Tag: Explorer Desktop

Using swipe to view before and after imagery for impacted areas

Bing Maps recently updated their aerials and hybrid basemaps to include post-tsunami imagery for Japan. Esri has also acquired detailed pre-tsunami imagery for several areas from GeoEye that are being used for custom Web apps as part of ongoing disaster response work.

I decided to have a look at these image services and using Explorer Desktop’s swipe tool I was able to compare the before and after imagery.

First, I chose the Bing Maps Aerial basemap from the built-in basemap gallery. This is the service that’s been recently updated by Bing Maps to include the post-tsunami imagery.

Next I connected to the Esri server that is publishing the pre-event GeoEye imagery (this service is not currently public) by choosing Add Content, then choosing GIS Services, then entering the URL path to the service.


Next I made the pre-event imagery service visible, highlighted it in the map contents, clicked the Tools tab, and clicked the Swipe tool:

Using the swipe tool the before and after differences in the devastated areas could be viewed. The “before” imagery is somewhat obviously on the left in the screen captures below (click to view a larger image):

For more information on swipe see the control layer appearance help topic.

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New Version of ArcGIS Explorer Online released

A new version of ArcGIS Explorer Online was released publicly a couple of days ago. Highlights of this release of ArcGIS Explorer Online include:

  • A new streamlined user experience, providing a more intuitive user experience for working with maps, and allowing more screen real estate for the map by replacing the ribbon with contextual toolbars.
  • Improved interoperability with other clients, including a model shared with the ArcGIS.com map viewer for features stored in the map, and templates for creating new layers and features.
  • Information pop-up windows, configurable to include the display of images, feature attachments, and charts derived from feature attributes.
  • An improved user experience for defining queries on layers, making creation of queries much simpler for the non expert user.
  • Support for editing, including editing feature services powered by ArcGIS Server, and a shared, cross-client, user experience for editable layers.
  • Support for the display, configuration, and animation of time-enabled map and image services.
  • Sharing of presentations via direct URL access to the presentation of a map, making it much simpler to share your presentation with a user who has never used the application before.

You can also view a video demonstrating the new features and an FAQ covers additional details.

We’ve also decided to use this release event to make a change in how we blog about Explorer Online and Explorer Desktop. This blog will continue to focus on ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, but from here on out we’ll be posting about ArcGIS Explorer Online on the ArcGIS Online blog.

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Exploring the Arkansas Earthquake Swarm

Checking out a few tweets this evening I noticed this one from the USGS:

I followed the tweeted link to more details about the recent earthquake swarm in Arkansas, and went to the data and feeds page to make my own map. I made my first map by opening the KML file in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, shown below.


The great thing about opening the KML in Explorer vs. Google Earth is that I could choose from many different basemaps, or combine other ArcGIS Online services like population density (shown below) to see how many folks were close by. From the population density l discovered that the population density near the quake cluster is very low.

I also used the buffer tool (found in the Analysis Gallery)


to create several radii to see how far away the smaller quakes were to the largest quake, a 4.0 shown in red. I created 3, 4, and 5 mile rings and discovered that most of the swarm was within 4 miles of the epicenter of the largest quake.

Since I wanted to keep an eye on the swarm, I decided to add the GeoRSS feed which is dynamic, and continually updated. To add the feed I clicked Add Content and chose GIS Services:

Then chose GeoRSS as the service type:

And entered the URL I found at the USGS website for the feed:

Next I chose the update interval, and since I wanted to view the latest earthquakes each time I opened the map, I toggled the second option. I could also have set the update to refresh periodically. Below is the GeoRSS feed shown in my map.

For more information check out these help topics:

Subscribe to GeoRSS feeds

Add KML files




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New Training Courses Available

Thanks to the hard work of Kris Bezdecny and Violet Michniuk from our Education Services team, there are two new web training courses that will guide you through the process of creating maps for use with iOS and Windows Phone devices as well as a targeted course on how to use the ArcGIS application on your iOS device:

Creating Web Maps for Lightweight Mobile Apps

This course guides you through the process of creating operational maps and services that exploit the query and editing capabilities of our lightweight mobile applications as well as how to publish web maps using ArcGIS Online.

Using the ArcGIS for iOS Application

Following the course on how to create web maps, this course focuses on the feature functionality of the ArcGIS application. You will learn how to access web maps, search for map data, collect and edit data and attach media to what you collect.

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An easy way to add GPS data to ArcMap

So, you have a GPS and have been cruising around all day collecting waypoints and tracks which are now stored on your device. Suppose you’d like to get those into ArcMap for further work or analysis, how would you do that? An easy way is using ArcGIS Explorer Desktop.

The first step is to export your data to a GPX file using your GPS device (a format just about all of them support). Next, we’ll add the GPX file to Explorer by choosing Add, then GPS Data Files, as shown below:

Then choose what you want to add:


After making choices and clicking Add, we now have our GPX file displayed in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop with all the correct symbols.

Next, right-click the layer in contents and choose Share.

You can choose to share as either a layer package, KML, or Explorer map content file. We chose layer package since not only does ArcMap support LPKs, but the layer package also captures the symbols for display in ArcMap.


Start ArcMap, then drag and drop the layer package onto your map. Below we’ve also connected to the ArcGIS Online world imagery basemap which serves as our foundation for displaying the now-converted GPX file, just like we used in Explorer. Note that the symbols are exactly the same.

If you are interested in a live feed from a GPS device, you have another option. ArcMap enables you to create a direct connection to a GPS unit for live input. Right-click on the menu and look for the GPS toolbar:

And you can find out more about it in the ArcGIS Help (just search for GPS).

You can also learn more about importing GPS data files in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop by taking a look at the Add GPS Data Files Explorer help topic.

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Exploring weather watches and warnings

Blizzards, ice storms, floods, mudslides, torrential rains, and more weather related mayhem have seemingly plagued the nation the last couple of weeks. Here’s a way to keep an eye on the current weather watches and warnings using Explorer and ArcGIS Online.

ArcGIS Explorer Online

We’ll start with Explorer Online. After starting the app click Search


And then click ArcGIS to search for anything related to “weather warnings” in ArcGIS Online, as shown below:


Our search turns up a number of possibilities, and after previewing the choices we chose US Weather Warnings published by user_community.


This service comes from NOAA/National Weather Service, and includes current weather warnings for the USA. It is published via ArcGIS Server as a live map service. The NHSS Watches/Warnings contains all of the current weather watches and warnings issued by NOAA’s National Weather Service (NWS).

Once added to the map we can use Identify to learn more about the warning, and click a link to weather.gov to view more detailed information.

ArcGIS Explorer Desktop

Using Explorer Desktop the procedure is very similar. First click Add Content, then choose to add from ArcGIS Online:


Then in the ArcGIS Online window a search string can be entered, in this case “weather warning:”


Looking at the search results one thing that will be different will be the types of items returned from ArcGIS Online. Since Explorer Desktop can use more than map and layer services, we’ll also see items like layer packages, layer files, etc. We checked the item description (highlighted in yellow below) to look for a service that we can add to our existing map:

In Explorer Desktop popup windows are checked off by default when you add a service layer. To enable popups select the item and open its properties, then check the popup window on, as shown below:


Now we’ve used that same service in both Explorer Online, and also Explorer Desktop.


Explorer Desktop also enables us to toggle our viewing mode to 3D, so we can view the warnings on a globe.

For more information on searching for and using shared items on ArcGIS Online see the ArcGIS Explorer Desktop help or ArcGIS Explorer Online help.

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A peek at what's ahead for ArcGIS Explorer in 2011

Now that the New Year has begun, we’d like to provide a glimpse of what’s coming up in the near term for ArcGIS Explorer. First, we’ll be publishing a new release of ArcGIS Explorer Online which you can expect to be publicly available shortly after the Esri Federal User Conference in January. We’ll be showcasing the new version of the application at that event. One of the first things that you’ll notice is new streamlined user experience shown below. This new implementation replaces the ribbon, and provides more real estate and a more intuitive user experience when working with maps.


Other features include:

  • Interoperability with other clients, including a shared notes model with the ArcGIS.com Map Viewer.
  • Improved viewing, query, and analysis via new popups, time-enabled web maps, and simplified query definition capabilities.
  • Support for editing, including editing feature services powered by ArcGIS Server and a shared, cross-client, user experience for both editing feature services and map notes.
  • Easier to share your map information via direct URL access to presentations (no longer opening the application first) which makes it easier for anyone to view, and for you to share your map information.

Though there are lots of improvements, all of your existing Explorer Online maps and presentations will work as-is without any changes.

Also coming up in a subsequent release are localization (5 languages) and more analysis capabilities, including statistical mapping and support for spatial analysis layers. We’ll cover all of these in more detail as the release approaches.

There’s also new things coming for ArcGIS Explorer Desktop, and one of the first is an update release that will focus on setting the stage for ArcGIS 10.1 capabilities and fixes and minor enhancements for reported issues. Later on you can expect some new features and capabilities that we’ll keep a lid on for now, but will be introducing here at this blog.

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Sharing Your Data by Creating Packages

Packages make it easy to share your data with other geographic information system (GIS) professionals because the work of pulling together the selected data and zipping it into a single, convenient file is done for you automatically. People using ArcGIS® Desktop or the free ArcGIS Explorer desktop client can add your packaged data to their maps or globes easily with a couple of clicks. There’s no manual downloading, file management, or unzipping for them to perform. Symbolization, labeling, and other layer properties are preserved, so your intended users don’t have to do any additional steps to display and use your data.

For more on information on new ways to share your data with the ArcGIS community see this PDF

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Upside-down labels in ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGlobe

We’ve recently had a few users contact us asking why they
have upside-down labels appearing in ArcGIS Explorer or ArcGlobe.  We figured it might help if we explain the
technical reasons behind this phenomenon, and the ways to avoid it, in this
week’s blog post.

So, why are labels
not rotated to the north?  Why don’t the
labels spin themselves to the correct angle?

The first thing to know is that this issue only happens with dynamic Map Services.  This
particular publishing method takes a request from the viewing application (ie:
Explorer or Globe) and returns the tile in the native coordinate system (which
is Cube).  A side effect of this process
is that the service effectively “burns” the labels into the map in the
destination projection – Cube.  (This process
of “burning in the labels” is kind of like climbing on to your house and
painting your name on the roof – it locks the text in at that angle).  The problem is that in some places in the
world, the map is burning the labels in at the wrong angle.

But why?  ESRI knows
which way is north, right?

We do, but the
dynamic map service uses ArcMap (2D) display
logic to create the requested display, therefore labeling objects for the Cube projection
in a way that makes sense in 2D and not 3D.

Let’s look at a graphic. Here’s what the Cube projection looks
like in ArcMap. It’s like a box that folds in on itself for display one a 3D
globe.  Note the locations of the North
and South Poles – in the center of the top and bottom sections of the cube.

The Cube Projection, as displayed in ArcMap

Let’s look closer at the North Pole area. You
can see how there are actually four sections inside the polar faces, and that
the “north” direction is separated into four regions (triangles).  Note that the labels are appropriate
(readable) for viewing this in 2D.

The blue arrows indicate the north direction within each triangle

If we think about those triangles rotating into
place (to honor their true north direction) it’s possible to grasp how the
labels are being displayed with 90-degree rotation in Greenland, 180-degree
rotation (upside-down) in Europe, and 270-degree rotation in eastern Russia. 

Rotating the polar sections so they display a
north direction.

OK, so now you understand the technical details of what

But most likely you only really
care about how to fix it.  There are a
number of options to publish services that AVOID this issue. A few of the
simpler workarounds include:

Fully cache the Map Service (in, say, WGS84 or
Web Mercator)

Fully cache a Globe Service

Create a fully cached vector Globe Service for the labels (point features only), and publish
the non-labeled layers as a Map Service

Of these options, you may find that the third provides the best
final display.  While it does require the
creation and maintenance of an extra service, the display of billboarded labels
in 3D is usually the most effective.

A Globe Service with billboarded point features with labels. Note the support
of text placement, font color, and visibility distances.

Have a look in our help for more information on feature labeling and annotation features in ArcGlobe.

Nathan Shephard

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Converting KML to Layer Packages

ArcGIS Explorer desktop can view KML in both 2D and 3D. ArcGIS Desktop
(ArcMap) can export KML, but does not yet enable you to view it. So how do you
view your favorite KML in ArcMap? One way is to use a new capability of the
latest ArcGIS Explorer release and convert it to a layer package. For more information see this post from the Explorer blog.


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