Sunday, January 13, 2013

Evaluation of two ArcGIS utility tools: MXD Doctor and Document Defragmenter


There are utilities provided by esri that run outside of ArcMap and ArcCatalog that many users don’t ever see or know to look for them. I’m covering two of them today. I will add more at a later time. Certainly, check out the documentation on these utilities for more detailed information.

When did these arrive? I don’t know! All I know is that they’re there now. So let’s look at these utilities.


MXD Doctor

Find it at All Programs > ArcGIS > Desktop Tools. This stand-alone utility analyzes broken .mxd files. I’m not sure what ‘breaks’ them, but I do know they do get funky and just not run from time to time. I remember some in the past that I actually had to throw away – and now I wish I knew about this tool. I don’t presently have a broken map document, but I’ve run one through the tool.

First thing I noted about running this tool is that is boldly suggests right at the beginning to back up your map document. Hmmm, could this be that it might just destroy your map document? Well, it doesn’t matter because you’re probably grasping at straws trying to fix even a portion of your very valuable map document.

MXD Doctor analyzes: Maps and data frames; Page layout; VBA project; Style gallery; and Thumbnail preview.

Since I didn’t have a broken map document at the moment, I ran a good map document through the tool. It’s a very simple map document I was demoing for a class I was teaching. 

Interesting… after I analyzed my document as per the instructions, it said I had a problem with my Maps. There’s nothing wrong with my Maps. Everything was fine to start with!


I continued boldly on, following the instructions and ‘fixed’ the document. This took quite a while for my small map document, so I would suspect if you had a complex one it would take a long while.

The result creates a new map document (if it completes successfully) by creating it in the same location as your broken map document and appending  ‘_new’ to the name. Pretty nice there.
I opened up the new map document and all is there! Again, since I didn’t have a broken map document to test this on, I can’t vouch for its effectiveness. So if any of you out there have experience with this tool, please add to the blog!

My evaluation:
It ran as advertized, but since I didn’t have a broken map document, I can’t say for sure if it's helpful. BUT, I'd sure give it a try if I had a corrupted complex map document!

What I would change:
I would investigate why it’s throwing the red checkmark (saying my map was recoverable, although not completely) when there’s nothing wrong with the map document. This creates a lot of suspicion in my mind.

ArcGIS Document Defragmenter

Find it at All Programs > ArcGIS > Desktop Tools. This stand-alone utility defragments the storage inside an .mxd file to potentially reduce the file size. (I’m not sure how this actually differs from the normal defragging tools for your OS.) But, I gave it a run at one of my demo map documents that I’ve actually worked with quite a bit.


This utility does not warn you upon startup to copy your map document, but the documentation does. So you copy your map document (increasing storage on your computer, and possibly fragmenting your disk further). You can run this on a single file, a folder, or a folder and it’s subdirectories! Cool! Notice that it offers you some options for the file handling options. A nice thought there. I chose the options shown above.

Since my map document was small, I expected it to run fast, but hey! I never got a message that it was complete. A small ding against the tool there. So I inspected my map document file and saw that it was exactly the same size. Hmmmm. I can’t imaging my file had no fragments. Did my OS already clean that up?

My evaluation:
It basically ran as advertised  but it didn’t seem to do anything to my document. Not sure this would do anything more than my MS operating system already does.

What I would change:
Create a message that informs completion. Just a simple message perhaps overwriting the Defragmenting statement with Complete. 

It could also evaluate your input for how much fragmentation (similar to other defraggers I've worked with). This way you have a notion how badly your files are to start with.

1 comment:

  1. I did the following to a 70MB file which has been around for a while and has been saved numerous times.

    1. Delete Geoprocessing>Results...file now 16MB
    2. Run Doc Defrag...file now 5MB

    I also waited for the 'All Done!', which never came. In the future, I'll keep an eye on the new file size, thus signaling defrag is complete.

    Thanks for this writeup.

    ReplyDelete