ArcGIS 10 Annoyances – Feature Construction Mini-Toolbar

I’ve been doing a lot of editing in ArcGIS the last few days, and have run into quite a few things that really annoy me about the new interface in version 10. The editing environment received a major facelift in this version, and that’s where most of my complaints are. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for trying out new things. I am attracted to shiny objects. The thing is though, once the shininess of an object wears off there has to be some functionality left in order for the object to remain useful. I’m pointing out a minor annoyance here because I want to keep this post short. However, there are a few more significant annoyances I plan on talking about in the future.

Feature Construction Mini-Toolbar

The Feature Construction mini-toolbar follows your editing cursor around within the data frame while you are using certain editing tools. This sounds like a very handy feature. You have quicker access to the tools on the mini-toolbar, since you don’t have to reach all the way back up to the docked toolbars every time you need a tool. In practice, however, I don’t find much benefit from it. The problem is, when it it follows your cursor around, it places itself directly below the cursor. Every time. About half the time, this means it’s directly in the path of my next mouse click. The image below shows the mini-toolbar getting in my way as I’m using the reshape tool to edit a stream feature. My next desired click is right were the toolbar is:

FeatureConstruction Mini-Toolbar

The default tools on the Feature Construction mini-toolbar are mostly available on the Editor toolbar, and of course all of them can be added there through customization.

FeatureConstruction Mini-Toolbar2

EditorToolbar

When I’m editing, I typically place or move dozens, if not hundreds, of vertices before needing to use an item on the toolbar. So, the mini-toolbar has dozens, or hundreds, of chances of getting in the way before I have a need to use it just once. This is not handy. This is an annoyance.

Turn It Off

I’m not a software developer, but I have dabbled in programming a little bit. It would seem to me that the mini-toolbar could be modified so that instead of plopping itself down right where you want to click next, it would anticipate your next move and place itself out of the way. Another option might be the use of a hot key, so it still follows your moves, but only reveals itself when a particular key is pressed. Until something along those lines happens, though, I think I’ll just turn the darn thing off and customize my editor toolbar with a few more tools. Here’s how to do that:

On the Editor toolbar, choose the drop-down Editor menu
Choose Options…
On the General tab, uncheck the item that says Show mini toolbar

EditorMenu EditingOptions

39 thoughts on “ArcGIS 10 Annoyances – Feature Construction Mini-Toolbar

  1. Jarlath O'Neil-Dunne

    Great post – that thing is REALLY annoying. If only removing it would also stop the crashing during edits in 10. I really like most of what they have done with 10 but until the editing environment stabilizes we won’t be doing across the board upgrades any time soon.

    Reply
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  3. Doug

    As you mention, the feature construction mini-toolbar is designed to help you focus on where you are working, rather than hunting around the application for tools. In addition, many people never find some capabilities because they are hidden on context menus, and this is one way to promote them.

    By hitting the TAB key, it will move the toolbar to the other side of your sketch, allowing you to continue along a general direction without further interference.

    As with the mini-toolbar in Office, some people love it while others like you are, shall we say, less fond of it. There’s no right answer, it’s simply a matter of personal preference.

    Reply
  4. Don Post author

    Thanks Jerry and Doug-
    I did not know about the TAB key moving the mini-toolbar. The way it works is, hitting TAB moves the toolbar above or below the cursor. That helps to keep it out of the way when your digitizing in one direction or the other. That might make it more useful in some situations. For me though, even its constant shifting around is a bit of a distraction.

    Reply
  5. Zac

    Thanks for this Don as have been trying to turn this annoying thing off since I upgraded. The TAB key is useful too.

    Reply
    1. Don Post author

      Glad it helped, Zac. I tried leaving it on and using the TAB key, but still found it very distracting, and requires more keystrokes than it’s worth. I’ve turned it off for good.

      Reply
  6. Rich

    Awesome. I complained to the developers about this during Beta testing and they didn’t bother to tell me how to turn the stupid thing off, only that the TAB button moved it.

    Reply
  7. Chris

    Yes! love the post, hate the minitoolbar. I did not know about the TAB hotkey or the way to turn it off, but I did try to remedy the problem by trying to dock it off to the side. It annoyed me even more that when I inserted the next vertex it became undocked and got right back in my way. Thanks a lot Don for the post!

    Reply
  8. north

    Thank you for the post. What a PITA this feature is. Why would it be on by default anyhow?

    And the TAB, shift-TAB doesn’t really make it any better wither.

    Thanks again! I was about to pull my hair out (or revert back to Arc 9)

    Reply
  9. Brad

    Thanks for the post. How can ESRI release software like this? Did anyone of the developers actually digitize? What a relief to turn it off!!!

    Reply
  10. Mark

    Simply pick up the toolbar and move it. It will stay in that relative position thereafter (kinda). If picking it up and moving it is too much of a pain, draw your feature in the other direction. Even with the mild interference, I find it extremely useful and super cool. IMHO. Cheers…

    Reply
  11. David

    Thanks! Sent it to my boss too! I tried moving it up to the toolbar, but it WOULD NOT STAY (didn’t like to listen I guess)… It would be nice for you to beable to move it to where YOU want it, not where AG thinks it should go!!

    Reply
  12. Pete

    Unfortunately the TAB and Shift-TAB means another hotkey click I have to use. Yes it’s definitely better then not using it, but there really needs to be a remove function or do not display for this. The bar has cause nothing but aggravation for me and really needs to be fixed.

    Reply
  13. mARIA gABRIELA

    I laugh a lot reading the post. I was getting crazy with that little monster covering my next move. Thanks for the tips.

    Reply
  14. Gus

    Thanks a lot. The TAB key solved my problem (for now). I don’t think it would require a lot of coding to make the toolbar stay at the X,Y amount of pixels from the cursor once you move it. Like Brad said, I wonder if any of the developers spent any time digitizing.

    Reply
  15. Stephanie

    I agree. God, I hate that thing!! That is my biggest complaint with ArcGIS 10. That, and I also second what someone else posted earlier…it crashes WAY too much in editing.

    Reply

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