Monthly Archives: July 2010

New Data in Business Analyst Online Shows Where the Romance Is

 by Brenda Wolfe

The new ability to map Market Potential data in Business Analyst Online is leading to some new revelations. I have always considered myself to be a romantic Montanan, but now there is proof that Montanans are, by their very nature, romantic. 

Business Analyst Online now lets you map just about anything, including the percentage of the population that has purchased romance novels in the past year…


The center of the country appears to be where buyers of romance novels are concentrated. I suppose, to be fair, one could argue that other parts of the country are just as romantic–they just exhibit their romantic inclinations differently. I will leave you to your own theories on this, but I am sticking to Montana as Romance Central. 


Posted in Location Analytics | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Implementing the Local Government Information Model with ArcGIS 10

At ArcGIS 10, geodatabase designs can be shared with a new type of layer package called a schema-only layer package.  As the name implies, a schema-only layer package contains the schema of the data it references.  It can then be used as a template for populating your data and using the layer properties, such as symbology, scale, etc. provided in a map document.

The Local Government Information Model at ArcGIS 10 supports a series of maps and apps used by local governments and demonstrates how ArcGIS can be configured to support specific business needs in your organization.  It incorporates specific application requirements and the cartographic design elements necessary to produce rich, multi-scale base maps and operational layers.   You can download the Local Government Information Model from and migrate your content into this geodatabase design.  When you do, you can quickly take advantage of the maps and apps published on the Local Government Resource Center.  This blog post will show you how to use the new schema-only layer package provided for our local government users.

In ArcMap, click on File>ArcGIS Online and then search Maps and Data for the keyword “local government”.  When you find the Local Government Information Model, you can review the item Details and when you’re ready to download it, just click Add.

You can then determine which geodatabase you’d like to import the schema in to.  The default location is your Default.gdb, but you can specify another empty geodatabase you’ve created if you’d like.  When you download one of the templates on the Local Government Resource Center, you’ll notice we have named the sample geodatabase “Local Government” and all the maps we’re publishing will work with a geodatabase named this. So you may want to think about creating your own LocalGovernment.gdb. 

This is also a good time to to specify the spatial reference for the new geodatabase you’re creating.  A real simple way to do this is to select Spatial Reference>Other>Import and then pick an existing feature dataset that has the correct spatial reference for your data.  Then click Ok, and Ok again, and the import will begin.

When the Import Schema Package tool completes, you will see a series of layers in your map document and an empty schema in the geodatabase you specified.  From here, you can review the descriptions and domains for each feature and begin thinking about how you can migrate your data to this information model.  One note, you’ll have to add your imagery and surface models manually to this schema.

Using this information model makes it very easy to implement the maps and apps on the Local Government Resource Center.  We’ll be adding content to this information model as we publish additional templates for our local government users, so keep an eye out for updates.

Posted in Local Government | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

GeoWeb 2010: Visualizing Real Time Twitter Data with ArcGIS

This year the focus of the GeoWeb conference was on “Going Real Time”. 

In our presentation, we discussed how to build client and server GIS applications that consume real time Twitter data.  We covered a number of real world scenarios that this could be applied to such as disaster management, emergency scenarios and so on.  We also covered some of the challenges we face when building systems like this.

GeoWeb 2010 Real-time ArcGIS Twitter Map 

In the spirit of supporting the “real time” theme of the conference, we also demonstrated how to use the ArcGIS platform to build a real time mapping system to track conversations on Twitter.  The system (code named “TweetBase”) had the capabilities of capturing all of the ”GeoWeb” conversations that took place during the conference, geolocate them, and publish them on a web map on 

Here is an example of the map in a browser and mobile client.




Posted in Developer | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Welcome to the new Data Reviewer Resource Center!

Esri is pleased to announce the launch of the new Data Reviewer Resource Center!  We are excited to provide the GIS community with a central location for information on ArcGIS Data Reviewer for improving your GIS data quality. You can access templates from the Gallery that are built around the ArcGIS Data Reviewer extension. Our goal is to make it easier for you to use our software throughout your quality control life cycle.

The Data Reviewer blog is an important part of the resource center designed to bring you the latest information specific to data quality processes and tools. This is a virtual space for everyone to communicate, collaborate, and share knowledge. Feel free to interact with your peers as well as post your own tips, comments, and questions. Your input will help guide us in our own efforts to better serve you. We’ll be posting information continuously, so please check back regularly, or sign up for our feed by simply clicking on the RSS 2.0 link to the left.


We hope you’ll find this blog dynamic, engaging and instructive. Come and explore the new Data Reviewer Resource Center!


The Data Reviewer Team

Posted in Editing | Leave a comment

Getting started with creating features in ArcGIS 10

When you open the Editor toolbar in ArcGIS 10, you’ll notice that the toolbar looks different. For starters, there is no task list and no target layer list. So how do you add a feature without them? In ArcGIS 10, you use the new Create Features window, which contains all the elements you need. The workflow to create features is the same whether you are editing geodatabases or shapefiles or using an ArcView, ArcEditor, or ArcInfo license.
Continue reading

Posted in Editing | Tagged , , , , , | 11 Comments

What's Next?

ArcGIS 10 is available, the 2010 User Conference is behind us and I’m just back from vacation…  So what’s next?  The development teams all over ESRI are already busy working on the next release so we need your feedback.  If you are having an issue with ArcGIS 10, please contact Support.  If you have a suggestion to make the software better, please use the new Ideas site on the ArcGIS Resource Center.  There you can submit your idea to the product teams and vote on other user submitted ideas. You can also post a comment on your experiences with ArcGIS 10 here on this blog and I’ll make sure the appropriate team sees it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

2010 User Conference presentations

We had a great conference and it was good to meet and talk with everyone. We’ve been uploading our technical workshop and demo theater presentations to the Model and Script Tool Gallery, and you can easily find them from the Presentations page. Presentations include slides (in pdf format), demo notes (notes that we use to guide us during our demos), data, map documents, toolboxes, and scripts. Due to data distribution restraints, there are cases where we can’t distribute the data we used in the workshop or demo theater. In those cases we have done our best to include videos or tutorials that will supplement the slides. Not all presentations are uploaded yet, so keep checking back over the next couple of weeks if your favorite presentation isn’t there.

Posted in Analysis & Geoprocessing | Tagged | Leave a comment

Parcel Editor Add-In Enhances Parcel Management in ArcGIS 10

With the ArcGIS 10 release, Esri is providing a focused information model (Parcel Fabric) and optimized set of tools (Parcel Editor Toolbar) within the core software for parcel management workflows. This parcel editing framework provides industry-specific tools, such as split by area,parcel remainder, parcel merge, parcel traverse, parcel numbering, etc., and is the most efficient way to manage and maintain parcels in ArcGIS.

In addition to the tools you’ll find in the core ArcGIS software, we’ve also provided an editing map that helps you organize your parcel information in a parcel fabric. This editing map has been authored for local government parcel editors and is a multi-scale map that organizes the cadastral reference system (PLSS), subdivisions, lots, tax parcels and encumbrances in a fabric information model that can be used with the Parcel Editor toolbar at ArcGIS 10. In the future, we’ll post a blog that takes a closer look at this editing map.

The parcel editing framework at ArcGIS 10 can be extended to make the editing environment even more efficient. Recently, the ArcGIS Land Records Team has been working on a few tools we’d like to share with the parcel community. These productivity tools can be added to existing toolbars and are packaged as a single Add-In. The tools will improve specific parcel editing workflows and also help you optimize your parcel data now that you’ve migrated it to a fabric information model.So let’s take a closer look at the tools we’re providing in the Parcel Editor Add-In:

Parcel Editing Tools:

  • Toggle Parcel Details – this tool will turn on the Parcel Attributes dockable window. Attributes for parcels and their boundaries can be edited using the Parcel Details window and in bulk through the Table dialog.
  • Merge Courses Interactively – this tool will merge individual parcel boundary courses in to a single boundary in an interactive manner. It is designed to work with selected courses within the Parcel Details window.
  • Link Annotation – this tool will create a link between a piece of feature-linked annotation and the boundary they represent in the fabric.
  • Find Text for Annotation – this tool will identify the proper boundary to place feature-linked annotation from when using the Ctrl-W shortcut.
  • Load Traverse File – this tool will load a traverse stored in a file into the Parcel Details window.

Parcel Fabric Tools:

  • Merge Courses In Batch – this tool will allow you to select multiple parcels and merge individual parcel boundary courses in to a single boundary. It allows you to enter in the maximum difference in the boundary course bearing when merging.
  • Manage Attachments – this tool will allow you to add or remove attachments from parcel fabric classes (parcels, lines, plans,etc.).

You’ll find additional installation help and release notes in the attached. In addition, we’ve also provided the source code for this Add-In so you can extend and/or modify the tools as needed.

In closing, we’ve got some ideas for additional tools that will help you manage parcel data with ArcGIS 10 and will be posting them later this year. But we’d like to hear what tools you think would be valuable for managing parcels in ArcGIS 10, so send us your feedback and ideas.

Posted in Local Government | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 8 Comments

ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2: The Basics

CloudOne of the most important announcements at this month’s Esri International User Conference was that ArcGIS Server 10 can run on the Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2). This blog post narrows down what it means to run ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2. It also lists some of the benefits of deploying a GIS server on a cloud-based infrastructure.

What is Amazon EC2?

When you work “in the cloud”, you harness others’ computing power without having to care about the details of how that power is provided. Amazon is in the business of a certain realm of cloud computing known as infrastructure as a service (IAAS). This means that Amazon has a lot of computing hardware—buildings full of it—on which you can run your applications. You can use more or less of this hardware as needed to meet demand (thus making it “elastic”). Amazon’s worldwide network of hardware infrastructure and its related services are collectively known as Amazon EC2.

What does it mean to run ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2?

When you use ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2, you run ArcGIS Server on a virtual machine that is hosted in one or more of Amazon’s data centers. It’s the same ArcGIS Server you know and love from back at your office. You just run it on Amazon’s hardware instead of your own.

To run ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2, you must:

  1. Choose an Amazon Machine Image (or AMI) that determines the software installed on the virtual machine. There are two AMIs available at ArcGIS 10:
    • ArcGIS Server AMI – this contains ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop
    • Enterprise Geodatabase AMI – this contains ArcSDE and PostgreSQL as an option for configuring an enterprise geodatabase on Amazon EC2
  2. Choose the CPU and memory spec of the machine you want and launch it. The running virtual machine is called an EC2 instance.

Once you have an EC2 instance running with ArcGIS Server, you can log into it and load your data and applications. When your EC2 instance is configured just the way you like, you can add more identical instances to your deployment to respond to Web traffic levels.

How do I start using ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2? Can I see a demo?

To get started with ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2, you need to create an Amazon account and get it activated for use with EC2.

Then, you inform Esri Customer Service that you would like to use the AMIs. They will share the AMIs with your account, meaning that the AMIs will be visible when you try to create an EC2 instance.

The AWS Management Console is a Web application that you can use to create and manage your EC2 instances. Follow the steps in the help topic Activating ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2 to log into the AWS Management Console and launch an EC2 instance.

We’ve created a few videos that demonstrate the process of creating an instance and logging into it.

Creating an Amazon EC2 instance running ArcGIS Server

Click to launch the video 

Administering ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2 through Remote Desktop

Click to launch the video 

What’s the business benefit of ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2?

The biggest benefit of running ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2 is the ability to respond to spikes in demand by adding or removing computer hardware in a short amount of time. You only pay for the hardware while you’re using it.

For example, suppose your Web mapping site experiences an abrupt tenfold increase in traffic. This could be due to a planned event, like an election, or an unplanned event, like a snowstorm. If you need ten servers for a day, you can create ten servers. You could then potentially terminate nine of these servers after the demand for traffic subsides, and incur no further costs for them. For a relatively low cost, you have quickly met demand without having to buy your own room full of servers.

Another benefit of Amazon EC2 is the ability to work on experimental or short-term projects without making long-term hardware investments. If you want a machine with lots of memory for something like creating a map cache, you can create a high-memory machine for only a few days while the cache is building. Your final bill for hardware might be a fraction of the cost of what it would take to buy and physically install more memory into your own computer.

In the same way, suppose you want to prototype a new ArcGIS Server application on a “clean” machine. All the servers in your office are busy with critical tasks. Amazon EC2 offers an easy way to use some hardware for development and testing purposes without having to complete a purchase order, wait for the hardware to be shipped, and so on.

How does licensing work?

There are two costs that you need to think about when using ArcGIS Server on Amazon:

  1. You are responsible to Amazon EC2 for any hourly charges you incur for use of their CPU and disk resources.
  2. You must license any Esri software that you cause to run on Amazon EC2. When you first log into your EC2 instance, you will be prompted to complete the Software Authorization Wizard for ArcGIS Server. You may not deploy ArcGIS Server on any more hardware on Amazon EC2 than you have purchased in your license agreement.

An Enterprise License Agreement (ELA) is the most flexible type of license for the cloud, since an ELA allows deployment on an unlimited number of CPUs. Esri is also preparing to offer term licenses of ArcGIS Server for 1, 3, and 12 months that can help you purchase adequate licensing to respond to peak loads.

The Amazon Overview page on the Esri website links to several other offers and packages that may fit your software licensing needs for ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2. Your Esri representative can explain more about these options.

Why are the Esri-provided AMIs so important? Couldn’t I just start a plain old Windows instance on EC2 and install ArcGIS Server myself?

Although you can certainly install new software on an EC2 instance, installing ArcGIS Server yourself on an EC2 instance is not a workflow supported or recommended by Esri. Instead, it’s recommended that you use the ArcGIS Server AMI. There are subtle differences between the way ArcGIS Server configuration must be performed on an EC2 instance vs. on your own machine. Esri has engineered the ArcGIS Server AMI to gracefully handle these differences.

How can I learn more about ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2?

For technical details beyond the information above, visit the ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2 Help. We (the development team) wrote this help, so please let us know if you have any suggestions for improving it.

To learn about managing your costs and strategies as you consider moving resources to Amazon EC2, see the aforementioned Amazon Overview page on the website. The AWS Economics Center is also a helpful resource. It includes a cost calculator that can help you estimate your monthly EC2 expenses.

Finally, keep watching this blog for tips and summaries of how to use ArcGIS Server on Amazon EC2.

Contributed by Sterling Quinn of the ArcGIS Server software development team

Posted in Services | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments