An overview of editing feature representations

This topic applies to ArcGIS for Desktop Standard and ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced only.

The appearance of a feature representation is the result of its representation rule applied to its geometry. Use the editing tools on the Representation toolbar to edit the geometry and the properties of the representation rule—in any combination—to modify the way selected feature representations look on your map.

Editing feature representation geometry

A feature class representation follows one of two possible editing behaviors. Either representation edits alter the geometry stored in the feature Shape field or representation edits create shape overrides by storing altered geometry in the Override field and leaving the Shape field intact. It is important to know what editing behavior a feature class is following, because edits you make to representation geometry could impact other maps if you are not storing shape overrides.

Learn about managing the geometry editing behavior setting

Since many geometric effects dynamically alter the visible shape of a feature representation at draw time, feature representations can have a visible shape that differs from their spatial geometry. In this case, changing some representation rule properties may alter the visible shape of the feature representation. The stored spatial geometry of the feature will not be affected.

Understanding how feature representations work with the snapping environment

The Snapping toolbar allows you to snap to features, including feature representations, when editing, measuring, georeferencing, and making selections. After you make a shape override, snapping occurs only to the representation geometry. For example, if you have moved a feature representation, you can snap to the representation's location and not the feature's geometry. Similarly, if you have converted a feature representation to a free representation, you are also snapping to the representation's geometry. Keep in mind that snapping to representations may not ensure topological correctness in the underlying data when the override shape is different from the feature geometry.

If you are using the editing classic snapping environment instead of the Snapping toolbar, editing tools will always snap to feature geometry only, regardless of whether there are overrides or free representations.

However, neither the Snapping toolbar or classic snapping environment allows you to snap to dynamic geometry created by a geometric effect, such as an offset, or a marker placement style. In those cases, you are only able to snap to the feature geometry.

Understanding how feature representations with shape overrides react to Split and Merge

Since shape overrides store geometry in the Override field, you should perform geometry edits—like Split and Merge—that create new features prior to overriding shapes.

Splitting a multipart feature representation that includes a shape override will copy all the contents of the Override field into the newly created feature representations. This means you may see duplicate parts if you explode the feature and move individual parts.

Merging two feature representations that both have shape overrides will only retain the Override field (and thus the shape override) of the dominant feature representation. The results may not be as expected.

Learn about merging features

Editing feature representation properties

A feature representation is drawn based on the properties of its corresponding representation rule. These properties can be modified for individual feature representations during an edit session to alter the appearance of the feature representation. These modifications become overrides to the representation rule stored in the Override field. To return the feature representation governed by the properties established in the representation rule, remove the override.

Only the properties of the geometric effects and symbol layers already present in the representation rule can be modified; the representation rule itself cannot be changed on a feature-by-feature basis. That is, you cannot add geometric effects or symbol layers to, or remove them from, the representation rule governing an individual feature representation, nor can you change the type of geometric effect present in a representation rule unless you first convert it to a free representation.

All the properties of a representation rule—those associated with the geometric effects and with the symbol layers—can be altered interactively with the representation editing tools or by explicitly changing values in the Representation Properties window or on the Attributes dialog box.

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