New ArcGIS Technical paper: Understanding Geometric Processing in ArcGIS

New Techincal paper hot off the presses from the ESRI Geometry Development team:

Understanding Geometric Processing in ArcGIS
This technical paper is for users who want a more comprehensive understanding of how ArcGIS interprets feature coordinates when making spatial decisions. It introduces the process of geometric integration (aka cracking/clustering) in terms of how it works in vector data processing in ArcGIS. It describes how the key spatial reference properties of coordinate grid resolution and cluster tolerance affect this process. It also provides recommendations on how to choose a good cluster tolerance.

Think of it as somewhat of a part 2 to this whitepaper,

Understanding Coordinate Management in the GeodatabaseThis white paper is for users who want a more comprehensive understanding of how feature coordinates are managed within the geodatabase. It discusses the properties of a spatial reference, feature coordinate storage in the geodatabase, high precision vs. low precision spatial references, and data migration strategies between the two types of spatial references.


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Business Analyst Online is getting smarter!

  by Sooria J

Business Analyst Online is getting smarter, which will help our users make smarter decisions with smarter intelligence. You must be wondering why am I “smarting” so much. Here’s why.

How many times have you wondered…

  1. I really like the color-coded maps with one variable. How cool would it be if I could get an interaction of multiple variables?
  2. My client provides a specific set of criteria for each variable (age, income, population, etc.) with the specific range they are looking for. They are ONLY interested in areas that fall into their criteria. Do I need to spend time analyzing each variable one by one and filter out the areas that meet their criteria?
  3. It would really save time if I could save multiple sets of criteria for each of my clients and provide them with a list of geographies that match their criteria based on their need at that moment, can I do this in less than five minutes?

If you are among the crowd who “wondered” about these questions, while using Business Analyst Online, your prayers are truly answered folks.

In the upcoming release of Business Analyst Online, we are adding a brand new feature which allows the user make all the smart moves mentioned above, aptly this feature is called “Smart Map Search”. You will be able to pick multiple variables from our hundreds and hundreds of variables, set a definite range for each of the variables and view the results (geographies) that match your criteria. Oh yea, you can also save the criteria list so that you don’t have to hunt for the variables of your (or your client’s) choice each time. Also note that you can export the results into an Excel file and use it for further analysis.

Don’t you agree that Business Analyst Online is getting smarter? Watch for my next post for more details with actual screenshots about this feature…



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Connecting to ArcGIS Server from MicroStation

Many users of the Bentley MicroStation CAD platform have asked us how to connect to image or map data that is served from ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS Server can serve various formats easily consumable by non-ESRI clients. One of these popular formats, supported by MicroStation, is OGC WMS (Open Geospatial Consortium Web Map Service).

Support for WMS in MicroStation was added in version V8 XM (08.09.03) and updated in version V8 XM (08.09.04). In V8 XM, access to WMS services requires a manually-created xWMS file. In V8i (8.11), you can connect to WMS services using an updated interface within the Raster Manager. This post describes both techniques.

Connecting to a WMS in MicroStation V8 XM

To connect to a WMS using Raster Manager in V8 XM, you must create an xWMS file. An xWMS file is a simple XML file with the extension .xWMS, which contains some properties about the WMS.

The following values must be contained in the xWMS file:

  • URL: The URL to the service.
    • VERSION: The version of WMS supported. MicroStation only supports WMS version 1.1.1 at this time.
    • SRS: The EPSG Code for the service’s spatial reference system.
    • LAYERS: The layer name of the service.
    • BBOX: The bounding box of the service in the aforementioned spatial reference system.
    • WIDTH: Width of the service in pixels.
    • HEIGHT: Height of the service in pixels.
    • FORMAT: The image format in which the service is to be returned. Examples are image/jpeg or image/png

Most of the remaining values in the file can be left as defaults, but you can edit them as necessary. To identify appropriate values, you can use Get Capabilities on the WMS. For example:


Below is a sample xWMS file. You can copy this into a text editor and change the values to suit your own WMS. Note that the URL must be entered without the “http://” prefix. This is automatically added by MicroStation.

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>
<MINSIZE width="85" height="100" />
<MAXSIZE width="850000" height="100000" />
<MAXBITMAPSIZE width="1024" height="1024" />

Once you have the above file, follow these steps to add it in V8 XM using Raster Manager

  1. Open Raster Manager.
  2. Click File > Attach.
  3. Navigate to and select the xWMS file, then click Open.
    Connecting in V8 XM
  4. If necessary, click Fit To View to zoom to the extent of the service.

Connecting to a WMS in MicroStation V8i

Although you can also add xWMS files in MicroStation V8i, it’s easier to use the improved user interface for adding a WMS service interactively. Here’s how:

  1. Open Raster Manager.
  2. Create a new WMS connection by clicking File > New > WMS.
  3. Type in a URL, or click the Servers button and select a service from the server list.
    Connecting in V8i
  4. Select a layer from the Available Layers list and click Add to map.
  5. Click Save or Save and Attach to add it to the drawing.

Using a jpeg connection for improved performance

By default, the format for the WMS connection is image/png. However, it’s recommended that you make a jpeg connection to ArcGIS Server because the transfer rate is faster.

To change the connection properties in MicroStation V8 XM, modify the .xWMS file prior to attaching it within MicroStation. The XML node to change is:


In MicroStation V8i you can make the change before adding the WMS to the map. See the diagram below.

Change to JPEG format 

You can also access this dialog for an open connection. Follow these steps:

  1. Open the Raster Manager.
  2. Select the WMS connection to edit.
  3. Edit the WMS connection (From the Open menu, click Utilities, and click Edit WMS.)
  4. Change the Format to image/jpeg.

Contributed by Randall Rebello of ESRI

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Sharing order of battle and plan maps using layer packages

Let’s suppose that I regularly command a small detachment that consists of two infantry platoons, a combat engineer squad, and two combat reconnaissance teams.  I need to be able to share my order of battle and plans with my parent and subordinate commands.  

I’m going to share these maps using layer packages.  To do this, I’ve decided to download the Military Overlay layer package and tailor it to fit these units and my typical order of battle and planning needs.  Weeding out the symbols I don’t need and creating a new, specialized layer package will save me time and effort later.  The new layer package will also simplify the editing experience for my team, by limiting the number of available symbols. I’ll be able to send out layer packages that include the positions of units in my detachment and keep an empty template for my own use later. In this blog post I’ll show you how.

Add three types of unitsStep 1:  Add units to the template

Before I add units to my display they need to be in my feature template.

The Military Overlay layer package I downloaded came with no units, so I’ll add three friendly unit templates: infantry platoon, combat reconnaissance team, and combat engineer squad. See this blog post or this Help topic for details on how to add new unit templates.


Step 2:  Remove unwanted features from the template

I need some control measures in my template, but not all of the ones that came in the C2 Military Operations Area and Line feature feature classes.  I’m primarily concerned with objective areas, so I’ll remove some of the others (like Assault Position and Assembly Area). 

I’ll click the Organize Feature Templates button… Organize Feature Templates button

…and delete the unwanted feature templates.Delete templates








My feature template after trimmingHere is a picture of my Create Features window after I’ve cleaned it up.

Deleting feature templates this way removes them from the Create Features window.  I’m removing the feature templates instead of removing the layers because if I happen to need them later, it will be much easier for me to add the feature templates if the layers are still present.

Add Assault Position 1For example, suppose I need to have an Assault Position feature later on.  I would open the Organize Feature Templates dialog, click the C2 Military Operations Areas layer, and click New Template. 


Add Assault Position 2The New Template wizard would start and I would see the available layers and templates.  I’d choose the C2 Military Operations Area layer, where I’ll add the Assault Position template, then click Next. I wouldn’t want to add any duplicate templates, so I’d click Clear All and then check the templates that I did want to add (Assault Position).Add Assault Position 3






I’d click Finish to add the template back to the Create Features window.


Step 3: Create features using the new template

Map display with my OOBNow that the feature template is tailored to my needs, I’ll draw some features on my map.

Editing military features is the same as editing any features in ArcMap.  I just click on the feature template I want in the Create Features window and then draw on my map to add those features.  Here’s the plan I’ve drawn.

Step 4: Prepare layers for packaging

After I’ve finished drawing my features I’ll add a description to the properties page of the layers I want to package, and then I’ll create a layer package to share my plan.  
Package Units layer aloneYou can package a single layer, several selected layers, or a  group layer.  If your intent is to have a highly tailored template for your order of battle, you might just package the “Units” layer from the “Friendly UEI” group layer.

In this case I want to be able to quickly distribute a common operational picture  (COP), so I’ll package the “Friendly Plan” group layer.  This will package all of the layers and group layers contained within the group layer.

Package Friendly Plan group layer




If you want to add layers that are not associated in a group layer, you can control-click them to select multiple layers to package.  You can also create your own group layers and package them.  Remember that if you create a new group layer, you will need to add a description to its layer properties page before it can be packaged.  The package validation tool will catch this and give you a chance to add the description.


Step 5: Create a layer package

Once I’ve got the layers prepared, I’ll create my layer package. To do so, I right-click the Friendly Plan group layer and click Create Layer Package. 


I’ll post this layer package to my ArcGIS Online account as “My OOB” so others can download and use it. I could also save a layer package to a local or network drive. Upload Layer Package

Since I’m distributing this data to give my parent and subordinate commands a COP, I’ll use the deafult type of layer package that contains the features I created.  The layer package will include a file geodatabase of the features I created in the selected layers.

I’ll click the Validate button to check that the layer package is ready, and then click Share to create the package.

Once this is done, I’ll repeat the packaging process and save the layers in an empty “schema only” layer package. This will make it easy to create a set of empty feature classes that I can use later as the basis for multiple plans. I can also share it with my team, so we’ll all be working from the same simplified template.

Content provided by Derek Foll


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6 New Topology Rules @ ArcGIS 10

Based on user feedback, the topo team has taken six of the most requested topology rules and added them to geodatabase topology for the 10 release.

Here’s a quick look at what they are:

A complete list of topology rules can be found HERE


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ArcGIS 10 Improves Productivity and Makes GIS Widely Available

ArcGIS 10 will transform the way people use and apply GIS. The release, expected to ship during the second quarter of 2010, will help users be more productive and provide them with more powerful spatial analysis capabilities while significantly improving performance. Users will now be able to leverage GIS widely via Web-extended desktops, Web-hosted applications, and the cloud.

Perform GIS Work Faster

ArcGIS 10 dramatically improves the user experience and integrates productivity tools to support the workflows of GIS professionals. This release makes creating and producing maps much easier and provides best practices templates to help users get started quickly. At ArcGIS 10, users can search by keywords or data types to find data and maps. They can also use the search function to quickly and easily find symbols to use in their maps and tools.

Editing in ArcGIS 10 is streamlined. The release introduces sketch-based desktop and Web editing, which means that users can choose from a customizable on-screen palette of features in desktop and Web clients. Besides improving efficiency, ArcGIS 10 provides tools that let users do more work with volunteered geographic information on the Web.

Faster performance at ArcGIS 10 is the result of improved cache generation and management, as well as optimized Web graphics. These caching and Web graphic improvements translate into more responsive drawing performance, including smooth, continuous panning of data.

Powerful Spatial Analysis

With this release, ESRI continues to advance geographic science with additional spatial analysis tools. ArcGIS 10 includes Python scripting for automating common tasks and analyses. Using Python, ArcGIS capabilities can be combined with other scientific programming to create powerful solutions. Among the new capabilities for analyses offered in ArcGIS 10 is location allocation, which helps users understand how placement of their facilities in a given network impacts their ability to serve customers.  

The upcoming release also introduces the notion of time in both visualization and analysis. ArcGIS 10 lets users create, manage, and visualize time-aware data. Users can display and animate temporal datasets, as well as publish and query temporal map services. Being able to see data over time gives users the ability to do more in-depth analyses.

ArcGIS 10 makes it much easier and faster to perform 3D visualization. ArcGIS becomes a full 3D GIS, offering 3D data models, editing, analysis, and visualization. Users can do virtually everything they do in a 2D environment in 3D.

Improved Imagery Use and Management

ArcGIS 10 enables better use and management of imagery on the desktop and server. This release supports massive dynamic mosaics, resulting in fast performance. On-the-fly processing previously supported on ArcGIS Server is now also supported in ArcGIS Desktop. Moreover, access to commonly used imagery management tools is easier at ArcGIS 10.

New Ways to Share

ArcGIS 10 is tightly integrated with ArcGIS Online search and share capabilities, making it easy to create and distribute projects that include data, layers, maps, tools, scenes, globes, diagrams, and add-ins. It is also easy to find and organize geographic data throughout the enterprise via the new ArcGIS Server Search service.

GIS in the Field

At ArcGIS 10, ArcGIS Mobile offers a customizable, out-of-the-box application that allows users to extend mobile projects to in-vehicle and tablet-based PCs. ESRI is extending this concept to the iPhone platform. Customers will be able to access a mapping application directly from the Apple iTunes App Store. ESRI is also providing a software development kit so organizations can build their own focused iPhone applications.

For the latest information about ArcGIS 10, including podcasts and videos, visit

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Free ArcMap Training

The ArcGIS 10 live training seminar series kicks off next week so make sure and get these on your calendar.

Thursday April 29th Using ArcMap in ArcGIS Desktop 10
9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., & 3:00 p.m. Pacific Time (US & Canada)
12:00 p.m., 2:00 p.m., & 6:00 p.m. Eastern Time (US & Canada)
4:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m., & 10:00 p.m. UTC/GMT

Seminar Overview 
The upcoming ArcGIS 10 release brings many enhancements to ArcMap that will help you produce and share better maps faster. In this seminar, you will learn about key new features that are designed to reduce the time spent on common mapping tasks and improve the quality of your map products. The presenter will show how you can take advantage of the new features to enhance your day-to-day workflows.

Key Points
The presenter will discuss:

  • ArcMap interface improvements.
  • New ArcMap features to help you get your work done faster, including the embedded Catalog window, instant symbol search, basemap layers, and more.
  • Enhanced cartographic capabilities such as dynamic layout text, data-driven pages for creating a map series, and access to professionally designed basemaps that you can quickly incorporate into your maps.
  • Resources for learning more about the new features in ArcGIS 10.
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Celebrate Earth Day with ESRI Data

 by Catherine Spisszak

As we celebrate Earth Day, we should all make an effort to be environmentally conscious. Esri Data can provide a glimpse of where in the country people are making strides all year long to improve the environment and take care of our planet.

Using the Market Potential Data from ESRI, we can map the U.S. counties according to their likelihood to participate in a couple of different environmentally conscious activities.

Recycling Products

Falls Church city, Virginia and Pitkin County, Colorado rank highest in the likelihood to recycle products in the last 12 months, according to their Market Potential Index (MPI). You can see how much the rest of the country is recycling in the map below. Counties that are shaded green are indexing the highest, and therefore doing their part to care for the environment.

Buying a Tree
Counties that rank high in the demand for trees in the last 12 months are Rappahannock County, New York and Archuleta County, Colorado. The map below shows the Market Potential Indexes for purchasing a tree in the last 12 months across the country. Counties shaded in dark orange and brown show a demand for purchasing trees much higher than the national average.

Purchasing Vegetable Seeds
Finally, it’s hard to read the papers or watch the news right now and avoid hearing about the importance of eating fresh vegetables and planting your own garden – for both the planet and your waistline. So which counties are actually listening? Juniata County, Pennsylvania and Madison County, Virginia show very high demand for vegetable seeds in the last twelve months according to their Market Potential Index, both more than double the U.S. average. Any county shaded in green in the map below is showing a higher demand for vegetable seeds than the U.S. average…and with all the media focus, it seems like the demand will only grow in the future.

All of these maps were developed using ESRI Market Potential Data and the Business Analyst Desktop product. For more information about ESRI Data please visit

Happy Earth Day!

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Using multiple computers to cache ArcGIS Server map services

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Caching Thumb

We got a question the other day on Ask a Cartographer about how to cache map services with several computers. First, we want to explain why you would even want to do this. If you will be caching a map that covers a large extent and needs to be cached at large scales, it is possible that the caching job could take days or even weeks to process on one computer. For instance the World Topographic Map on ArcGIS Online. It would take about 8-10 weeks to cache completely on one computer. By spreading these large caching jobs across many computers, it will take less time to complete. Continue reading

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Fun with Wii at AAG

At this past week’s American Association of Geographers (AAG) meeting in Washington, D.C. we had some fun in the ESRI booth using a Wii to drive Explorer.


While we’re not recommending this as the ideal way to work with Explorer, it did make for an interesting and fun time in the booth. Here’s Angela Lee from the ESRI education team showing us how it’s done.


Most of the adults had some trouble getting the hang of things, but the kids (Friday was bring your kids for free day at AAG) were immediate experts. We laughed when we were struggling with the Wii and a 10-year old came up to the booth and blew us all away with his Wii prowess.

How did we do this? It was pretty simple but took a little research – the thanks for that go to Chris LeSueur in our tech marketing department.

We first got the Nintendo Wii Remote (Wiimote) communicating as a device on our laptop via a Bluetooth USB adapter. From there we used GlovePIE and a custom configuration file that Chris edited to provide the mapping between the Wiimote and Explorer navigation. What’s next – the DDR interface for Explorer?


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