Tag: ArcGIS Content

Creating a seamless map with multiple cached map services in ArcMap

11/12/09–Here’s a little known technique the ArcGIS Content team sometimes uses when working with cached map services in ArcMap 9.3.1. Suppose your area of interest is along the border of the U.S. and Mexico. You prefer the cartography in the ArcGIS Online ESRI World Street Map service, but you need the detailed Mexico streets that are currently available only in the Bing Maps Road service. You could toggle between each map but that is cumbersome and doesn’t allow for a printable seamless map using both services. Instead use the “Advanced Drawing Options” in ArcMap 9.3.1 to combine the best attributes of each map.

First, we will add the Bing Maps Road service into ArcMap using the Roads layer (LYR file) link for Using Bing Maps with ArcGIS Desktop in the ArcGIS Online Help.

We will use a polygon feature class to mask out Bing Maps within the United States. Add the feature class to your map document and uncheck the layer visibility setting so that it won’t display on your map.

Right-click the data frame (Layers) and select “Advanced Drawing Options”.

In the Advanced Drawing Options dialog, check the “Draw using masking options specified below” option, and check “Bing Maps – Roads” in the Masked Layers box.

Click OK, and now the Bing Maps service only displays outside of the United States.

Finally, add the ArcGIS Online ESRI World Street Map service for a seamless view of both services.

We hope you find this technique helpful when working with cached map services in ArcMap 9.3.1.

Contributed by Jim Mason of the ArcGIS Content team

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Choosing Basemaps – Part 2

9/29/09–In Choosing Basemaps – Part 1, we took a look at some of the basemap services that ArcGIS Online offers and described how these basemaps may be used. Now, it is time to check out a few more. We will also explore some specialty services and layer packages that have the makings for a good basemap.

World Physical Map

This basemap employs a hypsometric tint in combination with a hillshade. This natural looking map is ideal as a small scale basemap or as a general small scale inset map. The hypsometric coloring makes this basemap particularly useful for data that is physical in nature. For example, this basemap would work well with physiographic data, especially if there is a general relationship between the data and elevation.

World Physical Map with volcano point data

USA Topographic Maps

Often, there is a need to refer to one or more traditional topographic map sheets for a specific project. USA Topographic Maps is a great basemap since it provides a complete mosaic of scanned topographic maps of the United States at varying scales. This basemap can be used for general reconnaissance, outdoor activity planning, resource management, surveying, and more. USA Topographic Maps includes a hillshade in conjunction with the traditional labeled elevation contours. This added feature makes the basemap very useful for tasks which require specific knowledge of the local relief of an area.

USA Topographic Maps with watershed overlay

DeLorme World Basemap

This specialty basemap is a cross between a street map and a topographic map. The cartography is clean and straightforward. Therefore, this map is useful as a general location map. Additionally, due to its clean design, this map is great when including large amounts of supplementary GIS data.

DeLorme World Basemap with flow arrow overlay

In addition to the general online basemap services, the ESRI Maps and Data group provides pre-symbolized, packaged data layers that can be downloaded and used for the creation of a basemap. When the objective of the map is clear, all you need to do is search for keywords to find data that will suit the map’s purpose.

Let’s say that you only have a simple polygon feature class layer of crime statistics for a state’s municipalities. Your goal is to cross-reference this data with census information to create a correlation between rates of crime and numerous census attributes for a particular county. In order to provide context and visual appeal to your finished map, you would like to add a few more base layers, as well as an inset map for reference. Here are some of the layers that you could download from ArcGIS Online in order to generate your basemap.

USA Census Tract Boundaries: This layer package provides the attribute data for comparison as well as the boundaries for symbolization.

USA Counties: This layer package helps to contain and emphasize the area of interest. It also brings context to the map.

USA Major Cities: By adding this layer package, the map user becomes acquainted with the area and is able to determine the affected communities.

USA Freeway System: This layer package provides even more context. It helps orient the map user within the area of interest.

USA States:  Along with the county layer, this layer package provides the basis for the inset map. By incorporating the states layer, the user will get an overall impression for the location and relationship of the county of interest and the other counties within the state.

Layer packages come pre-symbolized and pre-labeled. However, to suit the purpose of your map, a few adjustments can always be made. The example below is an illustration of a hypothetical crime map with the addition of the layer packages mentioned above. Very little manipulation of the symbology was necessary in producing the finished map.

Customized map using layer packages

These are just some of the basemap services and layer packages that the ESRI Maps and Data group provide. There is an extensive amount of useful data in many different formats. By accessing this online service, your ability to create both practical and comprehensible maps becomes even easier. Data is always being added and is ready to be downloaded and used in whichever creative, exciting, and constructive manner you may imagine.

Contributed by Cindy Prostak of the ArcGIS Content team

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HTTPS Connection to ArcGIS Online Map Services Now Available

9/17/09–Users of the free ArcGIS Online map services now have the option to access these services via an HTTPS connection. The use of HTTPS to access the map services encrypts the communication with the server and provides an added level of security for requests. There is some performance overhead to an HTTPS request, so it’s not recommended when a standard HTTP connection is sufficient.

To use an HTTPS connection, ArcGIS users can connect to the free ArcGIS Online map servers through the standard URLs using the HTTPS protocol (i.e., https://services.arcgisonline.com/ and https://server.arcgisonline.com/).

HTTPS is supported through ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server .NET Web ADF, ArcGIS Server Java Web ADF, and ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight. Support for the ArcGIS API for Flex and the ArcGIS API for JavaScript will be added in the next few weeks with new releases.

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Choosing Basemaps – Part 1

9/4/09–The Internet has made it increasingly simpler to create maps or mashups that we can upload and share out on the Web, use personally, or apply at our place of work. Typically, when we want to create a map, we are attempting to communicate something to people. We want our map to get our point across. In order to do that, we need to make sure that we are using the appropriate components to create the right type of map.

Maps are usually comprised of many different elements, such as points, lines, areas, text, and so on. Some of the map elements are the main feature, while others provide the background and are considered the basemap. A basemap provides the foundation for all of the other components of a map. So, picking the appropriate basemap will ensure that what you want to express will be apparent.

Often, we only have access to the data that we want to highlight in a map, and we have to search around for other data to create a basemap. Rather than expending valuable time and resources, the ArcGIS Online Resource Center and new ArcGIS Online Sharing Application offer a selection of maps, layers, and services that can be used as a base. However, there are several to choose from. So, how do we pick a basemap? The following is a quick overview of some of ArcGIS Online’s basemaps and a description of the type of data that would work well with each one.

World Street Map

This basemap is especially useful when applying transportation-related data or when performing routing or geocoding tasks. In addition, many business-related data can overlay this type of basemap. For example, a real estate company can apply their data with street map basemaps in order to create mashups. Potential buyers can then use the Web map to find the location of homes that are for sale.

World Street Map with point data

World Shaded Relief

This basemap is great for a number of applications. It can be used in conjunction with data that relates to terrain, such as, watershed, trail, and outdoor activity mapping. Or it may be used as an underlay to bring life to flat “basic-looking” maps. It is great for augmenting traditional topographic maps.

World Shaded Relief with polygon overlay


Satellite imagery can be used for specific applications for weather related and natural disaster mapping. Imagery is also useful as a basemap when highlighting land use and property data. Often imagery will be combined with other basemaps, such as, street maps, so that comparisons can be made between the imagery and the more traditional reference map.

World Imagery with a land use overlay

World Topographic Map

This new map is great for both reference and topographic purposes. It uses best available sources and can be used for general way-finding, planning, site location, and many other purposes that traditional topographic maps are intended for. This map contains bathymetry, shaded relief, and elevation point data. In addition, the map highlights many physiographic landforms.

World Topographic Map with a recreational trail overlay

World Terrain Base

This map is designed for use as a basemap to overlay other thematic layers such as demographics or land cover. Like the World Topographic Map, it contains shaded relief and bathymetry. The map’s coloring is a light neutral tone, which makes it ideal for large area data overlays.

World Terrain Base with point, line and area overlay

Stay tuned for more descriptions of maps, layers and services in Choosing Basemaps – Part 2.

Contributed by Cindy Prostak of the ArcGIS Content team

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ArcGIS Online Geocoding and Routing Services updated

8/17/09–The ArcGIS Online locator and routing services were recently updated (tasks.arcgisonline.com, premiumtasks.arcgisonline.com).

For European Routing and North American Routing, multi-language route directions are now available in 10 languages:

  • Danish (da_DK)
  • Dutch (nl_NL)
  • English (en_US – default language)
  • French (fr_FR)
  • German (de_DE)
  • Italian (it_IT)
  • Norwegian (no_NO)
  • Portuguese (pt_PT)
  • Spanish (es_ES)
  • Swedish (sv_SE)

The World Places Locator was updated with June 2009 data from GeoNames geographical database (http://www.geonames.org/) and improved with better extents for cities worldwide.

The European Address Locator was updated with TeleAtlas Multinet version 2009.02. Locator names were standardized to follow a 3-letter ISO country code naming convention.

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Upgrades to ArcGIS Online system network on August 12, 2009

8/10/09–We are upgrading the network environment used to support ArcGIS Online maps (services.arcgisonline.com, server.arcgisonline.com, and premium.arcgisonline.com). The upgrade will be performed during a one hour maintenance window on Wednesday, August 12, beginning at 11:00 p.m. PDT. During this time, there may be some disruption of service accessing the ArcGIS Online maps.

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View a demo about ArcGIS Online Content

08/04/09–View a demo from the UC Plenary about ArcGIS Online Content from ESRI’s Christophe Carpentier.

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Learn about routing using ArcGIS Online

7/23/09–As announced last month, routing services for Europe and North America are now available on ESRI’s ArcGIS Online Task Server. These free tools from ESRI are available to use in your ArcGIS applications.

Learn about Routing Using ArcGIS Online in the GIS Education Community Blog.

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Geocoding with ArcMap using the ArcGIS Online locators

7/20/09–As announced earlier this year, address locators for Europe and North America, and a world places locator are now available on the ArcGIS Online Task Server. You can use these free ArcGIS Online locators from ESRI to geocode in ArcMap.

Learn about Geocoding Using ArcGIS Online in the GIS Education Community Blog.

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ArcGIS Online Q&A from the 2009 ESRI International User Conference

7/15/09–Do you have questions about ArcGIS Online and how you can use it for your GIS needs? The following ArcGIS Online information is from the 2009 ESRI International User Conference Q&A and may answer some of your questions.

Can I serve the ArcGIS Online maps and tasks on my own server?

Yes, there are two methods. The first method, ArcGIS Data Appliance, is a complete hardware, data, and software appliance for plugging into an ArcGIS Server environment. The basemaps and tasks are delivered on a preconfigured network storage device and include terabytes of prerendered data, preconfigured and cached at multiple scales as well as geocoding and routing functionality for the United States, Canada,and Europe. The latest version of the ArcGIS Data Appliance provides the following basemaps: USA/World Collection (also available as a single-state offering); World Imagery Collection; World Collection; World IKONOS Cities Imagery; and European Street Map. ArcGIS users who do not have ArcGIS Server can purchase the ArcGIS Data Appliance (ServerBundle), which includes ArcGIS Server software and hardware needed to provide a complete turnkey solution.

Alternatively,users can directly integrate ArcGISOnline resources for re-serving in association with their own Web applications. You can create Web applications integrated with ArcGIS Online resources using the ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs or ArcGIS Server Web ADFs.

The second method is DataDoors for ArcGIS, in which users can purchase most of the raster data that is available through ArcGIS Online map services. DataDoors for ArcGIS is powered by i-cubed’s DataDoors which provides image processing and delivery services for ArcGIS Online imagery. Through the DataDoors application you can order ArcGIS Online data and data from other vendors for any size area in the coordinate system and file format of your choice. Depending on the size of the data you order, you can either download it directly as soon as it has been processed or have the data shipped to you.

What is the ArcGIS Online sharing capability? When will it be available?

ArcGIS Online Sharing is a Web application that provides a platform for ArcGIS users to find and share maps, layers (including layer packages), and tools. This capability is in many ways like Flickr (the photo sharing Website). The ArcGIS Online Sharing site has been designed to allow users to find, upload and share content either with defined groups or publicly. The managers of these groups can restrict or allow access at the individual or group level. Joining ArcGIS Online Sharing is free and it can be used anonymously; however, signing up for an account provides you with various privileges for accessing and using the content and creating and joining groups.

Content that you can upload and share includes pre-authored maps, for example MXDs and 3DDs, layer packages, and services. A layer package (LPK) is a file format you can create in ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 for easy sharing in ArcGIS Online. When you save a map layer, you can choose to include its source data and other intrinsic properties such as thumbnail, extent, and spatial reference as part of a layer package. Layer packages allow you to publish your layers in a format that can be easily uploaded and downloaded in ArcGIS Online. When other users want to use these layer packages in their ArcGIS applications, ArcGIS Online unpackages them and opens them in the appropriate ArcGIS application, for example, ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 or ArcGIS Explorer.

The public beta version of ArcGIS Online Sharing is now available.

Can you explain your vision for the ArcGIS Online Map services?

ESRI has a long history of including data as a core part of our software products.The ESRI Data & Maps DVDs are a very popular part of ArcGIS and have helped users ramp-up quickly with their GIS projects by providing a variety of ready-to-use datasets. ArcGIS Online Map Services are simply an extension of this vision, by delivering precached and cartographically rendered basemaps and reference layers as Web services.  ESRI will continue to grow this library of high-quality basemaps and thematic overlays for direct use within ArcGIS products.

What are ArcGIS Online basemaps and how do you expect users to apply them?

ArcGIS Online basemaps are ready-to-use, precached, multi-scale maps delivered as a Web services. They are specifically designed to be used as high-quality background maps that provide a context for operational GIS overlays. They include imagery, streets, topography, demography, transportation, hydrology, and more. Most of the ArcGIS Online map services are available at no cost to ArcGIS users and can be quickly integrated with a user’s local GIS data or services. All the basemaps are derived from various existing government, commercial, and other authoritative data providers.

New ArcGIS Online basemaps that will be showcased at the User Conference include a World Topographic Map, a DeLorme World Base Map, and World IKONOS Cities Imagery. Many other thematic maps including geology, soil, demographic, and land cover maps will be released later on this year.

How did ESRI develop the ArcGIS Online basemaps?

ArcGIS Online basemaps include a number of ready-to-use map services that users can connect to immediately through the Internet and use as background layers for GIS overlays.

The Approach

All the basemaps are derived from combinations of various existing government, commercial, and other authoritative data sources. ESRI has gone through a process of systematically integrating these data sets to minimize inconsistencies and conflicts between the various source materials. For example, the topographic base map is made up of elevation, transportation,place names, administrative boundaries, water features, and points of interest layers. These layers were combined, harmonized, and rendered with a common multi-scale cartographic template. However, more work remains. ESRI will continue to improve these maps, providing periodic releases that reflect these improvements.  

Our first public beta release of the World Topographic Map product will be at the User Conference. We want to particularly acknowledge the support of the USGS National Mapping Program in providing their datasets in the U.S. In the fall we will release a major update that will include a global shaded relief layer based on 30 meter SRTM and more detailed global features based on the DeLorme World Atlas developed at a scale of 1:100,000.

We would appreciate user feedback on these continuing efforts. Please send comments to Charlie Frye at cfrye@esri.com.

A New Web Mapping Pattern

ESRI sees these basemaps as part of a new style for Web mapping consisting of basemaps and operational overlays (layers that are focused on a particular GIS mission or application). Basemaps are meant to be a background map and are typically cached, whereas operational overlays reflect data sets that change frequently (i.e., they are drawn dynamically).

A key design notion of this new pattern is to help end users focus on the operational information – the basemap provides a background or context. ESRI has adapted an approach of purposefully making the colors of our basemaps muted to provide a better background for GIS operational overlays.

Lessons Learned

ESRI has learned many lessons from this effort, including ways to integrate multi-source data, how to design good multi-scale Web maps, and the best methods for caching maps efficiently. We are publishing these designs in the form of map templates (available through the MapTemplates ArcGIS Resource Center). They can be easily downloaded and used by any of our users who wish to create similar maps for their own geographies and possibly share them. Many users have already done this and set up their own Web mapping sites that can easily be connected/mashed-up with ArcGIS Online maps. 

Other Basemaps

Other topographic basemaps available through ArcGIS Online include:

*  Raster scans of USGS topo maps (enhanced with National Geographic hill shading)

*  Raster scans of various NGA maps

*  Bing Maps (formerly Virtual Earth)

Future Basemaps

ESRI is also working on other map/image services that will be released 3rd quarter 2009.

*  World IKONOS Cities Imagery service for more than 700 major metropolitan areas around the world.

*  The DeLorme World Base Map, a detailed world atlas, initially at1:1 million, with incremental releases down to 1:100,000 scale.

*  Many other thematic maps including geology, soil, demographic, and land cover maps.

What is the price of ArcGIS Online map services?

ArcGIS Online map services include imagery, topographic, street basemaps, and more. ArcGIS Online standard map services are free to ArcGIS users for internal (personal or within an organization) use, and external, noncommercial use. To use ArcGIS Online standard map services for commercial use, you must purchase an annual subscription. ArcGIS Online premium map services are available for any use and require the purchase of an annual subscription. Bing Maps (formerly Virtual Earth), which are considered premium map services, are available at no cost to ArcGIS Desktop (including ArcGIS Engine) users who are current on maintenance. ArcGIS Server includes a free 90-day evaluation of Bing Maps, after which you can purchase an annual subscription.

How can ESRI support collaboration among its user communities?

At this year’s User Conference, ESRI will be showcasing a new capability within ArcGIS Online that allows users to share their content with other users over the Web. The free ArcGIS Online Sharing Web application, available as public beta, gives users the ability to upload maps, layers, layer packages, Web services, and tools, and share their uploaded items either publicly with everyone or within specific groups they created. Other users can then search for these uploaded items and use them immediately for their GIS work.

There will be a number of demonstrations and technical sessions at the User Conference that will show how this concept of finding and sharing geographic content is made very easy using ArcGIS Online.

This sharing portal has been requested by users for many years and will be a valuable resource for those of you who want to share your information more effectively and quickly within your own organization or with others outside of your organization across the Web.

What are you doing to help users make better maps using ArcGIS?

Maps are the primary way we communicate with GIS. At ESRI, we have been working hard to help you deliver your content using great maps. We are focused on a number of specific activities that will help you publish better maps for your GIS work.

ArcGIS 9.3.1. A key focus of the ArcGIS 9.3.1 release this spring was the added capability to more easily publish great Web maps using ArcGIS.This release includes a number of enhancements to help you leverage your data to publish Web maps:

*  New high performance, optimized map services. These are fast map services that are published using ArcGIS Server from ArcMap. In most cases, these are faster and more scalable than an ArcIMS map service while providing high quality cartography from ArcMap.

*  The new ArcGIS Web APIs for JavaScript, Adobe Flex, and Microsoft Silverlight also enable users to deploy Web maps that follow a key pattern of base maps with operational overlays.

*  In addition, the ArcGIS Explorer release this summer will help the ArcGIS community to make great maps and deliver them freely using this exciting new release.

Basemaps for the Web. ArcGIS users have begun using a common pattern for Web maps that involve the use of online, multi-scale maps that provide the foundation or framework onto which operational GIS overlays or layers can be displayed and used. These multi-scale maps provide a basemap or framework for Web maps. Many ArcGIS users are leveraging their own data to create, publish, and maintain a set of these basemaps for use on the Web.

New Topographic Map on ArcGIS Online. In order to promote the use of this Web map pattern, ESRI has implemented a multi-scale topographic basemap and is making it available as a free online service on ArcGIS Online for users to mash up and dynamically overlay their operational content. This map zooms into a map scale of 1:20,000 across the U.S. We have provided a few example areas (Portland, Oregon, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) where you can zoom in to 1:1,000. We are also sharing the cartographic design of these maps as map templates.

New Discovery and Sharing Capabilities at ArcGIS Online. Another dimension of Web maps is how users can share maps across user groups or communities. We are adding new sharing and discovery capabilities for this in the beta release of ArcGIS Online that was just released at the end of June.

As an ArcGIS user, you can publish and share datasets, maps, and map services with other users using your own online workspace stored at ArcGIS Online. You can also use ArcGIS Online to search for and apply data and maps shared by other users. Also, you can set up and join user groups where you can securely share information and collaborate with other users. 

Are data appliances a way of the future? What is ESRI providing?

Yes. Data appliances are critical to our customers’ success because they provide ready-to-use GIS databases at a relatively low cost.These appliances can be plugged into an existing organizational infrastructure and include large volumes of ready-to-use content (e.g., imagery, street basemaps, and reference layers) that can be combined with operational data to support mission critical projects. Packaged as one solution, appliances simplify maintenance, support, and the management of data and software updates.

ESRI offers pre-integrated data and solution appliances that combine data, software,hardware, and customizable applications. Installation is fast and simple and can be supported in standard IT environments. At the same time, the various software components for data management, visualization, and analysis can also be customized to adapt organization-specific workflows and business processes.

Will ArcGIS Server support cloud hosting?

Traditionally,organizations have managed and maintained computer systems using an on-site hosting model. Cloud computing allows for on-demand, commonly off-site, technology capabilities that are delivered as a service over the Web. With the advent of cloud computing, there are several alternative software deployment methods available that can significantly reduce an organization’s resources of time, money, and IT support. ESRI recognizes the benefits of cloud computing, when used appropriately, for increased cost optimization and to deliver greater customer satisfaction. However, many users are not quite ready to jump into public cloud computing, or are restricted from doing so.  In these situations, these deployment tiers are replicated within a private cloud environment, maintained within the parameters of the host organization, but taking advantage of cloud practices, such as virtualization and self-service Web administration, within an on-site enterprise computing environment.

Although cloud computing may not be suitable for all solutions, ESRI is working on products to be more cloud compatible. ArcGIS Server is being architected in such a way that services run efficiently and effectively, taking full advantage of the benefits offered by the Cloud on Amazon Elastic Cloud Compute (EC2).  For example, ArcGIS Server instances will be able to be added and removed dynamically as expected on EC2 without disruption of service.  Administration will be designed for cloud and virtualization environments, consistent with cloud-ready systems.  We will provide additional details as we finalize the ArcGIS 9.4 release.

In the meantime, ESRI is investing in the cloud computing environment with other solutions, as well. Business Analyst Online and the ArcGIS Server Geoportal Extension are both examples of Software as a Service (SaaS), as on-demand end-user applications. In addition, ArcGIS Online Sharing adds the ability for our customers to share their data as part of a growing online community. For developers interested in application platforms as a service, ESRI offers the ArcGIS Online Sharing REST API and the ArcGIS Web mapping APIs. Finally, to leverage both on-premise software and hosted services (Software + Services), ESRI customers can take advantage of using their ESRI software with ESRI hosted services through the ArcGIS Online Resource Center maps, GIS services, Web applications and Web Mapping APIs.

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