Raster Acceleration – Tips and Tricks


ArcGIS offers the capability to accelerate various raster layers, but how do you best benefit from this technology? There are several ways that you can interact with accelerated raster layers.

The general tools to move around the map still apply to accelerated layers. You can continue to use the pan tool or the scroll bars to pan the map. However, there are several other keyboard shortcuts and tricks that can enhance how you work with accelerated layers.

One of the best ways to roam around is to use the “Q” key. This allows to roam the display with any mouse tool. Simply click the keyboard key “Q” and you will roam in the direction the mouse is pointing, with the anchor being the middle of the display. This allows for easy digitizing as the map moves while you are digitizing.

There are two other ways to roam. One is to click the middle mouse key and hold the mouse still until the mouse cursor changes to a four arrow cursor. The location on the screen where the cursor changes is the anchor point for roaming rather than the middle of the screen. A third way to roam is by using the arrow keys on the keyboard.

There are additional ways to enhance roaming. You can push the “shift” key in order to slow down, the “Ctrl” key to speed up the roaming. Using the mouse-wheel also allows zooming in and out while roaming. All these shortcuts also work with basemap layers.



Happy acceleration,
Robert Berger


Posted in Imagery | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Map caching tips and best practices with ArcGIS Server 10

Today we’d like to share a list of techniques, best practices, and little-known facts that can improve your experience building map caches with ArcGIS Server 10.

Configuring local cache directories on the server

ArcGIS Server 10 includes an option to speed performance when caching with multiple SOC machines. When you open the Caching tab of the Service Properties dialog box and check Use local cache directory when generating tiles on the server, each “bundle” of tiles is written into a local directory before being copied into the main, shared cache directory. This is faster than trying to write all the tiles into the main cache directory at once.

Although the local cache directory option is a performance boon and should always be used in multiple-machine deployments, there are some tips you should follow to get the most out of it:

  • Uncheck this option if you know you’ll be building your cache with just one SOC machine.
  • Make sure you have enough space available in the local cache directories. It’s recommended that you have at least 0.5 GB of available space in this location for each running map service instance (ArcSOC.exe) dedicated to caching. More space may be required for JPEG caches that use a high compression quality, or detailed PNG caches with high bit depth.
  • If you use this option and your caching job fails, clean out the local directories before you begin caching again. The default location of the local cache directory is the temp folder for the SOC account unless you define a system variable on the computer named ARCTMPDIR whose value is some other folder.

Using MSDs and MSD-based antialiasing

The faster your map draws, the faster you’ll see tiles created. In ArcMap, use the Analyze Map button on the Map Service Publishing toolbar to identify performance bottlenecks. Fix all of the errors and address as many of the warnings and informational messages as you can. You should then use the toolbar to create a map service definition (MSD) and publish your map service using the MSD.

If you have a layer in the map that is causing an error in the analysis, consider isolating that layer in its own map service so that you can publish the remaining layers in an MSD-based map service.

MSD-based antialiasing is much faster than the antialiasing applied by the caching tools. If you intend on building your caches with antialiasing, enable the antialiasing in the MSD using the Map Service Publishing Options button of the Map Service Publishing toolbar. Then when you set up your tiling scheme, leave the antialiasing checkbox (Smooth line and label edges) unchecked. You’ll still see antialiasing in the cached images because it was applied in the MSD.

Troubleshooting cache failures

Sometimes SOC processes can crash while tiles are being built. These crashes can have various possible causes which are often difficult to detect. Below are some tips for preventing and dealing with crashes.

  • Before you start caching, make sure that adequate space is available in your local cache directories and your main cache directory.
  • Check if any of the data locations used in your maps, such as ArcSDE connections, have become unavailable during the caching job. Sometimes data located on different drives may fail to be retrieved due to network problems. When this happens a crash can occur, or blank tiles may be generated.
  • Attempt to re-run the cache at just the failed extents. These extents are reported in the geoprocessing results messages for the Manage Map Server Cache Tiles tool. There’s a clever utility on the Code Gallery that can parse the failed extents and make a feature class from them. You can then feed that feature class right back into the Manage Map Server Cache Tiles tool to constrain tile creation to just the failed areas. If the caching job happens to work the second time, you will have a completed cache.
  • If the failed extents do not get created successfully after a second try, open your source map document and examine the affected extents to make sure they draw properly in ArcMap (if a draw fails in ArcMap, it will certainly fail while caching).
  • Using a copy of your original map document, make a second service that has no cache (draws dynamically). Then set your server log level to Info:Detailed and make several dynamic draw requests at the failed extents. You can then scrutinize the log file to find drawing and connection problems. You can read more about this technique in Troubleshooting map service performance with log files.
  • If other techniques fail to find the problem, try to create the failed extents using a second map service. If the tiles generate successfully, use the Import Map Server Cache tool to import them into your original cache.

Converting the storage format of a specific data extent

Many of you have asked for better control in the Convert Map Cache Storage Format tool, so that you can convert from compact to exploded (or vice versa) for only a specific extent of cache data. You can actually do this already using the Export Map Server Cache tool. Export Map Server Cache lets you choose a specific area or scale from a given cache map service and convert its storage format, while at the same time exporting the tiles to a location you define.

Contributed by Garima Tiwari and Sterling Quinn of the ArcGIS Server development team

Posted in Services | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Go Electric!

By Julie Powell

The folks on the Business Analyst team invited me to blog about some work I’ve been doing with the BAO API.

Recently I created a cool application to demo at my Esri Developer Summit technical session, focused on customization of the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex and the power of the BAO Flex API. “Go Electric” is an enterprise application that allows Go Electric management to view their current electric car charging stations, and evaluate the market potential for new charging station locations (note: “Go Electric” is a fictitious company, used to model a realistic scenario).

Continue reading

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Lighting Up the Night at the 2011 Developer Summit

The evening before the 2011 Developer Summit began, the best, brightest, and most daring Silverlight developers in the GIS community converged for the inaugural Light Up the Night Silverlight Code Challenge, sponsored by Microsoft.  Nearly 40 participants signed up for the chance to win a plethora of prizes, ranging from an XBox 360 with Kinect to a new Windows Phone.  For up to three hours Silverlight developers spun up ideas, crafted code, and wrestled markup, all while tipping back Red Bull, popping peanuts, and pondering how to get mustard out of their keyboard.  By the end, many considered the challenge a true adventure, and everyone had a stylish and sleek Light Up the Night concert t-shirt to boast of their endeavor.  It was clear that three hours to build an application of substance was difficult, but all the code slinging, splicing, and cobbling provided a bounty of applications for our judges to choose from.  Here’s the final tally with a link to the application and source code, and a short description of the content: 

1st Place:  Jarrod Skulavik – NREL Wind turbine potential

View the live app
Download the source

The patterns and practices demonstrated in the application code were extensive and exceptional.  Basically Jarrod created a service to access a SQL Azure database which houses NREL wind turbine potentials for the western US.   The app uses RIA Data Services SOAP and JSON to fetch turbine potentials for the state specified by the user, then renders graphics using production capacity factor (symbol size).   In general the technologies used are SQL Azure with Geography Types, RIA Data Services Toolkit with JSON and SOAP endpoints pointing to SQL Azure, ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight, Entity Framework (LinqToSQL), jQuery, and AJAX (xmlhttp).  Note, the source code download does not include the RIA services, but you can still peruse the bulk of the application code.   

2nd Place: Oren Gal – Earthquake proximity search

View the live app
Download the source

Oren created a sharp and fluid UI in an application that geolocates a client based on ip and shows nearby earthquakes, both on the map and in a table.  The app is also loaded with other goodies to sketch shapes, query and identify features, and swipe between base layers, just to name a few.   Note, the source code download includes placeholders for credential and key information you will need to provide if you want it to function.       

3rd Place: James Oliphant – Ancestral mapping

View the live app
Download the source

James’ application reads a text file generated by parsing a GEDCOM (.ged) file, a text-based format developed by the LDS church for sharing a person’s genealogical information. The text file stores the geographic location of ancestral records as addresses or place names.  This application reads the text file and geolocates the records, and renders them on a map with attributes available as map tips.  Note, the source code download does not contain the GEDCOM parsing code. 

Thanks again to all the participants at this year’s code challenge, and congratulations to the winners.  We’re looking forward to seeing you at Light Up the Night next year!   And a special thanks to Microsoft for sponsoring this truly memorable event! 

The ArcGIS Silverlight Development Team

Posted in Web | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Global EVAPOTRANSPIRATION data accessible in ArcMap thanks to MODIS toolbox!

Evapotranspiration (ET), a combination of evaporation and plant transpiration from the Earth’s surface to the atmosphere, is an important and substantial component of the hydrologic cycle, and should not be overlooked. Scientists at the Numerical Terradynamic Simulation Group at The University of Montana are keeping ET in the forefront, making it possible to access actual levels of ET across the globe, using imagery collected by the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectoradiometer (MODIS) instrument aboard the NASA satellite Terra. Dr. Qiaozhen Mu and Dr. Steve Running created monthly-averaged estimates with 1 km resolution for the entire globe – MOD16 Project – and are the first to provide such a resource.

Lucky for us, researchers at the Center for Research in Water Resources at the University of Texas – Austin have gone one step further, and created a toobox – MODIS Toolbox – that imports the MODIS images directly into ArcGIS, and produces four data products: evapotranspiration, land surface temperature, normalized difference vegetation index (NDVI), and enhanced vegetation index (EVI).

ET in Texas      NDVI in Botswana

The MODIS toolbox is found in the Geoprocessing Model and Script Tool Gallery in the Geoprocessing Resource Center, and is currently available for use with ArcGIS 10.

For additional information about the MODIS Toolbox check out the DATA.CRWR BLOG entry Accessing Historical Evapotranspiration Data in ArcGIS.

Special thanks to Daniel Siegel for assisting with this blog entry. Questions for Daniel: dsiegel@mail.utexas.edu

Posted in Hydro | Tagged , | 21 Comments

Free webinar: Share Your Maps in Seconds and Create Web Map Applications – No Programming Required

now to attend this webinar on Thursday, March 31, 2011 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM EDT

Join Kelly Hutchins, product engineer at Esri, and Chelsea West, GIS program analyst at
South Dakota’s Game, Fish, and Parks Wildlife Division, to learn about these tools and resources.

In this free webinar you will learn about

  • Making a map using ArcGIS Online tools and resources
  • Quickly embedding or sharing a map in just a few steps
  • Turning your map into a web mapping application using
  • Customizing the look and feel of templates to meet your needs

You will also learn about new features that have just been released that will help you
enhance the look of your map and make it easier to tell a story or convey
information. These features offer the ability to add pop-up windows, set up
editable layers, and configure time-enabled maps.

Posted in ArcGIS Online, Services | Tagged , , , , , | 2 Comments

Community Maps App Showcase

Last week the Community Maps App Showcase was launched within the Community Maps portion of the Resource Center.  The App Showcase is part of our continuing effort to promote those who contribute to and use the Community Maps Program.  If you have built an application which uses one of the Community Maps services we encourage you to register the app with ArcGIS.com to showcase your work and inspire other organizations to build upon these ideas.


The Community Maps App Showcase can be found here:


All applications registered on ArcGIS.com with the tag Community Maps Program will also appear in the Community Maps App Showcase.  The first step is to register your application with on ArcGIS.com, which is an excellent way to promote your applications.  Use the instructions in the Show Us Your Maps blog post to register your app with ArcGIS.com.

During the app registration process, in the Add Item window add the following tag: Community Maps Program:

If you have already registered your app with ArcGIS.com, edit your application registration information to include the Community Maps Program tag:

1.       Click the Edit button at the top of the page:


2.       Add the Community Maps Program tag and click Save:

Your application will now be displayed in the Community Maps App Showcase.


If you have questions feel free to contact the team at communitymaps@esri.com or directly contact Brian Sims (bsims@esri.com) on the Community Maps team.

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Configuring Layer Pop-ups – Beyond the Basics

In an earlier post we covered the basics of how to enable a pop-up for layers in your map. In this post we’ll take you beyond the basic pop-up.

First, let’s review…

For this example we’ll use an ArcGIS service of marine mammals in the Gulf. First we’ll add the layer and then click the layer name to view the sublayers, then enable the pop-up for each sublayer just like we did in our previous post:


By default our pop-up displays all the information for the feature in a pleasing style:

Turning attributes into information

Though our pop-up is useful, with a few simple changes we can improve it, and turn attributes into information. We’ll begin by omitting several unwanted fields and creating an alias for the field named “obsDate” to make it more understandable. Let’s go back to our layer and choose Configure Pop-up:


You’ll see a panel appear with three main sections. We’ll focus on the middle section under the Pop-up Contents heading and click Configure Attributes, as shown below:

In this dialog you can see that we’ve turned off several fields, and have changed the field named “obsDate” to “Date.” The curly braces enclose field names.


Click Save Pop-up to save any changes you have made.

Now our pop-up is improved, with only the information we want to display and better field names too.

Notice the two link fields, ImageURL and LinkURL. The first field contains a URL that displays a photograph of the turtle, the second is a link to website with more information about the turtle. We can improve our pop-up experience by using the contents of these two fields.

Once again we’ll configure the layer pop-up:

And this time we’ll go to the last section titled Pop-up Media and click Add, then choose Image:


What we want to do is use the contents of the fields {imageURL} and {linkURL} in our pop-up. Click the + to display a list of fields to choose from:

Below we’ve left the Title and Caption blank, but have selected the fields ImageURL and LinkURL as image URL and Link respectively. What this means is that the URL string stored in the ImageURL field will be used to add a photo to our pop-up, and when the photo is clicked the URL string stored in the LinkURL field will be opened in our browser.

Now we’ve got a great pop-up that displays not only attributes, but information, and leverages the URLs stored in the attributes to display a photo in our pop-up and link to a website with details.

Once a pop-up, always a pop-up

When we save our map the configured pop-up will be displayed whenever the layer is clicked, whether the map is opened again in the map viewer, opened using Explorer Online, or embedded in a website.

Shown below is a website with our embedded map and the configured pop-ups. Just click to view the pop-up – in any app, anywhere*.


*Note: the next update to ArcGIS for iOS will also support the same pop-up experience when configured and saved in a map, and so will ArcGIS Desktop after the next service pack update, making ArcGIS Online webmaps very powerful. Pop-ups to the people!

Posted in ArcGIS Online, Services | Tagged , , | 16 Comments

Constructing features with precise measurements

In many scenarios, particularly in the built environment, you need to construct new features based on a series of measurements and offsets from existing features in your data.  Although ArcGIS supports a variety of ways to create features using a combination of snapping and constraints, more permanent construction geometries are appropriate in some scenarios.

Rather than resorting to storing construction lines in a feature class, an alternative method to support construction lines is with the temporary guide functionality available by installing the Construction Guides add-in written by Esri’s Editing development team. You can use the guides to build a series of geometries to assist you with completing complex constructions for use while creating new features and modifying the shape of existing features. The guides can be created with common editing constraint capabilities, such as making geometry parallel to an existing feature, at distance from a known location, or at a specific x,y coordinate. You can use snapping both when placing the guides and creating features in relation to them, allowing you to precisely locate a position based on the construction guide geometry.

To use the Construction Guides add-in, download it from the Editing Labs group on ArcGIS.com and double-click the file to install it on your machine. When you start ArcMap you have access to the Guides toolbar, which hosts all the tools to create and manage the temporary geometries that can be used in constructions. Creating construction guides is a straightforward process. You just click the type of guide on the Guides toolbar and define its geometry on the map.  You can do this interactively, or if you have specific values to enter, the tools support the ability to specify them using keyboard shortcuts.

To illustrate how the guides can be utilized during feature creation, I am going to digitize a new residential building with them. Once I position the guides, I use the regular feature construction tools to create the building feature. I have been given several measurements that I can use to place the guides, and ultimately, the new building. The northwest corner of the building is 12.5 feet from the corner of the lot. To locate this position, I first use a circle guide and snap to the corner of the lot to place the center point of the circle.  I then drag a circle, but rather than clicking to define the circle’s diameter interactively, I can press the R key and enter 12.5 to define the radius. I also know that the edge of the building is offset eight feet from the western lot boundary.  I can use the Line Guide tool to create a guide from that lot boundary and specify a distance of eight feet by pressing the D key. Similar to entering values in built-in editing dialog boxes, guide measurements are entered in map units.

With these two guides in place, I can now begin to create the building feature. Since the rresidential building is rectangular in shape, I can use the Rectangle construction tool to create it. To place the first corner of the building, I need to turn on Intersection Snapping from the Snapping toolbar and snap to the intersection of the circle and line guides.

Once I have created the corner of the building at that intersection, I set the orientation of the building in the lot by snapping along the line guide I created from the lot boundary. I can then right-click to access a menu that allows me to enter the length and width dimensions of my building.

The building feature is completed once I finish entering the measurements. The guides remain after the feature is created, so I could continue to use them for other editing tasks. In this case, I don’t need them any longer, so I can click Clear Guides to remove all the guides.

This is just one illustration of using guides to locate features precisely.  In future blog posts, I’ll explain how this sample was developed and how you can extend your own code to utilize some of the same capabilities shown here.

Introducing Editing Labs on ArcGIS.com
The Construction Guides add-in is one example of how Esri’s Editing development team is building tools, prototypes, and practical examples and sharing them with you. We are adding these to an ArcGIS.com group called Editing Labs, which provides an opportunity, along with the ArcGIS Ideas site, for you to share feedback on some work that the Editing team is investigating. Tell us what you think about Construction Guides and our other samples by adding comments on the individual items in the Editing Labs group.  We’ll be adding new content regularly to Editing Labs, so check back often.

Content provided by Doug (ArcGIS Editing Team)

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Developer Summit 2011!

Dev Summit 2011 is over and I’m still trying to recovery from the busy but great week in Palm Springs.  This year was the largest Dev Summit ever and there were some excellent session and good times for the nearly 1400 attendees.  Here is a set of photos and videos from the week.  More video from the Tech Sessions will be coming soon.

Here are the winners of the different code challenges and ways to stay connected throughout the year.

If you attended this year, I hope you came away inspired and equipped to make the most of GIS in your applications.

Tell us what you thought of this year’s conference by taking a short survey. Your input will help us plan for next year’s conference. 



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