Design and Develop Your Market Analysis Workflow with the Business Analyst Online API Using Only a Web Browser and Excel

Yes, it's my real 
plate.  B-)by Tony Howser

Programmers and non-programmers, did you know that powerful market analysis with the Business Analyst Online API can be as easy as entering a URL in your Web browser and opening up the results in Excel?


Why is this so cool and relevant?  Well, because it demonstrates that anyone with a Web browser and Excel can design and develop an advanced analysis workflow; and, because you can do the same with a 30-Day Free Evaluation!

Interested?   Then click on the this link to a demonstration and follow the step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish a market study.  The best part of this is that you do not have to be a software programmer to make use of this example.

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New ArcGIS ideas web site

Ideas Thumb

ArcGIS Ideas is a new portal from Esri, which allows its users to get involved in the improvement of our software functionalities. Through this portal, you can ask for enhancements, suggest new features/products and interact with various Esri teams.

The ArcGIS Ideas homepage has a list of recent ideas submitted by users as well as an introductory video about the website. Once you click an idea, it will show you the description of the idea, any user comments that have been submitted, and you can “vote” on the idea. There are three tabs at the top that parse all the ideas into these categories: Popular Ideas, Recent Ideas, and Top All-Time ideas. There is also a tab at the top to submit comments. Continue reading

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Preparing a map for editing: Assembling the data to edit

It’s a good idea to spend a little time preparing your map for editing. You’ll be a lot more productive and save clicks if you set up your map and data before you really get in and make edits. This post is part of a series on the subject.

Choosing where to store your data
ArcGIS allows you to create and edit several kinds of data. You can edit feature data stored in geodatabases and shapefiles, as well as various tabular formats. When gathering your data in preparation for a geographic information system (GIS) project, make sure all the data you want to edit is stored in the same workspace, which is a single geodatabase or a folder of shapefiles, since you can only edit one workspace at a time. If you are still using shapefiles, consider migrating to a geodatabase, such as a file geodatabase, which provides more functionality and storage capacity with as much speed and simplicity as shapefiles. You can use the geoprocessing tools for importing and exporting data, as well as often simply copying and pasting feature classes in the Catalog tree, to get data into a geodatabase.
With the Catalog window now embedded in ArcMap, you can perform data management tasks and access your data without having to open the separate ArcCatalog application. This is useful in itself, but a few additional settings can make your use of the Catalog window even more productive. For example, the directory where you save a map document is tagged as the Home location and is always promoted to the top of the Catalog window when that map is open. Therefore, if you put the geodatabase in the same folder as the map document you are working on, you can quickly find your data in the Home location without having to navigate through the whole folder tree. Doing this also keeps your GIS project better organized since all the data, maps, and other supporting materials are in the same place. In addition, you can set your geodatabase as the map’s default geodatabase (right-click it in the Catalog window and click Make Default Geodatabase) so any outputs will be saved in that location automatically.

Choosing the projection for your data
As you compile your data, you need to consider the projections. First, you should make sure the feature classes that you will be editing all have the same coordinate system. In addition, if you have data in a geographic coordinate system, you may want to change to an appropriate local projection. This will improve accuracy when editing and make it easier to enter lengths and other measurements since values are specified in the map units of the coordinate system by default. For example, if your map uses the geographic coordinate system of WGS 1984, when you are editing, ArcMap interprets any entered values as decimal degrees because those are the map units for that coordinate system. So when you type 100 for the length of a segment, as shown below, ArcMap interprets that as 100 degrees and will likely present you with a series of error messages. On the other hand, with a projected coordinate system, the map units will be in a more useful unit, such as meters or feet. Also, a projected coordinate system is flexible because it allows you to specify distances in units other than the map units by including an abbreviation with the value; you can only enter values in the coordinate system’s map units (typically, decimal degrees, as just discussed) when working with a geographic coordinate system.

The coordinate systems of the layers also need to match the coordinate system of the data frame. If the coordinate systems of the data frame and layers are different, the layers will be projected on the fly to the coordinate system of the data frame. Projecting on the fly can be problematic because it may cause unexpected alignment issues when making edits. For example, when editing, you may digitize some lines that look like they connect to other lines. While the lines appear to be snapped to edges when projecting on the fly, the lines may be dangling when you display them in their native projection. In addition, you cannot perform shared editing of coincident features through a map topology for layers that are being projected on the fly. 

To avoid all these issues, make sure you are not projecting on the fly while editing. When you have an empty data frame, it automatically takes on the coordinate system of the first layer added to it. To change the data frame’s coordinate system, right-click the data frame name in the table of contents, click Properties, then click the Coordinate System tab. In the Select a coordinate system box, you can quickly set the coordinate system of the data frame to match that of a layer in it by clicking the Layers folder and navigating to the coordinate system listed underneath one of the layer names. Since the coordinate system of the data frame and the layers will now match, the layers will not be projected on the fly.

Starting an edit session
When you are finally ready to edit your data, turn on the Editor toolbar (if it’s not already displayed), click the Editor menu, then click Start Editing. This begins an edit session, which you will end when you are done. When you start an edit session on a geodatabase workspace, you have the ability to edit all the feature classes and tables in that geodatabase at the same time. With an edit session on a shapefile folder workspace, you can edit all the shapefiles that are stored in that directory.
If you start editing in a map that contains data from more than one workspace, you are prompted to choose the workspace you want to edit. On the dialog box, click a layer at the top to select its workspace source at the bottom of the window (notice that the database symbols change color), or click a workspace at the bottom of the window to view the layers in it at the top. Once you have picked the workspace, click OK to start the edit session. Later, if you need to edit data in the other workspace, stop editing, then start a new edit session and choose that workspace. Keep in mind that you can also right-click a layer in the table of contents, point to Edit Features, then click Start Editing, which automatically starts an edit session on the entire workspace containing that layer.

Once you choose the workspace to edit, sometimes you may see another dialog box appear about problems that ArcMap encountered when you started editing. This dialog box will list the layers that are being projected on the fly, as well as any other issues such as missing licensing, layers that cannot be edited because they are read-only or inside a basemap layer, and so on. You can double-click each message to open a help topic with more information.

For more on the Catalog window, projection considerations, and edit sessions in ArcGIS 10, see the following:
What’s new for accessing your data in ArcGIS 10
About editing data in a different projection (projecting on the fly)
About edit sessions

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ArcGIS (Desktop, Engine, Server) 10.0 WMS Service Memory Leak Patch

The ArcGIS (Desktop, Engine, Server) 10.0 WMS Service Memory
Leak Patch
is now available . This patch addresses a memory leak issue that occurs in the ArcGIS
Server WMS service each time a map image or legend graphic image is requested.
The patch deals specifically with the issue listed below under Issues Addressed with this Patch.

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Creating an earlier version of a file or personal geodatabase

When moving to a new release of ArcGIS, it’s common for an organization to migrate some of their users to the new release, while leaving others at the current release. One example of where this is necessary is in a distributed environment, it’s not always possible for the users who are off-site to upgrade to the latest release of ArcGIS at the same time as the central office.

This has always posed a problem when it came time to share data between users at different releases of ArcGIS.  When the geodatabase is upgraded to the latest release, as with ArcGIS 10, it’s not always possible for previous releases of ArcGIS to connect to and use those geodatabases. We’ve made a few changes at the 10 release which we think will help users in this scenario.

The Create File GDB and Create Personal GDB geoprocessing tools in the Data Management toolbox have been augmented to include an optional parameter that allows you to specify which version of the geodatabase you want to create. You can create a version 10, 9.3, or 9.2 release file or personal geodatabase. You can also create a version 9.1 release personal geodatabase. 

Being able to create an older release geodatabase from an ArcGIS 10 client allows you to more easily share data with people or agencies who are using older releases of ArcGIS. You can copy the data from a geodatabase in a current release and paste it into a geodatabase you create to be from a previous release. And, since ArcGIS 10 can access and edit these geodatabases, you can continue to use them without upgrading. You can also easily integrate these tools into Models and Python Scripts that will allow you to automate data extraction.

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New legend patch shapes

By Mamata Akella, Esri Design Cartographer

NLPS Thumb

In our “Making Beautiful Maps — with GIS!” technical workshop at the 2010 Esri International Users Conference I demoed how to create a custom legend patch shape. This is helpful because you sometimes want the symbols in your legend to look like one or more of the features on your map. This tip was a big hit with our audience so I decided to share this with you as well! And because one of our attendees asked, “How can I customize the legend patch shape for multiple features in my legend?”, I’ll explain that as well.

Continue reading

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Merging multiple shapefiles into a single shapefile

Question: I have multiple shapefiles of underwater forms (coral reef, outcrop, sandflat, etc) that I would like to combine into a single shapefile. This would make the data easier to manage and I would use a column in the attribute table to delineate each form, rather than have each be in a separate shapefile. How would I go about doing this?

Answer: First, all the data have to be of the same type (e.g., polygon).  Then you can use the Merge tool (ArcToolbox -> Data Management toolbox -> General toolset) to combines your multiple input datasets of the same data type into a single, new output dataset. You could also use Append, but the Merge tool has the advantage that it creates a new dataset from all the combined data. In contrast, Append appends multiple input datasets into an existing target dataset.

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.

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Data Precision vs. Map Scale

The trend in the water and sewer industry is for utilities to capture and maintain in GIS more detailed information about their utility networks at a higher level of precision. 

Yet most water utilities are still trying to display all of this increasingly detailed data using the same paper map products they’ve historically used, particularly for use in the field.

Simply put – it ain’t easy to get all of the data in your geodatabase onto paper field maps using the same scale and map grid that your utility has always used.  Continue reading

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WGS84 vs. NAD83

Question: What is the difference between the WGS84 and NAD83 datums? If I create a map using the WGS84 datum, can I label the map as both WGS84 and NAD83? Or, does it depend on what scale the map is in?

I thought I heard that they are no longer interchangeable, but I recently saw a map labeled as WGS84/NAD83 for its horizontal datum. Thanks for any clarification.

Answer: There are a number of difference between the NAD83 and the WGS84 datum. One is the reference ellipsoid. The North American 1983 datum (NAD83) uses the Geodetic Reference System (GRS80) ellipsoid while the World Geodetic System of 1984 (WGS84) uses the WGS 84 ellipsoid. The dimensions of these ellipsoids differ slightly. For more information, refer to Projection basics the GIS professional needs to know.

A map will have only one coordinate system, either Geographic or Projected in our software’s terminology. For example, the “WGS84 projection” is a geographic one. A UTM projection is a projected one. Either of these will use only one datum. However, the data on the map could have come from multiple sources, all with unique projections and therefore datums.

The map that you saw could not possibly be drawn using both the WGS84 and NAD83 datums. That said, I note that some GPS data are self-described as “NAD83/WGS84″ using the disclaimer that “The differences between these two datums for North America is not discernible with mapping/GIS grade or consumer grade GPS equipment.” That may be true, but the cartographer would do further research to find out more. For example, here is one explanation I found: “For the sake of discussion, whenever you hear WGS84/NAD83, you can automatically assume it is NAD83. In this document we will refer to either WGS84/NAD83 or NAD83 as WGS84/NAD83″. The cartographer should then know to make the note on the map clear that the map’s projection (assuming it is the same one as the GPS data) really uses the NAD83 datum. If it is not the same one as the GPS data, the datum definition is embedded in the projection definition.

Look for a blog entry on this in the next day or two where I hope to make these distinctions clearer.

Formerly a Mapping Center Ask a Cartographer  Q & A.

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Show us your maps!

The Gallery is a place where selected maps and apps are featured.

We’d like to extend to everyone an opportunity to have your maps featured on the Gallery. Show us your maps, and we’ll select the best to showcase. Here’s how to participate:

1. Author a great, interesting map using the viewer or ArcGIS Explorer Online.

2. Save your map, and make sure it has a good thumbnail, description, tags, and summary. Share it publicly it to everyone.

3. Send us an E-mail at and include the link (URL) to your map.

We’ll review all submissions, and the best will be featued on a rotating basis on the Gallery.

Here’s some tips on how to share a great map (and what our panel will be looking for):

A good thumbnail

A thumbnail for your map is automatically created when you save it, but sometimes you may want to improve upon the default. Just create a 200px x 133px thumbnail using an editor of your choosing, and replace the default one. A good thumbnail provides a quick visual cue about the content found in your map.

Here’s a pretty good one representing current temperature in the US:

Here’s one that the judges would think needs some improvement:

A concise summary

A summary is important, it provides a short description of what your map might include and what purpose it serves. A simple, one-line summary helps users understand what it is, and what it’s intended for.

A good description

Not too long, not too short, a good description offers relevant details about your map and also provides additional context. Explain the sources, the purpose of the map, and anything else users might find relevant or of interest.

Choose good tags

Not too many, and to the point. Tags are important to help users find your content.

Tell us about yourself

Complete your profile so those that discover your maps know who you are. Just like anything on the Web, the author of the content must be trusted and known. Don’t forget to complete your ArcGIS Online profile so we (and anyone else) can learn more about you.

A not so good profile:

This one gets bonus points for creativity and humor, but…

Here’s a good profile that tells us about the source and inspires confidence in the content that’s been shared by this user:

Here’s an example that fulfills the basic requirements we’re looking for that you can weigh your submission against.

So show us your maps, and we’ll all look forward to seeing the best of the bunch featured on the Gallery.

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