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Labeling vs Feature-Linked Anno

March 19 2008 | 1 comment

My company generates complex, highly detailed maps that are maintained at a set scale from which hard copy prints are made.

Annotating clusters of details located in small areas is problematic. Lots of text and feature overlap.

I'm wondering about the virtues of labels vs feature-linked annotation. Again, because the maps are printed at the same scale I don't think the dynamic scale of labels is a benefit. The placement of annotations can be edited to place the text in the most advantageous and static location.

Is this a correct understanding?
Can annotation have leader lines?
Is there a performance benefit to annotation?


Mapping Center Answer:

You have accurately stated the key benefit of annotation over labels: the ability to individually edit text placement. In your case, where you have the combination of small area and dense features, annotation is really the only way to go. You can use Maplex rules with labels (available with an ArcInfo licence or as a separate extension) to get your text placement "most" of the way - this includes setting label draw levels independent of feature layers and feature/label priority ranking. However, you'll still need to create annotation for the final map finishing.

Annotation can have leader lines - these can be generated directly from conversion from labels, or as new features in an existing annotation feature class.

Performance issues are always a bit difficult to answer due to the differences in things like computer processing speed, density and number of features, network traffic and bandwidth, etc. However, you probably won't see a major difference in performance where your data is stored locally, and you're drawing a small extent. Where you will see an advantage with annotation is if you are mapping a large area with many thousands of text features, or store your data in SDE - annotations have a spatial index associated with them and may draw a bit faster.

Advantage of Maplex over Standard Labeling Engine posted by Charlie Frye on Mar 19 2008 3:54PM
Maplex will typically place a significantly higher percentage of labels in the clustered situations you were referencing, so from a time/cost savings perspective you will save every time you draw a map with Maplex or produce annotation with Maplex because there are fewer problems to address.

Feature linked anno has one big advantage in that when any attributes that your annotation are based on get updated the annotation is automatically updated. The labeling engine and rules that created the annotation are applied, though only to the features that were updated (so it is possible to produce label conflicts during such updates to feature linked annotation).

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