The Batch Masking tool and Batch Masking Preferences dialog box work together to provide a system for the batch creation of masks. You can create rules via the Batch Masking Preferences dialog box that can then be used with the Batch Masking tool to create masks based on the information in those rules. This process streamlines the manual masking process by deleting old masks, creating new ones, and placing them into the appropriate feature classes.
Managing masking rules
The Batch Masking tool relies on masking rules as input parameters. Each of these rules contains the information necessary to create one particular type of mask for one specific feature layer. When a new row is added for a new rule, default values appear for the Margin, Units, and Mask Type fields. However, all the fields must be filled out to save the new rule in the production database.
The fields of a masking rule are the following:
- The Rule Name attribute is not used during the creation of masks, but is a way for you to easily find and identify specific rules by giving them a unique name.
- The Input Layer can be a point, polygon, annotation, or polyline feature. Only the names of layers present in the Table Of Contents window or already referenced by other masking rules are available for selection.
- The Query can be used to define which features within the input layer will have masking applied.
- The Output Layer must be configured with a masking feature class schema for the Batch Masking tool to work correctly. Use the Feature Outline Masks geoprocessing tool to create the masking feature classes. Be sure to transfer all attributes in the Feature Outline Masks geoprocessing tool. Once you create the masking feature classes, you can add those masking layers to your MXD to use as the Output Layer in your masking rules. The output layer can only be a polygon feature layer.
- Margin is a number corresponding to the number of units of buffer space the mask should have around the feature it relates to. Margin is used to determine the mask size. For example, if you set a margin of 3 and choose meters for units, your masks will have a 3-meter buffer around each masked feature. A margin of 0 will create a mask that has no margin around the feature (other than the one created by the different mask types). A negative margin value will create a mask smaller than the feature. Also, the symbology is used as the geometry, so even if you have a point feature, you can still have a margin of 0 and have a mask created.
- Units corresponds to the unit of measure for the margin.
- Mask Type specifies the type of mask created by the tool. There are different types of masks that can be created. However, the Convex_Hull type is the most commonly used because it has the most detail using the least amount of vertices. Using too many vertices when creating masks can increase draw and export times (for example, Exact mask type).