Introducing the Dimension Explorer

Originally posted by Dave Johnson, Esri Applications Prototype Lab

Dimension Explorer, an addin tool for ArcMap, has just been released by the Esri Applications Prototype Lab!

Dimension Explorer 1.0 makes it easier to work with time-aware and multidimensional data in ArcMap 10.3 and above by providing slider controls for navigation. It works by retrieving dimensional information from a map layer to build an interactive dimensional model that can be edited and saved in the map document. Dimension Explorer is the successor to the Timeliner addin for ArcMap, which also works in ArcMap 10.3 and can be downloaded here.

Click here to download Dimension Explorer.

With the 10.3 release of ArcGIS, the mosaic dataset now supports multidimensional data in NetCDF, GRIB, and HDF format. Dimension Explorer supports map layers based on mosaic datasets and image services which are time-aware or multidimensional, and time-aware feature classes.

In terms of data that might be used to test the add-in, try:

Download Dimension Explorer and let us know what you think!

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  1. Ahsan Abbas says:

    It’s look fantastic, and helps lot in change detection visualization. I am wondering is this available only for ArcGIS 10.3 or above versions not for ArcGIS 10.2.2. ?

    • Dawn Wright says:

      Thank you for your comment Ahsan. I think this is available only for 10.3 but have forwarded your question to Dave Johnson to confirm.

    • dcjohnson says:

      Hi Ahsan and thank you. Dimension Explorer relies on new multidimensional capabilities introduced in 10.3 and will not work in earlier versions. Instead, you might want to try a similar addin I developed a few years ago called Timeliner. Timeliner is similar to Dimension Explorer but provides a slider for the time dimension only. Timeliner was built in 10.1 and is verified to work in versions up to 10.3. You can download Timeliner here:

  2. gonsald says:

    Time sliders are where it’s at! Awesome! Now, can we record and export as a .mov, .avi…

  3. dcjohnson says:

    Many thanks to everyone who has downloaded this tool and taken the time to comment on it. I’m currently working on an update to address a few issues that have come to light since it’s release. If you encounter any issues, please let me know in the comments section of the original blog post announcement at

  4. Ahsan Abbas says:

    Thanks Dawn Wright & dcjohnson for reply, i found Timeliner useful.

  5. alexroma says:

    It looks like the idea I submitted in 2010 ( has finally been implemented! Great! Thank you!
    Now I just need to find a way to test it. So far, I wasn’t able to on my time- and intensity-aware FGBD feature class. Will keep trying…

    • dcjohnson says:

      Hi, I’m afraid Dimension Explorer does not provide a vertical dimension slider for feature classes :-( . It only does this for multidimensional layers based on mosaic datasets (and image services published from mosaic datasets). There is however a potential way forward for you, although it will probably take a bit of effort. Since mosaic datasets support raster-based data, your first step would be to generate a series of raster datasets (one for each unique combination of time/vertical dimension values) from your feature class. If this is a possibility in your case, you would next add them to a mosaic dataset and then follow some additional steps to build a multidimensional model in the mosaic dataset. The following link is to a workflow topic which describes how do this. The example given shows how to add a time dimension to the mosaic dataset and how to populate it with values by parsing the date/time values from the filenames of the rasters. You would use a similar approach for adding the vertical dimension. I hope this helps.

      Creating a multidimensional mosaic dataset from a set of time series images: