spread in a circle around an origin location in the "Ring" pattern, the points spread in concertric circles around an origin in the "Rings" pattern, (bottom) the points spread in a cross with the central point at the junction of the cross in the "Cross" pattern, the points spread into an X around an origin with the "X-Cross" pattern, the points spread in a single row with the "Row" pattern, and the points spread in a single column with the "Column" pattern.

Points clustered within a specified distance are dispersed in the pattern selected.

However, it's crucial to set a map reference scale, before utilizing this tool. Establishing a reference scale ensures that symbols and text maintain the desired size in both height and width as you zoom in and out of the map, preventing distortion. Without a reference scale, symbols and text sizes remain constant, regardless of the zoom level. I've set my reference scale to 1:3000 and am now prepared to disperse my markers into rows, with a minimum spacing of 1 meter, by executing the tool. 
 A video showing highlighted points in a map being moved next to one another in a single row using the Dispers Markers geoprocessing tool.

Dispersing the overlapping points into rows allows for them all to be visible in the map area.

Scale-based Labeling 

With all the key features now visible, I'm nearly satisfied with my map. However, one aspect that leaves room for improvement is the labelling. While the labels are easily readable when zoomed in, some become too small to discern as I zoom out, particularly the lake names: