April 20, 2021

Creating and Using a Feature Template in Global Mapper

Written by: Mackenzie Mills

 

Geospatial data is made up of two major components, the location or geometric characteristics of the data and the associated information. These reflect the ‘G’ and the ‘I’ in a Geographic Information System. When considering vector data, features lose much of their value if no attributes are present to dictate the style and convey meaning. Global Mapper contains many tools to manage and edit attributes associated with existing features, and when creating new data in the program, the addition of the feature attributes can be streamlined through the use of feature templates.

A feature template represents a blueprint for a layer describing the attributes and acceptable values that will be assigned to features added to that layer. After this layer plan has been configured and used to create an empty layer in the Control Center, the program will ensure that when new features are added, the corresponding attributes adhere to the structure and format stipulated by the template.

Feature Templates in Global Mapper are created and stored in the configuration settings. The Feature Templates section of the dialog box, as seen below, offers options for creating new templates or viewing and editing existing ones. Once created, a feature template will remain in the configuration of the Global Mapper installation until it is deleted.

Feature template dialogue box in Global Mapper

Creating a new feature template in Global Mapper is a quick and easy process. After clicking the appropriate button to add a point, line, or area feature template, type a name for the template and set up the attributes that predetermine the information that will be recorded when a new feature is created. 

New point template dialogue box in Global Mapper

A Single Value Attribute allows just one value that will be used as the default for any features created in a layer using this template. If allowed to be editable, the user adding data can enter a custom value to override the default.

An Enumerated Value Attribute sets up a picklist of allowed values. When a user adds data to the template layer, they will choose one of the options from the list of allowed values.

The Style Map Attribute prescribes how the features appear on the map as they are created. Based on an allowed value chosen from a picklist, like the enumerated attribute type, a specific feature style can be applied and used for display.

Types of feature templates in Global Mapper

Two options that are available for any attribute type are Value Editable and Value Input Required. If the Value Editable box is checked, the value for the attribute can be added or edited when a new feature is created. This allows preset values to be chosen from the picklist for an enumerated or style map attribute or a custom value type for a single value attribute. Value Input Required forces the user to select or enter a value for an attribute. This is especially useful when a particular piece of information is required for a new feature, and it ensures consistency in the attribute assignment process.

After a template has been created and saved, it is ready to be applied to a layer and be used for data collection. The Create Empty Template Layer button creates a new layer in the workspace, which is assigned the attribute structure defined in the template. When a new feature is created and added to the template layer in the Modify Feature Info dialog box, the predefined attributes and values are automatically populated. At this point, the user is prompted to cycle through the attribute list, applying the necessary values, as determined by the requirements of the template. This ensures that all required attributes have a value recorded.

Modified template in Global Mapper

Not only is the template functionality useful in the Global Mapper desktop program, but layers created from feature templates can be transferred to Global Mapper Mobile, where the data collection process is similar to the desktop software. When a feature is created in the field and assigned to the layer, the user will be prompted to pick or enter a value for all the required attributes derived from the template.

Whether you are working with a data collection team or repeatedly collecting data of a similar structure, using feature templates to plan and execute data collection ensures that with all features, the required information is recorded in a methodical and standardized way.

If you would like to create and use your own feature template, download a 14-day free trial of Global Mapper and request a demo today!

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