Replacing ArcIMS with Arc2Earth Publisher?
James Fee wrote about the “The Day ArcIMS Died” in an April 23rd blog entry on his Spatially Adjusted blog. James argued that you might be better off saving the money, time, and effort you’re investing in ArcIMS and replace it with Arc2Earth. As James mentioned, “By not being able to serve up tiles, ArcIMS is slow, outdated and ugly. Time to move on (and I say this with great regret because I’ve rolled out more ArcIMS sites than I can remember over the years).” At a fraction of the cost of ArcIMS, Arc2Earth is an efficient way to publish your ArcGIS data into a simple web based application. Arc2Earth is particularly well suited for organizations that want to provide online mapping functionality, but don’t have the hardware (servers), software budget for ArcIMS or ArcGIS Server, or technical capabilities to develop custom applications. They simply want to provide online access to their maps and data without any hassle. I’m not here to denigrate ArcIMS or any other ESRI product. In its time, ArcIMS was certainly a force in the delivery of online mapping applications. However, Arc2Earth provides an excellent, and in many ways a superior alternative to ArcIMS for some users. For anyone unfamiliar with Arc2Earth please read our past entries for an overview of its capabilities.
In this post I’ll show you the mechanics of exporting your ArcGIS data to Google Maps or Microsoft Virtual Earth from Arc2Earth using Amazon S3 to store your output data. This solution set is an excellent way for organizations to efficiently and inexpensively publish their ArcGIS data to an online mapping application. Arc2Earth is an ArcGIS extension so you can use these tools directly inside ArcMap. The diagram below gives you a visual depiction of the process of creating map tiles from ArcGIS data through the Map Tile Exporter and their ultimate destination inside an Arc2Earth generated Map Viewer. In this case the Google Maps viewer is used. Click here to see a demonstration of this process.
The General tab (seen below) on the Map Tile Exporter includes options for naming your map, background color, map appearance, and image format. The map name should be unique across all maps and defaults to the name of the active data frame in ArcMap. Background options control the background color and transparency. The appearance options apply primarily to Google Maps and include parameters for including Google Maps base maps and hybrid maps along with an option for exporting map graphics.
The Levels tab contains options and information concerning the various map levels that will be created. Map tiles will be created based on the format used by the particular mapping provider and consist of up to 22 levels with a Mercator World Projection applied. You can define a start and end level for your export, and Arc2Earth will export all levels between these two values. It is rare that you will need an application that needs all levels. Other options include an option for full extent export, the creation of debug tiles, and the creation of GE tiles and regions. Storage estimates are provided so that you can accurately gauge the storage requirements that will be necessary as a result of the output. Other options from this tab include the ability to define exclusion and inclusion masks, and a Restart option for Enterprise users.
An export mask is a polygon layer used during the export to limit the amount of geographic area processed. Masks are an important component in increasing the processing speed for large data exports. There are two types of masks that can be used during your export: exclusion and inclusion. All masks should be polygon layers. An exclusion mask is a polygon layer used to exclude areas from the export process. Any map tile fully contained by any polygon in this mask is skipped during the export process. An inclusion mask is the exact opposite of an exclusion mask in that only tiles that fall within this mask are exported. This process only checks tile chunks so polygons in this layer should be large enough to accommodate some extra overlay at the edges.
The Storage tab for the Map Tile Exporter is used to specify where your data will be exported, and can include local, remote web server, and Amazon S3 options. Local storage allows you to select a local directory on your computer. By default, map tiles will be stored in the My Documents\KML Documents\Export Data\<Your Map Name> folder. Remote storage can be to a local server or a web server. Local servers normally refer to a web server virtual directory. If you have an Amazon S3 account you can enter your access and secret keys. You will need to have an account through Amazon to use this option.
The Viewers tab can be used to decide which viewers to create for your map, and the options include Google Maps, Google Earth, and MS Virtual Earth. When selecting the Google Maps option you will need to enter the API key you were assigned when creating a Google Maps account.
Let’s take a look at a demonstration of this process. Pretty impressive!
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