A virtual 3d city in your pocket with ArcGIS Explorer Desktop

Virtual 3D cities and geodesign in 3D are hot topics these days, and at the recent Esri Partner Conference and Developer Summit lead product engineer Mark Bockenhauer demonstrated some interesting capabilities which can potentially make your entire virtual city, including the software used to view and analyze it, completely portable – even pocketable.

The demonstration of these capabilities occurred during an Explorer Desktop customization workshop at the conference. Mark started the session by reaching into his pocket to pull out a thumb drive, the same one pictured above, and plugged it into his laptop. On the drive was an entire 3D virtual city stored in a geodatabase. The thumb drive also included the setup installation for the still-in-development ArcGIS Explorer Desktop 2012, scheduled for release in August.

This new version of Explorer Desktop leverages technology evolved from the ArcGIS Runtime project to enable the application to run directly from the portable drive, without needing to install any software.

Double-clicking the map document on the thumb drive started up Explorer Desktop, and opened the 3D map document showing the entire virtual city of Philadelphia, shown below:

Since Explorer Desktop is a locally running application it includes functionality not yet practical in lightweight browser-based applications, including the ability to add local data to the cityscape, connect to enterprise databases, use built-in query and spatial analysis tools, and also potentially include advanced GIS and geodesign tools made possible via Explorer’s add-in architecture.

Explorer Desktop 2012 is scheduled for release in August and will contain many new features including the capabilities mentioned above, as well as enhanced presentation capabilities, table views, popup size and placement control, integrated ArcGIS Online search, updates to support new features in ArcGIS 10.1, and more. We’ll be covering these additions and more new capabilities in future blog posts.

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