Arc2Earth Cloud Services Drives Vineyard Power Site Selection

Posted on January 20, 2011. Filed under: Arc2Earth, Dojo, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Maps |

Recently, GeoSpatial Training Services completed a custom, web based GIS application using the new Arc2Earth Cloud Services and its associated REST API.  Arc2Earth Cloud Services is an excellent alternative for deploying GIS applications to the web without the hassles and costs of standing up and configuring a GIS server.  In this article we’ll provide you with an overview of Arc2Earth Cloud Services and then take a shallow dive into the REST API to show you how to take advantage of this new service for building web mapping applications.

Arc2Earth Cloud Services is particularly attractive to small and medium sized organizations that need to deploy their data and applications to the web but don’t have the expertise nor the budget to purchase, install and configure, administer, and maintain a GIS server.  Vineyard Power, a renewable energy cooperative in Massachusetts, is a perfect example of this scenario. Vineyard Power is planning a cooperatively owned offshore wind farm at a site to be selected by its members. They worked with their membership and the community to develop siting criteria to compare the suitability of potential sites. With these criteria as their guide they created and compiled a variety of GIS layers to describe the physical characteristics that affect a site’s economic viability, the locations of important wildlife habitats and commercial fishing areas, and potential visual impact. Other layers include shipping lanes, sub-merged shipwrecks and popular recreational fishing areas.

To support its members in making an informed decision Vineyard Power needed a way of distributing this data in a meaningful way to a broad audience.  Using Arc2Earth for ArcGIS Desktop and Arc2Earth Cloud Services, Vineyard Power was able to export these data layers to the cloud where they could then be integrated into a Google Maps viewing application using the Arc2Earth Cloud Services REST API.  You can see a screenshot of the application below.  Tilesets are displayed in the viewer as the user clicks an item from the table of contents on the right hand side of the application or when clicking a subject tab just below the map.

According to Tyler Studds, Project Manager, “The functionality provided by A2E has been an incredible asset to our site selection process. The interface between cloud and desktop GIS is smooth and it has made it very easy to upload tilesets and to experiment with how they will appear in the web application.”

What is Arc2Earth Cloud Services?
Arc2Earth Cloud Services is a new ArcGIS Desktop software extension (currently in public beta testing) for uploading your existing GIS datasets to the cloud as vector datasets or tileset map caches.  Once uploaded, vector datasets can be searched and edited through ArcGIS Desktop or a custom, browser based map viewer.  In addition, Arc2Earth Cloud Services also provides various services including the ability to combine attribute searches with spatial operations.

As we have done with the Vineyard Power application, you can extend your data into Google Maps, Bing, and OpenLayers and build both web and mobile applications.  The API is also compatible with the ArcGIS Server Open Geoservices REST specification which allows you to use all of the infrastructure, web applications, mobile applications, and web APIs with your Cloud hosted data.

Arc2Earth Cloud Services is built on Google App engine which is designed for automatic and instant scalability along with the reliability, performance, and security of Google’s infrastructure.  Storage costs are dramatically reduced due to the cost efficient hosting provided by Google App engine.  You only pay for the CPU/Bandwidth/Storage that you use.

Creating and Using an Arc2Earth Cloud Service
Before you can begin using Arc2Earth Cloud Services you’ll first need to create an instance which is hosted by Google App Engine.  This article from Arc2Earth fully describes this process.

After creating an Arc2Earth Cloud instance you can then start creating Tilesets and uploading vector layers.  You can then manage your instance through the interface as seen below.  Here you see a listing of tilesets that have been loaded for a cloud instance.

Clicking a particular tileset will display additional information including a display of the data on a Google basemap.

The Arc2Earth Cloud Services REST API

All data uploaded to an Arc2Earth Cloud instance is accessible through a standard REST API which exposes several APIs including the following:

Datasource API – Read/Write access to vector data using industry data standards

Tileset API – Read/Write access to all tile caches

Static Map API – All tilesets have built in support for combining multiple tilesets on the server to create a single static image.

Vineyard Power published several dozen layers as individual tile caches to their unique Arc2Earth Cloud.  We then used the Tileset API to access the various tiles that had been published to the Cloud and display them in a Google Maps application.    In addition to using the Tileset API and the Google Maps API we also took advantage of the Dojo JavaScript framework to create the user interface and handle browser differences.  Dojo widgets including the TabContainer and Tree were used to handle the display of various tilesets in the map viewer.  We also created a custom base map layer for Google Maps using a NOAA tileset that was uploaded to the Arc2Earth Cloud.  See the figure below.

Programming with the Tileset API
As I mentioned earlier in the article we only used the Tileset API for this particular application since we were dealing with tilesets.  In future articles we’ll explore the Datasource API and Static Map API and the capabilities of each, but for now we’ll concentrate on the Tileset API.

With the Tileset API you can get a list of all tilesets for a Cloud instance, get an individual tileset, add a new tilset, delete a tileset, and bulk uploaded tiles.  You can view the documentation for the Tileset API.

In the Vineyard Power application which functions solely as a map viewer the only thing we’re interested in doing is accessing tilesets from the Cloud instance.  The tileset that we access depends upon the layer that has been clicked in the table of contents.  Map tiles can be accessed using either the Google Maps or Microsoft Bing naming conventions as seen below.

We used the Google Maps naming convention along with the ImageMapType class from the Google Maps API v3 to add a tileset to the map.  A code example is provided below.  The ImageMapType class is provided for rendering image tiles such as the ones stored in our Arc2Earth Cloud instance.  This class takes a parameter of type ImageMapTypeOptions which is used to set various properties of the new ImageMapType including the Url (getTileUrl) to the tileset, tilesize, if the image is a PNG, transparency value (opacity) and others.  Once these parameters are set we simply call the ‘push’ method on map.overlayMapTypes to push the tileset into the Google Maps display.

There was a lot of additional code that we implemented in the application to create the tree and tab structures, layout the application, clear the layers, and add a NOAA basemap, but the primary purpose of the application was to display tilesets on a Google Maps base layer and this is pretty easy to accomplish using the Tileset API for Arc2Earth Cloud Services.  In future posts we’ll take a look at other functionality provided by the Tileset API along with the Datasource API and Static Map API.

GeoSpatial Training Services is an authorized reseller of Arc2Earth and a Google Maps Qualified Developer.

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Arc2Earth Version 3 Released!

Posted on May 18, 2010. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Earth, Google Maps, OpenLayers |

Arc2Earth Version 3 is now available as a general release.

Do you need to get your GIS data online in a hurry? Or export your complex maps in KML format for viewing in Google Earth?
There’s no need for servers or server software, all you need is a single ArcView seat and Arc2Earth. Export locally, directly to Amazon S3 or to your own Arc2Earth Cloud instance. Click and you’re done.

Arc2Earth is the premier ArcGIS extension for exporting and importing your data into the leading GeoWeb formats. Import or Export complex KML files, map tile caches or use the new Cloud services to host your data online. And new at Arc2Earth V3, live editing with Cloud Layers. Upload and manage your data in an Arc2Earth Cloud, Google Maps Data or Open Street Map.

GeoSpatial Training Services is an authorized reseller of Arc2Earth. More information on Arc2Earth here.

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ArcGIS Server in the Cloud

Posted on February 23, 2010. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ArcGIS Server, ESRI |

I’m surprised the announcement that ESRI is collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring ArcGIS Server into its cloud computing environment isn’t getting more attention.  This, in my opinion, is a significant development even though it will initially be available only to customers operating under an ESRI Enterprise License Agreement.  Assuming security considerations can be adequately addressed I would expect there to be a lot of interest from organizations looking to implement ArcGIS Server.  Not only will data be hosted in the cloud, but ArcGIS Server itself will be accessible.  Small organizations in particular would benefit from the  infrastructure on demand and pay as you go software approach.

Initially ESRI will offer ArcGIS Server Enterprise Advanced v10, along with a few extensions, on AWS. “The ArcGIS Server Amazon Machine Images, hosted in the AWS cloud, will not be made available until the ArcGIS Server v10 release [in July], and only for customers under an ESRI Enterprise License Agreement,” says Victoria Kouyoumjian, IT Strategy Architect at ESRI. Users who don’t want to wait for the release of v10 can run ArcGIS Server 9.3.1 in the cloud, but that requires retaining ESRI Professional Services to assist in getting it up and running.

How quickly will ESRI open up access to the cloud for organizations not under Enterprise License Agreements?  Hopefully it won’t be long.

ESRI is by no means the only geospatial player embracing the cloud as this excellent article by Brian Timoney points out.  The soon to be released Arc2Earth V3 utilizes Google App Engine as a data store for extractions from ArcMap.  Safe Software’s flagship FME product is also investigating the use of Amazon’s cloud infrastructure. These are just a couple examples of other companies moving infrastructure and data tot he cloud.  It’s really just a matter of time until all geospatial software and data vendors utilize the cloud in some way.

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Arc2Earth V3 Coming Soon!

Posted on January 13, 2010. Filed under: Arc2Earth, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Earth, Google Maps, OpenLayers |

The folks at Arc2Earth have been busy working on V3 of their popular Arc2Earth software for converting and publishing your ArcGIS data to view in Google Earth, Google Maps, Bing, and OpenLayers.

V3, which will be released in beta soon, will include many exciting new features including the new Arc2Earth Cloud Services, a new free Community version of the software, as well as much more functionality.

Community Edition
V3 will include a Free version of Arc2Earth called Community Edition.  You will be able to use this edition for both commercial and non-commercial projects alike as well as install it on as many computers as needed.

This version has limits on what can imported and exported but we feel that it will be very functional for many of your projects.

This version can also be used to edit Arc2Earth based Cloud Layers.

Arc2Earth Cloud (beta)
Each A2E Enterprise user can create their own Google AppEngine accounts for hosting their data. Arc2Earth maintains the software on these clouds but the billing is handled directly through the user and Google.

Each A2E Cloud instance contains APIs for vector and raster storage and querying as well as partial compatibility with ESRI ArcGIS Server REST API (9.3, 9.4 when its released). There will be limits on the number of maps and layers you can load with each A2E Enterprise serial number however it will be easy to add serial numbers to existing clouds for more capacity.

Each Cloud contains Datasources, Tilesets and Viewers that represent your vector, map tile and application files. All of the data is accessible from a login controlled RESTful API. For example, you can create a new Datasource and immediately start populating it with Feature data. ArcMap users that have your Datasource loaded as a Cloud Layer will see your edits as they happen. Datasource API

Google AppEngine is designed for instant scalability as well as true utility based billing (only pay for what you use in addition to generous free daily limits). We believe the significance of the Cloud is mainly the extensive CapEx/OpEx savings for users. For instance, this simple Parcel Mapplet has been running for over a month with an OpEx cost of $0.00 (OpEx includes CPU time, storage, bandwidth and most importantly, IT personnel to keep it running)

Google Maps Data API
In addition to A2E Clouds, we will also be enabling editing from other providers as well. The first are Google MyMaps layers powered by the new Google Maps Data API.

Users can import/export directly into any new or existing MyMap and also perform live edits on any loaded layer as well. Live edits are handled as an interactive graphics annotation layer in ArcMap. If a Google Map only includes features of the same type, they can also be edited using the Cloud Layers interface above.

Other New Features of V3

  • Arc2Earth Cloud Explorer and Cloud Layers
    A new toolbar and explorer window in ArcMap to manage, upload and download your data from the Cloud. It also includes built-in functionality for live editing your Cloud layers (or other Cloud layers you have been granted write access to). Cloud Layers automatically syncronizes a local cache with the online datasource as the user pans/zooms around the map. The layer can then be edited directly in the ArcMap editor and all changes are then saved to back to the Cloud.
  • Google Earth Enterprise Layer Support
    A new feature to convert any ArcGIS layer’s symbology/definition into a GEE Fusion definition. Currently, many GEE users must perform this operation by hand for every change of styling in their ArcGIS systems.
  • Accounts
    Store and use multiple Amazon S3 and Google Accounts for use with your exports and the Cloud. For Amazon Accounts, define the exact Bucket name to use in exports.
  • Embedded Globes (beta)
    A new ActiveView manager takes over the main ArcMap map/layout section and embeds both Microsoft and Google’s maps. Layers in the TOC can then be displayed in real time over the 2D/3D maps (as images only). The new views can also be used on the Page Layout and higher resolution versions of the view can be printed/exported.
  • Map Tile Layer
    The MTL has many bug fixes and enhancements. Yahoo Maps have been added back into the default configuration. Any Cloud tile layer can also be used in the MTL. Also, a new Offline Cache tool has been added so users can download all tile images for a given extent and levels.
  • New Search Window in ArcMap
    Users can type any street address or place location and it will zoom to that area on the map or embedded globe. The initial search window in V3 will be limited to this simple geocoding but there are many enhancements planned.
  • New Command Line
    The Command Line exporter (A2EExporter.exe) has been rewritten and includes many new features for creating batch exports and including them in your own workflows. The Map Tile exporter also includes a cutter parameter to specify how many workers for the export and then automatically splits the extent for each worker.

More Information
GeoSpatial Training Services
is an authorized reseller of Arc2Earth software.  For more information please visit our site or contact us directly at sales at

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Coming Soon! – Google Earth and ArcGIS Integration for Local Government Users

Posted on November 5, 2009. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Earth, KML |

GeoSpatial Training Services will be releasing a new instructor guided, Internet based course in the near future.

Google Earth and ArcGIS Integration for Local Government Users

Most local government agencies have large collections of GIS data in various formats including shapefiles, geodatabases, grids, tins, CAD, and others. Sharing this data with colleagues and the public is often a challenge. Before distributing data you have to answer many questions. Does my end user have the appropriate software to view the data? Do they know how to use the software? Do they understand how to add the data into the viewer? Should I create a web mapping application for end users? Converting your existing GIS data to a Google Earth KML format offers many advantages in terms of data distribution to end users and it also offers many new ways of presenting information. This course, geared specifically for local government GIS specialists, will teach you techniques for converting your datasets, creating compelling and interactive Google Earth displays, and sharing the data with your end users.


  • Register your entire GIS group for $199.00 (up to 8 people)
  • This course makes extensive use of Arc2Earth. You will be provided with an evaluation copy of Arc2Earth to use during the course
  • Exercises and data will focus on typical local government datasets


  • Benefits of Converting ArcGIS Data to Google Earth Format
  • What Google Earth Version Should I Use?
  • KML: The Language of Google Earth
  • Tools for Converting ArcGIS Data to Google Earth
  • The Easy Stuff: Convering Points, Lines, Polygons, and Graphics
  • The Not So Easy Stuff: Displaying Spatial Analyst Grids, Aerial Imagery, and Other Image Files
  • The Hard Stuff: Techniques for Displaying Large Datasets
  • The Fun Stuff: 3D Data Displays, Geography with a Time Element, Info Balloons with HTML, Images, and Video, Guided Tours
  • Eye Candy: Creating Legends and Logos
  • Google Earth without an Internet Connection
  • Techniques and Tools for Sharing Google Earth Data with End Users
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Arc2Earth Cloud Services and Arc2Earth Version 2.1

Posted on January 25, 2009. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Earth |

GeoSpatial Training Services is an Authorized Reseller of Arc2Earth.  For more information on Arc2Earth please contact us at:  sales at

Brian Flood and the folks over at Arc2Earth have been really, really busy on the release of Arc2Earth Cloud Services.

Arc2Earth Version 2.1 Released
Arc2Earth Version 2.1 was recently released, and contains lots of new features and bug fixes.  Contact sales at for an evaluation version of the software.  You can see the brochures for Arc2Earth Standard and  Publisher.  Version 2.2 will contain a user interface for creating and consuming Arc2Earth Cloud Services….which brings me to……

What is Arc2Earth Cloud Services?
As described by Brian Flood

After exporting and publishing their data (from Arc2Earth), one of the first questions our clients usually ask is: “This is great but is there any way to search the data?” or “Can I click on the features?” For the most part, once our export took place, we had to rely on the functionality of Google Earth, Google Maps or MS VE for ad-hoc searching/clicking or provide additional custom programming to enable an application beyond the exported data. The former will certainly get better over time but is somewhat lacking right now and the latter, while lucrative, does not fit with the original vision of “one click” export to publish your data to the web.

So, another model is needed to provide this additional, runtime functionality to those users who do not have the time, expertise or funding for their own servers. To fulfill these needs, we will be providing an online service that allows users to host their maps and layers online while providing REST based access for queries, editing and spatial analysis (limited as it may be). We will also provide a new desktop application that automatically synchronizes data between your local drive and online services. As edits occur online, they are automatically pulled down into your original source data (optionally of course).

What can you do with Arc2Earth Cloud Services?
Once again as described by Brian

ArcMap Integration – create and edit your maps directly from ArcMap using some new A2E toolbars and windows. You can add “cloud layers” directly to your local map and then use the native editing tools in ArcMap to make changes. Every resource in your cloud instance is controlled by login and ACL lists so you can create groups users who all work remotely on the live data. There are also bulk upload/download tools so you can get a fresh copy of any layer anytime you need to perform heavy lifting GIS analysis.

Datastore – I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent going over the merits of a distributed Big Table datastore (like Google App Engine) versus running clusters of PostGIS on Amazon EC2. I am hardly qualified as an authority on the matter but the reality is that both have positives and negatives and in the end, a hybrid between the two seems to work well. This topic deserves several posts in and of itself so in the future I will try to layout why we chose GAE’s Big Table for our cloud’s data storage and how we went from geohash to quadkeys to finally packing grids of data separately into Big Table (or “quadtrees full of r-trees” as I like to call them). It is no replacement for a good RDBMS for sure but it is highly optimized for distributed access and querying of the spatial data, the exact kind of access seen in todays web clients like Google Earth. The automatic scalability of GAE (as long as you play by their rules) is both extremely attractive and cost effective for small company such as ours.

KML – The KML engine used in the service can be applied to any resource that serves features. There are a couple of endpoints where KML can be returned but in the samples below, it is the “search” resource. All aspects of the KML (labeling, balloon templates, styling, height, filtering etc) are applied at runtime and streamed out. In general, Arc2Earth will always be able to create and serve static files but the focus in the Cloud is the dynamic creation of KML. What’s even better is that any of these endpoints support REST parameters that allow you to control this from the client.

Viewers – Google Earth, Flash Editor, ArcMap, Android, OpenLayers – we’ll start with the basics and keep adding viewers. and since we are still compatible with ArcGIS Server REST api, you will be able to use those scripting and Flex libraries as well.

Here is the brochure for Arc2Earth Cloud Services.

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Using KML Regions to Display Large GIS Datasets in Google Earth

Posted on January 14, 2008. Filed under: Arc2Earth, Google Earth |

We’re going to deliver a series of posts over the next couple of weeks covering the use of KML Regions in Google Earth for displaying large GIS datasets.  In this first post we’ll cover some basic introductory information that will give you some background information on KML Regions and the various ways in which they can be used in Google Earth. 

What are Regions?
KML Regions allow you to add very large datasets to Google Earth without sacrificing performance.  This functionality allows for the loading and display of data only when it falls within the display and occupies a certain portion of the screen.  Typically, Regions are used to supply distinct levels of detail for your data where fine details are presented only when zoomed in far enough on the display.  In the KML object model, Regions can be contained within any Feature which means Placemarks, Network Links, Overlays, and Containers.  Most commonly, a Region is used to affect the visibility of Placemarks or Ground Overlays.  The <Region> element defines this concept, and is composed of two important concepts including the bounding box and level of detail or LOD. 

Bounding Box
A bounding box, defined by the <LatLongAltBox> element, describes an area of interest defined by geographic coordinates and altitudes.  This element, similar to <LatLongBox> contains the child elements <north>, <south>, <east>, and <west> that define the geographic boundaries of the Region.  In addition, the bounding box also has elements that define the minimum and maximum altitude (<minAltitude>, <maxAltitude>).  A Region is considered “active” or visible when the bounding box is within the display and the level of detail requirements are met.

Level of Detail
The level of detail or LOD is defined with the <Lod> child element of <Region>.  It defines a range, specified by <minLodPixels> and <maxLodPixels> that determines the visibility of data within a Region.  This ensures that large amounts of data are only loaded when enough pixels are available to display the data adequately.  When the Region takes up a relatively small percentage of the screen, the LOD allows you to specify a dataset with a lower resolution.  The <Lod> value units are defined by square pixels.  Data must occupy an area greater than <minLodPixels> and less than <maxLodPixels> to be visible.

Region Elements
Primary elements specific to Region include:

<LatLonAltBox> (required) – A bounding box that describes an area of interest defined by geographic coordinates and altitude.

<minAltitude> – Defaults to 0; specified in meters above sea level

<maxAltitude> – Defaults to 0; specified in meters above sea level

<north>, <south>, <east>, <west> – Used to specify the latitude and longitude coordinates of the bounding box

<Lod> – Abbreviated for Level of Detail. Describes the size of the projected region on the screen that is required in order for the region to be considered “active”.  Composed of the following child elements:

<minLodPixels> – Measurement in screen pixels that represents the minimum limit of the visibility range for a given Region.

<maxLodPixels> – Measurement in screen pixels that represents the maximum limit of the visibility range for a given Region.

<minFadeExtent> – Distance over which the geometry fades, from fully opaque to fully transparent.  Value is expressed in screen pixels and is applied at the minimum end of the LOD limits.

<maxFadeExtent> – Distance over which the geometry fades, from fully transparent to fully opaque.  Value is expressed in screen pixels and is applied at the maximum end of the LOD limits.

Now that we’ve covered some basic information on KML Regions you can click here to see an example (courtesy of Google).  You’ll want to make sure you already have Google Earth installed.  Experiment with different viewpoints and watch when the Region comes into view and out of view, depending on how much of the screen area it requires. 

In upcoming posts we’ll cover some of the more advanced Region features, show you an example of how to create Regions, and discover how to use Arc2Earth to create Regions from your ArcGIS Data.

Get More Information
GeoSpatial Training Services provides e-learning courses for GIS users.  If you would like more information on Regions and other KML elements please see our “Mastering KML in Google Earth” e-learning course.  Other related course include “Integrating ArcGIS Desktop and Google Earth“, “Introduction to the Google Maps API“, “Arc2Earth for ArcGIS Users“, and our “Google Bundle” which combines all these courses into one package at a significant discount.

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Import Google Earth KML Files to ESRI Geodatabase with Arc2Earth

Posted on December 17, 2007. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, Google Earth |

Arc2Earth was initially created as a tool for exporting your existing ArcGIS data to Google Earth, but has since evolved into a robust tool that is also capable of importing KML/KMZ, GeoRSS, and Atom files into an ESRI geodatabase format.  With the release of Arc2Earth version 2, the data import functionality has been rewritten to be more flexible, and includes the ability to import KML/KMZ, GeoRSS (simple, GML), and geo-enabled AtomPub files. The import process can create a new feature class to store the data or update an existing feature class in a personal or enterprise ArcSDE geodatabase.

Click here to see a demonstration of using Arc2Earth to import an existing KML/KMZ file into an ESRI geodatabase. 


The “Import KML/KMZ” and “Import GeoRss/Atom” items on the Import menu item open the same Import KML dialog.  The General tab contains a number of options related to the file that will be imported as well as the geodatabase export parameters.  By default, the Import KML dialog is assumed to be KML.  If the importer can’t discern the file type of the source document you will need to know the feed type (GeoRss, Atom) and check the option indicating the file is of type GeoRss if necessary. In the event that you need to import all files in a folder you may specify a folder by using the browse button.  The target layer for your import can be stored in a personal or enterprise ArcSDE geodatabase and can be an existing or new feature class.  In the event that you will be storing the target layer in an ArcSDE enterprise database you must specify the correct connection string for the database.  Three feature classes are created, one each for points, lines, and polygons with the root name of each feature class defaulting to the KML/KMZ file name along with an extension of _points, _lines, or _polys.



Import options can be saved into an import file (*.a2ei) for later use for commonly used import operations by clicking the “Save” button and specifying a filename and directory path. Both import menu items open the same window, but different options are set for each type of import.


The Schema tab on the Import KML dialog contains options for importing KML extended data values, a description templates schema, and the option to only import placemarks.  The “Description Templates Schema” option can be used to pull attribute data from existing description tags in KML Placemarks.  Normally description tags are free form text making them difficult to cull meaningful information.  Schemas allow you to define where in the description text your attribute data is hidden. The “Only Import Placemarks” option can be used to limit the import to only those Placemarks that match the filters on your Template Schemas and are good for targeting specific data in a large KML file.



The Options tab on the Import KML dialog contains some general options related to KML/KMZ files.  The “Update existing features using Placemark ID’s” option is used with a Placemark ID to find an existing record to update.  When exporting KML, you can specify which field to use for the Placemark ID.  The “Delete all records” option removes existing records from a feature class before the import takes place. This option is useful when you need to re-use a feature class.  In the event that you need to download data loaded in Network Links contained within a KML/KMZ file you can use the “Download all Network Links” option. This option follows nested Network Links and downloads all data associated with these Network Links.  The “Ground Overlays” option downloads all ground overlays in a KML/KMZ file as raster images, and you may specify a folder to place the downloaded images and associated world files.



Click here to see a demonstration of using Arc2Earth to import an existing KML/KMZ file into an ESRI geodatabase. 


For more detailed information on Arc2Earth, please see our new e-learning course.




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Replacing ArcIMS with Arc2Earth Publisher?

Posted on December 10, 2007. Filed under: Arc2Earth, Google Maps |

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!

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

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Using Arc2Earth to Create 3D Google Earth Displays with ArcGIS Data

Posted on December 3, 2007. Filed under: Arc2Earth, Google Earth |

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts on Arc2Earth, one of my favorite functions is the ability to create 3D Google Earth displays using existing ArcGIS data.  The ability to visualize your ArcGIS data in a 3D display makes for stunning visualizations, but it can also help reveal and emphasize patterns in your data.  For example, in a previous post I described how we used a combination of ArcGIS Desktop along with the Spatial Analyst extension, Arc2Earth, and Google Earth to analyze crime patterns in Houston, Texas through the use of heat-maps and 3D display of various crime categories.

In this post we’re going to explore how you can use Arc2Earth to export your ArcGIS data as 3D extrusions.  One of the most visually appealing options in Arc2Earth is the ability to create 3D Google Earth extrusions from your ArcGIS data.  Clicking the Extrude Options button on the Layer tab brings up the Layer Extrude dialog which allows you to extrude a layer based on attribute values in your feature class, set specific values for all features, or use existing Z values of a layer.

Let’s take a closer look at the Layer Extrude dialog which is used to display vector data in three dimensions inside the Google Earth viewer. The Altitude Mode options allows you to set a value of absolute (based on sea level), relative (based on the current terrain level) which is the default, or clamped which is based on the current terrain level but clamped to the ground. In addition, you can extrude based on a number of options including Z values of a layer (if available), attribute values in a field (must be a numeric field), or a set value in meters for each feature. The visibility of extrusion walls can also be controlled through the “Show extrusion walls” checkbox. Finally, extrusion height can be calculated based on a percentage of all field values in relation to a minimum and maximum height in meters.

Now let’s examine the various options for performing 3D extrusion in Arc2Earth. As previously mentioned, you can extrude based on a number of options including Z values of a layer, attribute values in a field, or a set value in meters for each feature. Some ArcGIS layers already have valid Z values associated with their geometry data and are said to be “Z Aware”. In these cases it is possible to use the Z values associated with each feature as the value which will be extruded. Other methods of extrusion include the capability of extruding based on tabular attribute data for the layer. This uses numeric attribute fields to determine the height of extrusion. All data in this case is assumed to be in meters although feet can be selected as well. In addition, you can use the “Calculate Extrude height…..” check box to use a percentage of the min and max you enter to derive the extrude value. Finally, you can extrude each feature by a set value which you enter. This value is calculated in meters.

For more information about Arc2Earth please see our e-learning course “Arc2Earth for ArcGIS Users“.


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