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Live Legend defined by features in page extent for Data Driven Pages


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  • Data Driven Pages is awesome. There are so many efficiencies gained from using this feature, but sometimes not every page in the mapbook has every feature listed in the legend.

    My idea is that when Data Driven Pages is enabled, there should be an option for each legend item (in the legend properties) to only list features in the legend that are actually visible in the extent of that page. A checkbox to activate this live legend feature would be ideal because perhaps there are base features you want in the legend regardless of whether they're seen or not (like maybe roads, or streams).

    For example:
    Maybe you have a 25 page DDP mapbook showing wildlife obervations, but Sasquatch habitat are only in 9 of those pages, Jackalope are in 23, and el Chupacabra are in 14. You may only want the features seen in that specific map page in the legend so the map user isn't looking for a feature that isn't there.

    I think this would be super useful, (even outside of DDP). It should be simple, all the tools for this to occur should already be in place... Lets make mapbooking even more efficient!
    Tags :
     data driven pages mapbook live legend extent
    Posted by   jwielki  to ArcGIS DesktopOther ProductsArcGIS Desktop ExtensionsProduction Mapping (PLTS) Sep 15, 2010

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Comments (21)

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May 7, 2014
I am running 10.1 SP1 and it seems that the Legend is using only the SImple Extent of the Data Driven feature in lieu of the actual extent of the data driven feature.

As a result the legend is showing features that while are displayed on the (squared) map extent are not actually within the data driven extent.  SO in order for the Legend to show only the features within the extents of data driven features I have to manually create layers using only the features that fall within the data driven features, thereby losing the Dynamic Legend functionality :(

Status = "Partially Implemented" or "Implemented with Exceptions"

If I am wrong, please advise'

Feb 15, 2012
This functionality has been added at 10.1. You can toggle this behavior on or off for each item in the legend as well. In addition, as johns mentioned you have the ability to set the legend as a fixed size. Seeting the legend to a fixed size has two optional settings as well to automatically adjust the number of columns and shrink the contents to fit inside the legend with a minimum font size parameter.

This will especially be useful if you define certain legend items to only display when features are visible in the current extent and work with data driven pages. As you move from page to page the legend will update to reflect features in that extent and the size of the items can grow or shrink to fit the area you have designated for the legend.

You can read more regarding this at the url below:

Feb 3, 2012
This is a great idea for any map, whether data driven or not.
I'd like to point out that the ability to turn on/off the "Live Legend" capability should be for each layer in the legend. As rkassens points out below, some layers are so important that it is sometimes necessary to indicate that a specific type of feature is being mapped in a set of data driven pages and is not shown in the particular map.

Feb 2, 2012
@johns I think having a drop-down with options similar to the scale bar would solve that.
Scale bar has Adjust division value, adjust number of divisions, adjust width etc.

You could have something like:

Adjust legend height
Adjust number of columns
Adjust text and patch size

and hence you could (at least somewhat) predict and control how the legend would change on each page

Nov 11, 2011
It would seem that accompanying this there would have to be some way of anchoring each legend since items going on and off would cause the inserted legend to move up or down, and perhaps to one side or othe other.

Jun 3, 2011
Great Idea! I love it. I think it's critical though that the user can toggle this capability. Reading each page's extent to see if particular features are present could bog things down quite a bit I'd imagine. So allow the user to toggle this (I like the idea of toggling for each feature).

May 16, 2011
The funcionality of LL should be standad in ArcGIS - it is in AutoCAD and cost 2k less for network license.

Feb 21, 2011
I have to make a mapbook showing zoning and landuse.  It would be so much easier to be able to limit the legend to what is visible in the current view.

Feb 14, 2011

Only showing symbols in the legend that are viewable on the current map extent is the correct cartographic method.  I learned that in college back in 1981.

I have tolerated having legends with unmapped symbols while our computers and applications were slow and taxed to their limits.  It is time to correct this mistake.

However, I am tempted to include symbols when those symbols represent important subject matter and the lack of a feature on a map is as important as having a feature on a map.

Jan 19, 2011
Completely agree with the idea. Data driven pages are excellent and having the legend dynamically update would be the cherry on the cake!

Jan 11, 2011
I have to agree, there is no reason this should not be standard.  With how much is paid for this software yearly, I shouldn't have to spend an hour or two cleaning up my legend before i can print.

Legend Limiter is nice, but also very limited.  If you have your layers in the table of contents in a Subgroup of a group, it doesn't work.  Only in the root of the TOC and the first level of groups.  The makers of Legend Limiter are very VERY slow to answer emails, and ignore most of them.  I still haven't gotten an answer to my last 4 emails asking if it is going to be updated for 10.  The last one I got said they had no plans on updating it to fix the problem with subgroups, so I'm assuming they are not going to update it at all.

So maybe we can redirect a programmer to spend the 10 hours it would take to get it done, and have this available as an option.

Dec 8, 2010
 This really should be core functionality. I've been using ESRI products for 12 years, and wrestling with manually trimming legends for THE WHOLE TIME. The legend limiter script is nice, and I've seen people do some workaround with code, but this should really be a simple option/setting in legend properties.

Nov 29, 2010
It would also be helpful if a warning message would appear notifying the user that the tool is active before saving MXD. That way the user has the option to save "as is" or cancel save to deactivate the tool. Currently Legend Limiter requires the user to remember to uncheck the feature before saving.

Oct 26, 2010
Would love to see this as core function in main ArcGIS 10 application. Sent off a question about doing this to the ESRI Mapping Centre. Will be interested in the response.

Oct 20, 2010

also, please consider adding this to core mapping not just data driven pages...much like the legend limiter script

Oct 19, 2010
This would be a fantastic enhancement in the core ArcGIS. It (technically) is possible to produce a limited legend (or sorts) with MPS-Atlas/Production mapping but this turns out to be very difficult and does not produce the same results and quality as the standard ArcMap legend.

It would be great if the legend limiter could be enable/dis-abled on a layer-by-layer basis (as others have mentioned). Also the limiter should be able to:

1.       Only show a legend entry for a layer if this layer has features visible on the map

2.      Only show legend entries for unique/classified values where the values exist and are visible on the map.

 ‘Visible on the map’ would mean the legend limiting functionality would respect the map extent ("are there features within the map extent?") and any layer masking (set in the Advanced Draw option; "are there feature visible within the map extent?") and definition queries (including MPS-Atlas Definition and Masking sets).

This functionality could be exposed on the ArcMap user interface via a checkbox  "Only display visible layers and values" on the Legend Properties dialog box that would effect all layers or cater for this functionality to be selectively applied on a layer-by-layer basis.

This is a great enhancement that would save us a lot of time and would enable us to use the MPS-Atlases more (and also equally useful for DDP and standard ArcMap).



Oct 18, 2010

Oct 18, 2010
 This functionality should be incorporated into ArcMap!

Oct 8, 2010
My geographic twin!  I just suggested this in the What's New in ArcGIS 10!

Sep 28, 2010
I think it would also make sense to have this functionality in core ArcMap as well.  In fact, I recently read an ESRI blog post that seemed to imply that ArcGIS 10 Desktop would have this functionality ( - look at Item 6), but alas this does not appear to be the case.

I also came across an ArcScripts tool that purports to achieve this "live legend" in ArcGIS 9.3 and previous versions (, but I'm not sure if this works in 10 or not.

I did ask ESRI tech support if having a "live legend" would be possible in the core product and they gave me an enhancement number:  NIM061535.

Sep 15, 2010
 ArcGIS 9.3.1 MPS Atlas and ArcGIS 10 Production Mapping extensions have this functionality, but it'll be nice to have that in the core ArcGIS 10 with Data Drive Pages.



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