Thursday, October 30, 2008

ESRI Seminar on New Features in ArcGIS 9.3

I went to an ESRI “Improving Your Entire GIS Workflow” or as it used to be called “What’s New with 9.3” seminar recently and I want to report back what I learned. You can also open up your recent copy of ArcUser magazine to find out the top ten features new with ArcGIS 9.3 and save yourself a trip away from the office.

Note: I have not installed 9.3 on any machine as yet so all that is written here are from notes scratched on a note pad. I haven't tried any of this out.

First off, notable to me and a validation of sorts, the ESRI presenters were using Windows XP.

There was a marked excitement from the reps that ESRI was moving towards a more integrated web approach to data delivery and analysis. “We are moving from mainframes to PCs to the web.” Okay, welcome to 2005 and the launch of Google Earth. There was a nice demo showing the ease of use of ArcGIS Online data. Go to File -> Add Data from Resource Center.

As is typical with most ESRI learning content, the focus was on public works GIS analysts, county planners, manhole cover librarians. Just look at the name of the seminar to know who the audience is. Another typical feature of this content is that it is done using ArcInfo. We do not have ArcInfo. Educational lab licenses tend to be in the ArcView category. So one needs to be careful when seeing a new, cool feature, not to get too excited because ones version of Arc may not have that functionality when one goes back home.

There is improved backwards compatibility with 9.3 with 9.x versions. That should be good.

ESRI is supporting more data formats: web coverage service, web feature service, enhanced mapping services, FME 2008 engine, support for new FDO, GeoRSS, Autodesk 2007, City GML, and enhanced KML delivery. They “improved our importing of KML.” Yeah.

There are updates to new supports for raster formats ENVI, NITF, and HDF. I only recognize ENVI.

We can convert graphics to features. I thought we could do that in 9.2, but this is especially useful when using a pen and tablet PC.

ArcReader allows for inking and you can Export the Markup.

There is a new mosaicing tool as part of the new Image Service. This might be only with ArcInfo, so be careful. In toolbars open the Image Service tool. You can define the extent (outlines) of your orthophotos and show overlaps in your tiles. The Image Service also looks very helpful for managing multiple years of orthophotos or other rasters.

We were told to go check out the ESRI Resources page, so you should.

If you go to resources for ArcGIS Desktop or ArcGIS Explorer, click on Content and Layers and you can get to some freely available data layers (see above).

The Mapping Center was mentioned, though I’m not sure if this was part of the Maplex extension (which we do NOT own). There seemed to be improved labeling (disperse markers) without losing the integrity of the data, offset shadows for building footprints so that they look 3D on your map. When printing to PDF you can click the Advanced tab and add feature data so that some of the functionality transfers to the PDF document and to the end-user. There is easier transparency functionality that updates the maps, legend and the TOC. You can click on Pause Labeling while you’re navigating so your map will draw quicker.

There is a new toolbar for geocoding and you can use Address Inspector which is like a reverse geocoder tool. The geocode wizard is more interactive and you can use the Address Inspector to address match on your own.

You can use a graphic drawn from the Drawing toolbar to clip a raster. That is cool because you used to have to create a shapefile of your clipping shape and then use Clip.

There are new Spatial Analyst (we DO own this!) capabilities: weighted regressions, proximity analysis, scatter plots, and ordinary least squares.

The demo of ArcGlobe was painfully slow. It was not good. It did not convince me that we should be using ArcGlobe in our teaching. Flying around from place to place was clunky. Perhaps they were on wireless and that was why ArcGlobe was so slow.

This was funny “3D is going to be a very growing area in GIS.” Going to be?!

In ArcGIS Explorer (free data viewer, GIS-lite) you can access a range of web-accessible data. You can import .csv files.

That was my day. As is usually the case, it is nice to talk to the ESRI people face-to-face and ask questions. We still haven’t loaded ArcGIS ArcView 9.3 but I plan to for the Spring 2009 semester. Then we can really try out some of these new features!

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