(Post submitted by: George Dailey, K-12 Education Program Manager)
The release of ArcGIS Explorer opens the door to making use of not only ready-made services like those available from ArcGIS Online but also shapefiles that a user might access from his/her personal computer. In a test of that, I wanted to see how data we have created about the Lewis & Clark Expedition appear and function inside the ArcGIS Explorer environment.
The screenshot shows draping the entire expedition route (planning, recruitment, and exploration) over the default globe. To give historical context, shapefiles displaying the boundaries of the United States (1783-1803) and the Louisiana Purchase (1803) were added. The route layer was reordered placing it on top using the “Manage Layers” function. The transparency of the polygon layers was adjusted to allow both the satellite imagery and geographic areas to be visible.
To help the viewer better understand the layers and provide more historical context, I used the Create Notes Task for the three features, adding a Note title and text. A white-outlined polygon shapefile of US state boundaries was added to provide current day geographical context. Transparency on this layer was set at 80%, offering a ghostly quality to match the notion of peering across time. (NOTE: Manipulating the transparency slider from 0-100 and vice versa while demonstrating this in Explorer cements this temporal impression quite nicely).
I saved this project as an NMF that I can return to in the future. Note that the features might not remain as shown in the screenshot when reopened, but all aspects of their content and that of the layers and globe scale and position are maintained. Anyone can build a similar or even more complex project showing other aspects of the Lewis & Clark Expedition (US cities 1803, Continental Divide, key expedition camp sites, and major rivers and lakes) by downloading the Lewis & Clark 3 lesson package from ArcLessons. The shapefiles in the lesson package are immediately useable in ArcGIS Explorer.
If I were to give you the drive and path information for the shapefiles on my computer, I could in fact share my L&C map and it would work quite well on other computers assuming a mimic of my data path information. Conversely, a user receiving my L&C map and downloading the needed shapefiles could open the NMF with a word processor, find the four feature path entries, change them to match his/her preferred path, resave the NMF, and launch the prepared project.
But I think the best way to explore what’s described above is to download the Lewis & Clark 3 lesson data and build your own project. It’s easy and fun!