Ok, so what's coming in ArcGIS Explorer 900?

There’s a high level overview of what’s coming in ArcGIS Explorer 900 that’s recently been published on the ArcGIS Explorer Web pages on esri.com.

At the upcoming Business Partner Conference and Developer Summit we’ll be hosting a presummit seminar and a double technical session detailing the 900 release.

You’ll also get to see ArcGIS Explorer 900 during the plenary presentations, and also at the ESRI Showcase where you’ll have an opportunity to meet and talk with the ArcGIS Explorer team.

We’ll be looking forward to seeing you there, and talking in more detail about ArcGIS Explorer 900.

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Water Utilities Templates Updated

The ESRI Water Utilities Team posted updates to all three templates in the Gallery today.    In summary, these updates include:

  • Updates to the Operations Feature Dataset in the Sample.gdb.
  • Updates to the Getting Started documents.
  • Release Notes for each Template.
  • General improvements to error handling and messaging in the Mobile Map Template.
  • Performance improvement for several tools in the Network Editing Template.
  • Bug fixes in the Network Editing and Mobile Map Templates.
  • New functionality added to the Network Editing Template.

For details on the new functions and the bug fixes, please refer to the release notes in each templates folder.
The Team will post updates from time to time to resolve known issues and add new functionality. If you have specific questions about the updates, please let us know: ArcGISTeamWater@esri.com
The ArcGIS Water Team

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New Business Analyst Online Beta Released

 by Brenda Wolfe


Last week the beta version of the next generation ArcGIS Business Analyst Online was released.  Current subscribers were offered the opportunity to kick the tires on this new version and provide feedback.  The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. 

Here are a few of the quotes from users…

“Wow, looks great!” 

“I like the new look and feel.   

“I just looked at the new program and am thrilled with the new color coded map.”

And my personal favorite, “All the cool kids are using it.”

Many loved the new color-coded mapping capabilities that make the data in Business Analyst Online come alive.  In this example, the highest per capita income areas of San Francisco pop out (bright green areas).


If you have questions about accessing the new Business Analyst Online beta, you can e-mail me at bwolfe@esri.com.  Look for a generally available release of Business Analyst Online around mid May.

Remember, all the cool kids are using it!


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The Big Sort… Or, Love Thy Neighbors?

 by Brenda Wolfe

This weekend I picked up Bill Bishop’s book “The Big Sort: Why the Clustering of Like-Minded America Is Tearing Us Apart” (published in 2008). According to Bishop’s research, over the past 30 years we Americans have been gradually sorting ourselves into homogenous communities.  Every year, between 4 and 5 percent of the population moves.  And when they move, they make the subtle choice of choosing neighborhoods that they think fit them best, bearing out the notion that like attracts like.  People are attracted to and feel comfortable among others with the same beliefs, ways of life, and political bent.  It is the local political balkanization that is the “tearing us up” part of Bishop’s title. 

Bishop contends that marketers were among some of the first to pick up on this trend.  Indeed, marketers use what is known as segmentation data to be able to hone their messages down to neighborhood level.  ESRI offers its own Tapestry Segmentation data that is included in ArcGIS Business Analyst Online. 

Using the color-coded mapping in Business Analyst Online, I was able to determine that I live in one of the areas of Redlands, California dominated by Pleasant-Ville types of people, as seen here by the green highlighted areas.

ESRI’s Tapestry Segmentation handbook gave me a detailed description of “my people.”  Much of it was spot on.  I won’t spill the beans, but I do think my segment has superior qualities to the other 65 segments.  :-)

If you would like to know which types of people dominate your local area, check out ESRI’s ZIP Lookup Tool to get your own free report of top Tapestry segments in your ZIP Code. 

See if you are indeed like your neighbors.


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Does Geography Matter – to Business?

by Johan Herrlin

When people speak about the value of GIS for business they tend to apply their existing knowledge of government use cases and paradigms, often leading them to draw hasty conclusions. In many government applications of GIS, such as parcel management or water/wastewater utilities, the individual workflows are geocentric. That is, they are fundamentally geographic in nature and the entire workflow revolves around managing the geographic component of the task at hand. In these cases, it’s easy to see the value of GIS in the transaction.

In contrast, when GIS is applied to solve many business problems, it is common to geo-enable an existing workflow. In this case, there is an existing workflow that is augmented and enhanced through the use of GIS, as opposed to being the central element of the workflow.

This can lead people to view the value that GIS brings to business applications as being less significant than in government applications. It can be argued, however, that the actual impact of GIS on these types of decisions is perhaps even greater than in many government spaces.

For instance, customer analytics and target marketing represents core operating functions for most businesses. While it is possible for businesses to investigate many facts about their existing customers, such as which products are sold in which store, or which products have the greatest margin, there is no way for them to generalize those trends to the broader population. This can lead to a very myopic view of a business’ customer base.

By simply applying one of the most fundamental capabilities of GIS – geocoding and appending, organizations can enrich their internal customer data with external information such as demographics, consumer expenditures and segmentation data. This allows organizations to now look at the types of people that tend to purchase a particular product, how far the best quality customers are willing to travel to consume a good or service, or where to find more of the best customers.

In this case, GIS plays only one part in a larger workflow, but serves to enable a whole new set of questions to be asked about existing data. Without the use of GIS, organizations don’t fully leverage the investments they have already made into other enterprise systems such as CRMs and ERPs. By applying GIS, these organizations can increase the expected lift from marketing campaigns, better cross-sell goods and services, and find additional high value customers through simply geo-enabling an existing, non-GIS workflow.

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Creating a reusable task-oriented dijit

In a previous blog post, we learned how to create a simple dijit with the ArcGIS JavaScript API that combines a map with a couple of buttons and an image. Today’s post will show how to create a sophisticated task-oriented dijit, which we have uploaded to the ArcGIS JavaScript API Code Gallery. The dijit encapsulates the IdentifyTask to let users identify features on the map and visualize them.


First, let’s look at the layout for this dijit. It consists of a border container with five regions(content panes): top, bottom, left, right and center, laid out in “Headline” pattern. For a detailed account on how to use the border container, read this blog post.

The top region is the the title bar for this dijit with icons, the whole left region is a button to navigate to the list of identified features, and the center region is the body of this dijit. The center region has a stack container that includes three pages (content panes) but shows only one at a time (see screenshots below). The first page contains a grid to display the list of identified features, the second page contains a grid to display the attribute fields, and the third page shows various options.


Easy to add

As a developer, you can use this dijit to easily add an identify tool to your map. All you need to do is pass a reference to the map when instantiating the dijit and it will let the users identify features on all the map services added as layers to the map. To use the dijit, just click the map to see the list of features identified at that location. Click a feature to see all the attribute field values associated with it. The dijit also has an “Options” panel where end users can select the map services and adjust the tolerance.

Try it live


That was quick and easy! But what if you want to customize it? For example, what if you want to

  • Identify features on selected map services and layers within each map service
  • Provide a user-friendly name for a layer
  • Show user-friendly field aliases instead of field names
  • Change the field that determines the title of the features
  • Limit which attributes are shown

You can do all of the above by passing appropriate parameters to the dijit when instantiating it. Documentation for these parameters is available as part of the Code Gallery download, but you can take a quick look here. You can also change the look and feel by modifying the CSS file associated with the dijit.

Try it live

An interesting thing to note about this dijit is that it behaves like an info window. That is, it is associated with a specific location on the map and remains as such when you pan or zoom. It is also possible to detach the dijit from the map and move it anywhere within the page so that the map area is uncluttered. Note, however, that it does not replace the info window that is available out of the box with the ArcGIS JavaScript API. The functionality in this dijit is implemented as a separate dojo class, packaged in a module and imported into the dijit using the dojo.require statement. Documentation for this functionality is available here.

Finally, we recommend that you keep in mind the following points when creating your own dijit:

  • Design the dijit in such a way that it is customizable and reusable as much as possible so that other developers in your organization can easily adapt it for their applications without diving too often into the code.
  • Keep an eye out for functionality that can be spun off into separate modules and reused in other projects.
  • Maintain user documentation for all your dijits and modules.

Related links

Writing your own widget
Lifecycle of a dijit

Contributed by Praveen Ponnusamy of the ArcGIS JavaScript API development team

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Tips for hillshade data management

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Hillshade Thumbnail

We’ve blogged about symbolizing hillshades (rasters that are derived from elevation raster datasets, like DEMs, via the Hillshade tool), but never really covered the basics of the data used to create hillshades, so we wanted to take a minute and share a few best practices we’ve been adopting.

Before getting started, though, it’s worth noting that we’ve been storing our rasters in file geodatabases. For us, these included some rather large hillshade datasets, ranging between 5Gb and 60Gb.

Continue reading

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PolylineZ and floating layers

Recently we had a user report that they had trouble with a shapefile they had added disappearing below the imagery layer in the default globe. We took a closer look, and discovered that the shapefile had 3D geometries, captured at sub-foot resolution, and that’s why the data seemed to disappear (though it really didn’t disappear). Here’s an overview of 3D geometries and how they’re handled in ArcGIS Explorer.

In ArcGIS a shape can be defined as various types of features – points, lines, and polygons are some of the feature types that we work with. Internally lines will be stored as a type called polyline.

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Building and Maintaining Water Utility Geodatabases – Part 3

 Copy and Paste

You probably want to bring in some of your datasets and merge them with the projected schema. Copy and paste is the easiest way to do this, but you may get some error messages about differences in the source/target spatial reference. For example, when you try to copy and paste in ArcCatalog you may get messages like this:

This is due to some subtle differences in the properties of the target feature dataset/spatial reference and should not be a concern. The best way to handle this is to use the Import Feature Class tool in ArcCatalog:

You can also use the equivalent Geoprocessing tool: “Feature Class To Feature Class”.


Geoprocessing and Data Interoperability

In ArcGIS, Geoprocessing (GP) tools and scripts can be used to do the data manipulation and loading tasks. At a high level, the process involves using GP to massage the source data until it matches the data model of the target geodatabase, and then using commands like Append to get the features into your target geodatabase. This works well for most data loading situations, especially if you using Python or other scripting tools for automation. Once you figure out the pattern you can copy/paste scripts and blocks of code and it is generally easier to manage than ModelBuilder Models for data loading.


Another option is the ArcGIS Data Interoperability Extension. This extension provides a visual workbench to connect source and target datasets, and has a useful set of tools called “transformers” that can be used to perform calculations between source and target (for example, LifecycleStatus should be a new field called ACTIVEFLAG and LifecycleStatus=”Active” should be ACTIVEFLAG=”1″). This approach is preferred by many specialist users but does have an associated cost and learning curve.


Simple Example for wFitting, similar to the Python script for wCasing.


Portion of more complex Spatial ETL tool example for wMain


Sample Tools

Attached to this post are sample tools used to Load Data, Creating Reporting Layers and Create HTML Inventory Reports from your Geodatabase.  These tools are a working example of how to use Geoprocessing tools to build a water utility database. These tools can be used to build part of a geodatabase that matches the Fort Pierce template data model. The tools are designed to be used by GIS specialists building GIS Servers. Using this sample is easy, but implementing these tools on your project can be a large project effort. This template is designed to help you get started and to show you how we loaded the Fort Pierce data.  The basic principle is to “cook” or prepare feature classes to simplify application development and improve the performance and scalability of your applications. As an initial step, we suggest you watch the online video named How to Load Data into the Template Geodatabase and How to Build Reporting Layers found on the Water Utility Resource Center. Then, you can follow the instructions below to install and use the template on your own.


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Building and Maintaining Water Utility Geodatabases – Part 2


Projecting the Template Geodatabase

The Template.mdb has the spatial reference that Fort Pierce, FL uses. You will almost always need to project the template geodatabase to your target spatial reference. There are some geoprocessing tools you can use to accomplish this task. The simplest way to find those tools is to search for “project” in ArcToolbox.


Project and Batch Project are both useful. You can use the spatial reference of your source data to select the correct spatial reference. If you are not familiar with spatial references and are not sure what to do, spend some time researching this because it is an important decision for your system.

A Few Notes on Database Platforms

At this point it is good practice to do your data work in a local File or Personal/Workgroup Geodatabase. Often the overhead of setting up a larger database system presents more work by IT/DBA staff and it is ok to wait until you have the data loaded to take that step, especially if you will not have privileges to manage the database schema (add/remove tables for example). It is also easier to work with local databases in the early stages since you will likely end up loading the data multiple times and it is more convenient to do all of this work on the same computer.

Beyond that, data loading to a Geodatabase is the same regardless of the underlying database management system (i.e., Oracle or SQL Server).

File Geodatabases are very fast to work with, but they can be slow to copy over networks and to external devices because there are many files – Template.mdb for example would have about 480 files so we provided an empty Template.mdb instead. For your data loading we recommend that you do not use a personal geodatabase (.mdb) because the performance degrades quickly with even small amounts of data.

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