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Symbology rendering in MOLE

Release 9.3
Last modified December 4, 2009
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MOLE constructs its symbology according to the 15-character Symbol ID code. The moleCore database contains many tables that relate specific characters and combinations of characters in the Symbol ID to computer graphics metafile (CGM) components—graphic pieces that, when merged, constitute the complete MOLE symbols. MOLE also uses ArcGIS style sheets to build some of the more complex tactical graphic symbols.

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Learn more about the Symbol ID code

Enable tactical graphic renderers

Force element rendering

MOLE force elements are composed of four main graphic components: frame, icon, echelon, and mobility. The frame defines the shape of the symbol, the icon is the symbol inside the frame that denotes what the symbol represents, and the echelon and mobility indicators are additional graphics outside the frame.

The shape of the frame (in some cases) and the color of the frame change according to the force element's affiliation. The frame's shape can also change according to the force element's battle dimension.

As mentioned above, MOLE renders a force element according to its Symbol ID code. Character 3 of the Symbol ID code, the battle dimension, controls the shape/frame of the symbol; characters 5 to 10, the function ID, define the icon and the type of military element the symbol represents; characters 11 and 12 are the placeholders for the type, echelon, and mobility indicators. If MOLE encounters an invalid or unrecognized Symbol ID value, it will handle it in one of two ways:

  1. If a symbol has a valid function ID but has conflicts between the battle dimension and type/echelon/mobility indicators, MOLE will display the symbol with the default unknown frame and the proper icon.

  2. or

  3. If the function ID is invalid but the battle dimension and other indicators are valid, MOLE will display the symbol with the appropriate frame with a question mark icon inside.
The following illustrations provide examples.

The illustration below represents a space station graphic with a correct Symbol ID. Note the open frame bottom, which indicates an above-surface battle dimension, in this case, a space station.

Space station symbol

The illustration below represents a space station graphic with a correct function ID that has been given the value for Installation in the Type indicator field. Because a space symbol cannot be an installation, MOLE draws the symbol with a pending frame (quatrefoil). However, because the symbol’s function ID is correct, the icon inside the symbol is drawn properly.

Space symbol with Pending frame

The illustration below represents a space station graphic with an invalid function ID. The battle dimension (space) corresponds to the type/echelon/mobility, so MOLE draws the appropriate frame for a space graphic but fills it with a question mark because it doesn’t recognize the function ID value.

Space symbol with invalid function ID

Line tactical graphic rendering

Because there are so many possible line tactical graphics in MIL-STD-2525B Change 2 or APP-6A and many varied rules for constructing them, MOLE has several renderers to handle the different cases. The renderers are listed in the Layer Properties dialog box for tactical graphics, where you can enable and disable the renderers as you wish. When you add a MOLE line symbol in ArcMap, the appropriate renderer must be enabled, and you must draw the feature with the required properties. For example, if you want to display a turn-effect obstacle, the feature that you want to be represented as such must be a two-point line, and the Linear Obstacles renderer must be enabled. If the feature does not conform to these requirements, it will be displayed in magenta as a simple line feature without MOLE symbology.

Creating arrows

Arrow symbols can be either straight (three point) or curved (multipoint), depending on the type of arrow. Airborne, aviation, and rotary wing axis of advance arrows cannot be curved; all others can be straight or curved. When you create arrow symbols, the location and positioning of the vertices, except for the last one placed, determine the shape and length of the arrow body. The position of the last vertex defines the shape and size of the arrowhead. The red point represents the last vertex placed; as illustrated, the last vertex must be placed behind the previous vertex for MOLE to render the arrowhead.

Arrow symbols

Tactical graphic obstacle features (points, lines, and areas) can also be displayed in green, as specified by MIL-STD-2525B Change 2. This is controlled by an additional renderer, which can be activated from the Layer Properties dialog box.

Creating three-line air corridors

When you specify that you want to create an air corridor, by default MOLE creates a three-line air corridor that is already almost completely compliant with MIL-STD-2525B Change 2. First, though, you must specify that you want to create an air corridor. To do this, do the following:

  1. Start ArcMap, then add the MOLE toolbar.

  2. You may have to stop your edit session.

  3. If you haven't already, add an existing line tactical graphic layer or new line tactical graphic layer. If you are creating the layer with MOLE 9.2 or later, the layer will contain a Name1 field and a Direction field, and you can skip the bullets below (go directly to step 4).

  4. If you created the layer in a pre-9.2 release of MOLE, you may have to add these two fields to the layer. You can do this by following the steps below:

  5. Start an edit session.

  6. On the Editor toolbar:

  7. On the MOLE toolbar, click the MOLE drop-down menu, then click Add MOLE Graphic.

  8. In the Add MOLE Graphics dialog box:

  9. If the air corridor option does not appear in the drop-down list, make sure the All Tactical Graphics renderer is enabled for the layer.

  10. In the map display, click the area you want to add the air corridor to.

  11. MOLE displays a three-line air corridor. By default, the word "CORRIDOR" appears between the top two lines, and "180" appears between the bottom two lines. To be in compliance with the specification, both of these labels should be modified to reflect the orientation and name of the new air corridor.

    Note that when you follow the steps below, the following will take place:

    To specify the orientation and name of the new air corridor, do the following:

  12. In the table of contents, select to highlight the graphic layer of the MOLE line tactical graphic group layer to which you just added the air corridor.

  13. On the MOLE toolbar, click the Select Graphics button Select Graphics button; then in the map display, click to select the air corridor you just added.

  14. On the MOLE toolbar, click the MOLE Symbol Editor button MOLE Symbol Editor button.

  15. In the MOLE Symbol Editor, in the Attributes area, click the Name drop-down menu to select the Name1 field, then type a name in its corresponding text box.

  16. In the Attributes area, in the Direction text box, type a North Azimuth value (usually in decimal degrees). (Note that the Direction text box does not physically control the orientation of the corridor.)

  17. You can also type a name in the Name field (Attributes area). The text you enter (if any) will appear beneath the third line of the air corridor. (Populating the Name field is not required by MIL-STD-2525B Change 2.)

  18. Click Apply, then OK to apply your edits and close the MOLE Symbol Editor.

  19. You can use the ArcMap edit tools to move or change the shape of the air corridor.

Area and point tactical graphic rendering

Area and point tactical graphic rendering is straightforward compared to lines.

As with lines, if MOLE encounters an area or point tactical graphic with an invalid Symbol ID or a Symbol ID for which MOLE has no renderer, then the graphic will be displayed in magenta as a simple area or point feature without MOLE symbology.

Area and point tactical graphics deserving special attention are minefields, wind barbs, and fish stakes as described below.


For more information on mines and minefields, see Using the EType field for tactical graphics (values for mines) and the EType field description in Attribute data field descriptions.

Wind barbs (point tactical graphics)

If you want to use wind barbs (meteorological graphics for wind) in a MOLE map, you must populate the Speed and Direction attribute fields for the MOLE point tactical graphic you want to serve as the wind barb. If your dataset was created in MOLE 9.0 or earlier, you must add the Speed and Direction fields. For more information, see Updating MOLE datasets.

Fish stakes (point tactical graphics)

MOLE treats fish stakes symbols ( a bit differently than other symbols. By default, MOLE uses an asterisk in the 10th character of the fish stakes' Symbol ID code. MOLE does not typically use asterisks in Symbol ID codes, as explained in Use of asterisks and hyphens in Symbol ID codes. However, in this case, MOLE uses an asterisk to differentiate the fish stakes' function ID from the fish stakes/traps/weirs ( function ID.

Function IDs are characters 5 through 10 in the Symbol ID code. MOLE requires every symbol to have a unique function ID within a MOLE feature class type. But MIL-STD-2525B Change 2 gives identical function IDs to fish stakes and fish stakes/traps/weirs, as shown in the following table.

Function IDs in MIL-STD-2525B
Hierarchy Name Function ID Fish stakes/traps/weirs HPFS-- Fish stakes HPFS--

To differentiate fish stakes from fish stakes from fish stakes/traps/weirs, MOLE added an asterisk (*) as the 10th character of the fish stakes' Symbol ID code (the 6th character of the function ID), as shown in the following table.

Function IDs in MOLE
Hierarchy Name Function ID Fish stakes/traps/weirs HPFS-- Fish stakes HPFS-*

For information on why MOLE categorized the fish stakes symbol as a point feature instead of a line feature, see Specification interpretations made by MOLE.

Rules for multipoint arrows

When you add or digitize a multipoint arrow, you must follow specific rules when adding the last vertex.

The last vertex you draw in a multipoint arrow is important because it tells MOLE how to draw the arrowhead. MOLE uses the position of the last vertex to determine the size and shape of the arrowhead. MOLE uses the second-to-last vertex you add as the tip of the arrowhead.

Multipoint arrow rule illustrated

You must follow two rules when adding the last vertex. The line segment you create when you add the last vertex:

The area between the blue lines in the illustration below indicates the allowable area for the last vertex.

Multipoint arrow illustrated, valid last vertex positions

Line segment direction that does not adhere strictly to the military specifications

In ArcGIS and MOLE, line segments can have direction. The default line direction ArcGIS and MOLE use is derived from the order in which you added (digitized) the vertices in the line or polygon.

If, for example, you were digitizing pipes in a water distribution system as line segments, you could add the vertices in the order that reflected the flow of water inside the pipes. To do this, you could add the first vertex at the source (for example, a tank) and then click to follow the|system until you added the last vertex (at, for example, a residential parcel).

When MOLE adds MOLE graphics to a map display or source data, it uses a certain direction for its line segments; that is, it creates the vertices in a certain order. Usually this order conforms to MIL-STD-2525B Change 2 or APP-6A, but in a few cases, it does not (a list of known cases follows). In these instances, the graphic looks identical to the way the military specification says it should look; however, the direction of some segments may not adhere to the direction defined in MIL-STD-2525B Change 2 or APP-6A.

Tactical graphics that may contain segments that do not adhere strictly to MIL-STD-2525B Change 2 or APP-6A segment direction:


For limitations of AOU and dynamic modifiers, see AOU and dynamic modifiers.

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