Displaying Shapefile Labels (Text) As a Background

  Product(s): WaterGEMS, SewerGEMS, CivilStorm, StormCAD, PondPack, StormCAD, HAMMER, WaterCAD
  Version(s): 08.11.XX.XX, 10.XX.XX.XX
  Area:  Layout and Data Input


The labels that are in my shapefiles are not displaying when adding the file as a background. I see the labels in ArcMap in my shapefile though. Why is this and how can I get the labels to show up in my backgound?


The labels you are seeing in ArcMap are displayed "on the fly" on your display panel by the computer. They are not "real" graphical objects, but rather they are metadata. ArcMap is able to read the attributes of the shapefiles database table and display these labels for you through a rendering process. Since our standalone software's background files only display graphical objects and the labels are not part of the shapefile as graphical objects they can only be displayed in the background with some manipulation. 


Export the labels to annotations and convert the annotations to a dxf file 

  1. Add the Shapefile to a new map in ArcMap
  2. Right click on the layer and select 'Label Features'
  3. Make sure the labels look as you want them to look in standalone. If it is not correct right click on the shapefile > Properties > Labels Tab  and make changes there for the field you want to be labeled and how you want to display it.
  4. Create a File Geodatabase where Labels will be created. You may use ArcCatalog
  5. Right click on the layer and select "Convert Labels to Annotation."
  6. Pick the options you want, and select a destination to save the file to. After conversion you should see the new Annotation layer in your map
  7. Open ArcToolbox and then open Data Interoperability Tools > Quick Export
    Using ArcCatalog, expand the File Geodatabase where Labels were created and right click on the annotaitonLayer > Export to > CAD and follow the screen prompts.
  8. For the Input Layer, select the annotation layer just created. For the Output Dataset , click the "..." button to open the Specify Output Data Destination dialog, then press the "..." to choose a format. You need to select AutoCAD DWG/DXF, but make sure you give the dataset a .DXF  extension. Click OK after naming the output Dataset, then OK again to perform the conversion.
  9. In the OpenFlows product (such as WaterGEMS), add the newly created DXF file as a background layer, along with the original shapefile 

You might have to adjust the text size and label placements if you see some overlap.

See Also

WaterGEMS for ArcMap