ArcGIS Blog » Mapping ArcGIS Blog Tue, 03 Mar 2015 06:29:17 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Introducing Smart Mapping Tue, 03 Mar 2015 06:15:38 +0000 Mark Harrower Continue reading ]]>

We want to introduce you to Smart Mapping, an exciting new capability built into the March 2015 update to ArcGIS Online. Smart mapping is designed to give people confidence and power to quickly make maps that are visually stunning and useful. This makes it easier than ever for you to create attractive maps, maps that tell important stories. Here’s more about what we added and what you can expect when you try smart mapping.

We added new ways to symbolize your data, ‘smart’ defaults, and data-driven workflows to the ArcGIS Online map viewer. Continuous color ramps and proportional symbols, improved categorical mapping, heat maps, and new ways to use transparency effects to show additional details about your data are all now delivered via a streamlined and updated user interface.

But smart mapping is more than just new kinds of maps (as exciting as those are!). To power this experience, we’ve articulated and then programmed in deep cartographic first principles that become a set of interconnect ‘smart’ defaults that create data-driven workflows.

Unlike ‘dumb’ software defaults that are the same every time, with smart defaults we now offer the right choices at the right time. When we see your data in the map viewer, we analyze it very quickly in a variety of ways so that the choices you see in front of you are driven by the nature of your data, the kind of map you want to create, and the kind of story you want to tell (e.g., I want to show places that are above and below the national average).

The best thematic maps apply thoughtful analysis of the underlying data to a set of map parameters designed to bring focus and clarity to the topic. Here, the author has positioned the handles controlling symbol size (running beside the histogram) to emphasize areas with household incomes over $100,000. Great maps relate the data back to the real world, using visual cues that immediately highlight the message you want to convey.

Our goal is to take the guesswork out of the hundreds of settings and choices so your maps are both cartographically appropriate and look wonderful. Even if you don’t have a degree in cartography or GIS, you’ll still succeed. That means you can work much faster because you spend less time iterating and wrangling your maps into something great.

Given the nature of my data, what are the appropriate ways I can map this? Through the new gallery browser in the map viewer (left side), you can now quickly hone-in on the best ways to represent your data and understand the range of choices.

Critically, we’re not taking control away from map authors or dumbing down the map authoring experience, we’re just being smarter about how we set all of the initial parameters of the map (color, scale, styling, etc.). For example, for each of the Esri basemaps (e.g., Streets, Dark Grey Canvas, Topographic) we have created professional, multi-hue color schemes that can be used as the defaults so that you know your map will look great right out of the box without needing any adjustments. Mapping pros still have full control, we’re simply moving beyond defaults that provide the wrong choices for your data and story.

Advanced transparency effects can now be used to nuance the story your data tells. Here the counties with the highest percent of African-American population emerge clearly, showing complex underlying historical and geographic processes. Further, you can normalize your data at any point in the workflow—e.g., divide one attribute by another to create rates and ratios—which is a critical and often overlooked step in the map authoring process.

Where do I find Smart Mapping?

Within the ArcGIS Online map viewer, you can use smart mapping two ways: (1) if making a new map from a CSV, TXT, of GPX file just drag it into the viewer, or (2) find Change Style in the layer context menu.

    • When you add feature layers that don’t have any styling, such as CSV or SHP files, the map viewer analyzes your data and presents layer styling options in a new Change Style pane.
    • When you add features layers you’ve already styled, the map viewer respects the styling, though you can change this map styling at any time and tap into the new smart mapping workflow. Look for Change Style in the layer context menu.
    • You can create heat maps now when mapping the location of point features! Heat maps use colored areas to represent the density of point features. The colors are most intense where the most points are concentrated together.
    • You can use continuous colors and continuous size, bypassing the complicated step of having to group or classify your data.
    • You can now set the visible range with intuitive sliders when styling your layer. You can also have the map viewer calculate and set the optimal visible range.

We have a series of blog posts planned that will dive deeper into each of the exciting new enhancements around smart mapping. Although it has made its first appear in the March release, smart mapping isn’t a one-shot effort; it’s a new philosophy and approach that will infuse our work. Stay tuned for more. We’ve just begun.

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Custom Image Processing 2.0 Wed, 25 Feb 2015 23:21:07 +0000 kevin_butler Continue reading ]]> You can now use Python to create your own raster functions in ArcGIS. Previously, this was done in the .NET framework. Python is more accessible for users and allows you to plug into any of the Python libraries, such as SciPy. We’ve created a Github repository where you can learn about our API, download sample functions, contribute your own, and ask questions. The idea is to make this into a community for everyone who is creating custom raster functions for ArcGIS.

Custom functions can be useful for anyone, but they’re especially powerful for the scientific community when working with HDF, Grib, or NetCDF files—what we call multidimensional mosaic datasets. A simple example of what you can do is to derive wind chill from a dataset that contains both wind speed and air temperature. You can also pull individual time slices for visualization and analysis.

There are some caveats, however. Python is not the same as ArcPy so this will not be compatible with geoprocessing models. If you want to know why, ask in the comments (it’s tangential to this topic). Whereas functions are ideal for per-pixel processing, if you want to do something that requires a global analysis, you’re better off with a geoprocessing model.

It’s technically true that anything you can do in Python, you can incorporate into a raster function; however, that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea. You want to stick with NumPy and SciPy for performance reasons because of their ability to handle rasters as an array.

Check out the repository. It has more background information on what a raster function is, and goes into much more detail about how to get started and optimize your custom raster functions. We’re leveling up here, so if you have any questions or need clarification on anything, you can ask questions on this blog or on the repository.

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User Community Content continues to expand The Living Atlas of the World Tue, 24 Feb 2015 17:15:43 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]> The ArcGIS Content Team recently completed updates to the World Topographic Map. The data for the World Topographic Map is provided by the GIS community. This map is designed to be used as a basemap by GIS professionals and as a reference map by anyone. Thanks to our users and partners who are supporting Community Basemaps and helping build The Living Atlas of the World.

Topographic Map Updates and Useful Maps and Applications

Our newest contributor in this release is Falls Church, VA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k).

Just what we like to see, an ArcGIS Online Homepage!

Loaded up with Map Gallery and Open Data sites that leverage not only the Topographic Basemap, but also the Streets, Light Gray Canvas and Imagery Basemaps.

The Falls Church, VA Map Gallery includes a variety of web maps and apps that include topics ranging from Flood Zones, Snow Removal and this Capital Improvements app identifying the capital needs of the community and indicates how these needs will be funded over the 5-year period.

There are several updates in this release including cities and counties in the United States, Canada, Hong Kong and Europe.

Des Moines, IA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Fairfax County, VA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Kane County, IL (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Lewis and Clark County, MT (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

Loudoun County, VA (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada (Topo 1:9k to 1:1k)

In addition to St. John’s, there have been numerous recent updates and new contributors in Canada. Our colleague, Paul Heersink, with Esri Canada has detailed these in two recent blogs, January updates to ArcGIS Online basemaps and A cure for the mid-winter blues: a guided tour of community map updates.

Hong Kong  (Topo 1:577k to 1:1k) – Esri China (HK)

In addition to this World Topographic Map update, Hong Kong in the World Street Map will be refreshed in our next release.

Monaco  (Topo 1:72k to 1:1k) – Esri France

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

World Topographic Map


Remember that the ArcGIS Content Team is offering training on the Community Maps Data Prep Tools. We have scheduled two additional offerings of the Preparing Data for Community Maps Workshops. If you were not able to attend a previous class, or were not aware that they were available, we highly encourage you to attend one of the upcoming workshops.

Date and Time: Tuesday, February 24th, 2015 at 11:00 am Pacific Standard Time (San Francisco, GMT-08:00)

Workshop URL: Session Information: Preparing Data for Community Maps

Date and Time: Wednesday, March 11th, 2015 at 11:00 am Pacific Standard Time (San Francisco, GMT-08:00)

Workshop URL: Session Information: Preparing Data for Community Maps

These tools provide a simple way for Community Maps contributors to migrate their basemap layers to a format readily accepted by Esri Community Maps, without having to adopt a new data model.

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.

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.

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 Discussion Group and the Living Atlas Discussion Group on GeoNet.

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Location Architect makes map creation a breeze for MicroStrategy users Wed, 18 Feb 2015 16:16:35 +0000 pattimurphy Continue reading ]]> Watch the new Location Architect video in our Maps for MicroStrategy series to learn how a Location Architect model for your MicroStrategy project makes map creation a breeze for business users.

Adding a map to a report only takes a few clicks–there’s no need to manually add data to your map. With a model in place, the map layer is automatically generated when you add a custom visualization. The model ensures that consistent maps styles, such as those used for profit and revenue are applied consistently across your project. Furthermore, the map automatically updates to reflect editing or drilling activity on the report.

Location Architect is available in version 2.0 of Esri Maps for MicroStrategy. Stay tuned for more videos. The next video in our series will show you how to build a model in Location Architect.

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AHN2 Netherlands in Esri World Elevation Services Fri, 13 Feb 2015 22:58:23 +0000 rajnagi Continue reading ]]> by Rajinder Nagi, Lead Community Elevation

In a country like Netherlands, where about half of its land is less than 1 meter (3.3 ft) above sea level, having detailed and precise elevation data is vital for applications like flood management, climate change, 3D visualization and terrain analysis. We are excited to include highly detailed 3m elevation data for Netherlands derived from AHN2 LiDAR point cloud into the Esri World Elevation Layers. The LiDAR data came from Rijkswaterstaat, Provincies en de Waterschappen and consists of 1374 LAZ files of approximately 0.5 terabytes. Esri Netherlands processed the data after fixing the anomalies and quality issues and contributed the DTM’s of the entire Netherlands to the Living Atlas of the World. With this update, Netherlands has a whopping 30 times more detail.

Nationaal Park Zuid-Kennemerland, Overveen, Noord-Holland, NederlandZuid-Kennemerland National Park, Noord-Holland, Netherlandssand dunes along North Sea coastline

KootwijkGelderland_NetherlandsKootwijkerzand, Gelderland, Netherlandsthe largest sand dunes area in Europe

Steengroeve WinterswijkSteengroeve, Winterswijk, Netherlandsan open-cast mine where mainly limestone is extracted

BourtangeGroningen_NetherlandsFort Bourtange, Groningen, Netherlandsa star shaped fort built in 1593 during the Dutch Revolt in the village of Bourtange

CircuitParkZandvoortCircuit Park Zandvoort, Netherlandsa motorsport race track located in the dunes north of Zandvoort, near the North Sea coastline

The AHN2 dataset greatly enhances the world elevation layers and its derivatives. We will continue to improve these layers with the best authoritative data available from public sources and community contributors. For more information on becoming a Community Maps for Elevation contributor, click here.

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South America & Western Europe SRTM 30 m in Esri World Elevation Services Fri, 06 Feb 2015 17:38:07 +0000 rajnagi Continue reading ]]> by Rajinder Nagi, Lead Community Elevation

Esri World Elevation Layers  are enhanced with more detailed void-free 1 arc-second (~ 30 meters) SRTM data (Version 3.0) from NASA for South America, Western Europe, Central America and Caribbean Islands. With this update, there is now 3 times more detail in these areas.

AconcaguaArgentina_SRTM90_30Aconcagua, Argentina—the highest peak in South America at 6,962 m (22,841 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90m vs SRTM 30m) 

OjosdelSalado_SRTM90_30_55kOjos del Salado—the highest active volcano in the world at 6,893 m (22,615 ft) on the Argentina–Chile border (SRTM 90m vs SRTM 30m) 

ChimborazoEcuador_SRTM90_30Chimborazo, Ecuador—an inactive stratovolcano and highest peak in Ecuador at 6,268 m (20,564 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90m vs SRTM 30m) 

MontBlanc_SRTM90_30_72kMont Blanc—the highest peak in the Alps, Europe, at 4,810 m (15,781 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90m vs SRTM 30m) 

Our dynamic world elevation image services (Terrain and TopoBathy) are not just for visualization (such as multi-directional hillshadetinted hillshade) but provide access to raw elevation values and derivatives (such as slopeaspect) for analysis. Access to these global layers is free and does not consume any credits; all you need is an ArcGIS Organizational account. It’s that easy!

Previously released Africa is also refreshed with void-free SRTM 30m (Version 3.0) from NASA in this update. Stay tuned for updates on Asia and Australia.

For more information about the coverage of the World Elevation services please check out our Elevation coverage map.

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User Community content is helping build the Living Atlas of the World Tue, 03 Feb 2015 17:20:15 +0000 Shane Matthews Continue reading ]]> Hundreds of organizations in Esri’s user community are helping build the Living Atlas of the World by contributing their authoritative content. The Living Atlas of the World is composed of a variety of collections, all of which are supported by the ArcGIS Content Team. This content is built into the ArcGIS Platform as part of the user experience and is ready for your immediate use! To view this comprehensive set of maps, apps, and tools just visit the Living Atlas of the World Web App.

Live maps, intelligent layers, and maps for analysis are all part of the Living Atlas of the World. Many of these contributions are being used in Esri’s Online Basemaps, like the popular flagship World Topographic Map.

Did you know?

…that there are several other “content communities” in the Living Atlas of the World that can be contributed to?

When an organization shares data with the Living Atlas of the World, the question that must first be addressed is “What map layers does my organization manage that would help support the various content communities of the atlas”? The answer will vary from organization to organization, but it’s important to be aware of the collections that our user community can support.

The list above serves as a guideline and can help organizations identify the areas where .they can contribute. Many of the organizations and agencies that contribute reference features to the basemaps more than likely have data that can be leveraged by other communities. The term “Community Maps” covers more than just basemap reference layers. All of the varying communities should be considered for contribution.

To better understand these communities, how they are defined, and if your organization’s content is an appropriate fit, have a look at the descriptions below.


Detailed imagery of the world, which reveals both the present state of the planet and change over time. These image layers enable you to view recent, high-resolution imagery for most of the world; lower-resolution imagery of the planet updated daily; and near real-time imagery for parts of the world affected by major events, such as natural disasters. This includes intelligent layers that enable you to restyle the imagery to highlight specific characteristics, such as healthy vegetation.


Includes a suite of basemaps that provide reference maps for our world and context for your work. These maps are built from the best available data from a community of authoritative providers and presented in multiple cartographic styles. The maps are designed to emphasize different views of our world, from physical to political. You can choose the basemap that is most appropriate for your map or app.

Demographics and Lifestyle

Includes a comprehensive set of demographic and lifestyle maps of the United States and more than 120 other countries. This includes recent demographic and Tapestry Segmentation lifestyle information such as total population, family size, household income, and more. It also includes consumer spending information on many types of products. This information can be accessed as ready-to-use map layers, including preconfigured pop-up windows, which can be restyled and added to your maps and apps.

Boundaries and Places

Includes a set of map layers that describe boundaries at many levels of geography, including countries, administrative areas, postal codes, and more. You can use these boundaries and place layers for simple geographic context or to aggregate your own data to visualize on a map.


The collection of landscape maps and layers available through ArcGIS covers a wide set of topics related to our natural and man-made environments, including agriculture, wildlife, elevation, hydrology, and weather. Landscape analysis underpins much of our land-use planning and how we manage our natural resources and relationship with the environment. As part of this collection, Esri has assembled best available data from many public sources and provided the content in an easy-to-use collection of layers, which can be used to make better informed decisions.

Community Maps

You can contribute to several maps through our Community Maps Program  in an effort to make them more useful not just for your organization, but others. Thousands of ArcGIS users have improved the coverage and quality of our maps by providing access to their geographic data and imagery. Join the growing list of organizations that contribute their content to a living global atlas of online maps and spatial information.


Includes a number of maps and layers that describe the systems that people use to move between places. This includes a variety of global, national, and local maps on various topics from infrastructure projects to rest areas. Some of these layers are dynamic, such as the live World Traffic map, which is updated every few minutes with data on traffic incidents and congestion.

Urban Systems

Over half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and the percentage is growing. This urbanization has a profound impact on our lives, and it presents unique challenges for managing urban systems. This collection of maps and layers provides useful information, such as open space, highway access and noise pollution, to help cities implement innovative solutions for the complex problems they face. This includes standard layers that can be used to compare different cities as well as detailed urban landscapes that can be utilized for visualization and analysis.

Earth Observations

Includes a rich collection of earth observation maps and layers that describe our planet’s current conditions, from earthquakes and fires to severe weather and hurricanes, as well as changes over time. This includes a set of live feed layers featuring frequently updated data from several sources, as well as scientific information, such as soil moisture and snowpack, over several years.

Historical Maps

Includes a rich set of historical maps that illustrate the world as it existed decades and even centuries ago. These maps describe the political, cultural, and physical aspects of our world, providing a revealing glimpse into the past and a better understanding of how our planet has evolved over time. This collection includes scanned raster maps presented as both static map layers and dynamic image layers, which can be viewed individually as a basemap or displayed with a current basemap for comparison purposes.

The next time your organization submits updates to Community Maps, consider how you might leverage additional content by contributing to other communities discussed above. If your organization is not participating in the Living Atlas consider sharing your authoritative content with the global GIS Community. We will host your content for free through our secure cloud services.

For additional information on Community Maps visit the Community Maps Program Website and the Community Maps Resource Center. If you have general questions you can visit our growing FAQ page for most answers.

You can register your organization with Community Maps through the Community Maps Contributor App. It’s easy and only takes a few minutes.

Email us at and we’ll help you get started.

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Announcing the new Community Maps Documentation Center Wed, 28 Jan 2015 19:44:19 +0000 Mark Stewart Continue reading ]]> After more than two years, the venerable Community Maps Resource Center is getting an upgrade.  This means more and better organized resources to help you join and participate in the growing Living Atlas community.

The first thing you will notice when visiting the new documentation center is that the look and feel is consistent with other ArcGIS documentation collections, with a blue, tabbed navigation bar at the top and a Home page that contains quick links to the documentation topics and other resources, including videos, blog posts and our Living Atlas of the World Discussion Group on GeoNet.

The documentation categories step you through all of the facets of Esri Community Maps membership – from a detailed explanation of how the program works and who is currently participating, to instructions on how to contribute your Living Atlas content and take advantage of the published products to build useful applications.  There is even a comprehensive library of support resources to help answer your questions.

One of the more noticeable and important enhancements in this site is the expanded information on the variety of data layers accepted by Esri Community Maps.  Where the former resource center focused almost solely on basemap layers, the new doc center includes details on how to contribute to other Living Atlas themes, such as imagery, elevation and hydrology.

Of course, the new site also includes updated documentation on the entire Community Maps contribution process, from applying and preparing your content, to uploading and reviewing it prior to publishing in the Living Atlas of the World.

This documentation, which incorporates the new Data Preparation Tools workshop, will ensure that all Community Maps members have the information they need to be successful contributors.

So visit the new Community Maps Documentation Center soon, and explore all of resources it has to offer.  And remember, if there is something you need that is not there, let us know.

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A Brief Introduction to the Maritime Chart Server Wed, 21 Jan 2015 16:00:00 +0000 Caitlyn Raines Continue reading ]]> Esri is committed to developing new technologies and ways to utilize the ArcGIS platform that expands its support of the maritime operations.  One of our emerging technologies, the Maritime Chart Server, has been generating a lot of buzz and excitement in the maritime community.

The Maritime Chart Server is an ArcGIS for Server Object Extension that displays vector nautical charts as a query-able GeoServices REST services or OGC Web Map Services.  The Maritime Chart Server supports dynamic querying on the rich data contained within ENCs in order to assist with planning and maritime domain awareness operations.  With Maritime Chart Server, users can publish services that display S-57 products such as AML, ENC, and IENC based on their respective S-52 presentation library implementations.  The services can be accessed through either an on-premise or public website.  Since the data can be queried, applications can be built that allow for analytical capabilities such as search, location calculation, performing measurements of distance and area, and feature identification and attribute display.  In addition, the technology includes S-63 decryption capabilities to produce and serve read-only caches of encrypted ENC datasets.

The Maritime Team is thrilled that the Maritime Chart Server is powering NOAA’s website. For more information on the Maritime Chart Server, please contact

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Join us for a FREE webinar: ArcGIS Online and the Living Atlas Mon, 12 Jan 2015 21:07:26 +0000 Caitlin Scopel Continue reading ]]> The Living Atlas is a curated subset of ArcGIS Online content. It’s comprised of authoritative content in the form of maps, map layers, and analytic models on thousands of topics from Imagery to Demographics and Landscapes to Urban Systems. Every item in the Living Atlas is ready-to-use, which means it’s displaying clean, authoritative data with high quality cartography and documentation, making the data easy to find, easy to understand and easy to use in your GIS workflows.

Join us on Wednesday, January 14th at 11am PST as we tour the Living Atlas, highlighting content with Hydrology and Water Resources applications. See how the Living Atlas is organized, how it integrates with different parts of the ArcGIS platform, and how you can take advantage of it in your own workflows. This webinar is part of a series of Water Resources webinars which will take place throughout 2015.

To attend the webinar, you must REGISTER HERE.

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