Tag: Explorer Desktop

ESRI User Conference 2008 – Plenary Part III – Explorer 600

The afternoon plenary ”look ahead” at ArcGIS 9.4 and Explorer was hosted by 9.4 development lead Euan Cameron. Euan noted that Explorer has a rapidly paced release schedule, and that Explorer 600 will leverage some of the new capabilities being developed for ArcGIS 9.4, but will be released sooner.

Andy MacDonald delivered the preview of what the Explorer team has been hard at work on. Here’s the new user interface which is based on the Microsoft Office ribbon. Andy showed how Explorer’s tools and functions can be organized so they can be easily found. The new user experience, of which Andy is a key architect, will reveal only the tools that you need when you need them, simplifying thing for users and making for an uncluttered look and feel.

Andy also demonstrated how symbols are being organized, showing the new symbol gallery which allows you to choose from many different kinds of symbols that suit many different kinds of data and industries.

Andy mentioned that a continuing development focus is on presentation, and that the team has been working to improve these capabilities by providing tools that allow you to step though your map content much like you step through a slide deck, but an interactive slide show where you can pause and explore further, and include Web-based content.

Andy also showed how Explorer 600 will work with basemaps in different ways. He showed some of the new basemap choices, and how they can be used to layer directly underneath your own data. The basemaps can be easily swapped out, allowing you to visualize your information in different contexts. The basemap gallery allows you to choice from a variety of ESRI basemaps and basemaps of your own choosing.


Andy showed local data draped over terrain, and the controls in the ribbon which allow you to experiment with how your map looks. You don’t have to open property pages to view your options, everything is right at your mouse tips.

Finally Andy showed how you can toggle from 3D mode to 2D mode on-the-fly, demonstrating how you can work with your content in either mode.  

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Mapping a Walkabout (and another sneak peek at 480)

Part II of a two part post on the GIS Education Community blog appeared the other day, picking up where the previous post left off with a discussion of how to take GPS readings and turn them into shapefiles, and then add hyperlinks.

But there’s another way to accomplish the same thing, and also new capabilities coming in ArcGIS Explorer 480 which will make things even easier.

One option might be to save the GPS coordinates as a comma or tab-delimited text file, and import the file to create results. We covered this topic in a post back in July, 2007, and while we were working with a much older version of Explorer at the time, the information in the post is still correct. A nice thing about results is that it’s very easy to do interesting things with their popups, which we covered in another post not long ago. So these methods could have been used instead of the shapefile creation method described in the Education Community post.

But soon there will be an even easier way. New in Explorer 480 is support for GPX format files. Wikipedia describes GPX as follows:

GPX, or GPS eXchange Format is an XML schema designed for transferring GPS data between software applications. It can be used to describe waypoints, tracks, and routes.

We visited the GPXchange site to download a file of interest, one with locations of hot springs in California. In the soon-to-be-released Explorer 480 we imported the GPX file and created a collection of waypoints from the downloaded file. We’ll save the step-by-step details for a later post, after we’ve released Explorer 480, but we ended up with a result group, with each result representing a waypoint in the file. Here we’ve clicked a couple of them to open the popup window to display more information about the waypoint.

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"Real time" 19th century data – and another sneak peek at 480

We’re blessed with the availability of “real time” content these days, and recently blogged about the upcoming support for GeoRSS feeds in Explorer 480 as part of the landscape of timely information.

Another recent post on the GIS Education Community blog discusses what “real time” may have been like when the earth was still terra incognita using the Pinkerton 1812 map from the Explorer Resource Center.

Below is a screenshot showing the Pinkerton 1812 layer swiped to reveal a sneak peek at the new graticule support we’ll be delivering with Explorer 480. This new user option allows your choice of graticule units and the ability to display reference grids such as the US National Grid and MGRS

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Timely information via GeoRSS – Sneak peek at Explorer 480

Cyclones in Myanmar. Fires in Florida. Earthquakes in China. Timely information is critical for learning about events as they happen, and subsequently how to respond and what to do in their aftermath. One of the ways that timely geographic information is published is via GeoRSS feeds.

In the upcoming Explorer 480 release GeoRSS feeds are one of the supported connections, joining ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, and WMS.

Here we’ve connected to the USGS Shake Map feed, and we’re showing the popup content for the 7.9 quake that hit China on Monday, May 12.

Below we’ve connected to another USGS GeoRSS feed publishing all the magnitude 5+ quakes worldwide. Again we’re in China, in the vicinity of the disastrous 7.9 quake. You can see the strong aftershocks that followed the original temblor.


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Publishing a geoprocessing Select tool to ArcGIS Explorer

In this post, guest author Jeff Barrette of ESRI Olympia explains how to create a
geoprocessing service for selecting features in ArcGIS Explorer.

ArcGIS Explorer users may want to zoom to specific locations based upon data
that is available to them either locally or from a server. In ArcGIS Desktop,
users can simply select features of interest based upon feature attribute
values and then zoom to the extent of the resulting selected features. ArcGIS
Explorer does not have the equivalent of a Select By Attribute function
available but it can easily be added as a custom task. This post discusses the
steps necessary to build a geoprocessing select task that can be added into
ArcGIS Explorer to give users zoom to selected features functionality.

The general steps include first using ArcGIS Desktop to build a map document
(MXD) that contains the feature layers that need to be queried along with the
resulting selection symbology. The next step involves building a geoprocessing
model or script that performs the selection capabilities. Next, the
geoprocessing tool and the results map document need to be published and served
using ArcGIS Server. Finally, the new capabilities are added into ArcGIS
Explorer as a new, custom task.

For this example, the data referenced in the steps below is the States feature
class that is available from the ESRI Data and Maps data collection. The data
is located on the ArcGIS 9 Data & Maps StreetMap USA DVD under the
usacensus folder. This post is written for use with ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 (SP5),
ArcGIS Server 9.2 (SP5), and ArcGIS Explorer (build 440).


  1. Create a new folder on the file system called “SelectTask”.
    It is best to organize all of the components necessary to publish a
    geoprocessing task (file based data, SDE connection files, MXDs, toolboxes,
    etc) in a single location to minimize file access and permission issues. The
    graphic below also includes a folder called Publish. It is used to organize all
    published tasks as individual project folders.
    Publish folder
  2. Copy the states feature class to this new location.
  3. Set the appropriate permissions.
    Ideally, this folder is located on the same machine that ArcGIS Server is
    installed on. If the data is on the server, then permissions on the data should
    be all set. If on a different network drive, this folder should be shared and
    the SOC account should be granted access to it.
  4. Create a connection to the ArcGIS Server as an admin user.
    If this is the first time you are publishing something to ArcGIS Server, you
    are first required to establish a connection to the server.
  5. In ArcCatalog, expand GIS Servers.
    This is a node in the Catalog Tree.
  6. Double-click Add ArcGIS Server.
  7. Select Manage GIS Services and click Next.
  8. Provide the necessary connection information and click Finish.

Note: It is also recommended that you read through the Troubleshooting
section at the end of this post before proceeding with the steps
below to ensure user accounts and permissions are set appropriately.

Designing a Map Document (part 1)

  1. Open a new ArcMap session and add the States layer. It is not necessary
    to modify the symbology because with the steps in this document, we will not be
    consuming and displaying the map service, but rather using the layers in it to
    query against its features. In the steps to follow, you will symbolize the
    results layer to control how the results appear in ArcGIS Explorer (or in other

    Note: If your data source is an ArcSDE geodatabase, then see the Working
    with ArcSDE Geodatabase Data Sources
    section below for some suggestions
    on how to manage the ArcSDE server connections. There are some additional steps
    that should be taken to ensure ArcGIS Server can connect to the data. Copying
    the SDE connection file to the project folder makes access much easier to
    manage rather than having to set permissions on your personal profile folders.

  2. Set relative paths for the data sources.
    This can be set via File > Document Properties > Data Source Options.
    Relative paths are not necessary if the ArcMap and ArcGIS Server applications
    are on the same machine but they do make it much easier to move a project
    folder from one server to another or to multiple servers all with the same data
    and models. Hard-coded paths are best if there are multiple SOC machines but
    all pointing to a single drive to access data.
  3. Check the “Overwrite the outputs of geoprocessing operations” option.
    This can be set via Tools > Options > Geoprocessing tab. It is important
    that the output file name remain the same after multiple executions. If this
    option is left unchecked the output name would change (i.e., increment by one
    each time the model is run) and the applications would not be able to reference
    the correct output result.
  4. Uncheck the “Results are temporary by default” option.
    This can be set via Tools > Options > Geoprocessing tab. If the results
    are going to be used in subsequent applications, it is important the results
    are not immediately cleared.
  5. Save the MXD to the new folder location and name it “SelectStates.MXD”.
  6. Keep ArcMap open. You will come back to the same MXD in a few steps.

Building a geoprocessing model

  1. In ArcCatalog, create a toolbox called “CustomToolbox”.
    Right-click the SelectTask folder and click New > Toolbox. Your folder
    should look similar to the following:
    Folder with toolbox
  2. In ArcMap, open ArcToolbox.
  3. Add your CustomToolbox.
    Right-click ArcToolbox > Add Toolbox, browse to the Select Task folder, and
    click Open.
  4. Set the ScratchWorkspace environment variable to the location of your project
    folder (Example: C:PublishSelectTask).

    Right-click ArcToolbox > Environments > General Settings > Scratch
    Workspace. It is important to do this at the application level and not just at
    the tool or model level because it is the ArcMap application that needs to
    manage the output data.
    Setting the Scratch Workspace
  5. Create a new model.
    Right-click your CustomToolbox and click New > Model.
  6. Change the Name property to “SelectStates”.
    Select Model > Model Properties > General Tab. The name property cannot
    include spaces or underscores.
  7. Also change the Label property to “SelectStates” and click OK.
    The label property is what gets displayed in the client application and can
    contain spaces.
  8. Drag and drop the States layer onto the model.
  9. Drag and drop the Select tool onto the model. You can find this tool in
    ArcToolbox Analysis Tools > Extract > Select.

    Note: The Select By Attribute tool can’t be used by itself because it
    does not create an output result that gets written to disk that can then be
    accessed by other applications. In a model, Select By Attribute can be
    connected to the Copy Features command to generate the necessary file output.
    The Select command accomplishes the same end result.

  10. Open the Select tool.
    Right-click on the tool and select Open.
  11. Set States to be the Input Features.
    Select the layer with the blue recycle symbol next to it. This represents the
    data source added into the model. The yellow icon represents a layer located in
    the Table of Contents (TOC). If you choose the latter, you will have two
    references to the same data and one will need to be removed.
  12. Set the %SCRATCHWORKSPACE% inline variable for the Output Feature Class. The
    input should look similar to the graphic below:
    Set the SCRATCHWORKSPACE inline variable

    Note: It is best to use the ScratchWorkspace inline variable when output
    results are going to be referenced from other applications. The Managed option
    works great for intermediate results but does not work well on permanent output
    results. The Managed option will automatically increment the output name with
    each successive execution therefore making it difficult for other applications
    to reference the correct data. The ScratchWorkspace inline variable should be
    used instead. In addition to ScratchWorkspace, also use the “Overwrite the
    outputs of geoprocessing operations” option and make sure the “Results are
    temporarily by default” option is turned off. These settings will ensure the
    resulting output is correctly accessed by other applications.

  13. Build a default, optional expression (Example: “STATE_ABBR” = ‘AK’). This
    can be left blank but it makes it a much easier for a user to modify an already
    existing expression (i.e., its SQL structure) than it is to type one from
    scratch. Click OK.
  14. Create Expression variable/parameter for Select tool.
    Right-click the Select tool and choose Make Variable > From Parameter >
  15. Click the Auto Layout and Full Extent buttons.
    This will better organize your view of the model.
  16. Set the Expression as a Model Parameter.
    Right-click the Expression object and choose Model Parameter. This will enable
    a user to enter a custom expression within the published task inside the client
  17. Right-click the Expression and rename it “Enter Expression:”. How
    the expression is labeled will control how it appears in the client
    application. This is also true for how you label the model. The following
    graphic shows how the task will appear in ArcGIS Explorer.
    The task in ArcGIS Explorer
  18. Right-click the model output States_Select.shp and check Model Parameter.
    This will persist an output result on disk. The result is what will be sent
    back to the ArcGIS Explorer application. Note, when output is set as Model
    Parameter it cannot also be set to intermediate (temporary data). Therefore any
    results you want to send back to ArcGIS Explorer should not be intermediate.
  19. Check Add to Display. This parameter is only necessary for displaying the
    result in ArcGIS Desktop. This is not necessary when publishing the model as a
    Model options checked

    When completed, the model should look similar to the following graphic:
    The completed model

  20. Save the model.
    Click Model > Save.
  21. Close the model. Click Model > Close.

Designing a Map Document (part 2)

  1. Drag and drop the Select States tool from ArcToolbox into the top portion of the
    ArcMap TOC.

    This is called a Tool Layer and it can be executed from the TOC. The Tool Layer
    will also include inputs and outputs to the model once it is executed.
  2. Run the model from the tool layer.
    Right-click the Select States tool layer and select Open to open the model.
    Then click OK to run the model. A layer named States_Select.shp displaying
    the default selected state of Alaska should have been added to your TOC as part
    of the tool layer.
  3. Set the symbology for the States_Select.shp layer.
    However this layer is symbolized is how it will appear in a client application.
    If you only want the result to appear in the ArcGIS Explorer results list but
    you don’t want the feature(s) to display in the view, then set the symbology to
    be nothing.
  4. Uncheck the top level tool layer. The tool layer is really intended only
    to be used for publishing purposes. If it is turned on while running the model
    from ArcMap, it won’t be consistent with the layer returned from the result via
    Add to Display. The TOC should look like the following graphic:
    Map document TOC

Note: Models can be published in one of two ways:

First, publish an MXD containing geoprocessing tool layers. Each tool layer
becomes a task in the geoprocessing service. This method is a little easier
because all the symbology can be directly set within the MXD. Also,
geoprocessing capabilities are automatically recognized when the MXD is
published to ArcGIS Server. Both the data and tools can be consumed by client
applications. This will be the method used in the following sections.

Second, a geoprocessing toolbox can be directly published. Each tool in the
toolbox becomes a task in the geoprocessing service. If you want to control the
appearance of the input and output results, then you would need to create
additional layer files with the desired symbology that are referenced by the
tools. Publishing stand alone tools does have an advantage over publishing tool

Publishing the map with geoprocessing capabilities

  1. In ArcCatalog, browse to the SelectTask folder.
  2. Right-click the SelectStates MXD and choose Publish to ArcGIS Server. The
    first panel allows you to select an ArcGIS Server, specify the name of the
    service, and select or create a folder to organize your new service. You can
    optionally change these settings. Click Next.
  3. Verify that the Mapping and Geoprocessing capabilities are checked and click

    Optionally, this service could be made available to KML, WMS, or mobile
  4. Click Finish.
    To dismiss the summary page. A new map service and a new geoprocessing service
    are added to the GIS Server. Both services should be started and ready to go.
    The GIS Server connection in ArcCatalog should look similar to the graphic
    GIS server connection in ArcCatalog
  5. Verify the service is running. A quick way to determine the service is
    working before continuing is to make sure you can preview the service in
    ArcCatalog. Simply select the SelectStates map service and click on the preview
    tab. If you can see the States displayed, then the service is running properly.
    If you don’t see anything display, then refer to the Troubleshooting Tips
    section near the end of this document.

Adding the custom task into ArcGIS Explorer

  1. Open ArcGIS Explorer.
  2. Click Select Tools > Manage Tasks
    This dialog allows you to control access to the tasks that can be used within
    ArcGIS Explorer. The tasks listed on the left are all those currently available
    to the application, the tasks on the right are those that are actually being
  3. Click the Get Tasks button.
    This allows you to browse locally for tasks or to connect to other servers to
    add additional tasks.
  4. Make sure the Servers option is selected and click ArcGIS Server.
  5. Enter the appropriate connection information.
    If you are not sure of the server name or path, then look at the properties of
    the SelectStates map service via a right-click > Service Properties >
    Capabilities tab. Copy the URL information up to and including “/Services”.
    Connecting to the server in ArcGIS Explorer
  6. Expand the resulting SelectStates toolbox, click the Select States tool,
    and click Open.

    The task has been made available to the application but is still not available
    to the current map.
    Adding the task in ArcGIS Explorer
  7. Click the Select States task on the left side and move it right to make it
    available to the current map. Then click OK.

Using the task in ArcGIS Explorer

  1. Click the Select States task in the Tasks list.
    This will open the custom task in the task window. The labels and text display
    exactly how you set them up in the model.
  2. Modify the expression found in the Task Center. Because a default expression was
    created, it is easy to manipulate.

    Keep in mind that this expression could be modified however someone would need
    it to be (Example: “STATE_ABBR” = ‘WA’ OR “STATE_ABBR” = ‘RI’).
    The completed task running in ArcGIS Explorer
  3. Click Run. Then double-click the result in the Results list to zoom to the
    feature extent (ArcGIS Server Service Pack 5 is required to zoom to the results).

Troubleshooting Tips

  • ArcGIS Server must be properly installed using an Administrators account and
    both the GIS Server and Web Applications post installs must be completed.
  • The ArcGIS SOM and SOC accounts (the defaults are ArcGISSOM and ArcGISSOC) must
    be a member of the Users group.
  • The ArcGIS Web Services account (the default is ArcGISWebServices) must be a
    member of the agsadmin group.
  • Be sure that your account (the person publishing the services) is a member of
    the agsadmin group.
  • It may be necessary to reboot your machine in order for permissions to take
  • The ArcGISSOC account must have at least read-only access to the file-based
    data, the MXD files, toolboxes, and SDE connection files. If the local Users
    group has access, then the ArcGISSOC account also does because it is a part of
    the Users group. You would need to explicitly add ArcGISSOC if you wanted it to
    have a different set of permissions than Users (e.g., read vs read/write).
  • If these files (above) are on a separate network drive, then the folder must be
    shared and the ArcGISSOC account must have at least read access to this shared
  • The ArcGISSOC account must have read/write access to the ArcGISServer
    directories. This is where the cache, jobs and output are written too.
  • Confirm that IIS is properly installed and running.
  • Confirm that the IIS virtual directories (argisoutput, arcgisjobs, and
    arcgiscache) exist and their permissions and local path are correct.
  • Confirm that a folder that matches your ArcGIS Server instance name exists.
    This folder is created during the post install of ArcGIS Server and is found by
    default in C:Inetpubwwwroot.
  • If you’ve made changes to the MXD (e.g., selection symbology), then you will
    need to stop and restart both the map service and the geoprocessing service.
  • If you’ve made changes to the model, then remove the tool layer, rerun the
    model and add the tool layer again. Be sure to follow the steps again as
    indicated in the steps above.

Working with ArcSDE Geodatabase Data Sources

When a connection is made to an ArcSDE geodatabase data source, an SDE
connection file (*.SDE) is typically created in your Documents and Settings
folder under Application DataESRI. This folder would need to be shared and
the ArcGIS Server SOC account would need to be given permissions to the folder.
An easier way to manage this is to create a copy of the *.SDE file and copy it
to the SelectTask folder as outlined below:

  1. Expand Database Connections. This is a node in the ArcCatalog Tree.
  2. Copy the SDE connection file. Right-click the SDE connection file
    and select Copy.
  3. Paste the SDE connection file into the SelectTask folder.
    Browse to and right-click the SelectTask folder and select Paste.
  4. Update all ArcMap ArcSDE geodatabase data sources to use the new connection
    This can be done via the layer properties Source tab. Right-click
    the layer, select properties. Select the Source tab, click the Set Data Source
    button and browse to the new connection file. Do this for each ArcSDE
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ArcGIS Explorer 600 – A Sneak Peek

The next release of ArcGIS Explorer – Build 480 - is coming up quickly, with some important new features and enhancements.  But at the recent ESRI Developer Summit plenary session we took a longer look ahead, beyond Explorer 480, and showed the first public demonstration of ArcGIS Explorer 600 and its new user interface.

The goal of ArcGIS Explorer 600 is to build on the foundation of previous Explorer releases while improving usability and making it more accessible to non-GIS users through the adoption of a new Microsoft Office-style ribbon-based UI.

Using the new ribbon user interface will make the functions of the application easier to find and experiment with. The ribbon also makes it possible to display only the functions that are applicable to what you are doing and hides controls that are not relevant. Other key aspects of the new user experience include:

  • Better map content management
  • Easier access to ArcGIS Online basemaps
  • Improved window management

Like Explorer 480, Explorer 600 will also include some new key functions. One of the big changes coming up in Explorer 600 is the ability to view your map in both 2D as well as 3D. You’ll be able to easily toggle the view between both modes to visualize your geographic information in different ways.

Stay tuned for more on the upcoming Explorer 480 and 600 releases…

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Jane's Explorer

Here’s an interesting press release from a couple of days ago.


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User Conference 2007: Technical workshops to attend if you want to get more out of your existing ArcGIS Server deployment

Some technical workshops at the conference are appropriate for all ArcGIS Server users, even if you’ve installed the product before and you’re already familiar with it. These workshops can help you make better use of your existing deployment:

Designing, Deploying, and Using Cached Map Services
Map caching is the recommended way to make your ArcGIS Server maps run as fast as possible. Presented by the authors of this very blog, this workshop covers basic to advanced topics in map caching. This workshop is offered three times, and is a good one to catch on Friday morning if you have a late flight.

Creating and Using ArcGIS Server Geoprocessing Services
This workshop shows how to use geoprocessing services to send GIS work to the server and get back the results when the work is done. When you use geoprocessing services, you don’t have to copy and distribute your toolboxes to everyone, and the model runs on the server, freeing up your own computer’s resources.

Deploying and using ArcGIS Explorer
If you’ve only “played with” ArcGIS Explorer, this workshop will help you reach the next level to understand how you can deploy and use Explorer in your organization. This workshop, presented by Bern Szukalski and Mark Bockenhauer, is appropriate for ArcGIS Explorer beginners as well.

ArcGIS Server: The Road Ahead
A large number of you mentioned in the pre-conference surveys that you want to know what’s in the next release of ArcGIS. The “Road Ahead” workshops are meant just for you. At this workshop you’ll hear development and product leads explain what’s coming for ArcGIS Server in 9.3 and beyond.

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Creating a 3D globe cache from a 2D map cache

ArcGIS Online globeOne purpose of this blog is to share some of the things we’ve learned about our software by using it ourselves. The ArcGIS Online project uses the ArcGIS Server map and globe caching technology. In this post, we share a technique we’ve developed to create 3D caches for ArcGIS Online.

For performance and appearance benefits, many of the 3D globe caches on ArcGIS Online were created originally from 2D fused map caches. These 2D caches were overlaid on the globe and cached to make globe tiles. This technique improves the performance of the globe service because it yields only one cached layer. It also improves the appearance of the service because anti-aliasing effects in the 2D cache transfer to the 3D cache. This post lists the steps that you can follow to create a 3D cache from a 2D cache.

The instructions in this post are written for intermediate to advanced ArcGIS Server users. Before attempting this technique, it’s helpful to have some previous experience publishing ArcGIS Server services, creating map caches, and connecting to GIS services in ArcGlobe.

Create the 2D map cache

The first step in this process is to create the 2D cached map service. Start by using ArcMap to create an attractive map document that is designed for display at some pre-determined scale levels. You’ll need to select the scale levels you want cached and then apply the appropriate symbology for each scale level. You can find tips for this process in Planning a map cache.

Below is a list of scale levels used by ArcGIS Online 2D caches. These scale levels translate well to the fixed scale levels used by ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGlobe, and are strongly recommended if you plan on eventually creating a 3D cache from your 2D cache. The high-precision values of the scales prevent tiles from overlapping at the edge of the globe near the International Date Line. If your map does not have worldwide coverage, you do not have to enter all of the decimal places for these numbers, but it’s recommended that you stay close to these numbers for the best visual effects. You do not have to use all of the scales; you can use a sequential subset of them.

Recommended scales for your 2D cache

  • 147748799.285417 (To clarify, this corresponds to approximately 1:147,748,799 scale)
  • 73874399.6427087 (This corresponds to approximately 1:73,874,299)
  • 36937199.8213544 (Etc.)
  • 18468599.9106772
  • 9234299.95533859
  • 4617149.97766929
  • 2308574.98883465
  • 1154287.49441732
  • 577143.747208662
  • 288571.873604331
  • 144285.936802165
  • 72142.9684010827
  • 36071.4842005414
  • 18035.7421002707
  • 9017.87105013534
  • 4508.93552506767

Once you’ve finished designing and creating your map document, you should publish it as an ArcGIS Server map service and create a map cache. If using the above values, you can copy and paste them directly into the Generate Map Server Cache tool. This post does not focus on the details of publishing the 2D service and generating the cache, but ample instructions are available in the ArcGIS Server Help.

Configure a custom error for missing tiles

A previous post on this blog explained how you can configure your web server to return a blank or “No data available” image in areas where a client cannot find a cache tile. This is an important step when you’re generating a 3D cache from a 2D cache because the tile edges may not always line up between the two types of caches. The 3D cache generating process will perform better with a blank or “No data available” tile than it will when no tile is found. Follow the steps at this link to configure your web server to return the blank tile: Configuring your server to display a “Data not available” tile for empty map cache areas.

Create a globe document from the 2D service

Now that you have a 2D map service running, you can add it to an ArcGlobe document. The service will be draped over the globe in 3D. Follow these steps to create and appropriately configure the document:

  1. Start ArcGlobe
    Tip: If you’re using ArcGlobe in a remote desktop session, you may get better performance by resizing the application window to eliminate the globe portion of the display. You don’t need to see the globe during these steps.
  2. Remove the default layers named Continents and World Image.
  3. Click Tools > Options and click the Cache tab.
  4. Set the Cache path to be the same as the server cache directory where you want your globe cache to be created, with “GlobeCache” appended to the end (Example: \myServercacheGlobeCache) This is an application-level property, so you may want to make note of the original cache path and set this value back the next time you use ArcGlobe.
  5. Click OK to dismiss the options dialog, then click the Add Data button.
  6. Add the 2D map service that you created in the previous steps. Be sure to use an Internet connection to ArcGIS Server (not a local connection). ArcGlobe can display the 2D service draped over the globe.
  7. Right-click the map service layer and select Properties.
  8. In the Globe General tab, modify the Layer Name and Description as you like.
  9. Click the Cache tab
  10. If you’re creating a base map layer, such as satellite imagery or a street map, check “Use lossy spatial compression”. If you’re creating a transparent reference layer, such as boundaries or a road network, this compression is not necessary.
  11. If you are using the recommended ArcGIS Online scale levels listed above, change the minimum cell size to twice the calculated value. Leaving this unchanged will cause your cache to grow larger than necessary.
  12. Click OK to dismiss the dialog.
  13. Save the globe document and close ArcGlobe.

Create a globe service

Now you need to publish a globe service using the globe document you created in the steps above. You can create the service in ArcCatalog or Manager. Be sure to set the service properties to reference the appropriate cache directory (It’s not necessary to append “GlobeCache” to the name this time.)

The globe service you create should be pooled, with 2 – 4 instances per server object container (SOC) that will be employed in the cache-building process. You may need to adjust this number depending on memory and CPU constraints you observe during the caching process.

Note about number of service instances: The map service that you created earlier only needs to have about ¼ the number of instances that your globe service has at this point. This is because you’ve cached the map service already, so requests for its tiles can be generally satisfied by the virtual cache directory, without making a request to the GIS server. The globe service is going to need a lot of instances while caching. After the cache is generated you can reduce the number of globe service instances.

Generate a globe cache

Once the globe service is started, you can begin generating the cache. You must do this step in ArcCatalog. In the Caching tab of the globe service properties, you’ll find two options for generating the cache. The Generate button creates a cache for the entire globe service, while the Update option only caches an extent that you provide.

As you set the parameters for the caching tools, you’ll need to select the levels of detail that the cache will be created at. Set the From level to “Globe – 1:10000000″ even if your service does not have global coverage. This will not generate an unreasonably large cache because tiles that are outside the service extent will just be skipped by the cache generation process.

When selecting the To level of detail, use the table below which associates each ArcGIS Online scale level with the appropriate To level of detail you should use for your globe cache. For example, if your map cache’s closest scale level is 72142.968… choose “City – 1:9765″ from the To Level of Detail dropdown in the Generate Globe Server Cache tool. Ignore the scale given in the dropdown (in this example 1:9765).

Scale level Globe cache “To” level of detail
73874399.6427087 Globe
36937199.8213544 Continent
18468599.9106772 Countries
9234299.95533859 Country
4617149.97766929 States
2308574.98883465 State
1154287.49441732 Counties
577143.747208662 County
288571.873604331 Metropolitan Area
144285.936802165 Cities
72142.9684010827 City
36071.4842005414 Town
18035.7421002707 Neighborhood
9017.87105013534 City Blocks
4508.93552506767 City Block

When you’ve set all of the parameters for the caching tools, click OK and let the cache generation process do its work. When it completes, you’ll have a set of globe tiles that look like the tiles in your 2D map cache.

Create a disconnected service (optional)

At this point, you could leave your globe service running and users would see the new cache tiles. However, your map service would always need to be running in order for your globe service to start correctly. To avoid this dependence on the map service, you can do the following to create a disconnected globe service:

  1. Stop the globe service you created previously.
  2. Open ArcGlobe and create a new globe document.
  3. Remove the default layers named Continents and World Image.
  4. Click the Add Data button.
  5. Browse to the folder on disk that contains the globe cache you just created. This involves browsing to your server cache directory, opening the GlobeCache folder, and finding the folder that represents your new globe cache. (Tip: The folder name will probably contain a representation of the URL of your 2D service, for example: ESRI_ServerLyrLocalGlobeCache_http___myserver_arcgis_services_world_mapserver_Layers_world.)
  6. Inside the globe cache’s folder, you’ll see a file named cache.lyr. Add cache.lyr to your map.
  7. Save the globe document and close ArcGlobe.
  8. Use ArcGIS Server to publish the globe document as a globe service. You’ve created a disconnected globe service.

(Note: Creating a 3D cache from a 2D cache using the method described above adds temporary local cache files that can add up to cumbersome sizes during long caching jobs. If this occurs you can use the operating system tools to schedule a task that deletes the local cache periodically, such as every 10 minutes. The local cache is typically stored in C:Documents and Settings<SOC account name>Local SettingsTempesrimapcache.)

Do you have a question about this technique or a tip of your own you’d like to share? If so, please leave a comment.

-Sterling Quinn

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Using custom logos in ArcGIS Explorer

Mark Bockenhauer of the ArcGIS Explorer team contributed the following post on how to display a custom logo in ArcGIS Explorer.



It is common with paper maps to display a logo perhaps a company logo or government seal.  The same can be done on digital ArcGIS Explorer maps by leveraging the Home Server.

The Home Server is a user defined server that ArcGIS Explorer connects to when it starts up.  Typically ArcGIS Explorer checks the home server to see if its version is up to date and to get the default map to display.  It does this by referencing information in the ‘explorer’ folder on the server. This folder is part of the ArcGIS Server install.

Download the explorer.zip folder before continuing with this example.  This folder contains example resources for all of the ArcGIS Server Home Server settings that can be applied to ArcGIS Explorer.

Once you have downloaded the file unzip it and place it in the appropriate location on your server.

Default Locations:
.NET  C:InetpubwwwrootArcGISExplorer
JAVA   C:Program FilesArcGISjavaweb_outputExplorer

To display your own custom logo on ArcGIS Explorer applications that specify your server as their home server you will need to modify the following files:


In the e2config.xml file the <skins> section is commented out (highlighted in bold below).  Un-comment this section by removing “<!- -“ prior to the section and “- ->” following the section.  You will also want type in the appropriate URL for the <skinurl> tag. 

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8" standalone="yes"?>

<E2Config xmlns:xsd="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema" xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance">













  <!– To use a server skin file, uncomment the 'skins' tags below by removing the exclamation point and hyphens.

     Type your server name into the skin url. The server install contains an example skin file and resources –>







Next we will modify the skin file referenced in the <skins> tags to display the desired logo. In the explorerskinsexample_skin_file you will see that all of the lines are commented out.  You will also notice that there are two sections to the file.  The tags in the upper section all control the ArcGIS Explorer color scheme.  The tags in the lower section pertain to ArcGIS Explorer graphic elements.  Un-comment this section.

    <HUDFont type="Font">Verdana</HUDFont>

    <ApplicationTitle type="Application">ExampleApplicationTitle</ApplicationTitle>

    <DocumentPrefix type="Application">ExampleDocumentPrefix</DocumentPrefix>

    <SplashScreenBitmap type="Application">example_splash_screen.png</SplashScreenBitmap>

    <SplashMessageCoords type="Application">15,200</SplashMessageCoords>

    <DisplayCustomLogo type="Application">example_custom_logo.png</DisplayCustomLogo>

    <DisplayCustomLogoMaskColor type="Application">RGB(255, 0, 255)</DisplayCustomLogoMaskColor>

    <DisplayCustomLogoTransparency type="Application">75</DisplayCustomLogoTransparency>

    <NorthArrowBitmap type="Application">example_north_arrow.png</NorthArrowBitmap>


At this point if you start ArcGIS Explorer and specify your server as the Home Server, you will see the Example Custom Logo.

Setting the Home Server to your server.
1.    In Explorer, click File > Set Home Server
2.    Click “Connect to the Home Server located at”, then enter the URL to your server in the format http://<server name>/<instance name> (Example: http://myServer/ArcGIS)
3.    Click the Test button to test the connection, or click OK to return to Explorer.
ArcGIS Explorer will restart and apply the Home Server Settings.

To use your own logo you will want to change the .PNG referenced in the <DisplayCustomLogo> tag.  Your .PNG file should be located in the skins folder with the skin file.

Notice that the example logo makes use of the <DisplayCustomLogoMaskColor> to display a rectangular logo.

Actual .PNG on the left, what is displayed on the Right.


For more information on making your server the ArcGIS Explorer Home Server see "Making your system an ArcGIS Explorer Home Server" under "Administering the Server" at:  http://webhelp.esri.com/arcgisserver/9.2/dotNet/  

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