Symbolising data with lost data links

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer


I frequently come across data which has lost data links (a red!). This occurs when the data has been moved or no longer exists, thus breaking the link. On some occasions, even after I tracked down the data and repaired the data source, the symbology still didn’t draw — it exists, but the wrong field is listed on the Layer Properties Symbology tab. Usually the draw category (Value field) has defaulted to a non-matching field. Simply changing the Value field does not do the trick. Continue reading

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User Experience – We get it or we might have…

  by Sooria Jeyaraman

Usability: “The extent to which a product can be used by specified users to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a specified context of use.” (ISO 9241-11)

Major goal of our latest release of Business Analyst Online is to improve the usability and user experience of the product. Exposing our vast sets of data in our products has always been a challenge, to say the least let alone do some analysis with it. Most of you would agree with me that no design could be perfect until it serves the purpose effectively. We as a company have realized that and user experience is very much in ESRI’s radar these days (Woo hoo!!). We’ve incorporated some of the user centered design principles for this upcoming release of Business Analyst Online 9.3.


Let me explain the process a bit. A small window of opportunity was created within the project schedule to accommodate designers (user experience architect and visual designer) early in the product cycle. Designers along with the product management made use of the situation by incorporating these three simple steps.
1.    Listen to the users
2.    Usability testing and listen to the users
3.    Listen to the users again.

We actually listened (literally!) to the customers through our numerous customer interviews and tried to analyze the user’s goals and expectations of the product. Sample personas were created to bring life to our users and numerous white boarding sessions happened over months. Finally after several redesigns a working prototype was created.  This prototype was given to the actual users in the form of usability testing to initiate our second step of listening.

Usability testing as expected served as a great eye opener for the stakeholders of the project and for us designers too. We watched and listened to the miseries of our users actually trying to use our prototype. There were times we wanted to go across the one way mirror and show the user where that particular link was.. hey, but there were occasions where the users  were delighted about our design as well, so there was something to boost our egos :)

After these sessions, we got back to the drawing board to analyze the reasons why certain design elements didn’t work with our users. After remedying those issues, we tested it again with our users and repeated the process multiple times. The beta that is going to be out soon might not solve all the issues but we are hoping to hit a field goal ;) at the minimum. Having said that, there is always room for improvement and as I mentioned earlier no design is perfect until it solves the user goals effectively and efficiently. We still might go back to our drawing boards based on what we hear from you.

- SJ

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Beefed up tools in ArcGIS Business Analyst

 by Kyle Watson

Same great tools, more functionality.  We’ve beefed up some existing ArcGIS Business Analyst tools with additional feature – at the request of users like you.

Here’s what we did in Business Analyst 9.3…

Mean Store Center analysis – added ability to find multiple potential site locations based on high concentration of customers.  Why is this relevant?  Here’s a scenario:  You are a bank looking to add ATMs based on your customer residences. The multiple mean store center tool is perfect for analyzing where those ATMs should go.  In 9.2, only one mean store center could be located at a time.  Learn more here.

Threshold Trade Areas – added ability to determine a capacity by drive time.  Why is this relevant?  Here’s a scenario:  You know your franchises need a minimum of 150,000 people living within 10 minutes – not 10 miles – but 10 minutes.  In 9.2 you could determine a threshold area by ring only which may not accurately reflect the landscape, in 9.3 we’ve added a more real-world approach with drive times.  Learn more here.


Here’s a further breakdown, where your humble blogger breaks out the smelly markers…

So if  you have an “I like this Business Analyst feature, but want it to also _____” wish list…I want to hear about them.

Stay classy,



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What’s new for Java Developers in 9.3.1?

As a Java developer have you ever wanted to extend your desktop and server applications natively using the Java API?  If so, you’ll be happy to know that the ArcGIS 9.3.1 release allows you to extend the ArcGIS framework by creating Java extensions that plug seamlessly into ArcObjects components. This is a big improvement because to accomplish this before Java developers were required to develop functionality in a COM compliant language then use the proxygen tool to create the Java wrappers. Say good bye to those days!

Red Hat

The ArcGIS 9.3.1 release
provides enhanced support for Java developers to develop extensions in the native Java environment using a simple develop and deploy workflow. Some of the supported extensions include:

  • Custom geoprocessing tools
  • Server object extensions (SOEs) and utility objects
  • Class extensions for customized data behavior
  • Custom renderers
  • Plug-in data sources

Also, the development team will be presenting in-depth sessions on developing and deploying ArcGIS Java Extensions at our upcoming Developer Summit in Palm Springs, CA. These sessions include ‘Extending ArcGIS with Java’ and ‘Extending ArcGIS Server with Java’.  You can also listen to our podcast ‘2009 ESRI Developer Summit: Extending ArcGIS with Java’ for more information.



Contributed by the Java development team

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ArcGIS Explorer 900 at the 2009 PUG

Earlier this morning ArcGIS Explorer 900 was showcased at the ESRI Petroleum User Group (PUG) conference in Houston, Texas, marking the second time in a week the forthcoming 900 release has been featured at a major ESRI event. ArcGIS Explorer was also featured during last week’s ESRI Federal User Conference covered in a previous post.

At PUG, ESRI director of products Clint Brown set the stage for Explorer by introducing work being done with a variety of new basemap services that will be part of ArcGIS Online. Bern Szukalski demonstrated several of the basemap services via JavaScript applications, and then used the not-yet-public ArcGIS Online sharing to search for and add new basemaps to an existing ArcGIS 9.3.1 (still in beta) map focused on petroleum exploration in Wyoming.

Below is the map showing various petroleum operational layers (PennWell pipeline data, powder river basin, Wyoming oil fields) along with the underlying topographic basemap services from ArcGIS Online.

The Wyoming oil fields layer was saved as a layer package, one of the new capabilities in ArcMap at 9.3.1. Layer packages capture the cartography along with the data (or links in the case of Web-based services) into an easily portable and shareable file. The layer package was shared via ArcGIS Online in one of the groups; data can be shared publicly to anyone or reserved for use within specific communities.

Using ArcGIS Explorer, several features were highlighted including the new ribbon-based UI, the ability to dock and hide the contents in various ways, and the integrated 2D/3D display. The presentation tools were highlighted next, with a demonstration of how they can be used to author and then give a presentation or briefing. The presentation tools include the ability to control layer visibility, popups, and can include rich media content like videos, photos, and other documents.

Here’s the opening presentation view that included a popup title. Note how the application is in full-screen mode during a presentation, with tools available in the upper left to advance to the next slide or navigate. Though they can be thought of as slides, each stop in the presentation is ”live” and full control of the application can be had at any time.

Next, the Wyoming oil fields layer package was opened by dragging and dropping it onto Explorer, and the data was incorporated into the presentation. Note that since the layer package contained 3D data that it was extruded when viewed in 3D mode, and would be draped flat when viewed in 2D mode. The data shows the Wyoming oil fields shaded and extruded based on potential oil value.

ArcGIS Explorer has always been an ideal way to view ArcGIS Online maps and user-authored map services. Bern emphasized that layer packages make ArcGIS Explorer ideal for providing broad access to all types of GIS data, local content via layer packages as well as GIS services, and would unlock GIS data from “professional only” use. He characterized many of the potential users of ArcGIS Explorer 900 as geographic information users - those that need to use GIS data, but may not be GIS experts or analysts themselves.

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Deploy ArcGIS Business Analyst Server 9.3 remotely!

by Maia Pawooskar

ArcGIS Business Analyst Server has just had its second major release. Being two is so different, it is like being a toddler!

At version 9.3, ArcGIS Business Analyst Server installation has the look and feel of its parent, ArcGIS Server. In case you did not know, Business Analyst Server is an extension to ArcGIS Server.

An administrator can now deploy ArcGIS Business Analyst Server version 9.3 remotely! To do this the administrator/user will simply perform an admin install. Admin installs can be performed using the Windows Installer (MSI), which gives you more flexibility and advantages than the Setup executable.

ArcGIS Business Analyst Server version 9.3 has two setups, the data and the server setup. The MSI command for both the setups is the same.

msiexec /A (path to the setup)setup.msi

Using the MSI command the admin creation can even be performed silently with this command:

msiexec /A (path to the setup)setup.msi /qb TARGETDIR=(the location where you want the admin created)

The TARGETDIR can be a network location. The admin install will set up the structure needed for you to run the setup off of that drive instead of from the DVDs.

This can be handy if your server is remote, parked somewhere in one of your sprawling server farms and has no access to media drives. You would simply do the admin install over a network drive, then map the network drive to your remote server and start the installation!

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What I wish I had known about Model Builder before I started using it

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead


We’ve been compiling a list of tips for various “What I wish I had known about …” topics. Here are a few things that made my list for what I wish I had known about Model Builder before I started using it: Continue reading

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Sychronizing map and datagrid interaction with the ArcGIS API for Flex

Example application with map and data grid synchronizationThere are many samples in the Flex API resource center that show how to render the results of queries on to a graphics layer and also how to populate a component such as datagrid with attributes. The example application discussed in this post shows how mouse events can be synchronized between the graphics layer and the datagrid.

As you hover your mouse over a state, both the state and its corresponding information in the datagrid are highlighted. Also when you hover your mouse pointer over a datagrid row, the corresponding state gets highlighted. This approach adds a greater degree of interactivity to your Web application.

Let’s see how the mouse events are synchronized in this example. Events are an important concept in the Flex framework that enable an application to respond to user interactions. Flex components have built in events that generate and dispatch events, and components can also listen for other events. Refer to Adobe’s Flex framework documentation to learn more about this important concept.

In this example we will add event listeners that will react to the mouse-over and mouse-out events on the graphic and the roll-out and roll-over events on datagrid.

  1. Add listeners to each graphic that can respond to mouse-over and mouse-out events. Before adding each graphic to the graphics layer, add event listeners like this:

    for each( var graphic : Graphic in featureSet.features )
      graphic.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_OVER, onMouseOver );
      graphic.addEventListener( MouseEvent.MOUSE_OUT, onMouseOut );
      myGraphicsLayer.add( graphic );

    When the mouse cursor enters the boundary of a graphic, the onMouseOver function is called and when the cursor leaves the boundary of a graphic, the onMouseOut function is called. Here’s some more detail on what these two functions do.

    onMouseOver: Obtains the graphic from the event and changes its symbol. Loops through all the rows in the datagrid and finds the index of the object that matches the attributes object of the graphic. Assigns this index as the selectedIndex of the datagrid. Optionally you can also use this index such that the datagrid automatically scrolls to that row.

    private function onMouseOver( event : MouseEvent ) : void
      var graphic : Graphic = Graphic( );
      graphic.symbol = highlightSymbol;
      for each( var attributes : Object in resultsGrid.dataProvider )
        if (attributes === graphic.attributes)
          resultsGrid.selectedIndex = (resultsGrid.dataProvider as ArrayCollection).getItemIndex(attributes)

    onMouseOut: Resets the symbol of the graphic to its original symbol and resets the selectedIndex of the datagrid.

    private function onMouseOut( event : MouseEvent ) : void
      Graphic( ).symbol = resultsSymbol;
      resultsGrid.selectedIndex = -1;
  2. Add functions that can respond to the roll-over and roll-out event of the datagrid. When a user hovers the mouse cursor over a row in the datagrid , the onItemRollOver function is called and when the cursor leaves the row, the onItemRollOut function is called. In both these functions, the symbol associated with graphic is changed accordingly. The implementation of the functions looks like this:

    private function onItemRollOver( event : ListEvent ) : void
      findGraphicByAttribute( = highlightSymbol;
    private function onItemRollOut( event : ListEvent ) : void
      findGraphicByAttribute( = resultsSymbol;
    public function findGraphicByAttribute( attributes : Object ) : Graphic
      for each( var graphic : Graphic in myGraphicsLayer.graphicProvider)
        if ( graphic.attributes === attributes)
          return graphic;
      return null;

In this article you have seen how you can take advantage of the Flex eventing mechanism to add more interactivity to your application. To view and download the source for the example application, right click anywhere outside the map and click “View Source”.

Contributed by Antony Jayaprakash of the ArcGIS API for Flex development team

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Geodatabase Management Learning Pathway

ESRI’s Training and Education department is now offering several learning pathways. These learning pathways define a set of ESRI training courses which are designed to focus on a particular aspect of GIS.

Specific to the geodatabase among these is a Geodatabase Management Learning Pathway. This pathway consists of 5 courses chosen from a select list of topics geared towards designing, implementing and managing geodatabases in a multiuser environment. Completing the courses awards you with a pathway certificate.

You can learn more about the learning pathways from the Training and Education website and from this list of frequently asked questions about the learning pathways.

The training and education site also has a number of instructor led and virtual campus courses (some of which are free) that revolve around geodatabase topics. Click HERE to view a list. These courses offer valuable insight and are a great resource for getting trained in specific areas.


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ArcGIS Explorer at the 2009 ESRI Federal User Conference

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.


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