Monthly Archives: October 2009

Working with Rasters: Georeferencing

ESRI globe logo


Good day, folks! My name is Khalid, and I am a member of the Geodata Raster Unit at ESRI Support Services. This post is the first of a series that examines basic concepts revolving around raster data. Gaining familiarity with the terminology associated with a new subject matter is arguably the most challenging hurdle in mastering any new content: a notion that is not lost on GIS professionals inaugurating themselves into the world of imagery, scanned documents, and other manifestations of raster data. The hodgepodge of formats and properties intrinsic to rasters may cause confusion with understanding the processes needed for preparing the data so that it may be properly utilized in a GIS application. With this in mind, we will explore some of the more common topics associated with raster data by taking a look at georeferencing: what it is and when it is needed.


Before we get into georeferencing, it is important to develop an understanding of raster data, so please take the time to review the linked article. In short, if you have a scanned paper map, it is a raster. If you have an aerial photograph, it is a raster. If you took a picture from your digital camera, it is a raster. A raster can come in many formats; this list summarizes the formats supported by ArcGIS Desktop. The proper geographical placement of the raster, as with any other spatial data, is critically important for use in a GIS application. The idea of georeferencing a raster is done to ensure that the data essentially falls in the right place on the map. When it comes to rasters, satisfying this requirement involves evaluating a series of questions noted in this article on gathering raster data information:



    • Where did the raster come from?


    • Was there any special processing used to create the raster?


  • What has been done to it?


Understanding where the raster came from and what has been done to it plays a large part in determining whether the raster needs to be georeferenced. For example, a paper map that you might have scanned a few moments ago will certainly need to be georeferenced, whereas a DEM downloaded from the USGS Web site will not. If you are unsure about the details of the raster and whether it may or may not need georeferencing, examine its extent values and determine whether they appear to reflect real world coordinates in a projected or geographic coordinate system. If the data’s extent appears to use real-world coordinates, review this article on identifying an unknown coordinate system. Hint: Projected coordinates typically have a minimum of 4 units for each extent, whereas geographic coordinates have 2 units for the top/bottom and up to 3 units for left/right. Also, be sure to check out the “Georeferencing a raster dataset” Web help article; it provides detailed information on this topic and has a neat video demonstrating the process.


- Khalid D., Support Analyst, Geodata Raster Unit, ESRI Support Services


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As the Software Turns

sun dial embossed with time flies


As I’m sure you’re aware, there have been many versions of ArcGIS software released through the years, and again, as you’re probably already aware, support for each version depreciates with each release and over time. The entire process is outlined in a PDF document entitled Product Life Cycle Support Policy.


So, besides the point on how long phone/email-based support will be offered, other interesting points that you may not be aware of are brought to light within this document:


    • Products that are in general availability, such as version 9.3.1 products, offer technical support, patches, and new operating system certification. For example, Mike H. announced Windows 7 support for specific 9.3.1 software.


    • Products in extended support will not be certified on new operating systems. For example, version 9.2 will not be certified on the upcoming release of Windows 7.


    • Products in mature support will not have service packs or patches created for them. For example, version 9.1 won’t see another service pack release.


  • Products that enter the retired phase will not have technical support available. Because of this, it is strongly recommended that you start considering and contact ESRI Support Services for help or assistance with a migration plan to a later release (need permitting).


You can find the gateway for each individual product here: Product Life Cycles Overview.


Speaking of the product life cycle, we’re coming up on the 10th anniversary of ArcGIS Desktop 8.0.1 release! Where were you in December of 1999? Or better yet, how many of you used version 8.0.1??


Kevin H-Kevin H., ArcGIS Server Group Lead, ESRI Support Services


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The Tortoise and the Hare


We’ve all been there. It’s Monday morning and squinting through the haze of the past weekend, you boot up your computer and double-click the ArcMap icon, so you can finish up Joe Somebody’s latest über urgent request: something involving lots of acronyms and possibly underground electrical lines. As the familiar blue and white splash-screen pops up, you head out to get the first of several cups of what you were told was coffee. Trudging back to your desk, you see the same splash-screen that was there when you left. So you sit…and wait…and wait…eyes glazing over. You’re jolted from your semi-comatose state by the sound of your neighbor already starting his work. As the tears of frustration start to well, you mumble to yourself, “15 seconds…It took him only 15 seconds to start ArcMap. We have the same computer…”.


Hey everyone, I’m Todd, one of the Desktop Analysts here in the Eastern Support Unit. We here in Support Services see this kind of thing all too often: ArcMap running side-by-side on two computers that, to the best of the owner’s knowledge, appear to have the same configurations. One computer opens MXDs and performs various geoprocessing tasks like clockwork, but the other, using the same data, spits out errors, hangs, and/or eventually crashes. There are some obvious red flags to check for first, such as corrupt normal templates, user profiles, and registry keys, but what happens when the issue is not so apparent? A powerful, easy to use tool to help us debug these types of situations is PC audit and reporting software. There are numerous free PC audit and reporting products available, such as PC Discovery Audit, Look in my PC, etc. ESRI does not endorse any of these products, but one of the more popular tools that analysts have reported success with is Belarc Advisor. PC audit and reporting software creates a very detailed configuration profile of the problem computer and includes such information as installed software and hardware, CIS (Center for Internet Security) benchmarks, anti-virus status, and missing Microsoft hotfixes. This profile is saved as a local HTML file on the user’s computer, which can be emailed to ESRI for further analysis.


By comparing the profile of the problem computer against a second profile generated for a working computer, underlying issues due to slight differences in configurations, network connections, memory allocations, and software installations can be pinpointed much more efficiently, thereby getting the problem solved quicker.


-Todd S., Senior Support Analyst – Desktop Group, ESRI Support Services, Charlotte, NC


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ArcGIS Desktop: It doesn’t have to be kept under lock and key!


Hi there! This is Randall with the Server Usage and Implementation groups at ESRI’s Eastern Support Services.


We often hear concerns from customers regarding difficulties working with the ArcGIS Desktop licensing requirements. Specifically, a lot of customers still use the parallel or USB style hardware lock, which prior to ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 was required when using the license manager. There are a number of use cases where reliance on a physical hardware key is not just annoying, but is also not practical.


Not only does the hardware dongle take up a USB port, but it’s also cumbersome, as it sticks out of the machine in unwieldy positions. Occasionally, customers would break their hardware keys because of an unfortunate blow to the back or side of a laptop, lose the hardware key, or even damage the USB port that the key was plugged into. Sometimes, customers have even reported that the hardware key stopped functioning all together, which causes production stoppages as customers wait for new licensing materials to be delivered.


In other cases, an organization’s IT staff may undertake measures to reduce the cost of ownership of enterprise servers and take steps to virtualize as many machines as possible. In that case, customers previously needed to rely on third party solutions to ‘map’ a physical hardware key to the license manager service on a physical machine, which is not an ideal or stable solution at all.


To alleviate these types of issues, starting at ArcGIS Desktop 9.3, ESRI has released a ‘keyless’ license manager that binds to the network adapter’s MAC address, instead of a hardware lock. The keyless license manager, which is available for download and is also shipped with ArcGIS Desktop version 9.3.1, helps to overcome limitations stemming from the previous physical hardware key requirement of concurrent use and ArcInfo-level software licensing.


Moving to the new keyless license manager is simple. Visit the ESRI Customer Support Site and follow the instructions to request a new keyless license file. Once you receive your new license file via email, download and install the keyless license manager. As always, if you run into trouble along the way, ESRI Support Services is always available to assist you.


-Randall W., Server Usage and Implementation groups, ESRI Eastern Support Services


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ESRI Product Support on Microsoft Windows 7

We are pleased to announce that the following ESRI products and versions are now supported on the Microsoft Windows 7 Operating System:

ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 and 9.3.1
ArcReader 9.3 and 9.3.1
ArcINFO Workstation 9.3 and 9.3.1
ArcGIS Engine 9.3 and 9.3.1
ArcGIS Explorer 900

Note: ESRI Server products (ArcGIS Server, ArcSDE and ArcIMS) are not supported on Windows 7 at this time due to some known issues with Internet Explorer 8. ESRI is planning to support ESRI Server products on Windows 7 with the 9.4 release of the software.

Mike H., Program Manager
User Advocacy Group, ESRI Support Services

Mike H., Program Manager
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Highlighting Some of the Many ESRI Resources Available to You

hand holding the earth

Hello again. This is Kevin H., group lead for the ArcGIS Server group here in ESRI Support Services. Lately, I’ve been fielding questions and have noticed the answers are coming from all sorts of different places. Usually I get the follow up question, “Kevin, how did you know about that resource?” This got me thinking, how do I know about this? The answer, I suppose, is built on the amount of time I spend surfing the ESRI Website. I realize that not everyone can spend hours every day reading and searching for new content, so here’s a quick list of some of the hot areas I go back to time and time again.

Blogs – Funny, a blog reference within a blog post. More and more ESRI employees are sharing tips, tricks and excellent information in blog format. Check the blog home page and find information you may not have known we were writing about. (While you’re there – use the RSS link to subscribe to your favorite ESRI blogs)

Resource Center – The Resource Centers bundle a ton of information into one convenient spot. So what do you get once you’re in a particular resource center? A wealth of information!

The following two lists break down ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop, respectively.

Resource Centers ArcGIS Server tabs

  • Resources Gateway: return back to the main Resource Center landing page

  • Resources: SDK and ArcGIS Online links

  • Data Management: Geodatabase management and use links

  • Help: the online help

  • Communities: Links to code galleries by programming/scripting language
Resource Centers ArcGIS Desktop tabs

  • Resources Gateway: return back to the main Resource Center landing page

  • For Developers: Gateway to customization based on language

  • Data: Link to ArcGIS Online basemaps for use in Desktop

  • Help: the online help

ESRI Support Center – A wealth of information resides here as well, so much so, that this could be its own blog post. Here are a few of the highlights.

Support Center Home page tabs

  • Software: Link directly into a particular software page to get pre-sorted information on the product of interest. (Use the quick DT or AGS click to drill into ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Server links, respectively)

    • Focused knowledge base articles (DT / AGS)

    • System Requirements (DT / AGS)

    • Samples, Utilities and ArcScripts (DT / AGS)

    • Patches and Service Packs for download (DT / AGS)

    • Product Life Cycle (DT / AGS)

  • Knowledge Base: Everything from the Web Help to White Papers, to helpful articles written by knowledgeable and insightful ESRI employees!

  • Downloads: The main page for anything downloadable from ESRI Support Services (patches, service packs, samples and arcscripts to name a few).

  • User Forums: The best spot to interact with other ESRI users. Post a question, offer your insight, or just read the headlines to get a feel for what the rest of the GIS community is up too.

ESRI Product Page – The main landing page for all ESRI products. Get product briefs, see demos, and read about success stories.

There are a lot of links provided above, and sometimes it isn’t as much about “knowing the answer”, as much as it is “knowing where to get the answer”. You’ll also probably realize that you can get to the same areas through different starting points. Because of this, you’ll probably come to use one starting point time and time again as you familiarize yourself with the navigation. There isn’t a right or wrong way to find what’s important – just the way that helps you be successful.

If all else fails, contact us at ESRI Support (USA Customers / Intentional Customers) – we love working with you and seeing you through to a successful resolution!

Kevin H -Kevin H., ArcGIS Server Group Lead, ESRI Support Services

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