Be a Presenter at the 2011 Esri DevSummit

Are you ready? Get set. Submit!


The DevSummit user presentation submission is now open! Create a short abstract on a presentation that you would like to speak about, and later on, the developer community will vote on your topic based on their interest. Be sure that when you are submitting your abstract to keep it concise, informative, and most importantly, understandable.


You have until December 31st, 2010 (two months) to submit your abstract. While that may seem far away, the deadline will approach sooner than you know it! So mark your calendars and send us the abstract before the deadline.


For more information, please see the Call for Presentations announcement on our Developer Summit 2011 site.


Submit your abstract soon. December 31st is just around the corner!

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New ArcGIS Data Reviewer Podcast!

Listen to this podcast and learn how ArcGIS Data Reviewer automates and simplifies the GIS data quality control process.

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3D plenary session on Esri video

We’ve launched a new section on our web site that is focused on showcasing presentations on various topics relating to the geospatial technology field.

Have a look at the 3D presentation during the 2010 User Conference Plenary.

See how 3D GIS is used to analyze virtual city models to consider the impact of a proposed redevelopment project. The 3D editing environment provides answers about visibility concerns and the impact of building shadows on neighboring buildings.

Gert van Maren
3D Product Manager

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Citrix HDX RichGraphics with ArcGIS Desktop

Last year Citrix introduced its HDX technology, which is a family of capabilities that provide a “high definition” user experience. Of particular interest impacting graphics performance is the HDX RichGraphics capabilities. Following is information intended to provide some clarity as to how these capabilities can be used with ArcGIS Desktop


First, a little history. With the release of Citrix Presentation Server 4.5, a new capability called “Speed Screen Progressive Display” (SSPD) was introduced. What SSPD provides is the ability to compress bitmap displays while in motion providing a significant reduction in network bandwidth consumption. This has an immediate effect on GIS displays that contain imagery or 3D components, etc. Esri has been promoting the use of this capability for several years now and it is actively used to improve performance when raster/imagery is present in a display (with the trade-off of “pixelated” displays while in motion). This capability has now been rolled up into newer Citrix XenApp and XenDesktop releases as part of HDX 3D.

Special Note about Esri 3D Applications

Esri has not been promoting use of 3D with Citrix XenApp to date due to graphics performance concerns. Esri 3D applications primarily rely on OpenGL and graphics cards and since graphics cards have not traditionally been utilized with Citrix XenApp (by design); those applications perform at less than desirable levels. In fact, starting with ArcGlobe 10 and ArcGIS Explorer 1200, these applications are intentionally blocked from running in a session based environment. ArcScene has not had this limitation imposed.

ArcGIS Desktop and Graphics with Citrix XenApp

Much has been written about HDX and display performance and there are several videos on and that demonstrate its effectiveness. But how does all of this really play into ArcGIS Desktop and XenApp? Well, most of the new capabilities are targeted for XenDesktop where server-side GPUs can be utilized. So, for now, you can continue to use the HDX 3D Progressive Display capability delivered with any Citrix XenApp release, 4.5 and higher. There is a new capability available for Windows 2008 R2 with XenApp 6 that can utilize server-side graphics cards to accelerate some graphics processing including DirectX, Direct3D and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) based displays. As mentioned, Esri 3D displays are based on OpenGL so this would have limited impact with 3D, however, ArcGIS Desktop 10 is utilizing WPF for some of its displays (layer attribute table window for example) so there could be some performance gains realized. It will be interesting to see if Citrix provides additional capabilities for graphics acceleration on the XenApp platform moving forward. For example, how will Citrix leverage Microsoft’s RemoteFX for XenApp, or will it be limited to XenDesktop only? Ref:

ArcGIS Desktop and Graphics with Citrix XenDesktop

Most of the really new and interesting aspects of HDX RichGraphics appear to be available with XenDesktop as part of “HDX 3D for Professional Graphics”. XenDesktop is similar in some ways to XenApp but provides a complete OS and desktop environment to each end user, as opposed to applications from a shared OS environment. It is a newer technology solution and not enough experience exists with it yet to know how well it is working with graphic intensive applications, but the future does look promising. XenDesktop can leverage server-side GPUs, in particular, those that are CUDA enabled, to deliver an effective user experience across high latency, low bandwidth connections. However, though multiple users can be supported using Multi-GPU Passthrough, the current solution requires a graphics card to be assigned to each virtual machine so in effect, one graphics card per user requiring 3D support.

Wrap Up

Exciting times are ahead for graphics and thin-client solutions. As Esri and the Esri GIS community begin (some may have already) to utilize XenDesktop to deploy ArcGIS Desktop, they will be in a position to share those experiences. Esri will monitor this closely including potential new capabilities that may impact ArcGIS Desktop for both the XenApp and XenDesktop platforms.

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Raster Image Processing Tips and Tricks — Part 3: Extracting a Feature from an Image

This is the third in a series of blog posts that will cover some tips and tricks for performing the following operations on a series of aerial images using ArcGIS 10.0:
Continue reading

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Announcing "Web GIS": A new book from Esri Press

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

Web GIS Thumb

Esri Press has just released a new book called Web GIS: Principles and Applications written by Pinde Fu and Juilin Sun. This is a resource for GIS technicians and managers who want to learn state-of-the-art concepts, architectures, techniques, and applications of Web GIS. Written for an audience with a basic and/or working knowledge of GIS, it is also appropriate for college students and Web developers who may not have extensive experience with GIS.

The Web has revealed the immense value and broad applicability of GIS, set the bar for today’s user expectations, and introduced flexible architectures for use with modern IT infrastructure. From basic architecture to new frontiers, Web GIS: Principles and Applications presents a thorough overview of the origins and developments of this emerging platform. New Web technologies addressed include ArcGIS Server, REST services, JavaScript API/Flex API, and ArcGIS Mobile. This book offers a balance of principles, concepts, and techniques to provide you with an understanding of how Web GIS can revolutionize the way your GIS functions. Continue reading

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Getting the most out of editing in ArcGIS 10: Tracing features

Tracing is a quick and accurate way of creating segments that follow the shapes of other features. With ArcGIS 10, tracing allows you to perform your edits more productively than before because you can now use it in conjunction with other editing tools. You no longer need to select the feature to trace first, which commonly restricted which edits you could perform. In ArcGIS 10, Trace can be used when creating new features, cutting polygons, editing the shapes of existing features, and many other tasks.

This post describes some scenarios in which you can trace while editing. The methods presented here are available for ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo users, and apply to editing shapefiles or geodatabase feature classes.

Tracing to create new features
Suppose you are a GIS specialist for a national park and are digitizing a new hiking trail located along the edge of a stream. The stream data was collected at a high resolution and has a lot of curves as it meanders through the park, so snapping would be tedious in this case. Tracing is an easy way to create the new trail segments because you can simply click the stream and move your pointer along it.

To digitize the new feature, click the Trails feature template on the Create Features window, which automatically activates the Line tool at the bottom of that window. By default, the Line tool creates straight segments between the vertices you click. To change to tracing, click Trace on the Editor toolbar or the Feature Construction mini toolbar palette. You can change segment construction methods at any time while sketching to switch back to creating straight segments, for example.

To set options for tracing, right-click the map or press the O key to open the Trace Options dialog box. When tracing, you can follow directly on top of an existing feature or set an offset so the segments are created at a certain distance away from the feature being traced. In this case, you should create the trail at an offset of 10 meters, since it is located 10 meters from the stream. If you find that you are tracing the wrong side of the stream, press the TAB key to switch sides; this simply adds a negative sign to the offset value. You can also specify other options for tracing on this dialog box. For example, rounded corners are better for natural features, since the other corner options might be too angular for a stream.

Once you are ready to begin the trace, click the stream and move the pointer along the edge. To trace a different feature and make the trail follow a stream branch or a road, point to the feature to trace and click or drag along it. To pan the map, you can hold down the middle mouse button while tracing. If tracing becomes slow, try pressing the spacebar to turn off snapping momentarily. When you are done digitizing the shape of the new trail, you need to finish the sketch to create the feature.

There are several ways you can control which features are traced. Since layers must be visible to be traced, turn off extra ones to make it easier to trace from the correct layers. In addition, you can also hold down CTRL if you want to trace only selected features temporarily. This is useful in cases where you want to set exactly which features can be traced in areas with many overlapping edges. If you always want to limit tracing to a selection, check Trace selected features on the Trace Options dialog box.

Cutting polygons by tracing overlapping features
Before ArcGIS 10, you could only trace along selected features. However, at the same time, the Cut Polygon Features edit task required the polygon being edited to be selected. This created a conflict that made it impossible to use these functions together. In ArcGIS 10, this has been resolved; you simply need to select the polygon (or polygons), click the Cut Polygons tool, and trace along any edge to use its shape to cut the polygon.

In your national park geodatabase, there is a ranger district administrative layer that needs to be updated. One of the current districts should be split into two districts along a road that passes through it. It would be difficult to snap when cutting the polygon because of the bends in the road, so tracing is the quickest way to create a cut line that follows the road exactly. To do this, select the administrative polygon, click the Cut Polygons tool on the Editor toolbar, snap to one edge of the polygon, click Trace, and trace along the road. In this case, you want to trace directly on top of the road line, so the offset value should be 0 on the Trace Options dialog box. The sketch you draw for the Cut Polygons tool must snap to or cross the administrative district edge at least two times for the cut to be performed, so it’s a good idea to turn on either Edge or Intersection snapping to make sure the sketch line cuts all the way across the polygon.

Reshaping features to match the shape of other features
In ArcGIS 9, reshaping features also suffered from the same selection conflict as cutting polygons. Since a selection is not required with tracing in ArcGIS 10, you can now utilize tracing when reshaping features as well.

For example, you are editing some park infrastructure layers near a visitor center where the parking lot driveway was recently widened and new sidewalks were poured. Once you have digitized the new road location, you can trace the road to update the sidewalk edge. To do this, select the sidewalk feature, click the Reshape Feature tool on the Editor toolbar, and use Trace to follow the road. Since the road line represents the center of the pavement, set an offset while tracing to create the sidewalks along the edge of the curb. Remember that you can click the palette to change the segment construction type at any time while creating the reshaping sketch line. In fact, it is likely that you will need to either start or finish the reshape with a straight segment. As with cutting polygons, the sketch needs to snap to or cross the sidewalk line twice to reshape it.

For more information
For detailed steps on how to perform these tasks, see Creating segments by tracingSplitting a polygon by an overlapping feature, and Reshaping a polygon to match another feature in the ArcGIS Desktop Help.

Content for this post from Rhonda

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Business Analyst & Citrix?

by Kyle Watson

Will Business Analyst work in a Citrix environment?  We often hear this from Sales folks after potential clients are considering different deployment options within their organizations.

The short answer is yes, you can deploy Business Analyst Desktop through Citrix.  We’ve done so here for testing purposes on the XenApp on-demand application delivery solution.  This means you can use Business Analyst without having it installed on your machine.

I’ve successfully logged into the Citrix environment through a web browser on the Citrix system desktop client and can use Business Analyst Desktop remotely.  This is installed on a lower end workstation machine and the performance is adequate. 

As you can see below, once logged into my remote “virtual” Business Analyst through the Citrix browser login, I can start the Business Analyst application and begin working just as if it were installed locally.

Note that the normal site licenses apply here, so you can’t purchase one seat of Business Analyst and deploy it virtually to 100 people at a time.  Think of Citrix as a clever and convenient way to access and execute your work.



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Lessons learned developing a Web map for volunteered geographic information (VGI) and social media

On April 20, 2010 an explosion disabled the offshore drilling rig Deepwater Horizon and touched off a prolonged regional disaster. Several crew members were killed, and a series of equipment failures left a well on the floor of the Gulf of Mexico freely releasing oil into the ocean for several months. The oil posed a very serious threat to the economy and wildlife in the region. The response to this event was massive, and Esri contributed to the containment and recovery with both manpower and software.

One of the ways Esri was able to contribute was with a Web application that brought together some of the new features in ArcGIS 10 with data services for the affected area. The application was unique in that it built on some recent trends in the geospatial community. Specifically, it was focused around authoritative content for projected spill locations (from NOAA), sensitive natural resource areas (from the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama departments of wildlife), a disaster response feed from Ushahidi, and live data feeds from social media outlets such as YouTube, Twitter, and Flickr. Additionally, users of the application could post their own content. This has been commonly referred to as volunteered geographic information, or VGI. The end result was the Esri Social Media/VGI application.

VGI Web map

While the Gulf Oil Spill was the first such incident for which the application was deployed, it has subsequently been used to allow the concerned community to share information for the recent flooding in Pakistan and wildfires in Colorado.

The development and release of ArcGIS 10 has really made this possible. Some of the new features like direct support of time-aware data in the ArcGIS Web APIs and the new ArcGIS Server feature service have made it much easier to envision and build such an application.

Throughout the implementations of these viewers, we’ve learned a lot about using social media and user-generated content to gain a clear visual picture and deeper understanding of specific events. Some of the important lessons we’ve learned are highlighted below.

The engaged community can really be a valuable source of information

From the earliest stages of envisioning, these applications were intended as a prototype to try to apply some of the new functionality in ArcGIS 10 in a way that tested the real-world validity of VGI. Past success stories like the boom of OpenStreetMap in Haiti (video) had already validated the argument that the engaged community can step in and generate great data on very short notice. This is especially true in a place like Haiti, where before the earthquake there were no economic factors driving the geospatial community to do so. There was very little geospatial investment in the country, and no market for commercial data. We wanted to test this concept in a new way and see if it could be useful.

What we found is that the community at large is very willing to contribute, especially for a cause they feel passionate about. Despite the prototypical nature of this app, we wound up with dozens of useful, unique user-generated links to other content on the Web about the Deepwater Horizon spill. This is in addition to the thousands of videos, photos, and tweets from social media outlets.

The primary thing we take away from this story is that VGI could be helpful to those responding to disasters or even just looking for a cheaper way to gather accurate data. In an economic climate where budgets are shrinking and organizations are looking for more cost-effective ways to generate accurate data, involving the engaged community to generate or police geospatial data can be very attractive. This can be especially useful if you can get the community involved in something they are passionate about, and leverage the increasing computing power they have in their homes, offices, or pockets.

It can be tricky to filter social media to display only relevant content

While working on this project, we frequently used the term “firehose” to describe the flood of data coming from social media outlets like YouTube and Twitter. One of the biggest challenges was using the filtering mechanisms within the various APIs for these media sources to limit the amount of data to only that which is significant for the event. This included the obvious keyword or hashtag (Twitter) searches, but also included filtering by geographic location + radius, and by time.

It can be a challenge to navigate the different APIs and find a combination that shows the most relevant social media for an event. Trial and error is the name of the game. What we generally settled on was a very generic search phrase like “oil spill”, coupled with a spatial search radius (where possible) and limiting results to those with a geospatial component (x,y) only. This allowed us to get only spatial media and easily add that to the map.

It is extremely important (almost mandatory) to set up filters and community policing to keep social media and user-generated content relevant

We learned two very important lessons when the application went live:

  1. You never know what you’re going to get from social media outlets
  2. If you allow people to add data, they certainly will!

Unfortunately, quite a few inappropriate tweets and videos were shown before we came up with a system for filtering out vulgar or offensive content. Much of this can be done by analyzing the text of the content in the client code. You can see our work in this area when you review the code for adding social media to the map.

VGI Web map with photo

In addition, a lot of the early user-generated data that was added was of limited value. Most users were just testing out the tools and seeing what they could add. Most of the submissions did not contain valid links to information or anything else that constituted a “contribution”.

We approached this problem by adding attribute validation both in the client code and in the geodatabase that stored the submitted data points. We checked to make sure that all the entry fields were filled out and that the URL was valid before the feature was checked into the database. This eliminated most of the unwanted data.

Another strategy we quickly adopted was allowing the community to police themselves. This is one of the key principles for crowdsourced data, and can be commonly seen in large sharing sites like Craigslist. The app includes a “report as inappropriate content” link at the bottom of the shared content pop-ups. If someone sees a submission that they feel is inappropriate, they can click this link to make it known.

When the link is clicked, the feature is flagged in the database for review, and a notification e-mail is sent out to the administrative team for the applications. Administrators can use ArcGIS Desktop or other Web apps to connect to the feature service or database layer, review the entry, and hide it from view if necessary. Future plans actually call for a strategy to use this on social media layers as well. Stay tuned to the application download page for more information.

Time is extremely important to incident data

As mentioned above, the ability to include a temporal component in the application data proved to be just as valuable as real-time editing. Time is an important aspect of the data for this application, and future plans call for the use of time sliders and other more advanced visualization tools. The current applications and the code download allow the user to filter the data for the past 24 hours or to show “all data.” This allows users to see the most recent data for the event at the click of a button and easily compare that to the data that has come in over the period since the incident occurred. Once the temporal information is committed to the geodatabase layer, it is an easy jump to using the great time-specific tools in ArcGIS 10 and the ArcGIS Web APIs.

Other people have a real need for applications like this

Since these social media/VGI applications have been live on, we have received a lot of positive feedback from our user community. A common thread has been an interest from a diverse group of organizations on how to make similar applications available to their own user communities.

A great example came from a provincial government in Canada that needed to obtain place names from the native First Nations populations. The need was especially high in areas governed by the First Nations themselves. In the past, the province hired contractors to go out and interview tribal elders. With smaller budgets, this is no longer an option. An application that applies VGI could allow the elders to input the names themselves with nothing more than access to a Web browser.

Another use case involves conservation societies that send engaged citizens hiking through protected areas. These societies could provide basic Web apps that run on smart phones or tablets. Citizens could then report animal or plant sightings with a fairly accurate GPS coordinate of where the sighting occurred.

Both of these examples show how VGI can engage the concerned community to help generate useful data at minimal cost.

As a result of the great feedback we’ve received about this application, we have made the code available through The application is provided with all code in HTML and JavaScript files, and contains a readme file to aid in setting up and modifying the app. Sample services have been set up to make sure the application runs right away when unzipped and deployed on a Web server. In addition, a sample ArcGIS 10 geodatabase and map document have been provided in the download bundle as an example of how you might design your own ArcGIS 10 feature service for use in VGI applications.

We encourage you to start using these resources right away to get your community’s help collecting useful data.

Contributed by Jeff Archer of the Esri Technical Marketing team

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New Geoprocessing Template on the Resource Center


Now that EGUG is over and we’ve recovered from our trip to Dearborn, MI it’s time to get back to work and fulfill the promises we made at the conference!  With that, I give you the newest geoprocessing template the Preliminary Wind Project Suitability Model.


Here is some more detailed information on the geoprocessing model;


Utilities across the United States are facing mandates requiring a portion of their power generation come from renewable sources.  In many areas of the country wind is prevalent; however challenges exist in mitigating impacts on the land and finding buildable sites, due to a range of factors.  Sensitive areas such as wetlands, rare and endangered wildlife habitat, and conservation land may be restricted for wind development, while proximity to existing electric transmission lines and land with a certain minimum average wind speed remain highly favorable.  Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and geoprocessing models can help focus efforts and reduce environmental impacts by ranking the most suitable areas while avoiding restricted or sensitive areas.  Multiple data sources can be included in the analysis and be adjusted for user preferences, leading to a highly efficient and tailored process.
GIS can help with many aspects of a wind project including the initial suitability modeling as well as planning, turbine siting, permitting, outreach, land management, and operations and maintenance.  For this post we wanted to focus on the first step in any new wind project, finding suitable sites.  Historically, this is done by putting “boots on the ground” and conducting extensive research.  This could include trips to the field to investigate properties and site characteristics, reviewing wind resource and topography maps, researching land ownership information and estimating the proximity to existing electric transmission lines.  These initial site assessment efforts can be error prone, costly and time consuming.  GIS can help save time by consolidating relevant data sources prior to field visits, and providing analysis tools to locate the most suitable wind development sites across the study area which could be one town or an entire region.  Results can then be shared with stakeholders in a graphical format that is easy to understand.  The geoprocessing model becomes a way to document the analysis that was performed.
ArcGIS geoprocessing allows you to focus on an entire region, state, or project specific area to model many key factors that may be important for siting a wind project.  Data values can be ranked from low to highly favorable and can be combined into a weighted overlay.  Using the weighted overlay tool you can assign a percent influence to each factor indicating the importance of that factor in determining the suitability for wind project development.  These data inputs are combined using a model, resulting in a repeatable and configurable pattern.  A geoprocessing model template was developed as a starting point to aid decision makers in selecting wind project sites.  The model will take any number of contributing factors and produce a continuous surface showing the most favorable locations. The result easily indentifies potential sites therefore expediting the initial work and lowering planning costs.  Using the attached model template, you can study your own areas of interest by loading localized datasets into the predefined data inputs, adjusting the rankings, percent influence and then reviewing your results.  The template serves as an example of how you can conduct preliminary wind project suitability modeling using GIS.  It is not meant to substitute further research, detailed wind resource studies, nor is it meant meant to encompass all of the constraints that may exist.  An ArcGIS geoprocessing model provides a simple and flexible way to analyze complex data relationships and scenarios.


Keep on the lookout for more templates this month!


As always, let us know if you have any problems or feedback.


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