Monthly Archives: November 2010

ArcGIS 9.3.1 Service Pack 2 Desktop Layer Packaging Patch is now available

The ArcGIS 9.3.1 Service Pack 2 Desktop Layer Packaging Patch is now available for download from the ArcGIS Resource Center. The download URL is

This patch addresses an issue that prevented users from being able to unpack/open ArcGIS 10 Service Pack 1 (SP1) layer packages (*.lpk files) in ArcGIS 9.3.1. This patch is required for ArcGIS 9.3.1 users who want to consume layer packages created in ArcGIS Desktop 10 SP1. Without this patch, if you try to open a layer package that was created with ArcGIS 10.0 SP1, the following message is returned:

“The version of this package is not supported. You must install a newer ArcGIS Filehandler to read this package.”

For more details about the issues addressed with this patch, see the following link: Issues Addressed with this Patch.

Esri apologizes for any inconvenience this may have caused you. If you have any issues installing the patch, please contact Esri Support Services.

- Chris F., User Advocacy Group – Esri Support Services

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Where did my Skyline go?

The Skyline tool is a new tool for 3D Analysis in ArcGIS 10. Many of you may have seen this tool demo’d at the User Conference in July; don’t worry if you missed it though, the demo is still available. Watch the “ArcGIS is 3D Capable” (section 14) video available at the following link: (The portion of the video that is specific to the Skyline tool and model begins at the 6:13 mark.)

The Skyline tool will create a feature that displays a line or multipatch feature class containing the results from a skyline silhouette analysis. The output can be combined with the Skyline Barrier Tool to perform shadow analysis, flight path analysis or can be used to evaluate how the skyline view changes with prospective building construction.

I want to take a moment to point out that there is a line in the Web help documentation that many miss that needs to be emphasized. The line appears in the first paragraph and states, “the analysis is conducted from observer points above a functional or virtual surface.” For the tool to work effectively, the observer points must be above the surface used in the optional inputs or not contained by the multipatch features in the ‘input features’ dialog box. When the point is below or contained, the output is not created successfully, therefore resulting in an empty feature, and no one likes an empty skyline feature.

So, as a workaround, if you are trying to create points that will model a specific point, you need to adjust the elevation of the observer points to be above the surface, especially if you are interpolating the location of the observer. Once you have determined the elevation of the observer point, be sure that it is not the same elevation as the surface.

If you are unfamiliar with how to increase the elevation of the 3D points you have created and do not have the elevation in the attribute table, consider the following workflow.

  1. Use the Add XY Coordinates tool to generate the X, Y and Z coordinates for each point. (Yes, I know the name of the tool says XY, but if the point is 3D it also includes the Z coordinate.)

  2. Add a field (double or float to preserve the decimal).

  3. Right-click the field, and use the Field Calculator to add to the elevation value (ultimately, it does not matter what value you provide, it just has to be above the surface).

  4. Now use the Copy Features tool and under Environments > Z Values set ‘Output has Z Values’ to ‘disabled’ prior to running the tool to make the feature 2D.

  5. Use the Feature to 3D by Attribute tool and select the new field for the elevation to convert it back to 3D at the new elevation.

Now the new observer point should be able to create your skyline normally. So to recap, be sure your observer point is above your surface or not contained by your multipatch, or else your Skyline analysis will be empty and you will still be asking, “Where did my Skyline go?”

Please leave any comments in the comment section below this blog post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.

Jeff Swain, Esri Support Analyst – Raster group, Esri Support Services

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New Changes Coming Soon to the Esri Online Support Gateway Page

Since the new Support gateway page was unveiled in April 2010, the Esri Support Services Web Content team within the Online Support Resources Program has been vigilantly reading and incorporating users’ suggestions to enhance and improve the Support gateway page ( In phase 1, we made sure to include direct links to useful repositories, such as Patches & Service Packs and Esri sites, such as ArcGIS Ideas and the ArcGIS Resource Center. In phase 2, we deployed the domestic version of My Support and most recently, Chat with an Analyst. Now, with phase 3 (planned for deployment in the weeks ahead – between now and the end of the year), we’ve organized the links, put focus on the ‘Support Center Alerts’ box (that must-have information), and standardized the login experience.

We’ve grouped the applications (buttons) together that require authentication through your Esri Global Account login, but now you only log in once-per-visit to enjoy the use of My Support, the Support Request Form, and Chat with an Analyst.

Post-log in, you’ll also be invited to contribute to the Forums and ArcGIS Ideas.

We’d like to thank everyone who helped us define the new requirements, design the changes, user test the sample(s), and code and format all the web page changes that bring these ideas to fruition.

Please continue to send us feedback:

- Esri Support Services Web Content team

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New functionality and tools with Bing Maps (formerly Virtual Earth) in ArcGIS 10

Esri logo

Starting at ArcGIS 10, ArcMap has Bing Maps built right in and the configuration of Bing Maps for ArcGIS Server is more straightforward.

For ArcGIS Desktop 10

Bing Maps are now built-in at ArcGIS Desktop 10. To access the Bing Map feature:

  1. Click on Add Data from the File menu bar and select Add Basemap.
  2. Add Basemap image

  3. Click on one of the BingMap features that you want to add and click the Add button.
  4. Add Basemap dialog box

    Below is an image of the result in ArcGIS Desktop:

    image of result in ArcGIS Desktop

For ArcGIS Server 10

ArcGIS Server version 10.0 comes with a Bing Maps Application Key. You can access the key using the following steps in Manager:

  1. Log in to Manager.

  2. On the left pane, click Services > Settings.

  3. Find the Bing Maps Key section of the panel and click View Bing Maps Key.

  4. Enter the user name and password of an account that is an administrator on the Web server where Manager is installed and belongs to the agsadmin operating system group on the server object manager (SOM) machine.

  5. Copy the Bing Maps key into a program, such as Notepad, so that you can later use it when adding Bing Maps to your applications.

Alternatively you can create a key using the Bing Maps Portal:

  1. In a Web browser, navigate to

  2. Create or use a Windows Live ID to log in.

  3. On the ‘Create and view Bing Maps keys’ page enter an application name and URL to create a key. Currently, the name and URL are not validated.

  4. Copy the key, which is available on the same page, and use it to set the ‘Token’ property or apply the token in the proxy class constructor and a Bing component in the ArcGIS Silverlight/WPF API. See the topic on Using Bing Imagery, Geocode, and Route services for more information.

  5. Run your application. It will function without requiring you to generate new tokens and update the Token property on a regular basis. As a result, you can remove any client or server logic to generate and apply Bing Maps tokens.

Please leave any comments in the comment section below this blog post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.

- Phillip W., Implementation Support Analyst, Esri Support Services

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Getting to Know Esri Support: John G.


An interview with ArcGIS Desktop Support Analyst John G.


Hello, this is Cassandra bringing you the first blog post in a new series called “Getting to Know Esri Support”, where each month, we’ll post a new interview of a different member of Esri Support Services. We hope you enjoy!


For our inaugural interview, we will spend some time with Esri Support Services ArcGIS Desktop Support Analyst John G., who has just completed his first year with us.


Support Services Blog: Hi John, thanks for joining us.
John G.: No problem, happy to be here.


SSB: Awesome! So, to better understand the fundamentals of John G., what is your educational background and experience with GIS?
John G.: I graduated from California Polytechnic University – Pomona with a Bachelor of Science in Geography - emphasis in GIS. Prior to starting at Esri, I was the sole GIS staff member for a Geotechnical and Environmental Consulting Firm in Sacramento, CA. Besides making maps, I managed the inventory of spatial data and supervised the company’s GPS data collection.


SSB: Sounds cool. What brought to Esri and Support Services?
John G.: When I got out of school, I was looking for an opportunity to develop well-rounded skills. Working alone certainly gave me the opportunity to learn various tasks (geocoding, printing, symbology, basic analysis, data management, annotation, etc.), but I sometimes felt like I was attempting to re-invent the wheel.
Being at Esri is a blessing, because I can launch into a question regarding the use of a particular environment setting in the dissolve tool entirely unprovoked, and the person will know exactly what I’m talking about right away. Even better, they won’t just be humoring me with a response. The people in technical support love geography, they understand the software, and they have exceptional communication skills. This means that the only thing limiting my learning is that my brain gets full.


SSB: That happen a lot?
John G.: (laughs) There’s a lot to learn.


SSB: So, what are your favorite things to do to relax?
John G.: I love to ride my bike, whether it’s a trip to the grocery store, an overnight tour, a local criterium or going off-road. When I’m at home, I hang with my cats Ray and RayRay and enjoy reading the blog Bike Snob NYC. Some co-workers and I also recently started a Do-It-Yourself bike repair tent called “Bike BBQ” at the Thursday night Redlands Farmers Market.


SSB: I’m guessing then that if you were stranded on a desert island and could bring three things, would one be a bike repair kit?
John G.: Oh trick question. No, I think if I had to keep it to three things, I’d go for a Swiss army knife, some matches and Netflix.


SSB: But no TV upon which to watch the Netflix?
John G.: You gotta draw the line somewhere.


SSB: Gotcha. Okay, scenario: the best chef in the world is going to cook you your ultimate meal, what will you have?
John G.: Definitely some locally grown, vegan tasties. And a bottle of wine.


SSB: No bacon?
John G.: No bacon.


SSB: Just checking. If you could travel back in time to any point in history, where would you go and why?
John G.: Minneapolis, Minnesota, summer of 1981 - purely so I could see Prince and The Time.


SSB: Sweet…80’s pop music lover I see. What’s one thing that really bugs you, besides your lack of desire for bacon?
John G.: Bad honeydew.


SSB: Yikes! I’ll keep that in mind. Bringing it back to GIS, tell us about the areas of the software you enjoying supporting and/or working with here at Esri.
John G.: I’ve always been a lot more interested in workflow management and the automation of repetitive tasks than in the creation of maps. I enjoy supporting ArcPad Studio, because I really empathize with GIS users who find themselves moonlighting as GPS data collection project authors and developers. I also get really excited about the increasing role of Python in extending the functionality of our software.


SSB: Very cool. Got any final shout outs before we sign off?
John G.: Yes, thanks. I just want to give a shout out to all my friends, family and fans. Peace!


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A quality screen shot is worth a thousand words

Here in Support Services, we love it when our customers send in a screen shot of the error message or other dialog box being returned or any other unusual behavior that appears. Unfortunately, all too often, what we get, we simply cannot read.

To take a screen shot of only the dialog box and/or window:

  1. Make sure that the item you want to capture is the active window. For instance, if you want to take a screen shot of only the dialog box with the error message, be sure to click on the dialog box to make it active before completing Step 2.

  2. Press ‘Alt + PrtScn’ – this just captures the window that is active at the time, not the entire desktop.

  3. Paste the screen shot into a Word document or some other text editor and attach the doc to the email being sent. This way you are ensured that the image will not be truncated or lost due to sending it directly in the email message.

The following screen shot was taken using the method described above. The second screen shot is of the same error message, where the user has dual monitors, taken the way a lot of us are used to doing it.

With a screen shot that is taken using ‘Ctrl + PrtScn’, it is almost impossible for the Support Analyst to read the error, as it captures the entire desktop.

Of course, there are other tools and/or software that can be used to capture particular parts of your screen, and I am sure there are other ways to take quality screen shots, but today, I just wanted to share this quick and easy screen shot tip, that anyone can use, with you. Thank you for helping us to better help you.

Please leave any comments in the ‘Comment’ section below this post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments on blog posts. 

- Don G., Esri Support Analyst – Implementation group, Esri Support Services

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ArcGIS 10.0 SP1 Released

esri logo

We are pleased to announce that ArcGIS 10.0 Service Pack 1 was released today.  We recommend that you install SP1 for all ArcGIS products at your earliest convenience.  There are many fixes and improvements that are included as part of this service pack.

Links to the downloads and installation instructions are below:

ArcGIS (Desktop, Engine Server) 10.0 SP1

List of Issues Addressed

ArcIMS 10.0 SP1

ArcSDE 10.0 SP1

ArcGIS Military Analyst 10.0 SP1

ArcGIS Military Overlay Editor 10.0 SP1

If you have any questions or run into issues with the installation please contact Esri Technical Support at 1-888-377-4575, option 2, or visit the Support site. Users outside the United States should contact their local distributor for help.


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

Mike H., Program Manager
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Raster Catalogs can be used for Mosaic Datasets… Really? How?

Hello Support Services blog readers. My name is Jeff, and I am a member of the Geodata Raster team at the East Coast Esri Support Services office located in Charlotte, NC. You may have read one of my previous blogs on mosaic dataset overviews or where to find data on the Web to use in your analysis. Today, I want to discuss the raster types in mosaic datasets in ArcGIS 10.

You will encounter the raster type option when adding rasters to the mosaic dataset via the Add Rasters to Mosaic Dataset tool. There are a plethora of raster type options available to be added. So many, in fact, that some may not be that obvious.

Many of the options refer to particular sensors that require specific settings to interpret and handle the format. There are a few that refer to the different data types available to be added, particularly Image Service Definition, Image Service Reference, Table, and Web Services. Hidden among the sensors is the least obvious raster type titled ‘Table’. This raster type is the setting that can be used to add raster catalogs. The Web Help documentation on this raster type says to use this type when adding the following to your mosaic dataset:

  • Raster catalog

  • Mosaic dataset

  • Table with paths

  • .dbf file (for example, from a footprint shapefile)

Each of the items in the raster catalog will become an item in the mosaic dataset. This is different than a referenced mosaic dataset, because you will be able to create overviews. Overviews cannot be created for a referenced mosaic dataset. Once the raster catalog has been added, the normal mosaic dataset process can be utilized.

This workflow should allow you to convert raster catalogs to the mosaic dataset and allow you to gain all the functionality of mosaic datasets. I hope you find these tips helpful when working with raster types in mosaic datasets. Please leave any comments you may have in the ‘Comment’ section below this blog post. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments.

- Jeff S., Support Analyst, Geodata Raster team, ESRI Support Services

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What’s HOT?! Esri Knowledge Base articles – An Introduction

chili pepper being held

Along with the comprehensive Web Help documentation available to you, there is also a wealth of knowledge and solutions within our knowledge base (KB) articles. These are searchable via the Support site and Resource Center, but in order to help you ‘keep your ear to the ground’, we are going to start posting a list of kb articles that are either highly visited, new, or just about some common issues that some of y’all may be running into as you utilize ArcGIS software.

Please feel free to contribute links to your own favorites or most helpful articles or make suggestions for future posts in the comment section below. You can also comment on a specific kb article by clicking the ’Display the feedback form’ button at the bottom of the kb article, filling out the appropriate information on the form, and clicking ‘Submit’. NOTE: You must be logged in to your Esri Global Account to leave comments on blogs posts or kb articles. We hope you enjoy the post and find the links to the kb articles helpful in your daily use of ArcGIS software. Keep a look out for future blog posts titled “What’s HOT?! Esri Knowledge Base articles”.

Hot off the press…

Classics … that are still hot!

- Melissa J., Geodata team Support Analyst, Esri Support Services – Charlotte, NC

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