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Custom ArcMap Search Tools Let Burbank Access, Zoom and Edit Records Faster

custom ArcMap Search tools

A New Way to Work with Records at BWP


Status: Completed


custom ArcMap Search toolsThe need: Burbank Water and Power (BWP) wanted to create custom searches for their GIS group. The main goal was to minimize the amount of clicks their users have to perform in order to retrieve, zoom and edit a particular record, as well as to make the tool easily visible in their 24” -  32” inch size monitors with a resolution of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 respectively (It is OK to be jealous).


The background: BWP is a multi-commodity utility known for beign a forward-thinking, technologically savvy implementor of Smart Grid initiatives. 

The Challenge: 

Recently we had a request from Burbank Water and Power (BWP) to create custom searches for their GIS group. The main goal was to minimize the amount of clicks their users have to perform in order to retrieve, zoom and edit a particular record, as well as to make the tool easily visible in their 24” -  32” inch size monitors with a resolution of 1920x1200 and 2560x1600 respectively (It is OK to be jealous).


The Solution: 


Creating a button for each search was not an option since the images on the buttons would have been too hard to differentiate at such high resolution; instead we created a single button without any image (just plain text) called "BWP Searches." Here is a sample of what regular buttons and the “BWP Searches” button look like in their screen.

custom ArcMap Search tools

When users click on the button, the following form pops up: 

custom ArcMap Search tools

Each custom search is a button on the left hand side of the form (Address, Intersections, Meters, etc, etc).

The right hand side control changes based on the search the user has selected.

The tool allows users to zoom automatically to the results as well as to launch the Attribute Editor form if the two check boxes located in the lower left corner of the form are checked. Users do not have to enter an exact match in order to get records back; we included wild cards on every search so that it is easier for them to get the desired records. For example, let’s say user A was asked to locate a pole with FacilityId equal to 23033, but after launching the tool the user only remembers part of the number (2303) and enters it on the form. These are the results:

custom ArcMap Search tools

With the list of results, it is now easier for the user to narrow down the record he/she was asked to locate. What else can users do with the list of results?

1. Users can sort the results using any of the columns provided (i.e. Pole No, Height, Date Installed, Inspection Date): 

custom ArcMap Search tools

2. Users can select a record and right click to bring up the Attribute Editor, Zoom to its location or flash its geometry:

custom ArcMap Search tools

Meters, Surface Structures, Switches, Transformers and UG Structures searches work very similar to Pole search; the only difference between each search is the column information displayed in the results window. Here is what Switches look like so that you get the idea.

custom ArcMap Search tools

Intersections, Scenario 1:

The Intersections and Address search tools behave a little differently than the others, but the results are the same in the sense that users can get results pretty quickly and without much effort.

Intersections Workflow: 

  1. User enters Street Name (i.e. Magnolia) and clicks on the GO button
  2. Matching street names are provided in the top listbox
  3. User selects a record from the list to retrieve intersecting street names  (i.e. E Magnolia BLVD)
  4. Intersecting street names are provided in the bottom listbox
  5. User selects a record from the bottom list, right-clicks and zooms to location

custom ArcMap Search tools

Addresses Workflow, Scenario 1: 

  1. User enters Street Name (i.e. Magnolia) and clicks on the GO button
  2. Matching street names are provided in the top listbox
  3. Users selects a record from the list to retrieve street numbers (i.e. E Magnolia BLVD)
  4. List of street numbers are populated in the bottom listbox
  5. User selects a street number, right-clicks and zooms to location
custom ArcMap Search tools

Addresses Workflow, Scenario 2: 

  1. User enters a specific Street Number (i.e. 1017)
  2. User enters Street Name (i.e. Magnolia) and clicks on the GO button
  3. Matching street names are provided in the top listbox
  4. Matching street numbers for each street are provided in the bottom listbox

custom ArcMap Search tools


The Results: 

GIS is pretty far behind to have Siri do the searches for you, but we have to start somewhere right? This tool has helped BWP’s users tremendously. Here are some feedback comments we have received:

“By the way the new BWP Searches tool works great, what a time saver!”

“Your search tool works so much nicer with the added features. I can find equipment, intersections and addresses much more quickly. Thanks for developing this.”

Perhaps the out of the box search tools might not provide what you need right off the bat, but it is worth it to invest in tools that will make your users' experience less painful and increase their productivity.


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