Setting up Your Workspace


By now you should be familiar with file management protocols for GIS. In a workplace setting, having consistent file management rules is necessary to prevent errors and lost data.

In this course, you will be using a very specific folder structure. For each lab activity, you will start by creating your personal folder on the local hard drive. If you are a registered student at Humboldt State University working in a computer lab, you will use the D: drive as your local hard drive. In some computer labs or on your personal computer a different drive letter, such as C:, may be assigned. You may also use an external USB drive if you plan to work in multiple locations.

Avoid using networked drives such as the U: drive on campus or Google Drive at home. Networked drives can increase processing time and cause technical glitches.

The top level folder should indicate the lab assignment. Within this folder, create the following three subfolders: original, working, and final.

An image of the Network Allocation Model workspace folder structure.
A basic folder structure used in this course.

Your original folder will contain original unaltered data. Your working folder will contain data you create or alter through GIS analysis operations. The final folder contains any output, such as JPG, PDF maps, QAQC forms, or lab reports in the form of Microsoft Word documents.

This organization represents the core folder structure you should maintain. You can create more detailed organizational structures within these folders if you wish.

Disable Background Geoprocessing

In the ArcGIS software, the Background Geoprocessing setting is often turned on by default. This setting allows users to continue to work while a tool is running in the background. However, sometimes this setting will stop tools from running or cause other unforeseen problems. To reduce that chances of the ArcGIS software crashing during this exercise, I recommend turning this setting off.

After launching ArcMap, open the Geoprocessing options from the Geoprocessing menu. Under Background Geoprocessing, uncheck the box next to the word Enable.

 Network Analyst Extension


The steps in this activity involve using the Network Analyst extension. After launching ArcMap, make sure this extension is activated. You will also need to open the Network Analyst Toolbar and dock it near the top of your window for easy access.

An image of the Network Analyst toolbar
The Network Analyst toolbar docked at the top of the ArcMap window. The arrow points to the Show/Hide Network Analyst Window button.

Click on the Show/Hide Network Analyst Window button to open the Network Analyst Window.An image of the Network Analyst Window button  Locate this button on the Network Analyst Toolbar.

An image of the Network Analyst Window docked on the right and the Table of Contents on the left.
The Table of Contents docked on the right and the Network Analyst Window docked on the left.

The Network Analyst Window is where you will enter or modify your network allocation model parameters. After running the model, the results load into a series of feature classes that appear in the Table of Contents. Novices tend to confuse the Table of Contents and the Network Analyst Window during this activity. For clarity, I recommend that you dock the Network Analyst Window on the right side of your screen while keeping the Table of Contents to the left.