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.



Community Participation in MapGuide Open Source

I’ve been getting more and more .NET developers talking to me about my MapGuide Open Source move over the holiday. Seems like many ArcIMS developers are downloading and checking out MapGuide, trying to get away from the ArcGIS Server/Desktop conflict (they have to develop on 9.1, but their IT department wants to roll out 9.2). I’ve said this before, but every day I get more and more ESRI developers asking me for directions on how augment their toolbox with open source. Personally I’m beginning to see the power behind hit and the .NET integration is welcome. After my initial battle with PHP, I’m running very well and at least on this laptop MapGuide Open Source and AJAX Tile viewer. It seems to run faster than ArcIMS 9.2 and the Web ADF on my laptop, but I’ll be honest that isn’t a scientific observation.

Geoff Zeiss says that the MapGuide User Reception he attended was very interesting:

The most remarkable thing in my mind was that this meeting was unlike any other event of a similar type that I have attended at AU (Autodesk University) in the past, and I think the reason was that the focus was on open source, specifically MapGuide Open Source.

I think the move to open source MapGuide has been a great one, not only for Autodesk, but their users. The kicker here is how open source will direct the future of MapGuide and how that differs greatly from the traditional closed model that seems to be driven more by large clients (see PUG) and less by the small users like ourselves. This whole “Request for Comment” process is wonderful because you don’t need to know Jack Dangermond personally to get a say in the future development of products that directly affect your career. There are small companies doing great things with MapGuide Open Source so anyone can be successful at open source web mapping.

MapGuide Open Source just reinforces the idea that the future of web based applications will be based around the open source model that companies such as Autodesk have jumped on. Being at the front of this wave will benefit not only Autodesk, but the community that is built around MapGuide itself. Exciting times indeed Geoff!


More EDN 9.2 Pictures

Just as I was leaving one the the cameras showed up. Here are some pictures of the EDN packaging. (compare to EDN 9.1)

The EDN DVD Case (as I said, you can travel with this now compared to the huge binder of 9.1)**


The tabs still have intro information like EDN 9.1


EDN 9.2 has ArcGIS Desktop in addition to the Server and Embedded offerings**


EDN 9.2 includes the latest version of ArcView


EDN 9.2 contains DVDs instead of CD-ROMs


EDN 9.2 has tons of data included to get you started (including imagery and elevation data)



Ogle Earth Reviews 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator

Stefan was lucky enough to review the new 3DConnexion SpaceNavigator and likes what he sees:

But does it work? Oh yeah. After about 2 minutes my left hand disappeared and I began to mind-meld with Earth. Think Rotate and that’s what Earth does. Push in and you zoom in. It’s a completely new level of control, and it’s completely addictive. The sensitivity is proportionate to your altitude, so at sea level you can work with sub-meter precision. Zoom out and you can traverse the world in a second. Look up above the horizon if you like, or pan, zoom and rotate all at once. You can make yourself queasy without trying very hard.

3dspaceexplorer.jpgSigh, I’d love to have one of these to demo ESRI’s ArcGlobe, especially the SpaceExplorer version. I’m sure one could do wonderful things with that baby! I see the benefit of using such controllers with 3D globes after using the Xbox controller with Virtual Earth 3D.


Showing the new .NET ADF to programmers

I have one of those classic programmers working for me. He doesn’t want to try anything new unless he figures it out first on his own. So I’ve been trying to get him to look at the ADF during the beta, but he just wouldn’t bite. He, rightly so, wanted to make sure our existing applications worked with the new 9.2 back end. Well yesterday he caught me creating a website in the new online manager and opening it up right in Visual Studio 2005. I could see him getting very interested and he couldn’t believe that it worked like that. Create a website using a wizard and then open it up in Visual Studio? That seemed impossible to him.

Well he gave it a shot on his own and was as amazed as I was when Art Haddad showed it to me. Visual Studio integration so important to my developers that they are chomping at the bit to get developing. Of course we still haven’t received out production licenses of ArcIMS so they might have to wait to deploy until those show up and hope our existing apps are grandfathered so we don’t have to pay extra ADF licensing.



ArcGIS TerraServer Download updated for 9.2

The TerraServer Download extension has been updated for ArcGIS 9.2. I’ll be honest, I use this thing almost every day (the dumb luck of working in the middle of nowhere with no budget for color satellite imagery). The improvements listed are:

  • Improved download in layout mode.
  • Support for file geodatabases.
  • Automatic proxy server detection.
  • Enhanced metadata support to capture FGDC and/or ISO metadata.
  • General code upgrades for ArcGIS 9.2 as well as the .NET 2.0 framework.

The biggest improvement is of course the ability to work with ArcGIS 9.2. Of course if you are already running ArcGIS Terraserver, you realize that the current version doesn’t work with 9.2, and of course Windows has trouble uninstalling it. Well Thomas Emge uploaded a 9.1 uninstall tool that solved the problem for me, so run that before running the new 9.2 version. Don’t forget, you need the .NET 2.0 framework installed.


EDN 9.2 is now shipping

EDN Logo

The ESRI news RSS feed says that ESRI Developer Network 9.2 is now shipping. Good news for us because we still haven’t received our ESRI Server disks yet. Of course that could mean that our EDN shipment is quite a ways away. Of course the good news is EDN now includes ArcView, but that won’t help you too much with ArcSDE, but at least you can author some maps for AGS (why oh why did they not just include Editor?).


ESRI Developer Network 9.2 has arrived

Well I still haven’t received my ArcGIS Server production disks, but EDN 9.2 arrived this afternoon (it is on the right in the black binder).


As you can see it is much smaller and you can even take it on the road. The insets are still there, but smaller (sorry no pictures right now as the office cameras are all in the field). Everything is DVD just like the 9.2 release. Included disks are:

  • ArcView 9.2 (Single Use) – Media with no license
  • ArcGIS Engine Runtime 9.2
  • ArcGIS Engine Developer Kit 9.2
  • ArcGIS Server Workgroup 9.2
  • ArcGIS Server Enterprise 9.2
  • ArcSDE 9.2
  • ArcIMS 9.2
  • ArcGIS 9.2 Help System for the Java Platform (huh?)
  • ArcIMS Gazetteer 9.2
  • ESRI Data & Maps (StreetMap USA, Global Imagery and Shaded Relief disks)

No sign of ArcGIS Explorer though and no mention of it anywhere. Also “The update for the UNIX platform will be shipped at a later date”.

**Update – **Maybe I misunderstood the EDN team at the UC, but it looks like ArcView 9.2 is not actually part of the EDN subscription.

ArcView is available as an option to your EDN Subscription for an additional fee. You may puchase the ArcView license at any time during your current subscription. Please contact customer service for more information.

OK that is news for me, but I may have overlooked it. In that case why not also offer Editor 9.2 as an option?


Taking that ArcGIS Desktop license in the field


With people getting ArcGIS 9.2, this issue has come up again. You cannot check out a license of ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 from the license manager and take it into the field.

Does the ArcGIS or ESRI License Manager support the ability to check out or borrow concurrent use licenses, such as to a laptop?

No, neither the ArcGIS nor the ESRI License Manager support the ability to ‘borrow’ licenses, such that computers could check out a concurrent use license from a license manager and then disconnect from the network.

Yea that sucks because you either have to have a stand along license of ArcGIS Desktop (Viewer or Editor) or install your own license manager on your laptop. Either way you lose flexibility that the license manager should be giving you. Yes Autodesk and others have had this capability for quite some time, but it would appear ESRI has no plans whatsoever to offer such an opportunity. I’ve asked this question at every User Conference and the answer is always the same.

“No Plans”

I’ve been offered excuses from protecting their licensing revenue to later versions of FlexLM are buggy. Frankly this has been the biggest hindrance to our little company as we cannot afford to have stand alone copies of ArcView or Editor on laptops (let alone the cost of extensions). Thus ArcView 3.2a (with 3D Analyst and Spatial Analyst) continues to be installed on my laptop for just such emergencies. If you don’t have an old copy of ArcView 3.x (like who doesn’t have tons of those CDs at the bottom of your drawer?), QGIS can step in and help. Of course FWTools helps convert datasets to formats ArcView 3.x can read.


Another year, another win

Arizona State again takes care of Arizona. Nice to keep that Territorial Cup, the Cup is the oldest (1899 – Arizona became a state in 1912) trophy for a rivalry game in NCAA football, from going down to Tucson again. Plus ASU basketball beat Iowa. What a night!