ArcGIS Blog » Mapping ArcGIS Blog Fri, 24 Apr 2015 16:56:57 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Getting to know Esri Maps for Office 3.0: Part 2 Thu, 23 Apr 2015 14:00:08 +0000 Scott Ball Continue reading ]]> In the blog last week, I highlighted some of the new features of Esri Maps for Office, including the ability to have multiple maps in your workbook, being able to move your maps to other monitors, and the new tools and tool locations. If you missed it, you can find it here. This week I’ll focus on some of the new features that help you turn your data into maps.

  • Create beautiful maps without needing to be a GIS expert. We’ve added a brand new workflow to help you easily get your spreadsheet information on a map. You can start this workflow by clicking the ‘Add map’ button from the Excel ribbon or the ‘From Excel’ button on the map ribbon. We want the experience of adding a map to your spreadsheet to be simple and intuitive while helping you get the best visual insights, so we analyze your data and provide mapping suggestions based on what we find. Based on these recommendations, you are shown a number of map styles that let you see what your map might look like before you make it. You can scroll through the different map styles and pick the one you like, or you can change the suggested data, location, or style settings to see new styles.

  • Use the coordinate system of your choice and easily overlay other GIS datasets that are in your local coordinate system. You are no longer limited to using Web Mercator in your maps in Excel! Esri Maps for Office will now work with basemaps in many more coordinate systems, including WGS84. Basemaps now set the coordinate system for the map and all other layers added to the map are projected into that coordinate system on-the-fly. If you have locations in your spreadsheet data stored in one of the many supported projected and geographic coordinate systems, you can now add them to your maps as well.

  • Add custom location types using line features. Many transportation and utility industry customers have been asking for the ability to map linear features, such as roads, rivers, or power lines based on data in their spreadsheet – and now you can! The ‘custom location type’ feature allows you to map points, areas, and now lines by matching your spreadsheet data to GIS layers already in ArcGIS. For example, you might be tracking the status of a gas pipeline upgrade project in a spreadsheet. As segments of the pipeline are upgraded in your sheet, you want to see the status change color on a map. To do this, you could use custom location types to match the pipeline segments in your sheet with the pipeline network your GIS department already published to ArcGIS. You could then easily share the pipeline project status map with your project team or organization using the ‘Share map’ tool.

That covers many of the big features in the new Esri Maps for Office 3.0 release. As you use the add-in, you will find many smaller improvements that we hope will delight and inspire you. If there are other areas of Maps for Office that you’d like to see covered in a future blog, please leave a comment below. To start using the add-in right away, you can get it here.

]]> 0
Landsat 8 Enthusiasts! Which Band Combination do you Use? Tue, 21 Apr 2015 19:57:42 +0000 Renee Brandt Continue reading ]]> What does Landsat 8 have to do with Earth Day?  Well for one thing, the latest Landsat 8 satellite imagery is some of the coolest imagery you can access, with remarkable images and information about the Earth being updated daily.  Landsat imagery provides the longest, contiguous coverage of the Earth (over 40 years), and has become an invaluable resource for understanding and analyzing Earth changes.

Natural Color with DRA (Dynamic Range Adjustment applied to maximize the contrast) Landsat 8 Bands 4,3,2. This band combination provides an image that looks the way we think the earth and water should look from above.

You may be asking how the imagery from the Landsat satellite is different than the imagery used as a backdrop to your data.  That is a good question.  More than just a pretty picture, the Landsat imagery contains data hidden in each pixel, which when unlocked, can tell you a lot about what you are looking at.  This is what scientists and analyst use to understand how the Earth is changing.  In the case of Landsat 8 imagery, that information consists of 9 spectral bands and 2 thermal bands, which are helpful for measuring and monitoring vegetation, moisture, biomass, soil, peak vegetation, shorelines, etc.

In addition to the Natural Color band combination in the image of the Bahamas above, here are two other ways to visualize the same imagery using different available band combinations.

Color Infrared with DRA. Landsat 8 bands 5,4,3. This band combination is typically used for vegetation analysis. Intense red represents vigorous growing plants producing a lot of chlorophyll, while lighter shades of reds are still vegetation, but may either be mature plants / trees or dead, unhealthy plants.

Agriculture with DRA. Landsat 8 Bands 6,5,2. This band combination is useful for monitoring agricultural crops. In the image, bright green represents vigorous, healthy vegetation while non-crops, such as mature trees, appear in a dull green.

I’d love to hear from you.  Are you using Landsat 8?  If so, what are you using it for and which band combinations?  Here is a link to another post from Esri that provides common band combinations and gives you more information on the different bands.


Note:  All the Landsat 8 bands are available through ArcGIS Online.  If you don’t have an ArcGIS Online account, you can sign up here for a free 60 day trial license.



]]> 0
User Community Content Continues to Improve the Living Atlas of the World and its Suite of Basemaps Tue, 21 Apr 2015 17:43:13 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]>

ArcGIS Online has been refreshed with new and updated content to Esri’s Basemaps. The user community has improved the World Topographic Map by adding new content for the entire country of Thailand and new and updated content for cities, counties and universities in the United States. We appreciate our users and partners who are supporting the Living Atlas of the World by contributing useful information and applying this content to solve problems and tackle projects. You can join this growing community of contributors by sharing your data with Community Maps.  

Topographic Map Updates & Applied Use of Living Atlas Content

The Country of Thailand is among our newest Community Maps contributors.

Country of Thailand (Topo 1:72k to 1:1k)

An example of applying Living Atlas content would be this Bangkok Population map. This web map overlays population data from the Demographic Living Atlas theme on Esri Basemap content created by Esri Thailand.

Also known as “A.F.”, American Fork, UT is our next new contributor. American Fork lies at the foot of the Wasatch Range, north of Utah Lake.

American Fork, UT (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

The city has created an Annexation and Additions to American Fork City web app that offers an historical look at development since its inception in 1853. By zooming in and clicking on an annexation polygon, a pop-up will appear with property information. Now the city can interact with this web app in the context of their own geography and contributed data.

Our next new contributor lies in the counties of Eagle and Pitkin in the Colorado Rocky Mountains.

Basalt, CO (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

The town of Basalt’s new content is now being leveraged by this Parcel Map for Pitkin County. This web map shows basic parcel information including parcel ID, account number, owner name, location and a link to the Assessor’s web page for each parcel.

Rounding out our new contributors for this release is California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB). CSUMB is part of the 23-campus California State University system and lies just one mile from the shores of Monterey Bay.

California State University, Monterey Bay (Topo 1:9k to1:1k)

The university now has the ability to leverage the topographic basemap in addition to imagery, as they have done here in this campus tour app.

This app is a good example of incorporating media into our ready to use and preconfigured web application templates.

We would like to also extend a big thanks to contributors who are routinely updating content for their area and helping keep the basemaps as contemporary as possible.

Coweta County, GA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Dane County, WI (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Fulton County, OH (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Kitsap County, WA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Naperville, IL (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

View this presentation for a tour of the new and updated content in the World Topographic Map.

Here’s a list of all the community contributors for this release:

World Topographic Map


Community Maps Newsletter: Stay updated on program news, tips and tricks, user success stories, training events, and participant contributions by subscribing to the Community Maps Newsletter. You can have the newsletter sent right to your inbox by subscribing here.

Living Atlas Community Webinar: Looking for ways to gain deeper demographic insights to your customers, constituents, or community? Catherine Spisszak, Product Manager for Esri Demographics, will discuss the types of demographic content available in the Living Atlas of the World and give a demonstration of how it can be accessed.

Do you believe in the power of storytelling? Allen Carroll, Esri Program Manager for Storytelling, will share best practices for how to create a good story map, a compelling and engaging map-based presentation.

Wondering what’s going on with the Contributor App?  Get the inside scoop from Jim Herries, Esri Cartography Product Engineer.

Discover new Uses for the Living Atlas of the World in Upcoming Webinar

Date Prep Tools: The highly-anticipated Preparing Data for Community Maps Workshop self-study materials have been released! Now you can participate in this training at anytime, from anywhere.

Training: Additional offerings of the well-received Preparing Data for Community Maps Workshop have been added to the schedule! The workshops are scheduled on different days and times in an effort to accommodate multiple users. This allows you to register for the workshop that best fits your schedule. You MUST register if you plan on attending one of these workshops.

Share your story: How has contributing to the Living Atlas Community benefited your organization? Has your participation helped meet a particular challenge? Email us at so we can promote your success.

Share your data: Wish to join the growing community of Community Maps contributors?  Contributing to Esri Community Maps is easy. Just visit Community Maps for an overview and visit the Community Maps Contribution Process page for the details.

Contributions and Feedback

These contributions were made through the Community Maps Program.

For more information visit the Community Maps Program Resource Center.

The service was updated on the following servers: and If you have previously used the World_Topo_Map, you may need to clear your cache in order to see the updates.

If you have feedback on content, try our Topographic Map Feedback web map.

If you have other feedback or comments, please post them to the ArcGIS Online Discussion Group and the Living Atlas Discussion Group on GeoNet.

]]> 0
I’ve got the Whole World on my Phone Thu, 16 Apr 2015 23:02:47 +0000 Renee Brandt Continue reading ]]> On Tuesdays, we typically go out for pizza with my husband’s family and after dinner, sit and talk for a few hours.  This past Tuesday, the discussion turned to their childhood home and the surrounding places they used to visit as children.  They had grown up in Nairobi, Kenya, and vacationed often in Mombasa.  As they were trying to describe the neighborhood they lived in and the beach they vacationed on, I suddenly had a thought…why not zoom to those locations on my smartphone instead.   Sure enough, it was as easy as typing a location into my ArcGIS application, and I was able to share my screen with everyone at the table.

That is probably the most basic usage for imagery, visualizing information.  However, it is still amazing that you can zoom all the way around the world and view high resolution imagery data, while you are away from the office, sitting anywhere (including pizza restaurants) through a mobile device.  You can have the whole world right on your phone.

Nyali & Mombosa Beach in Kenya

I used the World Imagery Basemap to do this, and today I learned this is the number one requested Basemap from ArcGIS Online.  In fact, it received almost 2.4 million requests in the month of March alone!  I’m sure some of those people are looking at their home, or using it to augment a story…but I know the majority of you are using it to provide context for your work and probably layering additional data on top of it.

In addition to the World Imagery Basemap, there are lots of other Basemap, Imagery and Data collections available online from Esri’s Living Atlas of the World for the ArcGIS application on your phone and the ArcGIS platform.  So the next time you need a map, check out what is available from Esri and if it happens to be the World Imagery Basemap, you’re in good company.

]]> 0 Getting to know Esri Maps for Office 3.0: Part 1 Thu, 16 Apr 2015 20:54:17 +0000 Scott Ball Continue reading ]]> Esri Maps for Office 3.0 is the biggest update to the add-in since it launched nearly 3 years ago. From an updated visual design to improved workflows and under-the-hood improvements, there is a lot to take in. In part 1 of this blog series, I will talk about the new ability to add multiple map windows, the new location of your map tools, and the search tool. In part 2, coming next week, I’ll talk about the beautiful new add data workflow, expanded coordinate system support, and the new capability to use linear feature services with custom location types.

  • Visualize your Excel data more clearly by inserting more than one map in your spreadsheet. You can create multiple maps for different tables you have in spreadsheets. In previous versions of the add-in, you were limited to one map per worksheet. You can now add up to 5 maps in your workbook in order to compare the areas that are important to you. We’ve added the ‘Link Map Views’ tool to allow you to synchronize all the maps to show the same areas and zoom levels. When enabled, panning and zooming on one map will update all your other maps in the workbook.

  • Compare maps side by side or drag them out to other monitors without cluttering your Excel window. By default, new maps are windows that float above your Excel workbook. This allows you to navigate through your Excel data without losing sight of your map. Floating maps can also be dragged to other monitors. To help keep things organized, we’ve included an ‘Arrange Maps’ tool that will help you tile or cascade your maps alongside your Excel window in the best configuration for your monitor(s). Maps can also be anchored to a specific place in your worksheet by using the ‘anchor map’ tool in the upper left corner of the map window. If you lose track of one of your maps, you can find it easily using the new ‘Go to Map’ tool.
  • Work with the mapped data easily by finding the tools in the map window. With the ability to add multiple maps, it became impractical to have just one set of controls in the main Excel ribbon. Each map has its own ribbon with the tools that apply to that map. Just like Excel, the ribbon can be hidden out of sight when you’re not using it. Other tools such as Search, Select, Select Basemap, and Default Extent have been added along the right side of the map window for easy access.

  • Leverage the new search tool to find locations quickly. The search tool allows you to quickly search Esri’s points of interest database to perform simple geographic lookups, such as finding the locations of cities or countries, as well as more important matters like ‘is there a Starbucks near the account I’m visiting this afternoon?’ If you search for a category, such as ‘pizza’, you will be shown the first 10 results found in the area shown on the map. More information about the results can be found by clicking the icon(s) on the map.

Check back next week for part 2 about the beautiful new add data workflow, expanded coordinate system support, and the new capability to use linear feature services with custom location types. You can start experiencing an improved way of mapping in Excel with Esri Maps for Office 3.0 right now. Get it here.

]]> 5
MDA’s BaseVue 2013 Global Land Cover available on ArcGIS Online Wed, 15 Apr 2015 18:47:15 +0000 Charlie Frye Continue reading ]]> Esri’s Landscape Content Team is pleased to announce MDA’s BaseVue 2013 land cover data is available in the Living Atlas and as premium content in ArcGIS Online. BaseVue 2013 is a 13-class land use/land cover dataset that covers the globe, except Antarctica, at 30m resolution.

BaseVue is derived from Landsat 8, which was launched in February 11, 2013, and began providing data shortly afterwards. Landsat 8 includes two additional bands of data which allow for higher levels of quality and reliability when classifying land cover. Learn more about Landsat 8. BaseVue 2013 uses Landsat 8 scenes ranging from April 2013 to June 2014.

Lena River

Situated along the north coast of the Russian Federation, the area where the Lena River flows into the Arctic Sea is complex, detailed, and beautiful. The blues represent areas where the water table is near the surface, the light greens are grasses, and the darker yellow greens are woody vegetation.

Within the continental U.S., MDA re-coded and inserted the USGS’s National Land Cover Database (NLCD) data. Even though the NLCD 2011 data uses Landsat 7, the USGS extensively processed NLCD for accuracy and thus, NLCD 2011 still represents the highest quality land use / land cover data for the continental U.S. The land use / land cover classifications for NLCD and BaseVue are compatible. As a result, BaseVue has two additional classes, Mixed Forest, and Woody Wetlands, within the continental U.S.


The greenbelts that were planned over 100 years ago are still visible within the urbanized area that is surrounded by pale green representing cultivated crops.

The Landscape Content Team produced three layers from BaseVue 2013:

  • World Land Cover 30m BaseVue 2013 – All classes are represented, though surface water is not given a color in order to work with more base maps because the near-shore areas cannot be separately turned on or off.
  • World Forests 30m BaseVue 2013 – All classes of forest are represented here to make visualization and analysis of forests more efficient.
  • World Surface Water 30m BaseVue 2013 – Surface water and permanent snow and ice are separated in this service to make analysis and visualization more efficient.

These layers are image services and can be used for analysis in ArcGIS Desktop and for visualization and mapping throughout the ArcGIS Platform.


The land surrounding North Korea’s capitol city is intensely agricultural, with the pale blues representing irrigated agriculture, and the pale greens cultivated crops. The stronger greens represent forested lands.

For more information contact us using the Landscape Layers Forum on GeoNet.

]]> 0
Esri Maps for Office 3.0 is now available: Greater productivity with multiple maps, projections, and new tools. Fri, 10 Apr 2015 14:00:27 +0000 Scott Ball Continue reading ]]>

Do you find yourself limited with the monitor real estate when scrolling through your spreadsheet data and interacting with maps? Are you trying to overlay your map in Excel with your organization’s GIS data in different coordinate systems? Do you have a cluttered data visualization when you map datasets from multiple tables?

The 3.0 version answers all these questions and makes it even easier to map your Excel data and work with maps in many new ways. For example, you can add multiple maps to your spreadsheet and compare them side by side, change the coordinate system for your maps to match with your organization’s preferred projection system, float the maps outside the Excel window and to other monitors, and much more. To download Esri Maps for Office and learn more, visit

With Esri Maps for Office 3.0, you can:

  • Visualize your Excel data more clearly by inserting more than one map in your spreadsheet. You can create multiple maps for different tables you have in spreadsheets.
  • Compare maps side by side or drag them out to other monitors without cluttering your Excel window.
  • Work with the mapped data easily by finding the tools in the map window.

  • Leverage the new search tool to find locations quickly.
  • Create beautiful maps without needing to be a GIS expert. See how your map will look before mapping the data. Map styles are recommended according to the data you are mapping so you get the best visual insights.
  • Use the coordinate system of your choice and easily overlay other GIS datasets that are in your local coordinate system.
  • Add custom location types using line features.
  • Get started quickly and easily with the new ‘Getting started’ guide.

In the coming weeks I’ll walk through these features in more detail, so keep an eye on for updates. You can start experiencing an improved way of mapping in Excel with Esri Maps for Office 3.0 right now. Get it here.

]]> 3
Maps We Love: How to make great maps that engage and inspire Wed, 08 Apr 2015 17:02:45 +0000 Mark Harrower Continue reading ]]> You don’t have to be a cartographer to know that maps are everywhere. The demand for maps has never been greater–most people use maps every day and they want them to go beyond functional. Whether it’s finding simple directions or detecting oil spill patterns, people want maps to help them understand things. They want maps to appear instantly, across devices. People want maps to be attractive as well as informative.

But, what makes a good map? How can we engage people with a map? How do you make a map that offers unexpected insights or even captivating beauty? We have been working on something at Esri that we hope will answer these questions: Maps We Love.

Maps We Love is an ongoing project where you will see the best of what’s possible with ArcGIS. This is where you come for the inspiration, ideas, and information you need to turn your data into a brilliant map. We give you a behind-the-scenes look at important steps, plus resources (lots of links) so you can dig deeper into these topics. Maps We Love is designed to demystify mapping, to give you the confidence and assurance that, “you can make great maps!”

Turning data into a compelling map is about more than knowing which buttons to push. It’s about knowing how to uncover stories hidden in your data. It’s about telling those stories clearly and simply. Maps We Love is carefully curated to give you what you need to tell stories with your data, to add new tools to your toolkit, and to help you find solutions to common mapping challenges.

We call this project, Maps We Love. Why? Because, let’s face it, there are a lot of maps out there. Some of them good, some of them great, some of them not so good or great. Maps We Love is a selection of maps that we feel represents some of the best cartography, and most interesting subject matter and data. We hope you will love the Maps We Love, and be motivated to make maps you love.

PS. Our goal is to grow this site and feature many more maps—possibly your maps! We will reach out to you and ask you to submit the maps you love. Stay tuned!

]]> 5
Introduction to the Living Atlas Community Tue, 07 Apr 2015 16:58:22 +0000 Deane Kensok Continue reading ]]> The Living Atlas of the World is a rapidly growing part of the ArcGIS Platform, providing users with easy access to a rich set of high-quality, ready-to-use content published by Esri and the ArcGIS user community. With this newsletter and related resources, we would like to inspire and empower you to become an active participant in our worldwide Living Atlas Community.


For several years, ArcGIS Online has provided users with access to ready-to-use content that could be used to publish and share maps and applications. This began with a small set of basemaps, and other foundational services such as geocoding and routing, which were quickly adopted by ArcGIS users. To enhance the quality and coverage of these services, many of these ArcGIS users offered to share their geographic data with Esri to integrate into the maps and make available to all users. As a result, the Community Maps program was born! This community initiative, along with the growth of ArcGIS Online and web mapping generally, has led to significant increases in the usage of these basemaps each year.


Over the past few years, Esri has also been expanding the types of maps and layers that it makes available to ArcGIS users. These maps have covered a wide range of topics related to people (i.e., human systems), earth (i.e., physical systems), and life (i.e., natural systems). This has included multispectral imagery, demographic maps, elevation layers, ecological land units, and much more. The intent of these maps and layers is to provide a diverse and useful set of ready-to-use content that can support a wide range of maps, applications, and geographic analysis.

Living Atlas Community

ArcGIS Online currently includes about 1 million items that are publicly available to all users, with the vast majority being web maps, map layers, or web mapping applications (e.g., story maps). Many of these items reference geographic information, published by authoritative sources, which would be useful to many users. However, given the volume of information in the system, much of this information can be difficult for those users to discover and access. One of the primary goals of the Living Atlas is to make the best of this information easy to discover and access.

ArcGIS Online Gallery

Gallery of Featured Content from the Living Atlas of the World

The Living Atlas Community consists of two types of participants:

  • Contributors: who publish content that is included in the Living Atlas
  • Curators: who review, approve, and organize content that is included in the Living Atlas

Living Atlas Contributors can participate by (a) publishing content directly through ArcGIS Online and (b) publishing content indirectly through Community Maps. The content that is published by users through ArcGIS Online is reviewed by Living Atlas Curators, which includes dozens of Esri staff and other GIS professionals around the world. These curators review the content to ensure it is useful, reliable, and well described. Content that meets the acceptance criteria is included in the Living Atlas and featured in ArcGIS Online for other users to discover and access.

We believe that the Living Atlas provides access to one of the largest collections of useful geographic information that has ever been assembled. The Living Atlas is growing and changing continuously as new maps and layers are added by our Contributors and Curators, and existing maps and layers are updated with more recent data (e.g., live traffic and weather). The value of this content is being recognized by many users as they integrate layers into their maps and maps into their applications. It is also being recognized by the larger mapping community. In late 2014, the International Map Industry Association (IMIA) honored the Living Atlas with three awards, including Best Digital Map Product, Best Overall, and the Global Award. These awards reflect the quality and value of geographic information being made available by the GIS Community through the Living Atlas of the World.

We invite you to become an active participant in the Living Atlas and help us to make the useful geographic information you build and maintain available to other users around the world.

]]> 0
Esri Community Maps builds the Living Atlas of the World Tue, 07 Apr 2015 14:22:48 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]> By Mark Stewart

For over four years, Esri Community Maps contributors have been building the Living Atlas of the World through their authoritative data contributions.  What began as a way to build the best, freely available online basemaps is now a program that extends far beyond basemap layers to encompass imagery, elevation, hydrology, 3D and even themes used in the Urban Observatory.

Several hundred organizations are already participating, sharing their authoritative content and making it accessible to the entire GIS community.  If you would like to join us, it is easy to get started with our online Community Maps Contribution App, and if you need help with the application, there is complete documentation and even a quick video to answer all your questions.

If you are new to Esri Community Maps, you might want to explore our Documentation Center, where you will find details about the program and links to support resources.  And, as always, if you have questions, you can always contact the Esri Community Maps team.  So join us, and help build the Living Atlas of the World!

]]> 0