In ArcGIS Online there are different types of scene layers that are supported in the scene viewer, 3D Templates, 3D Web AppBuilder apps and the 4.x JS API. In this latest release of ArcGIS Online we added the ability to publish scene layers from feature layers with point or multipatch geometries. This feature is beta at this release but it can still be a new useful feature to help you create some very interesting and exciting web scenes.
What are Point and 3D Object Scene Layers?
Before I go into the new beta feature of publishing of scene layers in ArcGIS Online, I want to quickly go over the scene layers that you will be publishing from feature layers.
A Point scene layers is composed of points in a scene layer. Using point scene layers allows you to add a large number of points into the web scene. The thing you will notice about point scene layers is the auto-thinning on the features within the scene layer. This means when you zoom away from the layer you will see a fewer points and as you zoom in closer more features will zoom in. This is done to improve the performance of the scene layer you are visualizing. You can also leverage the new smart mapping feature in the scene viewer on point scene layers.
3D Objects are features that are configured to represent 3D models like buildings. These features can be textured or un-textured. The features do not always have to be building models, for instance if you have a multipatch feature for a geologic body that can be published as a scene layer. This type of scene layer currently does not have smart mapping support but you can apply simple color & transparency on the layer.
Publishing Scene Layers from Feature Layers (Beta)
In the Dec 2016 release of ArcGIS Online we added in the ability to publish scene layers from feature layers. This means you can take feature layers that contain layers that are only point or only multipatch geometry and publish a scene layer from them. The output will be a point scene layer from the feature layer containing only points or 3D Object scene layer from the feature layer containing only multipatch features. You will create the feature layers by uploading a zipped gdb or publishing a feature layer from ArcMap or ArcGIS Pro. The main thing you will need to remember is to not mix the geometries in the feature layers. They need to be either all point geometries or all multipatch geometries. Trial and Developer accounts are currently limited to only publishing point scene layers. If you upload a mutlipatch dataset it will be simplified to a polygon feature layer which is currently not supported in scene layers.
The steps to do this are as follow. You can use this sample data of some multipatch features representing buildings in New York City to try it out yourself.
1) Publish a feature layer with Point or Multipatch data.
2) On the item details for the feature layer click on the publish button and click on the Scene Layer (Beta) option to begin publishing the scene layer.
4) In the publishing dialog you have the option to display this scene layer in a global scene or a local scene. For this scene layer I am going to select it to display in a global scene: 4326 (WGS84) because I want to use my organizations basemaps which are supported in global scenes. If I wanted to use this in a local scene I would have selected the local scene option with the projected coordinate system of NAD 1983 StatePlane New York Long Island (wkid: 102718).
5) The scene layer is now being published which is shown by the “Building Cache” notification on the item.
Once completed you can then add it to the scene viewer through the item details or in the scene viewer itself by searching for it under My Content.
Publishing times can vary depending on many factors like the number of fields and attribute information in those fields, the number of layers within the feature layer and how the features were symbolized with textures or not. Some examples on times you can expect to see -21,000 multipatch features with no textures generated from building footprints with only one attribute took roughly 5 minutes to build the scene layer cache. A smaller feature layer of 3,500 points took 1 minute and 30 seconds with 7 fields. Also Depending on the traffic/load on the system publishing times can be impacted.
Scene Layers and Coordinate Systems
In the publishing steps covered above I briefly covered the coordinate system options you have when publishing scene layers from a feature layer. When publishing these scene layers you will have the option WGS84 which is supported in global scenes or you can leverage the feature layers projected coordinate system. Because other geographic coordinate systems outside of WGS84 are not supported in the scene viewer today, data that is in a non-WGS84 geographic coordinate system will be automatically published to WGS84. The reason why the coordinate system can matter when you are publishing this data is because it is cached which means in clients that are light weight like the scene viewer or other web applications cannot re-project the scene layers to the web scenes current coordinate system. This is the same restriction you will see on other cached datasets like tile layers and elevation layers. However if your data is in Web Mercator however this can be used in both global and local scenes with other Web Mercator cached layers. By default scene layers in Web Mercator will load in global scenes but you can open a new local scene and add the scene layer through the scene viewer Add Layers.
Why would you want to publish these scene layers from feature layers?
There are a few reasons why you may want to publish your scene layers. Here are a few reasons why you may want to publish a scene layer from your feature layer:
- The feature layer you are loading has more than 2000 features. Currently in the scene viewer there is a limit on the number of features contained within a feature layer that can be loaded into the scene viewer. If you have a feature layer that contains more than 2000 features you will want to publish a scene layer which can handle millions of features.
- You want to view the multipatch features. The scene viewer does not support viewing multipatch feature layers so you will need to view these features as scene layers.
- Configurable popups. Currently in the scene viewer there is not an option to configure popups for layers. When you publish the scene layer from the feature layer this creates a relationship where the popups can be pulled from the feature layer from which the scene layer was published from. This means you can configure the popup for the feature layer at any time after the publishing of the scene layer and the scene layer will pull the latest popup configuration.
What other ways can you Create Scene Layers in ArcGIS Online
Besides being able to create scene layers from feature layers, you can also create scene layers from scene layer packages. The scene layer packages are uploaded to ArcGIS Online and then published to generate the scene layer. This workflow mirrors that to uploading a tile package or vector tile package and publishing tile layers and vector tile layers. These packages are generated by a few of our other products and I am going to quickly go over them. Note that these workflows are not in beta so credits will be consumed with these scene layers.
In ArcGIS Pro you can create scene layer package by using the GP tool – Create Scene Layer Package. In ArcGIS Pro 1.3 this currently supports creating scene layer packages with multipatch data. The output will be a scene layer package with data in WGS84 which means the output scene layers will only support global scenes. In the coming release of ArcGIS Pro 1.4 you will be able to create scene layer packages with point, multipatch and LAS data. This will then allow you to create Point, 3D Object and Point Cloud scene layers. Also the scene layer package tool will support different coordinate systems allowing you to create scene layers outside of WGS84. For larger scene layer packages you will need to use the Share Package tool to be able to upload them to ArcGIS Online instead of through the browser using Add Item.
Since the release CityEngine 2016.0 you could create scene layer packages from the multipatch data in your CityEngine scene. These packages support different coordinate systems and you can upload them to ArcGIS Online through Add Item > My Computer or use ArcGIS Pro’s Share Package tool. An additional note on CityEngine exports. You can also export out your data into a file geodatabase. You can zip that geodatabase and upload it to ArcGIS Online and then publish it as a feature layer which can then generate a scene layer from the feature layer.
With drone to map you are able to create scene layer packages that can be used to publish integrated mesh scene layers. These scene layers are generated from a number of overlapping photos. The output can capture man-made structures like buildings but can also be useful for capturing terrain or natural features like trees, hills or cliffs.
Let me know in the comments below if you have any questions.