ArcGIS Blog » Mapping ArcGIS Blog Fri, 29 Aug 2014 15:23:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ArcGIS Pro software licensing changes in beta 5 Tue, 26 Aug 2014 10:25:52 +0000 Rhonda Glennon Continue reading ]]> The beta 5 release of ArcGIS Pro is now available. You can download it from the ArcGIS Pro website or check for updates within ArcGIS Pro. This release has some important changes to the way you authorize your software license.

ArcGIS Pro follows a named user licensing model, where each user account is assigned permissions to access the software. Starting with beta 5, licenses for ArcGIS Pro are administered through your ArcGIS Online organizational account. This will be the software authorization method used for the remainder of the beta program, as well as in the final release.

If you’ve been using ArcGIS Pro beta, you’re already used to signing in to start the application. The difference now is that the organization administrator needs to assign each account a software license level and, optionally, any additional extensions. When you start ArcGIS Pro and sign in, the application runs with the level and extensions your administrator has specified.

If you’re not part of the beta program yet, remember that all current ArcGIS for Desktop customers are invited to join and download ArcGIS Pro. You can sign up on the ArcGIS Pro website.

Here’s what you need to do to use ArcGIS Pro.

If you are the administrator of an ArcGIS Online organization that is currently part of the ArcGIS Pro beta program, you need to use the ArcGIS Online website to specify which members can run ArcGIS Pro and the software licenses available to them. You can manage licenses for individual members or make bulk assignment updates. Licensing through Portal for ArcGIS will be available in a future beta release.

1. Sign in at You must have an administrator role.
2. On the My Organization page, click the Manage Licenses button.

Manage Licenses button

3. Assign licenses to members of your organization. You see graphs of the numbers of licenses available. The products and numbers of licenses you see in ArcGIS Online correspond to those to which your organization is entitled or has purchased.

My Organization's licenses

4. Review the help for more information.

You can contact Esri Customer Service (or send an email to if you are part of the beta program but don’t see the Manage Licenses button, or if you want to evaluate additional ArcGIS Pro products that are not currently part of your maintenance subscription. Beta 5 is the first ArcGIS Pro release where your license reflects the products you have under maintenance, so Customer Service can provide you with additional licenses on a trial basis during the beta program.

If you are not an administrator in your organization, check with your administrator and make sure your license has been assigned. You should only update to beta 5 after you have confirmed that your account has a license. If your administrator has not set your license, ArcGIS Pro beta 5 will not run when you attempt to sign in.

After you start ArcGIS Pro, you can review your current licenses (requires signing in to view this link) by clicking the Project tab and clicking Licensing. If you need to work with ArcGIS Pro in a disconnected mode or if you run Python scripts outside of the ArcGIS Pro application, you can check out a license from this tab.

License status in ArcGIS Pro

ArcGIS Pro can be installed on the same machine as other ArcGIS for Desktop releases, or on a machine without any Esri products. Keep in mind that only ArcGIS Pro uses licensing through the organization. The other ArcGIS for Desktop applications—ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, and ArcScene—continue to use the local ArcGIS Administrator application to set levels and extensions.

You can post your feedback about ArcGIS Pro on the Esri beta forums (sign in on the ArcGIS Pro website and click the Forums button) or contact Esri Technical Support.

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User Contributions Continue to Improve Community Basemaps and the Living Atlas Sat, 23 Aug 2014 18:00:14 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]> The ArcGIS Content Team continues to enhance the Community Basemaps by incorporating new and updated content to the ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, enhancing the basemap content collection. Thanks to the user community, the World Topographic Map has been updated with new contributions for North America, Canada and select locations in Poland and Australia.

The refresh of North America is significant and includes updates with expanded coverage along with new contributions. With this refresh of North America, we incorporated over 100 community contributors’ vector data into our central database. The benefit of this vector format is our ability to transform it to our data model, co-mingle it with the rest of our commercial and open sourced data and produce a cache with our master template. Community areas of interest are integrated seamlessly alongside data from other sources. As detailed in a previous blog, we expanded the use of community data into other basemaps including Street, Canvas, and the Reference Overlay services. This production through our “Basemap Factory” also allows our contributor data to be displayed at smaller scales beyond ~1:9k (out to ~1:288k where applicable). This factory production model is also designed to reduce the time it takes for new communities or updates to existing contributors to be published in our map going forward. This North America refresh includes the new cartographic design and updates for Canada from 1:2M – 1:288K!

In addition to North America, we have both a new contributor and an update in Poland. Our newest contributor in Poland is The University of Life Sciences in Lubin, which has provided updates that bring the campus alive with the addition of sidewalks, trees and building footprints.

The University of Life Sciences in Lubin is comprised of seven unique faculties including Agro-bioengineering, Veterinary Medicine, Biology and Animal Breeding, Horticulture and Landscape Architecture, Production Engineering, Food Science and Biotechnology, and Agricultural Sciences. Academic traditions at this university date back to 1944.

We also welcome an update from Leśny Zakład Doświadczalny, Rogów, Poland. Updated content includes a detailed sidewalk network, ponds, building footprints, and sports fields.

Leśny Zakład Doświadczalny is an agricultural university and serves as the Center for the Education of Natural Forests and Arboretum that houses a collection of plants and trees from all over the world.

Our next newest contributor lies 9,864 miles (15,875km) away in Tasmania. Launceston is one of Australia’s oldest cities.

Launceston is a city of “firsts”. It is the first city to use anesthetics, the first Australian city to construct underground sewers, and the first Australian city to be lit by hydroelectricity.

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

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 Discussion Group on GeoNet.

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How we created the CityEngine Web Scene for the March 2014 Oso Landslide Thu, 21 Aug 2014 23:24:16 +0000 Melanie Harlow Continue reading ]]> On the morning of Saturday, March 22, 2014, a major landslide occurred near the city of Oso, Washington, instantly devastating the Steelhead community in its path and drastically altering the landscape. Esri’s Disaster Response Team quickly published a set of maps and services to better understand the scale and impact of this event, including a Story Map to compare the before/after imagery of the slide area.

After hearing about the event and the work Esri was doing to support the recovery efforts, it became clear that a 3D version of the swipe map might provide a new perspective on the landslide and its scale. The Oso slide has since been ranked as the most deadly single landslide event in U.S. history, “excluding volcanic, earthquake, dam collapse, or multiple area-wide events.” (source) A 2D map is a good place to begin understanding an event like this, but the same source data can be used to quickly produce an immersive 3D scene.

Oso Landslide Web Scene: Before and After

To create the 3D before & after comparison of the Oso slide area, we used ArcGIS and CityEngine to generate a model of the area and published a set of interactive web scenes to ArcGIS Online. In doing this we were able to reuse many of the same before & after datasets we were using in the other 2D maps of Oso, including:

  1. Bare earth terrain surface, or digital terrain model (DTM)
  2. First return surface, or digital surface model (DSM)
  3. Imagery
  4. Operational data
    1. Structure locations w/condition
    2. Slide extent polygon

Terrain and Surface Models

Two unique web scenes were created—one to show the bare earth terrain (Digital Terrain Model), and another showing vegetation and other structures on the surface (Digital Surface Model). Within each of these scenes, before and after versions of the imagery and surfaces were grouped, allowing users to compare the two in the web scene viewer.

The first step was to prepare the following datasets in ArcGIS before they were brought into CityEngine:

  1. A rectangular area of interest (AOI) for the web scene that contains the affected area and the datasets.
  2. Clip the before DTM and DSM produced by the Puget Sound LiDAR Consortium (collected between April – July 2013) and export them to TIFFs (with .tfw).
  3. Generate the after DTM and DSM rasters from the Washington State Dept. of Transportation lidar dataset (collected March 24, 2014). Then clip and export them to TIFF.
  4. Clip the before (ArcGIS World Imagery) and after imagery (from this service) to the AOI and export them. (Note: The imagery size should be less than 4000 x 4000 pixels for use in CityEngine.)
  5. Obtain additional operational data, including:
    1. Damaged structures from this feature service
    2. Preliminary landslide extent polygon from USGS Open File Report 2014-1065
Before and After Imagery

Before (Left) and After (Right) Imagery

Once the layers were prepared, a new CityEngine Project and Scene were created using the local North Washington State Plane coordinate system (WKID 2285). The bare-earth scene was created first, so that dwelling inspection points could be aligned with the terrain surface.

Step 1: Import the before DTM (File > Import > Terrain Import) and the accompanying Texture (image) to be draped on top.

Before DTM UploadStep 2: Import the corresponding after DTM and Texture (image) pair.

After DTM Upload

Rename the two terrain layers so that we could tell them apart.

Rename layers

Step 3: Import the Structure inspection points to the scene (File > Import > File GDB Import). With the points selected, they were aligned to the Bare Earth Before surface (Shapes > Align Shapes to Terrain).

Align Shapes to Terrain

Step 4: Apply a simple CityEngine rule to symbolize the points according to the condition of the structure. I used the built-in cube symbol (we didn’t yet have building footprints when the scene was made) and a series of case statements according to the level of damage to color the cubes (below is a sampling):

case Level_ == "Destroyed" :
case Level_ == "Limited" :

With an X/Y/Z symbol size of 7 meters, each cube (shown below) is ~23 feet tall (approximating a 1-2 story building height).

A simple CityEngine rule applied to symbolize the building points

Step 5: The scene was finished by adding the other operational layers. You could add more, such as, a slide extent, a street network showing closures or depths, emergency assets, or vertical change.

Before exporting the CityEngine scene to a web scene file, a few bookmarks were added to show different parts of the landslide and affected areas. These can be navigated to individually, or played as a tour using the arrow button.

Web Scene BookmarksWhen the scene was ready to export, I selected all features in the 3D viewport of the scene (CTRL+A), and exported it (File > Export Models > CityEngine WebScene). I provided a Scene Name, then setup the layer grouping.

CityEngine Web Scene Layer Options

The highlighted Per Layer Options above are important to understand:

  1. Group Name: If you would like to compare 2 (or more) layers, give them a common Group Name. This will enable the swipe and compare tools in the exported web scene.Layers Tab
  2. State & Interaction: The State determines whether the layer is a Backdrop (not listed in the Layer list, always present), Visible on load, or Hidden when the scene loads. Interaction determines whether you can select a feature or not (not relevant for terrains, which cannot be queried).
  3. Textures: The texture quality can be selected from a drop-down, progressively down-sampling the original images. Because our scene is relatively simple and we want the maximum quality for the imagery, Original Textures is used. This is the highest quality setting. Note that using original texture sizes may cause problems for larger scenes or scenes with many unique textures (e.g., building facades).

Once exported, the web scene was uploaded to our ArcGIS Online account and shared. This can be done in CityEngine (File > Share As) or by uploading the exported web scene (.3ws) file in ArcGIS Online.

The same process was repeated for the DSM version of the web scene, showing vegetation and building heights in the terrain.

Take a tour of the bare-earth and surface model Oso landslide web scenes and leave any feedback or questions below.

Contributed by Craig McCabe

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Community Maps recap from the 2014 Esri International User Conference Wed, 20 Aug 2014 16:50:23 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]> Another successful User Conference is behind us. This year conference attendees were introduced to the Living Atlas of the World. The Living Atlas combines reference and thematic maps with topics relating to people, earth, and life. It is a collection of content communities assembled by Esri, the User Community, and our Partners all over the world.

Community basemaps are an integral part of the Living Atlas. Thousands of ArcGIS users have improved the coverage and quality of our basemaps by providing access to their map data. The World Topographic Map remains the “flagship” basemap in the Living Atlas collection and the Community Maps Team continued to encourage participation and explain the many benefits of contributing throughout the conference.

There were several opportunities for conference attendees to learn about Community Maps. Our popular “Getting to Know Community Maps” was presented again this year. This presentation highlighted what Community Maps ishow to participate, and the benefits of contributing to the program. This presentation also included a demonstration of the new and improved Community Maps data prep tools that were released just before the conference in July. A Demo Theater was conducted that showed attendees how to register and upload content through our Community Maps Contributor App. A Community Maps Special Interest Group (SIG) was held during the conference. The SIG included the Community Maps Timeline and a special user story about how Fairfax County, VA has applied the benefits of the program to the county and its residents.

The Community Maps Timeline stepped through the program changes and user-friendly functionality enhancements that have been introduced since ArcGIS Online launched Esri’s suite of basemaps. The timeline included a glimpse of what is to come in 2015 and beyond. The video below walks through the timeline.

Fairfax County’s GIS Applications Manager, Brendan Ford showed us how the county has implemented Community Maps in their daily operations. Fairfax County in the State of Virginia has been a contributor to Esri’s Community Maps since 2010.

Brendan was drawn to the program by the prospect of using ArcGIS Online basemaps instead of building their own basemaps to support applications.  Before Community Maps, Brendan and his team spent a considerable amount of time developing basemap content with their first released web applications.  Due to the subjective nature of the basemap cartography, where they started from scratch on symbols and label fonts, they struggled to develop a consistent basemap usable by multiple applications.  Using the high-quality cartography of the World Topographic Map on ArcGIS Online was an easy choice for the new versions of their web mapping applications. You can learn more about this story be reading the Fairfax County Virginia Community Maps Success Story.

For an overall look at the 2014 Esri User Conference, visit the following Story Map Journal.

You can learn more about Community Maps by visiting our product page and by visiting our resource center. Many answers to your questions can be answered by visiting the Frequently Asked Questions page. You can email the Community Maps Team at for additional information.

We look forward to hearing from you!

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Upcoming Community Maps Webinar will feature latest news from the team Fri, 15 Aug 2014 21:40:12 +0000 Mark Stewart Continue reading ]]> After taking a short break to focus on the 2014 Esri International User Conference, the regular Community Maps webinar will be back on August 21st at 11:00 am Pacific time.

This month’s webinar will include two main topics:

  1. Shane Matthews will recap all of the Community Maps-related news from this year’s UC.
  2. Andrew Green will provide an overview of recent and upcoming ArcGIS Online basemap improvements.

In addition to these two main topics, Tamara Yoder will be demonstrating the latest release of our Community Maps data preparation tools, and Mark Stewart will give a preview of the new Community Maps resource center that is currently under development.

We hope you can join us for this informative one-hour webinar.  Click here to add it to your calendar.

If you would like to view archived videos of past Community Maps webinars, please visit our video channel.

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ArcGIS Pro with NVIDIA K1 in XenDesktop Fri, 08 Aug 2014 17:40:13 +0000 John Meza Continue reading ]]> ArcGIS Pro with NVIDIA K1 in XenDesktop

This article continues the discussion on using ArcGIS Pro in virtualized environments, focusing on how a shareable GPU enhances the ArcGIS Pro user experience and the configurations used to deliver that user experience.

Our test environment uses the NVIDIA K1 card which is designed to be used in Microsoft Hyper-V VDI, Citrix XenDesktop, and VMWare virtualized environments. It contains four GK107GL GPUs. Each of those is an entry-level GPU comparable to an NVIDIA K600.

In Citrix XenServer, the K1 GPUs can be configured as a K100, K120Q, K140Q, or Pass-Through. This is how to configure the virtual GPU (vGPU) capabilities and VM density per GPU for specific environments and applications. The following chart has more information on the XenServer vGPU configurations.

vGPU Configuration Frame Buffer (MB) Max Resolution vGPUs per GPU vGPUsper Board
K140Q 1024 2560 x 1600 4 16
K120Q 512 2560 x 1600 8 32
K100 256 1920 x 1200 8 32

First we will look at the K100 configuration. It is targeted at office applications and knowledge worker use cases (PowerPoint, Outlook). The K100′s primary advantage is being able to host eight vGPUs (that’s eight VMs) per physical GPU. This is the VM-per-GPU density. But with a frame buffer of 256 MB per vGPU, the type of applications that can be used within the VM has to be kept to that of a typical knowledge worker.

The K140Q configuration can host four vGPUs per physical GPU, so the VM-per-GPU density is less. But with a frame buffer of 1024 MB and fewer VMs sharing the GPU, it can accommodate applications with greater rendering needs.

In order to assess the performance of the different vGPU configurations, the Performance Engineering team conducted a series of performance tests for ArcGIS Pro.  Test results  for the standardized ArcGIS Pro rendering test suite revealed that for the K100 the test execution time, frames per second (FPS), and other metrics were not as good as they were for the K140Q. That was expected.

Additional user acceptance testing was conducted in a holistic lab environment where  five users (real humans) used ArcGIS Pro with 3D data in the VMs using the K100 and K140Q configurations. The first phase of testing had users on VM’s which had a  K100 configuration. With the K100 configuration a maximum of 8 VMs share one GPU. Since we had 5 users using VMs they were placed on one GPU—less than its maximum density (8).  After this first phase of testing was complete, users then tested on VM’s which had the K140Q configuration.  The K140Q puts four VMs on one GPU, reaching its maximum density, and one VM had a GPU all to itself. The feedback showed that the K100 had difficulty providing an adequate user experience. The K140Q provided smoother rendering and animation. The chart below shows a comparison of the FPS seen in ArcGIS Pro for each VM. The K140Q columns (in green) clearly show higher FPS than the K100 (in light green) during the test.

Frames Per Second for K140Q and K100

The K100 VMs averaged 13 FPS during the test, while the K140Q VMs averaged 23 FPS. Because of this and other reasons, we use the K140Q configuration for our XenServer/XenDesktop performance and scalability testing.

We will begin testing the NVIDIA K2 card this week and also plan comprehensive XenApp testing with the NVIDA K1 and K2 cards.

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Certain shapefiles crash ArcGIS 10.2 Mon, 28 Jul 2014 19:33:09 +0000 Rhonda Glennon Continue reading ]]> Is ArcGIS 10.2 crashing when attempting to add shapefiles to ArcMap? We see your error reports coming in and we want you to know there’s a fix! For more details about this issue, please see this blog.

This reminder comes from Kirsten Pinkston in Esri Technical Support.

Experiencing this issue? Here’s what you need to do:

Install the patch

For those of you running ArcGIS 10.2 and experiencing crashes when working with shapefiles, it is necessary that you download and install this patch or upgrade to 10.2.1 to apply the fix.

Can’t install the patch or upgrade?

Shapefiles typically associated with this crash contain dBase files with a large number of fields. Converting these shapefiles to file geodatabase feature classes can help to work around the crashing.

Please continue to contact Esri

For any and all error reports you receive, please send them to Esri with a valid email address, as this enables us to identify and respond faster to issues impacting your work.

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Choosing the Best ArcGIS Online Basemap for Your Maps and Apps Wed, 23 Jul 2014 18:00:37 +0000 ArcGIS Content Team Continue reading ]]> We presented this Technical Workshop as part of the 2014 User Conference with the following goal: How to maximize the quality of your web map or app beginning with the selection of the best basemap. There are a number of Esri basemaps available for use at ArcGIS Online. Deciding which basemap to use requires asking a few questions to understand what you are mapping and narrow the options. Our two-page PDF provides the highlights of our workshop.

Matrix from Workshop PDF

The matrix categorizes nine basemaps based on the level of content and saturation of the maps. Compare those categories against the type of data you are mapping—points, lines, and/or polygons. Answer the series of questions regarding your subject, type of data, geographic area, scale, and purpose of the map.

The two types of data detailed in the matrix are qualitative features, meaning different kinds or types of things being mapped, and quantitative, meaning a range of value or intensity of the data mapped. An example of qualitative data is power plants, symbolized by uniquely colored points for each kind. An example of quantitative data is the amount of CO2 emissions by country, symbolized with a range or scale of color indicating value groups.

Qualitative versus Quantitative features

Two items to keep in mind:

  • The display of quantitative polygons can be impacted by the colors on the basemap, particularly if using transparency.
  • The basemaps are in Web Mercator projection.  Be aware of distortion when comparing quantitative data, particularly between areas at different latitudes.

You can search for and add basemaps from the ArcGIS Online Gallery, the map viewer basemap gallery, the Living Atlas of the World, or you can add your own custom basemap. Remember, not all basemaps have the same scale range across the globe. Some basemaps are better suited for small-scale, global mapping, while others are intended for detailed, large-scale mapping. Review the online map item pages (for example, Topographic) for a description of each basemap that includes map content and coverage area as well a note when the map was last updated.

Following this step-by-step approach of the matrix and list of questions will allow you to select the best basemap for your map or app.

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So What’s GeoNet? Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:49:40 +0000 Timothy Continue reading ]]> In all the excitement of the 2014 Esri UC, you may not have heard about GeoNet. Maybe you heard the name from Jack’s announcement during the plenary, maybe you got an email or saw it from your social media connections, maybe you’ve logged in but were not sure where to go. In any case, I wanted to help you understand more about GeoNet, how it applies to you and how you can get started.

Purpose of GeoNet
GeoNet is here to extend the user conference experience to 365 days a year. Take all of the networking, collaboration, knowledge sharing, and product support from the conference and combine them into a single community that spans the globe. From that, you have GeoNet.

Launching GeoNet
GeoNet started with a soft launch of a Resilience Community to support the climate challenge presented by President Barack Obama and the White House. A core group of resilience-focused users were invited to the community to try it out and provide feedback. Their participation allowed us to develop the community further as we pushed towards the UC launch of a community that revolves around all things geo.

What is GeoNet
GeoNet is more than just a new forums location. Forums now are only a part of the larger community. This community is there as a tool to help you, the GIS user, get your job done better and more efficiently. You can create discussions, upload files, collaborate on documents, share videos, write blog posts, and much more. This content items can be created within a space focused on a particular topic or industry. Those who follow that place will receive notification of new activity and can get engaged in the conversations.

Esri has provided a general platform for the community with a several spaces focused around industries and products. But in some cases your content may fall outside of these built-out areas. This need provides an opportunity to show the strength of GeoNet. You can create your own groups to meet this need. There is no need to put in a formal request. In 30 seconds you can create a group, give it a description, add tags, and define the membership level. And you’re ready to work! The group is yours to manage and customize to make it work best for you. The community has already taken off though the addition of new groups, such as GIS and E911, Facilities GIS User Group, ArcGIS Marketplace AppsDeutsch, and more. The availability to create these collaboration groups is now at your fingertips.

What would a Geo community be without a spatial component? GeoNet allows its members to put themselves on a Map‌. Easily see the distribution of community members across the globe. ArcGIS Online is also integrated within the community through the bang app (! app) . You can embed publicly shared maps within content as a thumbnail with a direct link to the live map. This opens up a new channel to share and create conversations around your maps. The bang app also gives you the ability to geotag your content. This will provide a way to visualize and query content based upon location as part of a future release of the community. Find out how to add geotags and maps into your GeoNet content‌.

Getting Started
You can get started in the community by logging in with your Esri ccount. If you do not have an account, you can easily create an account. Once in the community, begin by  Updating Your ProfileA, Creating Custom Streams‌, and Begin Searching ‌. There is so much to explore in GeoNet, so if you have any questions or would like to learn more, check out GeoNet Help.

I look forward to seeing you in the GeoNet community.

Timothy Hales
Enterprise Community Manager

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Introducing Esri’s Next Generation Hillshade Mon, 14 Jul 2014 12:00:03 +0000 rajnagi Continue reading ]]> by Rajinder Nagi, Esri Product Engineer

Swiss Alps

Recently, we released an update to the Esri global collection of multi-scale, multi-resolution and multi-source World Elevation services. These global elevation services enable you to create stunning visualizations, calculate aspect or slope, and provide a baseline for analysis and other geoprocessing tasks.

To complement the World Elevation collection, we are excited to announce the release of the Esri next generation hillshade – a hillshade inspired by the legendary Swiss artist, Eduard Imhof. Unlike a default hillshade (azimuth: 315, altitude: 45), the multi-directional hillshade presents an unparalleled view of the world’s mountains, plateaus, valleys and canyons by using an algorithm that computes hillshade from six different directions (as opposed to one direction in a default hillshade). The result is a stunning visualization in both high slope and expressionless areas.

The Multi-Directional Hillshade is available on ArcGIS Online and can be easily added to your desktop or web apps. It is currently implemented as a custom raster function on the World Elevation Service, and requires an ArcGIS Organizational subscription account to access. This live service will render results dynamically on-the-fly for every pan/zoom request. The Multi-Directional hillshade is a dynamic service which allows us to quickly update the service as further high resolution datasets become available.


Traditional hillshades are created by illuminating light from the northwest direction and often produces results which are over exposed, while the details in the terrain are obscured on the non-illuminated sides. This issue persists even more in areas with medium to high slopes (see Figure 1 and 2). However by varying the direction of light from 6 different sources we are able to more realistically represent the terrain, and improve the balance between the over exposed and non-illuminated areas of the map as shown in figures 1 and 2.

Figure1: single direction vs multi-directional hillshade comparison

Figure 1: A comparison between a standard single direction hillshade (left) and the new multi-directional hillshade (right). Notice how the multi-directional hillshade (right) enhances the expressionless regions and accentuates minor details in terrain as compared to a traditional single directional hillshade (left).

Figure2 Mt Rainier

Figure 2: The iconic Mt. Rainier in Washington (USA). You can almost feel the glacial remains on the surface of the mountain using the multi-directional hillshade approach (right). Whereas the default hillshade (left) lacks the clarity and realism of the multi-directional approach. 

How the Multi-Directional Hillshade will make your maps pop!

Let’s take a look at some examples of how you can integrate the new hillshade into your maps.

Visualizing landcover in The Alps

Figure 3: Visualizing landcover in The Alps (Europe). 

Mapping avalanche paths in southern Utah (USA). Figure 4: Mapping avalanche paths in southern Utah (USA). 

Identifying the location of the USGS earthquake faults over Utah (USA).Figure 5: Identifying the location of the USGS earthquake faults over Utah (USA).

Mapping point data in urban environments where Lidar derived elevation is available. Chino Hills, California (USA)

Figure 6: Mapping point data in urban environments where Lidar derived elevation is available. Chino Hills, California (USA).

The new multi-directional hillshade provides a perfect backdrop for topographical, soil, water resources, or other outdoor recreational maps.

This service includes global elevation data from multiple sources and resolutions ranging from 230 m globally to 3 m partially covering the USA from USGS NED, FEMA and community contributed content in Denmark, Finland and the UK. Future additions of data via the ArcGIS user community will continue to improve the resolution, coverage, and quality of data available. For more details and list of current data sources, please refer to the item description in the Terrain layer.

The multi-directional hillshade provides a stunning representation of the world’s topography, and provides the perfect relief backdrop to support your work. So, the next time you are terrain mapping, try out the new multi-directional hillshade.  We guarantee you’ll love it! Let us know what you think by placing a comment below, or contact me directly: Rajinder Nagi or on twitter @rnagi13

Note: You can download the Multi-directional hillshade custom function to try out with your own data.

Thanks to Peter Becker, Shruthi Kumar, and Abhijit Doshi for help in implementing the multi-directional algorithm as a custom raster function. Thanks to Damien Saunder for providing feedback to this blog.

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