Monthly Archives: September 2011

Esri Canvas Maps part II: Using the Light Gray Canvas map effectively

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer, and Kenneth Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Canvas Maps I thumbnail

In the first of our Canvas Maps blogs, Esri Canvas Maps Part I, we explained the initiative and philosophy behind the new suite of Canvas Maps being developed by Esri. They are a new style of basemap designed with neutral colors, minimal features and detail that allow you to map many of your operational overlays more effectively.

In this second part, we suggest some best practices to get the most out of the first of the Canvas Maps to be released, the Light Gray Canvas Map, and illustrate how it can be used effectively. The Light Gray Canvas Map works particularly well in combination with operational overlays that contain point and line features. By design, it provides users with a way of improving a number of key cartographic objectives such as developing a sound figure-ground relationship and hierarchical organization in your map. Continue reading

Posted in Mapping | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Welcome Esri Support to the ArcGIS for Local Government Team

When the ArcGIS for Local Government program began nearly three years ago with a set of maps and apps for water utilities, the user base was relatively small and the processes for receiving technical assistance with the maps and apps were still being formulated. Users with questions regarding the maps and apps typically contacted members of the local government, water utilities, land records or public safety teams themselves, either directly or through the email alias.  Team members did their best to address questions from users but with more than 50 maps and apps on the Resource Center today, and almost 50,000 downloads to date, it is difficult to meet everyone’s needs.

Today, ArcGIS for Local Government requires a support solution that can keep pace with our growing user community and deliver the assistance they need.  That solution is Esri Support.

Starting today, Esri Support should be the first place ArcGIS for Local Government users in the U.S. go with questions or technical problems related to the maps and apps provided on the Resource Center. From the Esri Support page you can access all of our online support resources like the help, knowledge base, forums, and blogs. In addition, users on software maintenance are able to contact Support by phone, email and even chat.  Once Support is contacted, a qualified Analyst will log an incident into our support system and assist the user in troubleshooting the issue until it is resolved.  Examples of possible support incidents range from problems with publishing map service, to registering an ArcGIS Add-in, or best practices for loading data in to the Local Government Information Model.

By including Esri Support as the primary contact for ArcGIS for Local Government issues, we gain several benefits, including:

  1. Greater accessibility – With Support Centers available from 5 am to 5 pm Pacific and a variety of ways to contact them, ArcGIS for Local Government users can now get their questions answered sooner and in a way that is most convenient for them.
  2. Better transparency – Any incidents logged through Support can be tracked through the My Support, as well as the Customer Care Portal, providing the user with the latest information on the progress being made to resolve the incident.
  3. Bug tracking – If a user discovers a bug (such as an error in one of the apps or problem with one of the maps) they can log it with Support and keep track of it as it is resolved.  
  4. Better self-help resources – With incidents and bugs on ArcGIS for Local Government maps and apps now being logged into our Support system, users can choose to search our Support resources themselves, often finding the answers they need without contacting a Support Analyst.
  5. Consistency – Now, when ArcGIS for Local Government team members have questions about technical aspects of the program, they can seek help from the same place they go for their other ArcGIS questions – Esri Support.

These advantages, as well as others, make Esri Support a valuable partner for the ArcGIS for Local Government team.  Of course we hope that your experience with the maps and apps is smooth and problem free. But if trouble does occur, it’s nice to know that Esri Support will be able to help you out.

We think our water utilities, public safety, land records, elections, planning, and public works users will find this support model very exciting. So, don’t hesitate to take advantage of all our available online support resources or to contact Esri Technical Support with your technical questions. As always continue to contact us directly if you’d like to learn more about ArcGIS for Local Government and the maps and apps contained in each module.

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New Resources Available for Getting started with Python Map Automation

ArcGIS 10 provides a new Python
mapping module (arcpy.mapping) that allows you to interact with the contents of
map documents and layer files without necessarily needing to interactively open an
ArcMap session.  The methods, properties and functions available in this
new map scripting API enable you, for example, to automate changing data
sources, modify layer properties, export and print maps, as well as automate the
creation of
thematic maps and map series.  Because the new mapping module is part of
the ArcPy geoprocessing framework, scripts can be used within ArcGIS Desktop
but can also be published to ArcGIS Server as geoprocessing services making
it much easier to make mapping and printing capabilities available on the

The following links are resources
that will help you learn more about arcpy.mapping, get access to popular
sample scripts available for download, and
links to new training resources:

Help Resources

  • A new Introduction to
    help topic is a great starting point. It includes
    links to a new arcpy.mapping tutorial and general guidelines for working with
    arcpy.mapping. ArcGIS Desktop help has a complete section
    dedicated to the ArcPy mapping module. Embedded within the help topics
    are over 100 different, practical help samples that can be copied/pasted into your applications. Be
    sure to review the “Best ways to get started” section.

Sample Applications

  • Approximately 20
    script tools
    that perform routine map and layer management tasks, printing and
    exporting, as well as basic cartographic operations.
    This is an excellent download because it
    includes many practical code samples that perform a variety of tasks and they
    are easy enough to modify for your own purposes.
  • A script
    that combines Data Driven Pages, arcpy.mapping, and the ReportLab site package to generate a reference map book that includes street index
    pages. It demonstrates how arcpy.mapping can be used to extend Data
    Driven Pages capabilities.
  • A script
    that incorporates Data Driven Pages and arcpy.mapping to build a map series
    that includes dynamic graphic tables. There is a very complete README.doc file
    included with the download that also addresses other useful tips and tricks
    that go along with the application.

 Web Courses

  • Basics of Python (for ArcGIS 10).
    This course teaches fundamental concepts you need to know to create
    Python scripts in ArcGIS. You will learn guidelines for proper Python syntax,
    techniques to troubleshoot common errors, and how to use loops to test for
    conditions and execute different code based on the result.
  • Python Scripting for Map Automation in
    ArcGIS 10
    This course teaches how to automate map production and
    related data management tasks that would be time-consuming and tedious to
    perform manually. You will learn how to work with the mapping module of the
    ArcPy site package to quickly and easily update map layers and map document
    properties, modify map content, and produce individual maps and map books.

 Special thanks to David from the Mapping Team for sharing these links.

Posted in Developer, Python | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Update to ArcGIS 10 and 10.1 Deprecation Plan

The ArcGIS 10 and 10.1 Deprecation
has had a few updates recently.  Make sure and check the
latest version
for the most up to date information on product and platform
support plans.  There have been updates to the ArcGIS Desktop section
regarding VBA support and some new information on ArcInfo Workstation moving
from “General Availability” support phase to the “Mature
Phase” as of January 1st 2012.

Plus there are a few other updates to the plan for ArcGIS Server so have a
look and let me know if you have any questions.


Note - This is a re-post to fix my spelling errors. Sorry for the confusion – Spell Check only works if I type the right word. Thanks for pointing out my mistake. I just wanted to let everyone know of some updates to the ArcGIS 10 and 10.1 Deprecation Plan.



Posted in 3D GIS, Analysis & Geoprocessing, Developer, Editing, Mapping, Web | Tagged , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Using the new neutral canvas map as a basemap- now!

The newly announced neutral canvas basemap will soon appear in the map viewer and Explorer Online basemap galleries. It’s already appeared in the ArcGIS Desktop basemap gallery and should appear in the viewer galleries early next week. But how do you use the Light Gray Canvas map as a basemap now? Continue reading

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ArcGIS Online Canvas Maps now available

The Light Gray canvas web map was published recently on ArcGIS Online
(, This basemap
and its reference layer draw attention to your thematic content by providing a neutral
background with minimal colors, labels, and features. Only key information is
represented to provide geographic context, allowing your data to come to the
foreground (see example below).

NYC Mashup using the canvas map

In the example below, major highways and locations of forest fires are shown as themes.

Oregon forest fires overlaying canvas maps

The light gray canvas map was compiled by Esri using NAVTEQ data for North America, DeLorme basemap layers, and Esri basemap data. Worldwide coverage is provided from Level 0 (1:591M scale) through Level 8
(1:2M scale), and in North America from Level 9 (1:1M scale) through Level 16 (1:9k
scale). Future releases will add additional continents and countries.

For information on how to use the light gray canvas map, see Using your own basemaps (and projection) with the map viewer.

If you have questions or feedback, please post them in the ArcGIS Online forums.

Posted in ArcGIS Online, Services | Tagged , , , , | Comments Off

If you are stuck at "if" – Part 5- Does Projection Exist model example

Continue reading

Posted in Analysis & Geoprocessing | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Cross Origin Resource Sharing (CORS) with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript

HTML5 Powered with Performance & Integration Version 2.5 of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript introduced support for cross-origin resource sharing (CORS). CORS allows web applications to bypass a browser’s same origin policy and access resources or services on other servers/domains. CORS is supported in modern, non-IE browsers and is usually classified as a component of HTML5.

When both the web server and browser support CORS, a proxy is not required to do cross-domain requests to get around that same origin policy. CORS both simplifies application development and provides a performance boost. Development is simplified because it is no longer necessary to maintain a proxy page on your server. The performance boost comes from no longer using a proxy page. Instead of a web app sending a request back to its server, waiting for the server to access another resource or service, and then interpreting the result, the app just accesses the resource or service directly. Eliminating the server as a middleman makes apps faster and frees up resources on the app’s server.

To use CORS from an ArcGIS API for JavaScript application, add the root URL for CORS enabled servers to, which is an array of strings. As stated previously, web servers must be pre-configured to support CORS. This is a straightforward, simple process and has walkthroughs on how to enable CORS for popular web servers.

While additional server side configuration is required to use CORS with a 9.3 or 10.0 ArcGIS Server instance, 10.1 instances of ArcGIS Server will support CORS out of the box.

Within the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, the main use cases for CORS are sending large geometries to a geometry service and doing various editing operations. Both are done with HTTP POSTs, and would otherwise require a proxy page if the ArcGIS Server services being used were not hosted on the same domain as the requesting application.

To test CORS with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, check out the sample CORS apps in the ArcGIS API for JavaScript documentation. If you’re using a browser that supports CORS, you will see cross-domain POST requests when monitoring your HTTP traffic using Firebug, Chrome Dev Tools or some other tool. If you hit the apps with Internet Explorer, you’ll see that a proxy is still used. You can also experiment with the ArcGIS Server services running on as that server has been configured to support CORS. Enjoy!

Contributed by Derek Swingley of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript development team

Posted in Services | Tagged , | 2 Comments

2D to 3D


ArcGIS allows you to visualize 2D data ‘in 3D’ in ArcScene and ArcGlobe. However this is done through setting layer properties in the Base Heights tab, leaving the actual feature geometries as 2D.

Sometimes it is necessary to turn the 2D geometries into 3D features using on an elevation model. This is especially true when you want the feature to interact with the surface (e.g. burn building footprints into the terrain) or use them in 3D spatial analysis.

The new 2Dto3D template shows the process of creating 3D features from 2D using an elevation model. The data used in this template is a subset of the buildings available in the Virtual City template.



3D Product Manager


Posted in 3D GIS | Tagged , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Esri Canvas Maps part I: Author beautiful web maps with our new artisan basemap Sandwich

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer, and Kenneth Field, Esri Research Cartographer

Canvas Maps I thumbnail

Online web mapping is fast becoming the de facto format for authoring, sharing and publishing authoritative geospatial information. With the introduction of platforms such as as well as Esri’s JavaScript, Flex, and Silverlight APIs, the mechanisms to create high quality web maps are in place and provide extensive tools for the design and production of great online content. As several members of the Mapping Center team played a significant role in the design and production of this map, we would like to begin telling you about the new Esri Canvas Maps. In the first of two blog entries we share with you the idea behind Canvas Maps: a new set of online basemaps specifically designed to give users a neutral ‘canvas’ on which to better display data. Here, we explain the philosophy behind the cartographic design of the Canvas Maps. In Part II we will illustrate some specific ways in which you can use the new Canvas Maps effectively.

Continue reading

Posted in Mapping | Tagged , , , , , | 21 Comments