Dev Meet Up – New York City, NY

It was quite an “Empire State of Mind” at the Heartland Brewery on W. 43rd for our Dev Meet Up the evening of Thursday, June 24th, 2010. A lot of people came out to learn a few things, listen to individuals highly involved in development, and meet and greet those with whom they may share common interests.

The keynote presentation was done by Nick Furness on user experience and design principles for GIS applications. In his presentation entitled, “SIMPLIFY: GIS for Normal People,” Nick discussed how GeoDevelopers or GIS Developers often fail to abstract the user experience (UX) of an application away from the detail of its underlying data and analysis, usually assuming (or requiring) that the user is fairly technical and professionally trained either in GIS or in their domain expertise. For example, users are given a bunch of menus and a bunch of buttons, and they can figure it out. However, with the rise of less costly ways to build and distribute GIS applications, the user-base need not be so technically proficient (nor in many cases would they want to be), and extra effort is required to design a user experience that is going to be much more intuitive and usable.

Nick used an ArcObjects/ArcView project from 2003 as a case study and demonstrated how, by careful consideration of the end user’s non-technical and non-GIS background and exposing maps only where necessary (even though GIS underpins the whole solution), the application is still in use today and has required almost no maintenance and no user training in GIS. As GIS becomes more mainstream by way of the Web, these principles apply all the more: GIS Developers, historically a somewhat nerdy bunch unphased by detail, need to learn to think more like UX designers and recognize that, where appropriate, the returns on hiding the complexity of a GIS can be highly rewarding to the end user.

After Nick’s keynote presentation, we had five lightning talks:

Greg Yetman, of CIEDSIN, Columbia University, did a presentation on his population estimating application, which uses geoprocessing services from ArcGIS Server to run a model to estimate the population within defined polygons. It also uses an Open GIS Web Processing Service (WPS).

Then, John Reiser with Rowan University did a presentation about OpenStreetMap, it’s history, development, how it works, and how GIS professionals can contribute toward improving the database as well as how to consume and use the maps within larger applications.

Next up was James Tedrick’s lightning talk. He revealed some helpful Python libraries that are out there that he has found useful, as he is using Python to create geoprocessing scripts.

Brian Flood did a lightning talk on his application called Arc2Earth to help publish data to ArcGIS Data online. It’s an application that gives smaller organizations an entry into cloud GIS. Being able to store their data and manage their services on the cloud, allows them to achieve lower costs and greater flexibility and scalability.

Tying up the night, Michael Uffer, who works for the New York City Department of Homeless Services, presented how his organization used ArcGIS to create a mapping solution to give the public access to info and maps as they relate to homeless shelters. He made extensive use of the ArcObjects API and also Network Analyst routing. For example, people may say, “I’m here; where are the homeless shelters, and once I pick one, how do I get there?” For people with Web access, they have that information, but if not, the Department of Homeless Services can create maps and drop them off at certain locations for people who are in need.

Everyone loved the appetizers (and of course the beverages too!), had themselves a great evening, and learned quite a bit of what our developer community had to offer in the world of GIS. Nothing less than great happens in NYC and that was definitely the case with this Dev Meet Up. A great big ‘hooah!’ to all those who came out, those who participated, and those who will be coming to the ones in the near future!

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New Crime Symbols Available

I know many of you who map data for law enforcement agencies struggle with finding just the right way to symbolize your crime data. Some of you customize the built-in ESRI “crime” style to meet your needs, some use simple symbols from other styles, and others design their own symbols from the ground-up. For a new demo project I’m working on, none of these options were working for me – I wanted a symbol set that looked modern, “popped” off of the ArcGIS basemaps, yet still conveyed an element of the “traditional” crime symbols we’re used to. Given that I have little artistic talent of my own, I enlisted the help of ESRI’s graphics department to design a new set of crime symbols. Together, we designed the new set of 13 common crime symbols for use in Web Mapping applications, but they work just as well in Desktop projects. Hopefully, many of you will get to see the symbols in action at this year’s User Conference, where I’ll be working at the Public Safety Showcase Theater, but even better – they’re available for download on the ArcGIS Resources section of the ESRI Mapping Center here (Note: the style file is compatible with ArcGIS 10).

For help working with Style files in ArcGIS Desktop, you can reference the help, here: What Are Symbols and Styles?

Here’s a quick look at the new crime style in ArcMap, overlaid on the World Topo map service from

New Crime Style 


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Install Business Analyst Desktop Silently

by Kyle Watson

If you’ve installed Business Analyst 931 Desktop, you know that it is delivered on 3 DVDs + the ArcGIS DVD.  Installing it once is not such a big deal, but what if your company has 40 or so machines to install?  As in a several department-wide enterprise setup that’s a bit cumbersome.  To remedy this, we’ve tested and deployed the installation of Business Analyst Desktop across a network in a silent fashion.  That is, with a bit of command line setup (Wait!  It’s OK…we have examples with like screenshots and stuff) you can automatically deploy Business Analyst to multiple machines – hands off.  Overnight if you wish.

There are plenty of things to consider, but we’ve got them covered.  You can check out this how-to whitepaper on our Resource Center and start installing with greater ease.  Also – yes, you’ll be able to install Business Analyst 10 silently too.

Here’s a high-tech schematic of what happens (they make us add at least one picture :) )…


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ArcGIS Online task servers updated

06/25/10–The ArcGIS Online task servers were updated this week. Geocoding and routing services were updated with the latest available data sources:

Improvements include:

The updates were made on the standard and subscription servers ( and

If you have feedback or comments about the updates,
please post them to our forum.

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Getting Excited about the UC

The International User Conference is less than 4 weeks away, and here on the Geoprocessing and Spatial Analysis Team we’re already getting excited. The chance to get down to San Diego to meet and work with all of you is something that many of us look forward to all year. We’re already busy polishing our Technical Workshops and bringing our demos together. I’m sure many of you who are attending started planning your sessions, workshops, island times and extracurricular activities in the Gas Lamp district weeks ago! If you haven’t started planning you may want to use the Agenda Search tool to identify sessions of interest to you.

Some sessions that are sure to be popular this year include:

  • Intro to Model Builder
  • Python Essentials (Introduction / Fundamentals)
  • Fundamentals of GIS Analysis (Proximity and Overlay)
  • Spatial Pattern Analysis
  • Python Scripting and Map Automation in ArcGIS 10

And don’t forget that we are also working on a number of demo theater presentations that should be interesting, so make sure you stop by the Spatial Analysis Island to check them out.

We hope to see you in a session, or in the very least stop by the Spatial Analysis Island and say hi! And if you can’t make it to this year’s User Conference; don’t worry. Many of the slides and video presentations will be posted in the conference proceedings.

This post was written by Kevin Hibma and Lauren Rosenshein, Product Engineers on the Geoprocessing Team

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Validate Join – New for ArcGIS 10

New for ArcGIS 10, you can analyze a join before creating it by using the Validate Join button on the Join Data dialog box. Join validation allows you to assess any potential problems that you might encounter when creating a join. Join validation analyzes the two participating datasets to determine if there are any common problems with the data. The following is a list of what is checked in the data:

  • Check for field names that start with an invalid character.
  • Check for field names that contain an invalid character.
  • Check for field names that match reserved words.
  • Check for non-geodatabase MS Access tables


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Resource Center Updates

The ArcGIS Resource Center is getting an update tonight so when you access the site on Friday, you’ll see some changes.

This release of the Resource Center coincides with the release of ArcGIS 10, and includes improvements in the following areas:

  • Content organization-ArcGIS 10 and 9.3 specific, quick access to major collections (help, blogs, forums, knowledge base, data models) and Support.  
  • Search-filtering, version-specific searching, and improved results
  • Gallery- new layout, sorting, filtering, versioning, and the ability to post to multiple galleries

    Content organization
    The first change you’ll see is the design of the home page. It’s similar in style to it’s sister the links are focused on quickly getting you to the information you need. The banner area gives you direct-access to all-product online help, product-specific blogs, forums, and Support collections such as technical articles, patches & service packs, samples & utilities, data models, white papers, and all products/versions.

    From the home page, you’re able to access key areas: ArcGIS Product information, Functions, User Communities and Solution Products. Each category has a variety of ArcGIS 10, and 9.3, information: the galleries (map templates, model and script tools, and imagery samples), videos, system requirements, conceptual help, SDKs, and so on.

    Certain key areas like Desktop are versioned while others are applicable to both ArcGIS 9.3, and 10 (Local Government). If you click any link on the home page, information specific to that key area appears. If versioned, you will see a list of version links on the top-right of the page. Key areas that are versioned contain content filtered for just that version.


    The ArcGIS Resource Center uses the Google Search Appliance™ hardware as it’s search engine. We started with a basic search and are working on creating a fully-customized search that produces the type of results we’ve all come to expect from Google. We’re not there yet, but we’ve made progress on improving filtering, versioning, and overall search results.

    In the days and weeks to come, you’ll see regular changes to the search in the type of filtering you can set, and the quality of results returned.

    Learn how to get better search results using quotes, special characters, prefixes, and so on

    We’ve updated the layout of the galleries and video pages to match the gallery. Each posting is now displayed as a series of thumbnails. Hovering over a thumbnail shows you the title, summary, owner and rating. You can also click a thumbnail to view a details page that allows you to download the posting.

    In addition, you have the ability to sort and filter gallery postings. You can sort by rating, number of downloads, recently added, and so on. You can also filter by product version, when applicable.

    We want your feedback on these changes and other suggestions for improving the ArcGIS Resource Center.

    Content Provided by Catherine Jones


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    Bing Birds Eye View redux

    We updated the Bing Birds Eye View add-in back in March, and recently it got some kudos from happy users at the ArcGIS Explorer Labs group. We thought it was worth having another look at this useful add-in.

    After opening the add-in in Explorer you’ll be able to see the Bird’s Eye View anywhere that it’s available. The add-in will appear in your Add-Ins tab, along with any others you may already be using.


    Click the add-in, and then click any location on your map. The Bird’s Eye View will be displayed in the popup window for the note.


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