Getting started: the ribbon

One of the first things you’ll notice about the latest release is the new ribbon. We think you’ll find it intuitive and easy to use, and that it makes ArcGIS Explorer a snap to figure out. Here’s a primer on the ribbon to get you started.


The ribbon is organized into tabs. Tabs organize the ribbon controls (or commands) into logical groups by activity. When you first startup ArcGIS Explorer you’ll see the Home tab and its controls.

The controls in the ribbon are organized into groups. Here’s the controls in the Find group on the Home tab. The red arrow points to the group name.

The ribbon tabs are found starting at the top left. Here we see the Home and Display tabs. If you hover over a tab (like we’ve done over the Display tab as indicated by the arrow) it will become highlighted. Just click a tab to display the ribbon.

Ribbon tabs and their controls are revealed in the context of what you are doing, meaning that what you see will depend on what you are currently working with. More on that when we cover the different kinds of data and services you can use.


When you move your mouse over a control you’ll see the integrated tips. All have text, and many have graphics, to help you quickly understand what the control does. You’ll also find that many have F1 Help links like that shown here.

When you see these, just click the F1 key on your keyboard to open up the specific Help topic with additional details and usage information.

Hiding the ribbon

If you right-click with your mouse on the ribbon you’ll see a choice to minimize the ribbon or show it again.

Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar is located above the ribbon.

To add a control to the Quick Access Toolbar right-click the control and choose Add to Quick Access Toolbar, like we’ve done below with Find.

You can see we’ve added Find to the Quick Access toolbar, and you see the tip display as we hover over it.

You can add your frequently used controls to the Quick Access Toolbar, move it below the ribbon, and even hide the ribbon entirely.

We think you’ll find the ribbon easy to work with, and that it will help guide you through all the things you can do using ArcGIS Explorer.

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Before you get started with the new release

Here’s a few tips before you get started with the new release.

Check your system requirements

Before you install you will want to check out the latest system requirements. You might need a few updates that are listed in the requirements (such as Microsoft .NET 2.0 Framework SP1 or equivalent) and the installation will let you know if you don’t currently have those installed, and will point you towards where you can find any needed updates.

The ArcGIS Explorer Installation Guide also has lots of useful information and more details about the requirements and where to find updates, and includes advanced instructions for deploying ArcGIS Explorer for system administrators.

Make sure you’ve got the latest and greatest graphics card drivers

It’s always a good idea to check for graphics card driver updates, and to ensure the best experience with the latest ArcGIS Explorer we highly recommend that you do this first. If you experience difficulties on startup, or seem to notice very sluggish performance, this is usually caused by outdated drivers and a simple update will get you going. Just visit the Web site for your computer manufacturer, or graphics card vendor, or check with your system administrator to ensure that you’re up to date.

Check out the What’s New

This latest release of ArcGIS is… well… quite different than the previous release, and while it supports the same features and capabilities there’s also quite a lot that’s new. You can check out the What’s New Web site, view the What’s New video, play the What’s New slide show, or check out our What’s New blog post show to familiarize yourself with these new features. And stay tuned to the blog, as we’ll be covering all of these and how to get the most out of them here.

Stay tuned to this blog

We’ll be publishing a whole series of how-to posts here, covering the basics for beginners as well as advanced topics for ArcGIS Explorer veterans and programmers, so make sure you check back often.

An easy way to stay tuned is to subscribe to the ArcGIS Explorer Blog’s RSS feed. You may also want to stay tuned to other blog feeds, and we also recommend the ArcGIS Online blog. ESRI has a Web site listing all product blogs and their feed subscriptions.


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ArcGIS Online Sharing Application Updated

8/14/09–The ArcGIS Online Sharing application was updated. Issues addressed include:

  • Services can now be filtered on search
  • An empty search string now returns all results
  • Clicking a filter without entering a search string now returns all results for that filter
  • Hyperlinks are no longer underlined in item descriptions

Give it a try. We are interested in your feedback.

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Using Behaviors to enable MouseWheel in Full Screen and Out-of-browser

With Silverlight 3.0 we now have a new MouseWheel event on all UIElements. Prior to v3, we had to rely on javascript in the browser to respond to mousewheel events in Silverlight. The problem with this is that there are several cases where the DOM bridge required to execute javascript is disabled. This includes full-screen mode, cross-domain hosting of the .xap file, out-of-browser installs and if the developer explicitly disabled the DOM bridge. Since the Silverlight Map Control is currently built for Silverlight 2.0 (but runs fine with Silverlight3) the user can’t use the mousewheel to zoom in and out when in any of these modes. However, if you build your own application against the Silverlight 3 API, a little bit of custom code can enable the mouse wheel in these cases. This blog post will demonstrate a custom “Behavior” you can attach to your map, which will enable the mousewheel for zoom in these modes.

Behaviors, triggers and actions are new Silverlight 3 features included in an assembly installed with Expression Blend SDK. They allow you to add a lot of functionality to your application using drag’n'drop in Blend, or with some simple XAML in Visual Studio’s XAML editor.

First of all, to create your own custom behaviors, you will need to add a reference to the following assembly: System.Windows.Interactivity.dll. This assembly is usually located in:

“c:Program FilesMicrosoft SDKsExpressionBlend 3InteractivityLibrariesSilverlightSystem.Windows.Interactivity.dll”

When the assembly reference is added, download the zip file included with this post, extract the contents to a location of your choice, and add the following file to your project: [WheelZoom.cs]

Next go to your .xaml page that contains your map control, and in the header register the following two namespaces. One for the Interactivity assembly we just added a reference to and the other for the WheelZoom class:


Lastly, inside your map control add the following highlighted code:

<esri:Map x:Name="map">
          <behaviors:WheelZoom />

That’s it! Now you have mousewheel zoom support when you are in full-screen mode or running your application out of browser.

If you are not interested in the details of how this worked, you can stop here, but personally I think triggers, actions and behaviors are some of the really cool stuff in Silverlight 3.0 that allows you to much better structure, separate and reuse your code.

So how did this work?

First we create a new behavior class that inherits from Behavior<Map>. We specify Map as the generic parameter to signify that this behavior only works with the ESRI map control.

Next there are two methods on the base class that you must override: “OnAttached” and “OnDetaching”. Basically the first method is called when the behavior is added to the map, and the other when it is removed again. So in OnAttached we add an event listener for the MouseWheel event on the map control, and remove it again in OnDetaching:

protected override void OnAttached()
     this.AssociatedObject.MouseWheel += AssociatedObject_MouseWheel;

protected override void OnDetaching()
     this.AssociatedObject.MouseWheel -= AssociatedObject_MouseWheel;

The “AssociatedObject” is in this case the Map control that the behavior is attached to.

In the mousewheel event handler we will simply zoom the map around the mouse pointer, using the ZoomToResolution method which allows us to specify a point to zoom about:

private void AssociatedObject_MouseWheel(object sender, MouseWheelEventArgs e)
     double factor = e.Delta < 1 ?
     this.AssociatedObject.ZoomFactor : 1 / this.AssociatedObject.ZoomFactor;
     MapPoint center = AssociatedObject.ScreenToMap(e.GetPosition(AssociatedObject));
     double res = this.AssociatedObject.Resolution * factor;
     this.AssociatedObject.ZoomToResolution(res, center);

The code you can download here adds a little extra logic to better match what the javascript-based mousewheel zoom does, but this is the general idea.

To round this off, here’s another type of behavior you can add to your map: [MaintainExtentBehavior.cs]

This behavior will maintain the current extent of the map when the map (browser) is resized. Change to the Silverlight application to display full screen -or- grab a corner of the browser and resize it.  The extent of the map will be maintained.  Add it in the Interaction.Behaviors collection like we earlier did with the MouseWheel using the following syntax:

    <behaviors:WheelZoom />         
    <behaviors:MaintainExtentBehavior /> </i:Interaction.Behaviors>

The behavior works much the same way, but uses a set of events on the map to store the current extent (ExtentChanging, ExtentChanged) and set the map extent (SizeChanged).  If you want to see more examples how also actions and triggers can be used, take a look at the Showcase application in the resource center.

Download a sample from our development server – view the sample live to see it in action.

Morten Nielsen
Senior Software Engineer
ArcGIS Server.NET, Silverlight/WPF, MapIt

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New version now available and what's new

A new version of ArcGIS Explorer is now available to download at:

What’s New in ArcGIS Explorer

ArcGIS Explorer is a free, downloadable GIS viewer that provides an easy way to explore, visualize, share, and present geographic information. The latest release of ArcGIS Explorer has many new features and capabilities that make it ideal for providing wider access to your GIS data and capabilities. 

The new features are described below and you can also view the online slideshow.

New user experience

The new release of ArcGIS Explorer introduces a ribbon-based user interface that’s intuitive and easy to use. Functionality is presented in the context of what you are doing, and the various controls include integrated tool tips.

Basemap gallery

The basemap gallery contains a variety of ready-to-use ArcGIS Online maps that you can choose from, including imagery, transportation, streets, physical, and more. Bing ™ Maps (imagery, hybrid, roads) are also included. Click to choose a new basemap while maintaining the order and appearance of other layers in your map. Easily add your own basemaps to the gallery by choosing Save As, then New Basemap.

Integrated 2D/3D display

ArcGIS Explorer now includes an integrated 2D/3D display which can be toggled on-the-fly, providing complete control over your visualization experience. You can choose which mode works best for your data, and save your maps to open in one mode or the other.

Enhanced data support

Data support has been improved with the following:

  • A consistent user experience is presented for all content, with enhanced access to all supported local data and services.
  • ArcGIS Desktop layer files (*.lyr) and layer packages (*.lpk – introduced at ArcGIS 9.3.1) are now supported. Layer files and layer packages enable ArcGIS Explorer to leverage ArcGIS Desktop cartography.
  • Improved KML / KMZ support.

Easy to configure and customize

Application configurations provide an easy way to configure and customize ArcGIS Explorer, and enable you to tailor ArcGIS Explorer for specific users, tasks, or workflows. Configurations are created and managed using the Application Configuration Manager, and configurations are saved and stored as a single file (*.ncfg). Application configurations do not require programming, and multiple configurations can be authored and centrally managed.


ArcGIS Explorer includes new capabilities that enable you to create dynamic and interactive presentations that include your own maps and data. Add titles and overlays, show popups, toggle layers, and more. Maps can be saved to open in presentation mode, including automatic slide advancement.

ArcGIS Online

ArcGIS Online provides continually updated and ready-to-use basemaps and layers for ArcGIS Explorer. The ArcGIS Explorer basemap gallery lets you choose from a wide variety of ArcGIS Online basemaps.

ArcGIS Online also provides an online library of maps, layers, and tools for GIS users. ArcGIS Explorer users can discover a variety of shared resources from ESRI and from other contributors.

ArcGIS Explorer hosts two groups on ArcGIS Online:

  • ArcGIS Explorer – provides selected maps and layers of particular interest to ArcGIS Explorer users.
  • ArcGIS Explorer Labs – unsupported samples and examples from the ArcGIS Explorer team.

Bing™ Maps Services

Microsoft Bing Maps (formerly known as Virtual Earth) services, including aerial imagery, aerials with labels, and streets, are now available to ArcGIS Explorer users. Bing Maps are included in the basemap gallery.
These services are free for ArcGIS Desktop users and available in ArcGIS Explorer for free if using ArcGIS Desktop. For standalone ArcGIS Explorer users, Bing Maps are available on a subscription basis.


ArcGIS Explorer is now fully localized and supports the following languages: English, German, French, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese.


The coordinate system used to display your map can be chosen in 2D mode. Data you add is projected on-the-fly onto your map or globe. All ArcGIS projections and transformations are supported.

ArcGIS Explorer SDK

The ArcGIS Explorer SDK has been redesigned with Microsoft .NET usability in mind, and also to reflect the new capabilities in ArcGIS Explorer. Use the SDK to create new buttons, dockable windows, galleries and extensions for ArcGIS Explorer. Customizations are easily packaged and delivered as add-ins.

Expansion Packs

Expansion packs add new capabilities and resources to the core ArcGIS Explorer, and can be found on the ArcGIS Explorer download page. Expansion packs include:

  • ArcGIS Explorer Data Access – provides support for direct connect to multiuser geodatabases.
  • ArcGIS Explorer Fonts – adds ESRI fonts for use with ArcGIS Explorer. These are useful when displaying ArcGIS layer files and layer packages.
  • ArcGIS Explorer Projection Engine – adds more projections and transformations for use within ArcGIS Explorer.

And more…

These are just a few of the new features and capabilities in this release. For more information visit


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Migrating from Single-user Geodatabases to Multiuser Geodatabases – Podcast available!

A new instructional series podcast is available called Migrating from Single-user Geodatabases to Multiuser Geodatabases. The podcast provides reasons to migrate from MS Access personal or file geodatabases to multiuser geodatabases. It also highlights some key concepts to be aware of before migrating as well as GIS data migration methods.

Read the Transcript 

Listen to the Podcast

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Post ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit and International User Conference Information

Well another ESRI International User Conference and Homeland Security GIS Summit have come and gone.  Thanks to everyone who attended the Summit and/or public safety activities at the User Conference.  It was great to see you and meet with you and learn from your experience.  For those of you that joined us (and for those who couldn’t) the materials from the Homeland Security GIS Summit and User Conference are now online.  Here are some of the highlights.

2009 ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit:

2009 International ESRI User Conference:

Also, special thanks to everyone that attended our technical workshop focused on the Public Safety Resource Center entitled Emergency Management Applications using ArcGIS.  It was a pretty full room and we got a lot of great feedback from you on the templates and good suggestions for directions moving forward.  Some of the suggestions and comments include:

  • A special events template
  • More focus on industry data standards
  • Templates that help smaller units

Thanks for attending and we look forward to seeing you next year in San Diego!  Mark your calendar for next year’s events:

                ESRI International User Conference        July 12-16, 2010

                ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit    July 10-13, 2010

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New Products, Websites, Community Resources, Samples, Videos…

As you may have noticed, there has been a lot of activity at ESRI these days.  So just to keep you up to date, here’s a quick list of what’s new and where to find it.

New MapIt Product (product info, demos and videos)

New MapIt Resource Center

Updated Silverlight/WPF API Resource Center 

New ArcGIS Explorer Release (learn what’s new)  

Updated ArcGIS Explorer Resource Center

Don’t forget to update your RSS feeds!

EDN Team

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Thematic Mapping of Normalized Variables in Esri Business Analyst Online

 by Brenda Wolfe

With the next release of Esri Business Analyst Online at the end of this month, a new thematic mapping feature will be available within Color-Coded Maps.  Users have been asking for the ability to map normalized variables, and now they will get their wish.  Users will be able to map variables as regular values or as percentages. 

For example, below is a map of 2009 Family Population.  As expected, New York, California and Texas are highlighted as having high Family Population.  In fact, for just about any available variable, New York, California, and Texas are the highest simply because they have the largest populations. 

However, if we plot 2009 Family Population as a percentage of the Total Population, you can see some shifts.  New York is now in the second to lowest category and Utah and Idaho have moved into the top category. 

ESRI Business Analyst Online users will soon be able to select normalized versions of variables from the variable selection menu within the Color-Coded Maps tab.  A percentage-number toggle indicates witch variables have both types of values for mapping.

Once a variable is mapped, it is easy to toggle back and forth and watch the map dance by using the same toggle switch on the legend.


Look for this feature at the end of August.  It really makes the data come alive. 


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Dealing with underscore characters in your Web server name

Today, many individuals and organizations have conventions in place that restrict how a machine or web server can be named. Commonly, underscore characters ( _ ) are used to separate strings and numeric labels, such as SERVER_1234, or to assure that special domain names are not confused with host names. Although the use of underscore characters is effective, they may cause unexpected behavior when you attempt to log in to ArcGIS Server Manager, create services, or manage Web applications using Microsoft Internet Explorer.

Interestingly enough, the origin of this behavior is related to the development of the Domain Name System or “DNS” by Paul Mockapetris in 1983. His spec mandated that the hostname’s labels only contain the letters A – Z, the digits 0 – 9, and the hyphen. No other symbols, punctuation, or blank spaces were permitted. Despite a few modifications to the DNS hierarchy in the past 25 years, underscore characters are still not supported.

You may now be asking yourself, “How does the DNS hierarchy relate to my immediate problem of not being able to open Manager?” Essentially, the DNS acts a phone book for the internet by translating human-friendly machine names into unique numerical identifiers. So, “MyServer” could translate into “123.45.678.910”. When a character, such as an underscore, is introduced into the Web server name, the DNS gets confused since the character does not conform to the DNS hierarchy. Often, this results in failure of the Web server.

In light of this information, we developed the help topic Retaining underscore characters in the Web server name. It provides a workaround that will allow you to preserve your current naming conventions in ArcGIS Server 9.3.1.

Additionally, external topics by IBM and the IETF highlight best-practices when considering host name values and machine naming conventions.

Contributed by Michael Frates, Greg Reeve, and Nikhil Shampur of the ArcGIS Server development team.

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