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San Diego Lunch Specials: Superimposing graphics to change the shape of the data frame
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The title of the map is superimposed on top of the data frame using graphic elements in the layout.
The title of the map is superimposed on top of the data frame using graphic elements in the layout.

What: A common technique for maximizing the amount of page dedicated to the map body is to superimpose other map elements (e.g., titles, text blocks, legends) on top of the map in regions that are not important to what the map is communicating.

In the ESRI Lunch Specials map, we superimposed the title in the upper left corner. Why: This allowed us to claim the highest visual level on the page since that is where the eye begins to scan the page. The reason for placing this text here is that it is most important information on the map; we needed readers to see it immediately.

On the ESRI Lunch Specials map, this design additionally worked well because the backwards "L" shape is reflected in the geography along the marina and up into the Gas Lamp District). If the relevant geography was another shape, for example, a rectangular, then we would have used a different layout design.

How: To create the graphics that were to superimposed on the data frame we did the following:

  1. The first step was to create a rectangle in the layout view and then we positioned it over the upper left corner of the data frame.
  2. Next, we changed the symbol for the rectangle so the color was white, the outline width was 0.0 pts., and the outline color was set to No Color.
  3. Then we drew two graphic lines along the bottom and right sides of the white rectangle that aligned to the border of the data frame.
  4. We set the symbol for these lines by using the same symbol was used for the data frame’s border.

If you use a cartographic line symbol rather than a simple line symbol to symbolize the data frame and the two lines that define the new clipped boundary edge then the butt line cap option is available to use. This squares off the line ends making the connections of the frame edge and the two line edges crisp and clean looking. This also matches the other corners of the data frame’s border.

Why not reshape the data frame to an "L" shape? posted by Parker Martyn on Aug 9 2007 6:19PM
I like this idea and want to create an "L' shaped data frame, but this method would not allow a lat/lon grid that follows the "L" shape to be used. My understanding is it would follow the outer rectangle of the data frame.

It would be nice if the data frame could be re-shaped to a shape of my choosing using the "reshape/anchor points" along the corners and edge of the layout frame.

Clipping the data within a rectangular data frame is a good start. But why restrict the data frame to a rectangle? Iwould add much more flexibility if I could pick and choose my data frame shape and size.
posted by Charlie Frye on Nov 19 2007 12:07PM
In this case, we didn't need a map grid, so this method of masking the data frame with a white rectangle worked fine and was the most expeditious. If you do need a grid, use the Clip to Shape option in the Data Frame Properties dialog's Data Frame tab; the grid will follow the shape of the clipping polygon.
What about a graphic in Layout View to use as a ma posted by Vincent Launstorfer on Jan 10 2008 9:17AM
I had a similar problem with map layout for the data frame. It is possible to clip the dataframe in Data Frame Properties > Data Frame > Clip to Shape. But this is where the problem is in fact, clipping to a Shape, a shape file! And not a graphic element in the Layout View.

For example, in this streetmap, to reproduce the same effect with a rectangle using Clipping Shape, you have to draw an "L-shape" shape in a shapefile and in geographic coordinate! Imagine you need an A4 size text box upper-left, you need to translate it into geographic coordinate! Using Clipping Shape becomes tough!

The best and the simpliest would be a mask function in the Layout View. You could simply draw any graphic shape in Layout View and apply it as a mask. Easier to design and grids would follow the Data Frame...
You can create your clipping shape in Layout View posted by Charlie Frye on Jan 10 2008 9:36AM
You can do that. Just create the clipping shape in layout view as a single polygon (Use the Graphic Operations on Rectangles and the snapping grid to save time). Select the shape, and from the Edit menu choose Cut. Double click your data frame to focus it (it will have the hashed outline) and from the Edit menu choose Paste. This will transfer the graphic to the data frame. Then while that graphic is selected, set up your clipping shape.
Still problem with Border and Grid Label with Clip posted by Vincent Launstorfer on Jan 17 2008 6:34AM
Thanks for suggestion more tips to clip the data frame in layout view. Your solution worked, I mean making a graphic polygon in the Layout View and then Copy & Paste to the Data Frame.

However, when you set a border line to the Data Frame, it doesn't follow the limits of the Clipped Data Frame! Borders follows just a regular rectangle. Moreover, if you try to add a grid, the automatic labels spil over on the L-shaped clipped part! If I could, I would send a screenshoot to illustrate the problems. One could suggest to use the polygon graphic made in the Layout View, but it seems to be no option to use the same borders (such as double-line), and offsets, as borders for a Data Frame.

I still cannot perform a L-shape Data-Frame and keeping an appropriate border and grid labels. So, this is not over...
Okay, so it will get better, but it's still not ov posted by Charlie Frye on Jan 25 2008 8:46AM
The border for the Clip to Graphics is actually on the Data frame tab of Data Frame Properties and is right next to the "Specify Shape" button. On the Frame tab of Data Frame Properties you should set the border and background properties to "". Also note that the line symbol width for the border will be clipped, so if you want it to appear at a specific size, then double the number you choose for the width.

On the grid, well, I tried an L-shaped clipping shape and my grid has issues--some of the labels straddled the interior angles of the L. Unfortunately, that's a bug and has been reported to the proper authorities (so to speak) and some work has already been done to address this in the forthcoming 9.3 version. The workaround (in the meantime) is to convert the grid to graphics (bottom-most button on the Grids tab of Data Frame Properties), and manually align the grid labels.

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