Introducing Arc2Earth V2

Posted on October 31, 2007. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, Google Earth, Google Maps |


GeoSpatial Training Services is in the process of creating a new e-learning course covering the Arc2Earth ArcGIS Extension (Version 2). Over the next few posts I’m going to be taking a look at the latest release of Arc2Earth and describing some of the wonderful functionality this product provides for translating your existing ArcGIS data into readable formats for Google Earth, Google Maps, and Microsoft Virtual Earth.  As an ArcGIS extension, Arc2Earth was initially built as a highly efficient tool for exporting ArcGIS data including the geometric representations of the data, labels, renderers, graphics, and layouts into a format that Google Earth understands.  However, as you’ll see, Arc2Earth has evolved into more than just an ArcGIS data export tool for Google Earth.  In addition to all the great export functionality you can also import KML/KMZ files directly to ArcGIS in geodatabase format, view raster tiles (aerial and hybrid imagery) provided by Microsoft, Yahoo, and from within ArcMap, export your data as map tiles to Google Maps and Virtual Earth, publish data to web enabled viewers, automate exports through the scheduler process, and much more.

With the recent release of Arc2Earth V2, you now have four different versions from which to choose, each with different levels of functionality.  For detailed version and pricing inforrmation please click here.  All of the versions share the same installer and software, and a license key is used to unlock their functionality.  You can review the Feature List to determine which features are in each version.  Arc2Earth functionality is accessed through the Arc2Earth toolbar in ArcMap and the supporting Map Tile Layer toolbar. Let’s review the functionality provided by this tool. 

Exporting Data to Google Earth, Google Maps, Virtual Earth
The bread and butter utilities provided by Arc2Earth center around the ability to export your ArcGIS data into Google Earth format files (KML/KMZ) so we’ll review those first.   From the Export pulldown menu, Arc2Earth gives you the ability to perform a number of data exports.  You may choose to export only the selected layer in your ArcMap table of contents, export all layers in the table of contents, take a quick snapshot (this generates a KML Ground Overlay image) of your ArcMap data or layout view, create map tiles for import into Google Maps or Virtual Earth, export selected graphics, or create a Google Earth Superoverlay if you have large amounts of data.  The figures at the bottom of this post show various exports taken from ArcMap using Arc2Earth.

Some of the more advanced export capabilities include the ability to add time values to your exported data, create regions for displaying large amounts of data in Google Earth, extrude data for 3D data display, and the creation of map tiles for viewers.

Time Data
Using the Time Data tab in the Arc2Earth Export dialog you can add time data to your exported data.  Google Earth will then display the timeline control and allow the user to change the current timeframe of the globe.  Time values can be added manually or can come from existing attributes in your data.  Click here to learn more about the Google Earth time control.

KML Regions are a powerful feature that allows Google Earth to stream your data in pieces instead of as a whole.  If you have large datasets, this is the best way to display your data.  Regions can also be used to display data only when the user’s camera is at a certain altitude.  Regions can be created using the Regions tab in the Arc2Earth Export dialog.  To learn more about Google Earth Regions click here.

Data Extrusion
I think this is probably my favorite export capability in Arc2Earth because of the stunning visualizations that are possible.  In Google Earth, vector data can be displayed in 3D, and by using an attribute field or existing Z-values in your ArcGIS data you can export 3D data similar to the figures you see below. 

Map Tile Exporter
The Arc2Earth Map Tile Exporter can be used to create map tiles for Google Maps, Microsoft Virtual Earth, or Superoverlays for Google Earth.  Map tiles can be exported to a local computer, web server, or Amazon S3 storage.  Map viewers can also be created for each of these products similar to the screenshot below.

Importing Data to ArcGIS 
In addition to being able to export data from ArcGIS, Arc2Earth also provides import tools that give you the ability to visualize imagery and hybrid raster tiles from Microsoft, Yahoo, and as custom layers in ArcMap.  This gives you the ability to add in background aerial imagery to your data or layout view.  Notice in the figure below that a Microsoft Aerials layer has been added to the table of contents.

The loading of these custom raster layers is accomplished through the use of the Map Tile Layer toolbar.  Arc2Earth downloads the raster tiles over the Internet in small chunks, and seams them together for display in ArcMap.  In addition, Arc2Earth monitors the current map extent and downloads the appropriate tiles to display for the current map extent.  Tiles are automatically georeferenced so that they will display no matter what spatial reference you have set in your map.

In addition to opening the Map Tiles Toolbar, the Import menu item can also be used to import KML, KMZ, GeoRss, and Atom files into ArcMap.  The importer can either create a new feature class or update an existing class in either a PGDB or ArcSDE instance.

Arc2Earth Geoprocessing Tool
Arc2Earth integrates into the ArcGIS geoprocessing framework by providing a custom geoprocessing tool that can be used from any script or model or directly from ArcToolbox.  This geoprocessing tool can be a great resource when combined with other tools or in a model as the final output parameter.

Arc2Earth Scheduler
The Arc2Earth Scheduler is a separate program that runs outside the main Arc2Earth extension, and is only available with the Enterprise license level.  Scheduler maintains a list of jobs that will run at user defined intervals (hourly, daily, weekly, etc).  This is great for automating regularly scheduled exports to Google Earth, Google Maps, or Virtual Earth. 

One Last Tidbit
 Display Microsoft Virtual Earth inside ArcMap.  More information coming soon on this!

Arc2Earth has many other useful functions for integrating ArcGIS with Google Earth, Google Maps, and Virtual Earth and we’ll go into more detail in our posts in the near future.

For more information on e-learning and instructor led courses provided by GeoSpatial Training Services please click here.

Arc2Earth Screenshots


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