Why Raster Labels with AGX (and ArcGIS Online)

A couple people have noted that ESRI used raster labels with the globe services offered today. A post on the ArcGIS Online forums outlines the thinking as to why they decided to do this and a work around for ArcGIS Online users.

One of the the things you’ll notice when using the globes and maps published initially with the ArcGIS Online services is the use of “rasterized” labels. In designing the services, there was much discussion of the relative merits of raster vs. vector labels.

In general, raster labels offer the advantages of better font placement (e.g. stacked labels, angled text on physical features like mountain ranges, better label de-confliction) and better performance where text is dense. Vector labels offer the advantages of rotating and billboarded text when rotating or tilting the globe and sharper labels at some scales.

For the beta release, the approach taken has been to develop both raster and vector label services so both are available for different uses. The initial globes and maps released use the raster labels. For raster labels, there are two services (named ESRI_BoundariesPlaces_World, ESRI_BoundariesPlacesAlt_World) that are designed for use on dark or light base maps, respectively.

Users who prefer the vector labels, however, can update the globes to use the vector label service (named ESRI_PlaceLabels_World) that is also available on the ArcGIS Online server. Some new globes that are published by ESRI will use this service where appropriate.

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