A little texture please: Creating fill symbols with feeling

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer

Depicting natural areas such as vegetation or complex hydrography such as swamps and estuaries can be accomplished by merely using solid green fill and blue fill symbols. However, such symbols are arguably bland, and certainly do not convey relative density, ruggedness, or texture.
Marker fill symbols can create many effects, ranging from replacing many of the old bitmap patterns on topographic maps to very modern styles of symbology. Continue reading

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Add Your Own Custom Point Symbols

ArcGIS Explorer 440 includes a new set of cartographic point symbols, with many to choose from. These are billboarded, so will always remain upright and oriented properly, and will grow slightly when you hover over them. Create a Note, then right click the Note to edit its properties. Choose Symbols to see the entire palette:

You can add your own point symbols from local files by clicking Add a Symbol on the Select Symbol dialog. Browse for a local file, or enter a URL pointing to a symbol you want to use that is available on the Internet.

The symbol will automatically be resized and reformatted, and stored in your local symbols file. You can view the contents of your local symbols file by clicking Styles on the Select Symbol dialog.

Your local symbols style file is located at:
C:Documents and Settings<user_name>Application DataESRIArcGIS ExplorerStyles

Hint: If you want to add custom point symbols to your map, and make them available to anyone you share the map with, put the symbols on an Internet accessible location, and use a URL to add them. When the next user opens your map, the custom symbols will be retrieved via the URL, and automatically added to the user’s local symbols.

For more information, refer to the Help topic on adding a new symbol.

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Accessing IMS Sub-Layers

Among the new capabilities in Explorer 440 is the ability to choose from sub-layers published in ArcIMS services. In previous versions of Explorer the connection would be to the default IMS service layer, and you were not able to access and control individual sub-layers.

In the example below, we’ve accessed the ESRI-Soils service from the Geography Network. We’ve chosen to add all the layers, the only option up until now. Note that we get more than just the soils layers, we also get the oceans, and as we zoom in we see city labels, country boundaries, and other layers that we may not want or need to use:


Now let’s use the new capabilities in Explorer 440, and choose just the sub-layers we want. One of the first changes you’ll notice is that when you choose File > Open… and then choose Servers, the IMS choice (as well as WMS) is visible along the top, since both map and globe service types are now the default.

Click IMS, and enter the connection information for ESRI’s Geography Network as shown:

Click to open the connection, and scroll down the list and choose ESRI_Soil. This is one of many ArcIMS services published at this site. Step through the dialogs to add the IMS service. One of your choices will be the Service Imagery Format:

Here we choose the option for vector, scanned, or thematic maps since the ESRI_Soil service is a thematic map, and we want to choose a subset of its layers.

Advancing to the next dialog, we can now choose from the available sub-layers that are published. In this case we’re only interested in the Soils, and don’t need or want any of the other sub-layers.

Below is the result. Compare this image with that at the top of this post, or just try it for yourself. You’ll find that these new capabilities in Explorer 440 will make IMS services more useful, and enable you to combine and control just the sub-layers you want.

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An object model diagram for the ArcGIS Server SOAP API

The SOAP API provides a framework for working with ArcGIS Server using SOAP. Each ArcGIS Server service maintains a WSDL (Web Service Description Language) which defines how you can interact with the service using the SOAP API. The WSDL defines a SOAP proxy class, one for each service type (map, geocode, geoprocessing, and so on), and a set of value objects. You can use methods on the proxy, coupled with value objects as input parameters and returned results, to interact with ArcGIS Server services in a stateless manner.

The Web ADF includes pre-generated SOAP proxies and value objects which help you use the SOAP API with ArcGIS Server Web services (Internet connection) or with the server object directly (Local connection). These pre-generated objects are included in the ESRI.ArcGIS.ADF.ArcGISServer.dll. Merely browsing the contents of this assembly can be confusing because of the hundreds of classes it contains. Earlier this year we created an object model diagram for the SOAP API and put it online. We divided the diagram into eight logical areas:

  • Carto
  • Display
  • Geometry
  • Geocode
  • Geodatabase
  • Geoprocessing
  • Globe
  • Network Analyst

Please leave us suggestions for this diagram as we are in the process of updating it for the 9.3 release.

-Sterling Quinn and Rex Hansen

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Choosing color ramps and displaying for hillshade rasters

By Charlie Frye, Esri Chief Cartographer


Using ArcMap to symbolize a hillshade raster layer (the output of the Spatial or 3D Analyst’s Hillshade tool) is pretty straightforward, and the default symbology (black to white ramp) doesn’t look too bad. In fact, if your hillshade layer is the only layer in your map, and if you don’t mind not seeing some of the details that have been visually absorbed into the darker tones, the default symbology is okay. To be fair, the default symbology for hillshades is useful for much more than just terrain depictions, so it’s good to know what might be helpful when depicting terrain with a hillshade. The image to the left is an example of a hillshade using the default color ramp. Continue reading

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Happy Holidays from the Explorer Team!

We’d like to send you our Season’s Greetings in the form of a screenshot showing a snowy Yosemite landscape via a live Web cam from Explorer (which, by the way, is using one of the new symbols included in this latest release, and the new Display Overlay capabilities to show the Season’s Greetings message on the map.)

We’ll be taking just a day or two off for the holidays, and would like to pause for a moment to thank everyone for helping make it such a great year for ArcGIS Explorer.

Season’s Greetings!

- the ArcGIS Explorer Team

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Updates to ArcGIS Explorer's Services = Cache Cleaning Time

Just prior to this latest release a couple of the ArcGIS Online services which deliver content in several of the maps and layers available through the Contents tab on the Explorer Resource Center were updated. These changes include the following:

  • World Shaded Relief: added additional levels of detail
  • Physical World: added additional levels of detail, plus bathymetry at small scales

An ArcGIS Online Forum post also covers these changes, with a few additional details.

To view these updates, you’ll have to clear your cache for these layers. To do so, choose Tools, Manage Layers, and then select the layers above (if you are using them in your map) and click the Clear Layer Cache button.

If you don’t use these layers regularly, but want to make sure you’ve cleared their cache to see the updates, you can take your cache housekeeping a little further and delete all of your cache, and start afresh. This isn’t required, but you might want to do this from time to time just as a regular housekeeping task.

Remember that if you do clear all your cache, you’ll be fetching fresh cache from ESRI’s servers, as well as from any other servers that you may connect to, and generating new cache for your local data sources. Your performance will be a little slower while you fetch or generate cache again.

To clear out your cache, choose Tools, then Options, and choose Cache in the options list. Click Dick Cache, and under Cache Clean Up choose All Caches before clicking the Delete Caches button.

See the Help topic Cache Management in ArcGIS Explorer for additional details, and more information.

There will be other service updates during Q1 next year, and we’ll keep you posted as to when they’ll be happening.

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Using masks to create hollow cased road "symbols"

By Aileen Buckley, Mapping Center Lead

The map excerpt shown at right (click on it to see the details) shows an example of hollow cased roads.  The map is from a mosaic of USGS DRG image files.  The map specification requires that the cased road symbol contains a transparent gap.  The examples shown below were created with ArcMap 9.2 and used cartographic representations to re-create the effect on the USGS DRG map.

A simple two-layer cased line symbol won’t work, as there’s no way to define the center portion of the line as ‘no color’. A white center would not look right as it would block out any information below the roads in the map’s drawing order Continue reading

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Online seminar for optimizing map services

The ESRI Virtual Campus recently released a recording of the training seminar Authoring and Publishing Optimized Map Services. Excellently presented by Danielle Hopkins (ESRI Educational Services) and Tom Bole (ESRI Development), the seminar covers best practices for authoring maps that will be published on an ArcGIS Server. Our team reviewed the content before it was presented and we feel it is valuable for all ArcGIS Server users.

The next live training seminar on January 24 will discuss ArcGIS Server geoprocessing services.

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ArcGIS Explorer 440 Released

The ArcGIS Explorer Team is pleased to announce that today, at approximately 1:58 p.m. PST, the newest version of ArcGIS Explorer – Explorer 440 – was released.

If the ESRI servers are your home servers, you’ll be notified that there is a new version available the next time you start the application. Just follow the instructions to download and install this new release. 

For those that deploy Explorer from your own home servers, you’ll need to swap your versions and update your version.html to push out the new release to your users.

This release has lots of new features, check out the What’s New document for a detailed list of all the enhancements, changes, and fixes. At the top of our list are ArcIMS improvements, including the ability to access sub-layers, and the addition of new point symbols and the ability to add your own custom point symbols. We’ll be covering these in more detail here on the blog.

Feel free to send us your feedback, and let us know what you think. We’ll also be monitoring the Explorer support forum to help you with any questions that you may have.

- The ArcGIS Explorer Team

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