GeoSpatial Training Services

It’s Finally Done! Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API Course Revision

Posted on March 21, 2011. Filed under: ArcGIS Server, GeoSpatial Training Services, JavaScript |

Well, it seemed to take forever but we’ve finally finished the course revision for our instructor guided, Internet based course Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API.  The current session of this course runs from March 21st – April 22nd.  We do still have 3 seats available for anyone that would like to join.

The next session of this course will run from June 6th – July 15th.  Register by April 15th to take advantage of our early registration price of $499.  The regular course price is $715 so this is a great deal.

The newly revised course includes nearly 1000 pages of lecture notes, and 36 exercises.

You can view the full course syllabus here.

You can view a sample lecture from the class here.

You can view a sample exercise here

And here is a second example exercise from the class

Although our courses run for a specific period of time all materials are self-paced and you have a full year of access to all course materials so you can go back and review and rework as necessary or simply take your time.  You also receive any course updates free of charge during that year.  And since the folks at ESRI keep putting out new versions of the API for JavaScript every few months this is a great perk!  Version 2.2 was just  released a couple weeks ago and these new concepts will be included in the course by the first summer session.

What have past students of this class said about the course?

“I wanted to let you know about the project that resulted from the ArcGIS JavaScript class I recently took with you. The site is, which I did through my job at AAAS and in cooperation with Amnesty International, USA. On the site, there is a section called interactive maps which utilizes a human rights database and maps I created. I used a variety of techniques from the course in the creation of the site and the things I learned were invaluable in its creation” .– Susan Wolfinbarger, American Association for the Advancement of Science

“Liked the combination of slides and exercises. I learn best by example – your approach lets me type in code, and if it doesn’t work I can check solution. More examples the better for me, everything I’ve ever learned about GIS programming came by starting with an example and modifying it. Thanks again, will likely take a course in the future.” — Joe Spollen, President, Geodatamodelers

“I’m impressed with the quality of the course and materials. I’m recommending your courses to my clients. I think they’re the best thing out there.” — Stephanie Stanfield, Fargeo

“I have enjoyed the class (Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API).  I like working at my own pace through the materials, between the other things I am working on.  The examples are clear, and I appreciate that I will be able to go back and refer to them during my development efforts.  The advanced dojo section seems like a deep topic, and I see myself referring back to that section and the other dojo resources as I am developing.  Finally, I am glad that I was able to get this training in a cost-effective manner.  It is difficult to get training classes up here in Alaska.  Often we have to get on a plane and leave the state.  As much as I enjoy travelling, it may not be the fiscally responsible thing to do in this era of strained budgets.  This training format seems to work, and I hope to participate in more of these in the future.” — Erick Johnson, GISP, GIS Programming/Analyst – Matanuska – Susitna Borough

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Spring Training Schedule from GeoSpatial Training Services

Posted on March 3, 2011. Filed under: AGIS Server API for Flex, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Server for Silverlight, ESRI, Geoprocessing, GeoSpatial Training Services, JavaScript, Python |

Our Spring 2011 training schedule has been released.  Most of these courses are taught in a web based environment but we do have one traditional face to face session of GIS Programming 101 for ArcGIS 10 scheduled for the King County GIS Center in Seattle, WA.  Here is the upcoming schedule:

Download a beta chapter from our upcoming book on the AGIS JavaScript API

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Beta Chapter From My Upcoming Book on the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript

Posted on January 25, 2011. Filed under: ArcGIS Server, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services, JavaScript |

I am in the process of writing a book (tentatively titled ‘The GIS Geeks Guide to Mastering the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript”) about the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript.  I thought that I would make the process a bit more open by releasing beta chapters that some people might read and give feedback on. Hopefully one of those people is you!

I’m doing this because I think the book will be better based on feedback that I get from my readers and of course it will serve as motivation for finishing the book!

About the book

In short the book is about how to use the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript to build high performance, attractive Web mapping applications using the lightweight, browser based ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript.  It will be very hands on with lots of examples that can be used right away.

Download the chapter

I am not going to release the chapters in chronological order so the first chapter to be released in public beta is not the first but rather the third covering maps and layers.

Download the chapter, read it, and tell me what you think. Either by posting a comment below or by contacting me directly through eric at

Download a beta chapter.

The chapters

Here’s a tentative list of all the chapters in the book:

  • Chapter 1: Introducing to the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript
  • Chapter 2: ArcGIS Server Basics
  • Chapter 3: Working with Maps and Layers
  • Chapter 4: Adding Graphics to the Map
  • Chapter 5: Using Widgets and Toolbars
  • Chapter 6: Editing Data in the Browser
  • Chapter 7: Working with Time
  • Chapter 8: Querying Data from Map Services
  • Chapter 9: Obtaining Information about Features
  • Chapter 10: Finding Features
  • Chapter 11: Turning Addresses into Points
  • Chapter 12: Getting from Point A to Point B (Routing)
  • Chapter 13: Geometry Tasks
  • Chapter 14: Using the Geoprocessor
  • Chapter 15: Understanding Events
  • Chapter 16: Configuration Parameters
  • Chapter 17: Working with Secure ArcGIS Services
  • Chapter 18: Dojo Application Layout Controls
  • Chapter 19: Dojo Form Controls
  • Chapter 20: Advanced Dojo Controls (Trees, Grids, Charts, Image Handling)
  • Chapter 21: Integration with Google Maps
  • Chapter 22: Integration with Bing Maps
  • Appendix: API Reference

As of now I don’t know in which form this book will be published, but I’ll keep you informed as things progress.

If you have a request for something that you want me to include in the book, or any thoughts or questions about it, please contact me.

We’ve also written a number of posts on the API for JavaScript and most have been compiled here.

The next session of our Internet based, instructor guided Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API begins March 21st.

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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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2011 Schedule of Instructor Led Courses (1st Quarter)

Posted on January 5, 2011. Filed under: AGIS Server API for Flex, ArcGIS Server, ESRI, Geoprocessing, GeoSpatial Training Services, JavaScript, Python |

Here is our schedule of instructor led courses for January-March 2011 in both web based and traditional face to face formats.

Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API
Web Based
January 10th – February 18th
Still 5 Seats Available

Programming the ArcGIS Server API for Flex
Web Based
January 10th – February 18th

ArcGIS Server Bootcamp
Web Based
February 14th – March 18th
$715 when you register by January 15th

GIS Programming 101 for ArcGIS 10
Web Based
February 21st – March 18th
$567 when you register by January 15th

GIS Programming 101 for ArcGIS 10
Traditional Face to Face
February 7th – February 9th
Keck & Wood Headquarters
Duluth, Georgia
More Information
Click here to register

This last one is in May but it’s already on the calendar so we’re including it as well.

GIS Programming 101 for ArcGIS 10
Traditional Face to Face
May 23rd – May 25th
King County GIS Center
Seattle, WA
Contact sales at for more information on this session or to register.

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Free Courses, Books and Holiday Sale on GIS E-Learning Materials

Posted on December 22, 2010. Filed under: GeoSpatial Training Services |

We’re giving away 5 free copies of the Google Sketchup Levels 1 and 2 DVD training set to the first five people that contact me at eric at  You will need to pay shipping ($10.80 USA and $26.00 Canada).  We’re not shipping outside the US or Canada.

We also have some used books that we’re giving away as well.  Same conditions apply on the shipping.  First come first serve.  The books are:

  • Introduction to Environmental Remote Sensing
  • Google Maps Applications with Rails and Ajax
  • Programming C#
  • Programming .NET Web Services
  • .NET Framework Essentials

Don’t forget that you can also get a free copy of our e-learning course: Introduction to the Google Maps API by signing up for our weekly newsletter at GeoSpatial Training Services.  We also have a free lecture module on the new ArcPy Mapping Module directly on our home page.

There is still time to take advantage of our 2010 holiday sale.  Through December 31st you can save 20% on all e-learning courses offered by GeoSpatial Training Services. This includes both self-paced and Internet based, instructor led courses.

Simply enter the discount code ‘2010holiday‘ when checking out.

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Using a Proxy Page with the ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript

Posted on December 13, 2010. Filed under: ArcGIS Server, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services |

A proxy page handles communication between your application and ArcGIS Server services.  The proxy is server-side code that resides on your Web Server and handles incoming requests from a browser based application.  The proxy accepts the request and forwards it to ArcGIS Server for processing.

There are three situations where you’d use a proxy page in your ArcGIS Server API for JavaScript applications.  The first instance is when your application creates requests that exceed 2048 characters.  This is often the case when your application performs buffering of complex polygons in conjunction with queries or any other application function that performs some type of geometry operation.  To handle this instance the proxy page performs a POST operation which is not subject to the 2048 character limitation when using GET requests.  You’ll also need to use a proxy page when your application uses services secured with token-based authentication and you don’t want the user to be able to view the token or you don’t want to transmit the token between the application and web server.  Finally, any application that requires feature editing will need to use a proxy page.

There are four basic steps to installing and configuring your proxy page.  First, download and configure the proxy page for your server.  This can be ASP.NET, PHP, or Java/JSP.  Next, add code to your application to enable the use of the proxy.  In step 3, secure your web application if you plan to use tokens.  Finally, test your application to make sure the proxy is working as expected.  Detailed instructions for installing and configuring your proxy page is provided by ESRI at the links provided on above.

Coding your application to use a proxy page requires only a couple lines of code.  Normally you’d put this in your ‘init’ function which runs on startup.  You’ll need to provide the Url for the location of the proxy page and the ‘alwaysUseProxy’ property can be set to either true or false.  If your application will be using tokens you’ll want to set this value to true, but otherwise it can be set to false if you know that not all requests will need the proxy.  This would be the case in an editing application or an application where only some requests would exceed the 2048 character limitation.

More Information
The next session of our Mastering the ArcGIS Server JavaScript API begins January 10th, 2010.  We still have seats available.

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2010 Holiday Sale on GIS E-Learning Courses – Save 20%

Posted on November 28, 2010. Filed under: GeoSpatial Training Services |

Through December 31st you can save 20% on all e-learning courses offered by GeoSpatial Training Services. This includes both self-paced and Internet based, instructor led courses. Simply enter the discount code ‘2010holiday‘ when checking out.

Most popular courses:

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Use ArcPy Mapping to Publish Map Documents to ArcGIS Server

Posted on November 15, 2010. Filed under: ArcGIS Server, ESRI, Geoprocessing, GeoSpatial Training Services, Python |

The ArcPy Mapping module, released with ArcGIS 10 provides a number of capabilities including the management of map documents and layers, printing, exporting, and ArcGIS Server publishing as well as map automation and the creation of PDF map books. In this post you will learn how to use Python and the ArcPy Mapping module to convert a map document file to an ArcGIS Server service. At the end of this post you will have learned the following related to publishing your map document to ArcGIS Server:

  • How to analyze a map document for warnings and errors
  • Convert a map document file to a map service definition file (MSD)
  • Publish a MSD file to ArcGIS Server as a service

Publication of a map document to ArcGIS Server with Python involves a three step process.  The goal of the first two steps is to convert a map document file to a map service definition file (MSD).  The analysis process scans the map document file for any warnings or errors.  Errors must be resolved before publication to an MSD file and warnings should also be carefully examined because they can lead to performance problems in ArcGIS Server.  Once errors and warnings have been resolved, the ConvertToMSD() function can then be called against the file.  This function will create a new MSD file which can then be published to ArcGIS Server through the PublishMSDToServer() function.

Analyze the Map Document for Warnings and Errors
The AnalyzeForMSD() function analyzes the map document for suitability and performance issues before conversion to MSD.  This function returns a Python dictionary containing the warnings, errors, and general messages.  All errors must be repaired before publication.  The code sample below shows an example of calling the AnalyzeForMSD() function.

The AnalyzeForMSD() function takes a map document as a parameter. It analyzes the document and returns information, warnings, and errors in a Python dictionary which in this case is stored in the variable ‘analysis’. We then loop through this dictionary variable and print out the information contained within.  You can see an example of the information returned in the figure below.

You will want to pay particular attention to the ERRORS section. Each error that has been found must be fixed before the document can be published to ArcGIS Server. In this case the background symbol for our data frame is not a solid fill.   A solid fill is required for background symbols.  You can change that in ArcMap by clicking the active data frame and selecting Properties.  All errors listed in the ERRORS section must be fixed before publication can occur.

Once you’ve fixed all errors that have been identified you can convert to your MXD file to an MSD file through the ConvertToMSD() function.  You can specify a specific data frame as the active data frame for the service that will eventually be published to ArcGIS Server.  Again, no errors can be present in the MSD file.  The code example below shows how to convert an MXD file to an MSD.

ConvertToMSD() accepts several arguments including object variables for the mxd and msd files, the data frame to be used as the active data frame for the published service, and two parameters that deal with anti-aliasing. In this case we want the active data frame to be used as the active data frame in the published map service. Therefore, we can simply use a double quote (“”) as the third parameter of ConvertToMSD(). Anti-aliasing is a method for creating a better visualization of text and vector features. I normally just use “Normal” for both these parameters.

After checking your map document for errors, resolving any errors, and converting the map document to an MSD file you are finally ready to publish the document to ArcGIS Server.  There are several administrative tasks that you must do before performing this final step.

  • ArcGIS Server 10 must be installed
  • Your data and MSD file must be in a location accessible to ArcGIS Server.  More information about this can be found here
  • The username running the publish script must be a member of the ArcGIS Server admin group.  More information about that here.

In your script you’ll need to call PublishMSDToServer() to actually publish the MSD file as a service in ArcGIS Server 10.  You must supply connection information and information about the service to this function.

The code example below represents the general nature of the script you will need to write.  Obviously the path to the MSD file and your server names and service name and folder will be different.

Want to learn more about the ArcPy Mapping module and other programming ArcGIS Desktop with Python topics?  The next session of our Internet based, instructor led course “GIS Programming 101: Mastering Python for Geoprocessing in ArcGIS” begins February 21st.  We also provide a self-paced version of this course which you can find here.

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Print and Export Maps from ArcMap with ArcPy Mapping

Posted on November 1, 2010. Filed under: ESRI, Geoprocessing, GeoSpatial Training Services, Python |

Printing and exporting maps is obviously one of the most commonly performed ArcGIS tasks.  The new Arcpy.mapping module provides several functions that you can use to automate your routine print and export tasks.  In this post we’ll examine Arcpy.mapping functions you can use for printing and exporting either maps from either the data or layout view in ArcMap.

Arcpy.mapping provides a PrintMap() function for printing page layouts or data frames within ArcMap and a host of Export functions that export the page layout or a data frame to various image formats and PDF files.  Before calling PrintMap() it is common practice to call the ListPrinterNames() function which returns a list of the available printers for the local computer.  A particular printer can then be found by iterating the list of printers and used as input to the PrintMap() function.

PrintMap() can print either a specific data frame or the page layout of a map document.  By default this function will use the printer saved with the map document or, if not present in the map document, the default system printer.  As I mentioned you can also use ListPrinterNames() to get a list of the available printers and select one of these printers as input to PrintMap().  In the code example on below PrintMap() uses the default printer as specified through the use of double quotes as the second parameter to PrintMap().

You can use one of the many Export functions provided by Arcpy.mapping to export a data frame or page layout to an image file.  Available formats include AI, BMP, EMF, EPS, GIF, JPEG, SVG, and TIFF.  The parameters provided for each function will vary depending upon the type of image.  Examples of these function names include ExportToJPEG, ExportToGIF, ExportToBMP, and all the others you see listed here.

You can also export your data frames or page layout to PDF format with ExportToPDF().  PDF is obviously a very popular interchange format so you will likely need to become familiar with this function.  Calling ExportToPDF() is much the same as calling any of the image export functions since it takes an mxd and path to output the file along with optional properties for the PDF.

In addition to exporting your maps to PDF you can also manipulate existing PDF documents or create new PDF documents.  You can merge pages, set document open behavior, add file attachments, and create or change document security settings.  The PDFDocumentOpen() function is used to open an existing PDF file for manipulation.  PDFDocumentCreate() creates a new PDF document.  These functions are often used in the creation of map books.

You’ll need to use PDFDocumentCreate to create a new PDF document by providing a path and filename for the document.  The PDF is not actually created on disk until you insert or append pages and then call PDFDocument.saveAndClose().  The appendPages() and insertPages() functions are used to insert and append pages. 

PDFDocumentOpen accepts a parameter that specifies the path to a PDF file and returns an instance of PDFDocument.  Once open you can make modifications to PDF file properties, add or insert files, and attach documents.  Make sure you call PDFDocument.saveAndClose() after all operations to save the changes to disk.

A number of properties can be set on a PDF Document through the PDFDocument object including getting a page count, attaching files, updating title, author, subject, keywords, open behavior, and the layout.  You can also update the document security by calling PDFDocument.updateDocSecurity() to set a password, encryption, and security restrictions.

Other ArcPy Mapping articles.

Want to learn more about the ArcPy Mapping module and other programming ArcGIS Desktop with Python topics?  The next session of our Internet based, instructor led course “GIS Programming 101: Mastering Python for Geoprocessing in ArcGIS” begins October 25th, 2010.  You can still register even though class has already begun.

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