3 things I wish I learned day 1

Having only completed an “Introduction to GIS” course there is a lot I didn’t learn in school but rather in the workforce. I can remember the days I learned these three things; and now years later I am still utilizing them.

#1 The IN operator

In the beginning I was taught that to select multiple things in SQL (such as when using select by attribute or definition queries) you used the operator OR, but this creates very long statements 50% of the time of which are invalid. Then while at work one day a coworker who was standing behind said “why not just use IN?” I told him I wasn’t familiar with it and as he explained it my eyes went wide with appreciation. Here are the basics:

The IN operator can be used when you want to select multiple values in a WHERE clause. You can also use the NOT IN operator when you want to exclude multiple values in a WHERE clause.


Without IN operator:

Select * FROM Province

WHERE City = ‘Vancouver’ OR City = ‘Victoria’ OR City = ‘Kamloops’

With IN operator:

Select * FROM Province

WHERE City IN (‘Vancouver’, ‘Victoria’, ‘Kamloops’)

#2 Escaping map exports using ESC key

I would hate to admit the number of times I have been exporting a big map only to remember a layer I had turned off earlier or a change I had forgotten to make. During one of those times I grumbled with annoyance since we all know the nice cancel button rarely works as intended. A coworker over heard this and simply replied “Oh, just hit the ESC key”. In that moment the whole room turned to look at her as none of us knew the ESC key would quickly cancel map exports without crashing ArcMap.

#3 Built in Basemaps

My first task at a new co-op job was to create a data driven pages map book; thankfully this is something I had done before. I asked what data I should use for a base map and they simply said “just use an arc basemap through the ‘add data’ button”. Having never used these before it blew my mind to see the pre-made scale driven basemaps. Later when I returned to school I found many distraught students in the computer lab trying to make a simple map so I went over and shared my new knowledge, I think they almost cried.

-Allison Hunt

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