Monthly Archives: June 2010

ArcGIS 10 Availability

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06/30/10 – We had an overwhelming demand for downloads of ArcGIS 10 today. This exceeded our initial estimate for the number of visits to the Esri Customer Care website (http://customers.esri.com ). Due to the increased traffic, our systems could not meet the expectations of our customers this morning. We acted swiftly to resolve the issue and have since increased the available capacity of the Web site to meet the demand. We apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you, and we invite you to try downloading again.  If you run into any issues, please contact Esri at 1-888-377-4575.





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


Mike H., Program Manager
 Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikehogan

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ArcGIS 10 is now available!

ArcGIS 10 product

We at Esri have been hard at work for many months to prepare for the ArcGIS 10 release. Today, the day is finally here when we can announce that ArcGIS 10 has been officially released.


For the first time, ArcGIS will be available as a download, which reduces the packaging waste and any delay due to production and shipping. It’s part of Esri’s effort to be a Greener company, and we hope that many of you will participate in this effort by downloading the software. For those that still require a physical disk, there is a way to request to receive backup media on DVD, but it will take a few more weeks (details for this are in the e-mail you will receive from Customer Service).


In the United States, maintenance contacts will receive information by e-mail on how they can download and authorize ArcGIS 10 for their organization. They may also contact Esri Customer Service for questions about their order at 1-888-377-4575 option 5; outside the United States, customers should contact their local Esri Distributor.


Esri Technical Support has been supporting the ArcGIS 10 Beta/Pre-Release for the last 8 months and is ready to take your calls or technical questions related to the 10 Release. If you run into an issue with the download, installation or use of the product, we are here to help.  Please contact us at 1-888-377-4575 option 2 or submit a request via the online form. Outside the United States, customers should contact their local Esri Distributor.


For more information on ArcGIS 10, see http://www.esri.com/arcgis10.


Press Release:  ArcGIS 10 Transforms the Way People Use GIS.



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


Mike H., Program Manager
 Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikehogan

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We’ve Changed Our Name, but Not Our Quality Content


This could be the time that I get to quote Shakespeare by saying, “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose…”, but instead, I would like to think that there is something to be said about a name change to our blog. Besides, we are not the Montagues or the Capulets. In fact, the change from Support Center News Blog to Support Services Blog makes a lot of sense due to the fact that our content has evolved since the creation of the Support Center News Blog.


The content is not as strictly news-oriented as it may have been in the past. Now, we are writing about everything from upcoming changes to our Web sites and keeping you informed about what is going on in Support Services to software improvements and tips and tricks to help you use our software more efficiently and effectively. With the roll-out of the new Resource Center site and the redesign of the Support site, it also seemed like a perfect time to introduce the name change to the Support Services Blog.


In case you are unaware of where to find our blog on our Web sites, or you are not subscribed to the RSS feed, below are some links and screen shots to help you find a link to the Support Services Blog.


On the Support site, the Support Services Blog link is located on the left-hand side bar under the Support Links heading. You can also get directly to the blog by using the following URL: http://blogs.esri.com/Support/blogs/supportcenter/.


From the Resource Center’s homepage, click on the ‘Blogs’ button/link at the top of the page. This takes you to the list of ‘All Blogs’, where the link to the Support Services Blog is located within the User Communities text box. You can get to this list of ‘All Blogs’ directly by using the following link: http://resources.arcgis.com/content/all-blogs.


The Support Services Blog is here to stay; we just wanted to tell you that we changed the name!


- Collin W., Support Services Blog content manager – Esri Support Services



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Farewell to VBA


A Farwell to VBA

Used to use it everyday

But now VBA is going away

This blog is here just to say

Farewell my friend, VBA

Some of you may already be aware that VBA will be deprecated after version 10 of ArcGIS Desktop.


Microsoft discontinued distributing VBA licenses to new customers as of July 2007 and encourages customers to use .Net Framework, instead. Esri has decided to be coherent with Microsoft’s stance on VBA. The word has been out there since this Developer blog post was published last year: VBA and VB6 with ArcGIS: What’s the Story?


Please refer the following blog post for additional details about VBA support in ArcGIS Desktop at 10: ArcGIS Desktop and VBA?


For further information on support for VBA, please see page 5 of the Product Deprecation Notice.


Please provide any questions or comments that you may have via the comments section below this post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.


- Kaushik M., Support Analyst, SDK group – Esri Support Services


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Help! My Python script isn’t working!

Help button

With any programming language or script, there are always going to be times when things just don’t work. When that happens, what exactly can be done to fix it?


To fix the script, you first have to determine the exact problem, since it’s not always evident. Below are three issues or problem areas to check when your Python script is not functioning.


Problem 1: Error in the code


One of the most common problems when using a programming language is that there is an error somewhere in the code. The easiest way to check for an error is to find the error message (if any) that’s being returned. Most error messages are about a specific line in the code that is not working.


Finding out what the error message is can be very easy to do, especially when you’re running the script in an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) like PythonWin or Python IDLE. Unless you have programmed try and except statements* into the script, the script will output the error and the number of the line on which it occurred. This makes it very easy to track down.


Below is an example of what a typical error response looks like in PythonWin:
screen shot of typical Python error message


The first thing to look at is the line number. Note that it reports back two lines, but the one to look for is the one directly after the name of the script being used (Blog_samples.py in this case) – See Arrow 1. The line directly below that is the actual line from the code itself – See Arrow 2.


If the problem is with a tool or method, it may give you an ArcGIS error code that has information about the error – See Arrow 3. In the sample’s case, the file path did not exist, so the fix would be to check the path. If you are unsure about the tool errors, then you can search for the error message in ArcGIS Desktop Help by typing in the numeric code (for example, 000732). Help documents include possible solutions to each error.


Note: Be sure to double and triple check file paths or any long strings, as one typo will cause errors. When possible, copy/paste long strings to minimize typos.


Note: If the error reports a problem on Line 1, then it might not be the code but another dependency (for example, the module being imported does not exist).


*Why do try and except cause issues when reviewing error messages? Try and except are used for error checking and validation procedures, and if included without a way to output the error message, it can disguise the error, therefore making it very hard to find. For more information on Try/Except statements in error handling, see the ArcGIS Desktop 9.3 Help topic entitled, Error handling in Python.


Problem 2: Incorrect Python Version(s)


Python is a flexible language and allows multiple versions to be installed on one machine. This can cause problems when programs like ArcGIS require the use of a certain version, and the machine is trying to use a different one. Each version of ArcGIS requires a specific version of Python to be present on the machine and will install that version when ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, or ArcGIS Server is installed. Below is a table of ArcGIS versions and the respective Python version:





















ArcGIS Version Python Version
9.0 2.1
9.1 2.1
9.2 2.4
9.3/9.3.1 2.5
10.0 2.6

Okay, so now that we know what version we are supposed to have, how do we go about checking which version is being used? Every file type in Windows uses a default program to run that file type. In Python’s case, it is python.exe, which is typically located in the system folder where Python was installed. By default, ArcGIS installs its version in the C:PythonXX directory, and the python.exe is located in that directory.


To check which version of Python is being used, open Windows Explorer and go to Tools > Folder Options > File Types tab, or if you are using Windows Vista or 7, go to Control Panel > Default Programs > Associate a file type and find the PY extension listed there. Selecting it will tell you what program is being used to run that particular file type, and on Windows XP, clicking the “Advanced” button will allow you to see the path to that file under the “open” action.


File Type dialog boxes in Windows XP
File Type dialog boxes on Windows XP


In addition to the Python version being incorrect, there is also the possibility that the IDE version being used is incorrect. This is especially true with PythonWin. To verify which version of PythonWin is being used and to make sure it matches the correct ArcGIS version, start PythonWin with the Interactive Window open and it will display the version.

Interactive Window

Problem 3: Missing dependencies or modules


When working in any programming language there are times when using outside libraries or modules is necessary. If you are using these libraries, the script needs to be able to find them in the defined location.


Python, by default, installs all the modules (PY files) in the Lib folder of the Python installation directory. If you are using a custom module, be sure to verify that it is installed in the correct location on the machine, as it can vary. For example, the arcgisscripting module is installed in the bin directory of the ArcGIS installation folder, not in the Python installation directory.


Remember that modules are just other PY, PYC, or PYD files on the machine and are added by the import statement in code.


In closing, remember that the ArcGIS user community and Esri Support Services, both in the U.S. and our international distributors, are here to help. Be sure to check out the Geoprocessing forum and the Script Gallery for tips and ideas. Happy Pythoning!


- James U., Support Analyst – SDK group, Esri Support Services

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IMPORTANT: ArcGIS 10 Geodatabase issue with synchronizing replicas

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For updated information and a link to download a patch for this issue, please see the UPDATE: Patch available for ArcGIS 10 Geodatabase issue with synchronizing replicas blog post.


Customers who plan to use ArcGIS 10 with geodatabase replication need to be aware of an issue that causes synchronization to fail. Full details are available in Knowledge base article 37896.


Esri is working on a fix that should be available soon. For updates on status, you can use bug number NIM058231 — Upgrading geodatabases with replicas to version 10 causes synchronization process to fail. 


We will keep you posted via this blog as updates become available.



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


Mike H., Program Manager
 Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikehogan

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Esri Support and ArcGIS Resource Center News


The ArcGIS Resource Center and the Esri Support sites are designed to work in tandem as the go-to resources for ArcGIS users. The emphasis of each site is different however, so here’s how they work…


Resource Center


For those who want the latest product information and can’t wait to download the new products, check out the new Resource Center links at resources.arcgis.com. The newest enhancements to the ArcGIS Resource Center (due to roll out around the end of June) showcase what’s new in ArcGIS 10 and are designed to simplify your understanding of this exciting new release. ArcGIS 10-final will be available for download to everyone by the end of June.


From the ArcGIS Resource Center home page, you’ll be able to access key areas: ArcGIS Product information, Functions, User Communities and Solution Products. Along the top margin, you can find direct access to all-product online help, product-specific blogs, and the forums.


Each category has a variety of ArcGIS 10 information: the galleries (map templates, model and script tools, and imagery samples), videos, system requirements, conceptual help, and links to even more.


Support Home


The Esri Support home page has had many recent enhancements, focused on providing Support information for all-versions up to the newest due-to-release version. For example, while ArcGIS 10 is due to release, the Support site continues to provide information for 9.3.1, 9.3, and earlier versions.


Use the Support home page for direct access to these key Support areas:



  • Knowledge Base – Web Help, technical articles, white papers, GIS Dictionary, and product life-cycles

  • User Forums – previous and current

  • Downloads – ArcScripts, Patches and Service Packs, Data Models, and more

  • Software – Product information for previous versions of ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Desktop Extensions, ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo, and others


Search


Efforts to optimize your search experience from both Support and Resource Center sites are getting favorable responses. While you may have a slightly different experience when initiating a search from either site, we’ve restructured the results pages, implemented a variety of post-filtering options, and (transparent to you) applied search engine optimization techniques that assist with accurate and relevant results.


On Friday morning, June 25 and after, visit ArcGIS Resource Centers and Esri Support sites. Navigate for some content, try the searches on each site, and let us know your experience. Send as many comments, as often as you’d like, to http://support.esri.com/en/feedback. Your feedback is the most valuable aspect when we deploy enhancements, because, in the end, they are changes that benefit everyone.


- Online Support Resources group, Esri Support Services



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How did you get so good?

boys on tricycle

It happens all the time – I’ll be on the phone with a user who needs some help with an unfamiliar function or extension and they’ll ask the question, ‘how did you get so good at this?’


As much as I would love to credit my fancy college degree or my natural inclination to know-it-all, I have to be honest – I learned on ArcView 3.3 in university (which doesn’t help me much now), and I definitely do not have a psychic ability to glean answers from the great beyond.


So, if I did not ‘get so good at this’ from my university studies, and I don’t spend weekends working for a psychic chat line, then where did I learn all of this? The answer is simple. I learned just like you are now: reading blogs and forums, studying the Help documents, asking questions of others, taking Esri Instructor-Led and Virtual Campus classes, and trying things over and over again until I found the correct answer.


If your company has a training budget, then signing up for an Esri Instructor-Led or Virtual Campus course is a great way to learn about GIS. Instructor-Led courses no longer require you to travel to an Esri training site; Virtual Campus classes have been created so you can learn from an instructor via the Internet or video conference. In addition, the Virtual Campus classes are a less expensive and self-paced option to get training on a variety of products and technologies. More information on these training options can be found by going to the training site.


Now some of you may be saying, “The company I work for doesn’t have a training budget right now. How can I learn without training!?”


The answer is simple. With the purchase of ArcGIS Desktop 9.x or 10, you receive free, and I mean totally free, and useful training materials. Since free is my favorite price (and probably the favorite price of the company you work for), this would be a great option for learning more about GIS.


First things first, you need to install ArcTutor using the Complete option. ArcTutor comes with your ArcGIS Desktop Installation disk. If you aren’t sure if ArcTutor was installed, you can check by going to Add/Remove programs and looking for the following:

add/remove programs


If it is not installed and you are not the keeper of the disks, please contact your IT department and request they install the ArcTutor disk using the Complete option.


Once you are sure ArcTutor is installed, you will have access to dozens of tutorials that will help you learn the software.


If you are using a 9.x version, simply navigate to the following location in Windows Explorer: C:Program FilesArcGISDocumentation.

list of documentation files


Here you will find an assortment of tutorials that walk you through exercises using the ArcTutor data.


If you are using 10, accessing tutorials is as simple as looking in Help. I would recommend using the Web-based 10 Help, because it is updated frequently versus the Help dialog box installed on your own system, which is only updated when you install a service pack. Keep in mind that ArcGIS 10 is a major release; new documentation and tutorials are in the process of being written, and any new tutorials will be available via Web Help before being available on your locally installed version. To link to the tutorials on Web Help, click here.


If you need to use your locally installed Help dialog box, open Help and go to Essentials Library > Getting started with ArcGIS > ArcGIS Tutorials.


Use these tutorials to get familiar with processes, functions, or extensions for free. Soon YOU will be answering the question ‘how did you get so good at this?’.


Please provide any questions or comments that you may have via the comments section below this post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.


-Allison R., Technical Account Lead, Esri Support Services



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We’ve got your configuration, yes we do. We’ve got your configuration, how ’bout you?

cheerleader

Ever wonder why you get asked what your configuration is every time you call into Esri Support Services (ESS)? There is a method to our madness! Following up on a previous blog (Coming to a Resolution Near You), ESS does care what service pack you are using as well your operating system, database versions, and even if you are operating within a virtualized environment. We are inputting this information into our product drop-downs within each incident, which is then stored in our call tracking system. While we do have a record of what you last called in about, it is often the case that you may be a different contact, have recently upgraded/applied a service pack/patch, or may even be working on a different system than was previously being used when we last worked with you. Getting this out of the way initially might save you some serious time in troubleshooting your issue, as versions, service packs, and even bit versions can determine if you are encountering a known issue or bug.


It is also still important for us to get your configuration regardless of the type of issue you are seeking assistance on, as the configuration may come into play down the road. If you are just calling in about a general question, the functionality or behavior of what you are seeking help on may change between versions, so this is still important to document and have a clear understanding of.


The Product drop-down section is kept within each incident:


Feel free to let us know if you still have the same configuration as the last time you called in. Also, another helpful step when logging Web/email incidents is to copy/paste this information into a document and keep it handy to include in your requests. To take this even further, you can use the new webform and save your profile information under system configurations within your requests. More on this functionality within the webform can be found here in a previous blog post.


Keep your questions and issues coming and your configuration handy!


- Melissa J., Geodata Group Lead, Esri Support Services



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THE LIST…of issues targeted in ArcGIS 9.3.1 Service Pack 2 (SP2)

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With ArcGIS 9.3.1 SP2 scheduled to be available in July 2010, there is a targeted list of issues that are planned to be addressed in SP2. This list is subject to change at any time, and Esri will continue to add additional items. The following link is to the PDF file that contains the detailed list of the issues that are planned to be addressed in ArcGIS 9.3.1 SP2: ArcGIS 9.3.1 Service Pack 2 Announcement.



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


Mike H., Program Manager
 Follow me on Twitter: http://twitter.com/mikehogan

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