ArcGIS Explorer 900, the forthcoming release of ArcGIS Explorer, was showcased a few hours ago during the opening plenary presentations at the 2009 ESRI Federal User Conference in Washington, D.C. ArcGIS Explorer was introduced by ESRI president Jack Dangermond with slides, and ArcGIS Explorer product manager Bern Szukalski showcased some of the new features and capabilities of Explorer, and how they’re related to other new features that will be delivered with ArcGIS 9.3.1.
The context was set by demonstrating the new ArcGIS Online search that can be used to find GIS data. Bern started off by opening an ArcMap document missing some desired layers, then typing in keywords to search for and find needed data via ArcGIS Online. The data could be previewed, and then added to ArcMap from the search results with a single click. Shown below is the search page (on the right) and the search results (on the left).
The ability to create layer packages was then highlighted, a new feature of ArcGIS 9.3.1. Layer packages encapsulate ArcMap cartography and data (or URLs to services, if a service layer) in an easy-to-share share package. To create a layer package in ArcMap, just right-click a layer and choose Create Layer Package.
Jack Dangermond explained that layer packages can be shared in a variety of ways; they can be E-mailed, published onto CDs or DVDs, or placed on network drives. Bern showed another new way to share – via ArcGIS. He logged in to his ArcGIS Online account, then added his newly created layer package to other items he’d added previously. All ArcGIS users will have their own ArcGIS Online account, and have space available to share their data with others.
Shared data can be of many types, from source data to complete maps and layer packages, and even links to Web maps. These can be organized and shared publicly, or within groups that can be created and managed to allow public access or restricted access within specific user communities. Below are some of example groups that were demonstrated.
The demonstration then moved to ArcGIS Explorer 900, the forthcoming new release of the product. The new ribbon-based user experience was highlighted, as well as other features that improve its ease of use.
One of the shared layer packages was opened in ArcGIS Explorer, and showed how ArcMap cartography is captured in the layer package and can now be displayed in ArcGIS Explorer. ArcGIS Explorer has always been a great way to view and publish GIS services, but now it’s also great for providing broad access to GIS data via layer packages created using ArcMap. ArcGIS Explorer 900 has an integrated 2D/3D display, and the layer package was opened in 2D mode.
The display was switched from 2D to 3D. Bern explained that the layer package he had just opened contained 3D content, and when opened in 2D mode it was draped on the map. But when the display was toggled to 3D mode the data was shown as extruded 3D polygons.
Also demonstrated was the new Basemap Gallery. These allow users to quickly switch basemaps without having to change or reorder any other operational layers they may have added. These new basemaps also include Microsoft Virtual Earth streets, imagery, and hybrid maps, which will be available to all ArcGIS users.
The demonstration concluded by showing an ArcGIS Explorer presentation. Explorer 900 includes tools that allow users to create presentations for briefings, meetings, educational use, and more. The full-screen presentation mode allows layer visibility and popups to be toggled, yet allows full control of the application at any time during the presentation. Presentation mode also allows various types of rich media to be incorporated, and the demonstration included streaming videos, live Web cams, and flash animations.