Section One - Introduction

Now that we've learned about coordinate systems used in the GIS and the spatial data types we are going to start exploring the ideas of data organization and the basic functions of ArcGIS.  This section included three video lectures that provide a tour of the two software we use in this class.  Like it was stated in the introduction to attribute tables section of the last chapter, it is totally understood that at this point, you have not yet started to explore the GIS software and it might be a bit challenging to read about said software.  Keeping this in mind, most students have found success with the method of reading and being exposed to the software a bit before tacking it in the classroom vs reading about it after.  Like anything, if you have a bit of familiarity with it, the first exposure is a lot less overwhelming.  It is suggested that you look over this chapter and passively watch the "Meet ArcCatalog" and "Meet ArcMap" videos, then after you've started the first lab, come back and watch the "Meet ArcGIS" videos in a more active manner.  This way, you'll have seen the interface, heard it described to you, used the interface just a bit, and then have the interface explained to you in a more familiar way.  Overall, learning a new software can be very challenging in the beginning  when you've (in the case of ArcGIS) probably only ever heard the name before, and for some of you, you've never heard the name before the first day of class.  This chapter is attempting to ease you into the software slowly to help you aclimate with as little pain as possible.  Like learning about geoids, reference ellipsoids, and coordiante systems for the first time, it is understood that coming into this class, you most likely put ArcGIS in the "it makes maps and, uh, stuff" category, versus a software like Microsoft Word, where you have a generally clear understanding of what the software does, how to do it, and what it produces before you've even sat down to it a single time.

With that, let's start by taking a look at some basic ideas of data organization, why establishing and using a data model is important, and look at a bit of the software before the first lab.