Lab 1: Introduction
This first lab introduces basic software and operating system concepts, as well as the basics of ArcView 8.1 and the Internet.
ArcView's Modular Structure. ArcView is a complex system designed around several components - ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox. These three modules represent the three basic necessities of GIS - data, data analysis, and data output/mapping. You will become familiar with ArcMap, ArcCatalog,and ArcToolbox
Extensions. Extensions are add-ons that extend the capabilities of ArcView 8.1. Digitizing and raster analysis are examples of extensions. You will learn how to extend the power of ArcView 8.1 through extensions.
Internet. The Internet is an important source of GIS information. You will practice searching the Web and downloading data in the correct format.
To use your computer, you may need to log-in, depending on the operating system. If you do not need to log-in, you can begin exploring the desktop now. If you do need to log-in, you should see a notice that instructs you how to log-in. Once you have logged-in, you will want to explore the desktop. Note the positions of My Computer, Trash (Recycle Bin), and the Start Button. The Start button is located on the gray task bar below your desktop. Begin by using your mouse to left click on the three objects listed above. Now right click with your mouse on each of them.
Question: What happens when you right click on an icon on your desktop? When you left click on an icon?
Using the Start button, find Microsoft Word in the Programs menu and start the program. Now right click on the taskbar. Explore the pop-up menu; find the Task Manager. Use the Task Manager to end the Word program process. Take a minute to explore the Task Manager, notice what information it provides about the tasks running on your computer.
Question: Describe a situation in which the Task Manager would be very useful.
Disk drives on pc or dos-based machines are named A:, B:, C: in the order that the CPU will attempt to boot them. The A: drive is always a floppy disk drive. The reason for this is that in the event of a hard disk crash, booting and diagnostics can be implemented from a floppy disk. The B: drive does not always exist on a machine. The B: designation is set aside should an additional floppy disk port be installed. The C: drive is usually the hard disk drive on which the operating system and software programs are installed. Additional drives can be named for storage disks, auxiliary software storage, and importantly a compact disk drive. Along with these real drives, it is possible to create virtual drives by mapping a "drive" on another computer on your network - such as on a local server.
Directory structures are based on a tree metaphor. Each disk drive is the top of the tree. Below each disk are directories and/or files, below each directory may be more directories or files, and so on. In most pc or dos-based operating systems a directory can be recognized as a manila folder icon, a file can be recognized as a document icon. Usually documents will have a symbol on them that describes the software system used to create them. Take some time to explore the directory structure of your machine.
Question: Make a tree map of the C:\Temp directory on your computer.
ArcView 8.1 is structured around three modules ArcCatalog, ArcMap, and ArcToolbox. These three modules represent the three basic necessities of GIS - data, data analysis, and data output/mapping. Here we will go through an introduction to each of the data modules and their function.
Start ArcCatalog by using the Start button. The ArcCatalog icon will most likely be found in the ArcGIS folder.
When ArcCatalog starts, you will see a window that looks much like the Windows Explorer. In some ways, this is what ArcCatalog is a program that can manage and explore spatial data. ArcCatalog has features for exploring data folders, previewing data before adding it to ArcMap, creating new data, and many other features for managing your data.
Right click in the Contents window of ArcCatalog.
Question: What type of new data can you create in ArcCatalog?
Navigate to the Lab 1 data folder. If the directory with the data is not currently available in your ArcCatalog window you will need to connect to the directory using the Connect to Folder button.
The Lab 1 data folder contains a data layer named country.shp. Single click on this file and press the Preview tab. Here you can preview either the Geography or the Table associated with the file. Under the Metadata tab you can examine any technical information that is available about the data set.
Question: From the Metadata, what are the bounding coordinates of the Country shapefile?
In ArcView, ArcToolbox is used for data management and conversion. In ArcView, you have the ability to convert data between one format and another, and to re-project data. In the ArcInfo version of ArcGIS, more analysis tools are available. Most of the tools in ArcView are set up as Wizards, which will simplify your task and walk you through it.
Start ArcToolbox by using the Start button. The ArcToolbox icon will most likely be found in the ArcGIS folder.
ArcMap is the ArcInfo module used for creating, viewing, querying, editing, composing, and publishing maps. It is in ArcMap that we will do most of our analysis.
Start ArcMap by using the Start button. The ArcMap icon will most likely be found in the ArcGIS folder.
ArcMap contains a Table of Contents (on the left) to display the names of the data layers that you have added to your ArcMap file, a View Window (on the right) for map display, and several toolbars for working with your data.
Question: Right click in the grey area near one of the toolbars. What toolbars are available in ArcMap?
Contacting the Internet through a Web browser is a necessary skill. The experience can either be very frustrating or very rewarding depending on your understanding of the entire system. Two major browsers are Netscape and Internet Explorer. If you examine your desktop, you will see that there are icons present for one or both of these browsers. Double click on an icon to invoke a browser. Your browser should open to a default page such as the main page of the school that you are attending. Notice that in the frame named Location or Address, the path for the website is listed. That path is called an URL. URLs are Web addresses (Uniform Resource Locator). They always start with http://. Notice the Back, Forward, Home, and Stop buttons. These are important navigation aids.
Question: When using Netscape, what does the home icon do? How could this be useful?
Now select the Search button. The appearance of the browser search page can be intimidating, and you will find that with all materials on the Web, design and functionality change frequently. Nevertheless there are a few survival tools that you will need to know about. There are a wide variety of search engines. A search engine essentially pages through the entire Internet looking for URLs that might be what you are looking for. Search engines perform their search in response to a query that you compose. Select a search engine such as Lycos, Google, or Yahoo. In the query frame write "GIS + education". Change to another search engine of your choice. Write the same query.
Question: List the search engine you used, and the URLs of the first three selected Web pages.
Question: List the new search engine you selected, and the URLs of the first three selected Web pages.
In this lab, you have looked at the software systems that you will need to use to master this course. The explorations that you have performed are just a sample of the type of learning that you should do whenever you use the computer. If you dont know what something does, try it and find out. Otherwise you can usually ask someone in your lab and they may know. The more familiar you are with the computing and software systems that are your tools, the more you will be able to learn about GIS.