Tag: Explorer Desktop

New release of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop

There is a new release of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop.  The build 1700 is now available for download and has several new features and improvements. Checkout this blog post on the ArcGIS Explorer blog to learn more about the new release.


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What's New in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop (build 1700)

ArcGIS Explorer is a free, downloadable GIS viewer that provides an easy way to explore, visualize, share, and present geographic information.

The latest release of ArcGIS Explorer builds upon previous releases and adds new features that make it a great choice for providing wider access to your geographic information and GIS capabilities. These new features include the following:

GPS Integration

Any GPS device (NMEA compliant) can be connected to ArcGIS Explorer to collect data. GPS data can be collected at the click of a button, or collected at specified regular time intervals. Explorer also includes tools to manage and display waypoints, tracks, and routes, which are stored and managed as notes.

Spatial Selection

Any shape can be used to query features using spatial operators like contains, intersects, within, and more. Existing notes can be used, or you can interactively draw a shape as input for the spatial query.

Raster Georeferencing

When adding raster files (TIFF, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP), if the coordinate system has not yet been defined the user will be prompted to georeference the raster by interactively establishing reference points from the raster to the basemap. 


Photos that are already geotagged can be added directly to the map. Non-geotagged photos can be interactively geotagged. The geotagged photo is used as the marker symbol and the popup will automatically display the photo.

Legends in Contents

Legends can now be displayed directly in the table of contents by clicking the layer name (formerly they were displayed in a separate window).

Portal Connections

Connections to portals other than ArcGIS Online (on-premises ArcGIS Portals) can be managed via the portal connection manager. When connected to a different portal, functions such as Add From ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Online searches work directly against the specified portal.

Other Features and Improvements

  • Improved sublayer control; you can toggle on/off sublayers after connecting to the service
  • KML improvements, including spatial selection against KML
  • Query by attribute for layer packages is now supported
  • Control-click supported to toggle all layers in the map
  • Shift-drag now defines zoom box in both 2D and 3D mode
  • Separators can now be added to tabs in application configurations to enable better tool organization
  • Improved layer cache management; layer tools now include refresh for individual layers
  • Updates for ArcGIS Online
  • Use in terminal servers (e.g., Citrix Xen App) now supported
  • Updated help, and miscellaneous bug fixes

For more information and to download ArcGIS Explorer:

ArcGIS Explorer Resource Center

ArcGIS Explorer detailed download information
(including system requirements and more)

ArcGIS Explorer product information at Esri.com

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Using Features From a Service As Input To Analysis Tools

In an earlier post we covered how the Create Notes tool in the popup window can be used to grab features in a service, extracting the geometry of the feature you point to and creating a note from it. In this post we’ll take that one step further and explain how you can use those features as inputs to a custom geoprocessing service.

The geoprocessing service we’ll use is an sample published by Esri, and calculates population summary statistics for a user input polygon. First, let’s add the geoprocessing service to Explorer by connecting to the server from where it is published.

Click the Analysis button, then choose Add From a URL…

If you’ve never connected to Esri’s sample server before, you’ll have to create a new server connection (otherwise it will be stored in your list of connections, and all you need to do is click to connect again). Assuming this is the first time connecting, click New Server Connection and enter the URL of the Esri sample server (sampleserver1.arcgisonline.com/arcgis/services):

After you connect you’ll see a list of folders on the server. Open the Demographics folder and you’ll find the ESRI_Population_World sample service. Click to add it to your Explorer Analysis Gallery.


When you connect to the geoprocessing service the input form for the service will display, as shown below:

You will also see the newly added tool in your analysis gallery, where you can organize it, change the icon, etc.

We’ll dismiss the tool for now, and add a layer to our map that we want to use to run against this tool. The weather has been unsettled lately, and our goal will be to use weather warning polygons from a NOAA service to figure out the number of potentially impacted people. 

We searched ArcGIS Online for the current US weather warnings, and added it to our map.


We noticed that along the Minnesota River in the area surrounding New Ulm that there were flood warnings (don’t forget to enable the popup for the service to view the information).

What was the population in the flood warning areas? Using the create notes tool (as described in our earlier post) we grabbed the two weather warning polygons and added them to our map as (polygon) notes.

Next we opened the analysis tool. The tool supports interactively digitizing an area, but we wanted to use the weather warning polygons as our input, so instead we dragged and dropped our two notes as the inputs for the analysis.

After successfully running the geoprocessing tool, we were able to open the resulting summary table and learn that roughly 51,000 people were in the flood warning areas.

For more information see the following help topics:

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Looking at the Wallow Fire spread using ArcGIS Online

A recent post on the ArcGIS Explorer Desktop blog shows how Explorer Desktop was used to extract features from a service discovered on ArcGIS Online to visualize how Arizona’s Wallow Fire has spread over the past week:

View the post on the ArcGIS Explorer Desktop blog


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Extracting features from services using Explorer Desktop

As the Wallow fire rages on in Arizona, we decided to have a look and see how far the fire has spread over the last week. We began by adding the USGS Hazards service, which publishes information about current floods, volcanoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, and wildfire perimters.

To add the service, we clicked Add Content, and then chose ArcGIS Online:

In the ArcGIS Online search window we entered the keyword “hazards” and found the USGS Natural Hazards map service, which we added to our map:

Here’s what our map looked like after adding the service:

Our next step was to enable the popup window for the service (turned off by default for service layers) by opening the layer properties, and enabling the popup window display:

Zooming in to southeastern Arizona, it was pretty easy to spot the Wallow fire, currently one of the largest in Arizona history having consumed nearly 400,000 acres.

We changed the default World Imagery basemap to the World Topographic basemap so we could clearly see the perimeter, and clicked the fire perimeter near is origin. We were first surprised to see 11 features found, but after pondering this for a moment it made sense – the 11 features were overlapping boundaries published in the service marking the growth of the perimeter from the start of the fire to its current extent.

Clicking the first in the list, we found the perimeter for 5/30/2011 (as shown in the date field for the feature):

We wanted to extract this feature from the service, and use it to compare the extent on that date to its present extent. To do that, we clicked the Create Note tool in the popup window, as shown below:

This added the polygon (the fire perimeter for that date) to our Contents. We then did this twice more, adding the perimeters for 6/5/2011 and 6/7/2011. We changed the colors for the perimeters, and below is our result: yellow is the fire on 5/30, orange on 6/5, and red on 6/7:

Using this technique we were easily able to extract features from the USGS service, and provide a better look at how the fire has spread over the last week.

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Cross sections in ArcGlobe and ArcGIS Explorer


Good blog post from Mark on creating 3D cross-sections in ArcGlobe and displaying them in ArcGIS Explorer.


3D Product Manager


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Creating 3D cross sections for use in ArcGIS Explorer

After a recent post we received quite a few inquiries as to how cross sections are created for visualization in ArcGIS Explorer desktop, and we’ll go through the steps here.

The screen capture above is displaying seismic and geologic profiles (along with wells and well traces) as cross sections in 3D space. In the steps below we will use a photo of Mount St. Helens from it’s May 18th, 1980, eruption and visualize it as a 3D cross section in ArcGIS Explorer as a layer package. The techniques are the same for subsurface and above the surface visualization. Below is a screenshot of what our end result will look like:

In short, what we want to do is use a raster file or photo (the cross-section we want to display) as a point symbol, and scale and rotate it as needed.

To start we need a point feature to use for the location of the image. You can use an existing point feature or create a new one. One easy way to do this is to create a point note for Mount St. Helens in ArcGIS Explorer and share it as a layer package. Just right click the note on your map, choose share, then save as a layer package.

Open the layer package in ArcGlobe. We want to use an image as point symbol. This image will represent the cross section (Mount St. Helens in this example, and the seismic and geologic sections in the earlier example). To use an image as a symbol for the point we need to specifiy and adjust several properties.

In the ArcGlobe table of contents right-click on the layer and choose properties. Click the Globe Display tab, and do the following:

  • Check “Scale 3D symbols with distance”
  • Uncheck “Rasterize feature layer”

Then click OK and dismiss the dialog. Even though there are more properties to set it is important to click OK when you have modified properties on a tab. ArcGlobe has properties that are only available in certain combinations. If you set properties on one tab and then switch to another tab, a property that you want to set may not be available until the properties from the previous tab are applied. Sometimes this is the case on the same tab. For example, on the Globe Display tab “Scale 3D symbols with distance” is disabled until “Rasterize feature layer” is unchecked and applied. So remember to Apply or OK your changes as you make them.

Next, on the Elevation tab specify “Floating without a surface” and click OK.

On the layer properties Symbology tab we will specify the type of symbol and the image (ultimately our cross-section) to display as the point symbol. Choose “Single symbol” and click the symbol button.

Next, click “Edit Symbol…”

And choose “3D Markersymbol”

Now browse to or copy/paste a URL to the image you want to use as the symbol. For this example I will use this photo from the USGS website:


Click Open and the image loads in for use as a point symbol.


From here, the values you set will depend on the image you have chosen and how it scales in real world space, and some experimentation is necessary.

Increase the Size (Z) of the symbol to 30. Also uncheck “Keep aspect ratio.” After doing this it is important that you do not modify the Size (Z) setting again. If you do, you will have to start over and reload the image. Also set the Width (X) and Depth (Y) to equal amounts. We will use 10,000 as our starting point, but will modify those to achieve the desired scaling for this particular photo. Click 1:1 to see the entire image in the 3D Preview as shown below:

Next click the 3D placement tab and uncheck Display Face Front and set the Rotation angles X value to 90, as shown below:


Click Apply and see what it looks like in your map.

It is pretty close to where we want it to be but still needs some adjustment. The image looks a little bit bigger than the 3D mountain, so let’s fix that first. (Note that the size of the symbol in the table of contents is controlled by the Size (Z) that we originally set before un-checking Keep Aspect Ratio.)

Back at the size settings, I’ll size it to 9000 and see how that looks.

The scale of the image looks a little better now. Next I will slide the image down so the rim of the volcano in the image matches the 3D terrain. To do this, use layer properties and the Elevation tab and set the Layer offset to a lower value. In this case I will use -800.


After that adjustment the volcano rims are lining up better. But the horizontal alignment still looks to be a bit off. To correct that I’ll adjust the X offset. Here I have set it higher than it need be to -90 so we can get a better Idea for what this property does:

With a little more experimentation we find that a value of -18 looks pretty good.


We’re satisfied with how things scale and align now, but one more thing we can do to make the image look better is turn off the layer lighting property.

We’re finished, and now ready to create a layer package that we can open in ArcGIS Explorer desktop.

The layer package created above can be found on ArcGIS Online and you can also view a couple of videos on the Esri Facebook site that show what the layer package looks like in use:

  • Video 1 - a 360-degree tour of the cross section.
  • Video 2 - this one shows how you can view the lower edge of the photo through the surface. To navigate below the surface make sure to check Surface Avoidance off under ArcGIS Explorer Options > Flight Characteristics.

(Submitted by Mark Bockenhauer, ArcGIS Explorer program manager and lead product engineer)

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ArcGIS Explorer Desktop at PUG Plenary


During this morning’s Petroleum User Group (PUG) opening plenary Bern Szukalski showed an example using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop to consume ArcGIS Online maps that he had authored, and also added seismic and geologic profiles, and well traces. ArcGIS Explorer Desktop allows you to integrate both Web and local content, and view in 2D or 3D mode.



Bern will cover how this was accomplished in his Tuesday ArcGIS Online, Explorer Online, and Explorer Desktop workshop.


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3D Subsurface Wells, Seismic Profiles, and Geologic Cross Sections

We’re getting ready for the upcoming Petroleum User Group (PUG) conference and here’s a peek at what we’ll show.

Below is a subsurface view of seismic profiles, wells, formation tops, and a geologic cross-section shown using ArcGIS Explorer. All features are below the surface. The Explorer navigation tools are designed for above the surface navigation, but can still be used for subsurface navigation with a little practice. By creating views or a presentation, Explorer can be a very effective tool for visualizing your subsurface data, and making it available to a broader audience. 


First, you will want to enable subsurface navigation by turning the surface avoidance option off. Go to your Explorer Options, then Flight Characteristics, and look for the checkbox:

The data had been asembled originally in ArcScene, and (thanks to Mark Bockenhauer) it was brought into ArcGlobe, and exported as layer packages. ArcMap is what you want to use to author 2D layer packages, but to create 3D layer packages, like these shown below, use ArcGlobe. To view these in Explorer, all I needed to do was add the layer package.

We’ll be taking a closer look at this during our PUG workshop at 10:30 on Tuesday, and also in the showcase area. So if you will be at PUG, stop on by!

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Enhancing Presentations Using Image Overlays

Image Overlays are a unique capability of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop and can be used in a number of interesting ways. Here’s quick overview and a few tips on how to use these to enhance your presentations, and tell better stories with your maps.

Adding Image Overlays

To add an image overlay go to the map group, click Add Content, then choose Image Overlays, then browse for a png, bmp, jpg, gif, or tif file to add to your map. For some uses it won’t matter what image type you use, but for many of the examples here we’re using png files since they support transparency.

After you’ve added an image overlay click the image overlay tools tab, or right click to view it’s properties, to change them. One property you’ll want to set right away is the positioning.

Though you can’t nudge an image to adjust its positioning, you can make use of  transparent space around your image overlays to place them away from a corner or side. For example, if you want an image overlay to be placed an inch away from the left side, add the inch of transparency to the left side of your original image. 

Organizing Your Image Overlays

To manage a bunch of  image overlays easily you may want to organize the ones you use in a folder, making them easier to find and manage when you want to display them.

Placing a Logo

You can add a corporate or organization logo using an image overlay – below we’ve sized and positioned the Explorer logo in the upper right corner of the map. We’ve used a transparent png file to eliminate a border around the globe, and have also used a little extra transparent space around the globe to position it slightly out and away from the corner.

Creating a Title

In the example below we’ve used an image overlay as a title slide for our Yellowstone National Park presentation, and centered it on our map.

Using a PowerPoint Slide

You can also use PowerPoint slides in your presentations by capturing them or saving them out directly from PowerPoint to image files that you add as image overlays.

Making Use of Transparency

This example does the above two title slides one better by using transparency to enable the map to show through.

Enhanced Slide Titles

You can use the same technique above to improve your slide titles. Instead of the plain titles like shown below:

You can add a more interesting title using an image editing program of your choice to create one.

Enhanced Legends

Using image overlays you can also add nice legends to your presentations. Below we’ve used a standard title and an image overlay for the legend. A little extra transparent space on the left side of the legend was used to nudge it away from the map frame. The data itself is a layer package shared from ArcMap, and the legend was captured from the ArcMap Contents.

For more information on image overlays and presentations check out the following help topics:

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