Thursday, July 31, 2008

11 Things you may not know about GTViewer (and possibly should be using)

I have put together a list of things in GTViewer that I see users wanting to do, but are not aware that they already have the capability to do them. Many of the features in this list are new or relatively new, but some have been available since version 1.0. I hope this list will show you something new that you are unfamiliar with or reacquaint you with an older feature that you might now be able to use.

1. Feature Tooltips

Version 7.0.x.17+. The Feature Tooltip functionality provides tooltips containing a feature’s attribute information by simply hovering the mouse cursor over a feature. The features that have tooltips and the information displayed in the tooltips are specified in the .GTM file. While this feature is relatively simple in what it is does, it can provide a very quick way to see important information with minimal user interaction.

For more information on Feature Tooltips, click here.

2. Redline Posting

Version 7.0.x.24+. Redline posting added to GTViewer to support GT/Field. However, the need for redline posting is not something unique to GT/Field, so the Post functionality was enabled even if you are not using GT/Field. The Post functionality is configured in the .GTM file and can be used to copy the user’s current session graphics (redlines) to a path on the user’s machine or a network accessible location (via a UNC name). The file that gets copied can be a .gtg file, a .csv files, a set of shapefiles, or an XML file. All redline elements that have been copied are internally marked so that they will not be copied again, or the redlines can be deleted from the user’s session. A variety of other options are available to specify how the copied file will be named and if a redline marker is to be placed on each feature whose edits have been posted (so you will know which feature have been inspected, edited, etc.).

3. Export to Shapefiles

Version 5.0.x.8+. GTViewer has had the ability to export session graphics (Redlines) to a set of shapefiles for some time now. If redlines have embedded data (such as those created by GT/Field or other inspection or inventory applications), this data will be added to the shapefile’s .dbf file. This functionality is not new, but it may have been overlooked by users that could benefit from the functionality. It is located under Draw/Export/Export as Shapefile.

4. Links and Session Links

Version 2.0.x.38+. The Link functionality allows external documents or files specified in a feature’s attribute data to be viewed. This files can be detail drawings, internal worlds, associated documents, etc. The Link functionality has grown considerably since it was introduced and now can automatically show image previews in the Attribute Info dialog and launch URLs. Session Links have also been provided to allow a Link to be placed as a redline symbol that links to an external document or URL.

For more information on Links and Session Links, click here.

5. Address Queries (Geolocating)

Version 5.0.x.1+. GTViewer supports a special Address Query which is different from the regular locate queries because it can handle street segments with address ranges. If you query for a specific address, it will find the street segment that contains the address number in its range and then will interpolate its location on the segment. Not everyone has street segment data with address ranges, but if you do, this query can be very useful.
For more information on the Address query, click here.

6. Right Mouse Attribute Info Review
Version 5.0.x.1+. GTViewer has always been very cognizant of the need to minimize the users required effort to perform a task. The concept of constantly switching modes to zoom in or out, and then to review a feature is very distasteful to GTViewer’s philosophy The Multimode Attribute Info command review attributes on a feature, and can also zoom in, zoom out, or go back to the previous view all in a single mode. The Right Mouse Attribute Info Review is another example of this approach. The user can right mouse in any mode and get a list of features that can be review at that point or any linked files that might be accessible. Since this feature was not available from the beginning, many users may not be aware of it. I have seen many users switch back to Attribute Info mode to review a feature attribute when all they had to do was right click.

For more information on the right-click review, click here.

7. GPS Tracking in View (Toolbar button)

Version 5.0.x.22+. A new toolbar button was added to unbind the GPS indicator from the view so that it will not keep setting to view to its location. If a user has the GPS tracking, it is sometimes frustrating if another area needs to be viewed temporarily and the GPS keeps moving the view back to the users physical location. Obviously, the user could turn the GPS tracking off, but for temporary work in another area, a quick click of this toolbar button is all that is needed. When the work in the other area is completed, simply click the button again and the GPS will resume its tracking in the view.

8. Fit Redlines (Toolbar button)

Version 7.0.x.25+. Backed by popular demand, the Fit Session Graphics command was added to the toolbar. The Fit Session Graphics functionality has always been available in GTViewer, but not on the toolbar. Many users use the Fit Session Graphics command to return to the area they have been working in (since it will fit only the redlines that have been drawn).

9. Latitude/Longitude Coordinate Readout and Locates

Version 5.0.x.4+. GTViewer has always been able to show System coordinates (internal units) and Computed Coordinates (real-world units) on the status bar for the mouse cursor’s current location. The Query/Locates XY command will also use the current coordinate readout settings as its units for the locate. The ability to show the coordinate readout as Latitude and Longitude was added as well as the ability to use the Locate XY command to locate on a Latitude/Longitude coordinate. It does take some configuration before the coordinate readout can use latitude and longitude (because you have to define the coordinate system of your data in the .gtm file), but it provides a new way to look at your data as well as a new way to locate a point in it. The Options/Settings dialog provides the ability to change the Coordinate Readout and the Coordinate Readout Precision.

For more information on the Coordinate Readout, click here.

10. Symbol Palettes

Version 2.0.x.4+. Symbol Palettes have provided an easy way to place your standard feature symbols as redlines early on in GTViewer’s life. Symbol Palettes are defined in the .GTM file and can be specified in groups with descriptions and can have predefined, scaled sizes to match existing facilities. This feature is certainly not new to GTViewer, but since it has to be defined in the .GTM file before it can be used, some users may not be aware of it.

11. Copy Highlighted Elements to Session

Version 2.0.x.25+. The Tools/Highlighted Elements to Session feature has been a subtle, yet powerful tool for some time. Simply put, this feature takes any highlighted element and converts it to redline graphics in the session category. By itself, this feature doesn’t do very much. However, if you use a Thematic Query that highlights a particular circuit, or a trace application that highlights trace results, or count features in a polygon with the Feature Counting functionality, you now have something significant that can be converted to session graphics. Once this data is in the session category, it can be shared with other GTViewer users, exported as a .DGN or Shapefiles, posted, edited, printed, etc.

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