A collection of various GIS related links, information and other GIS blogs.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Map Use, the Quintessential Book on How to Read and Analyze Maps – ESRI Press

New book from ESRI Press.

"Map Use was written for people who want to use maps to better understand not only the physical environment but the human, social, political, and economic environments as well," says A. Jon Kimerling, the book's co-author and interim chairman of the Department of Geosciences at Oregon State University in Corvallis. "This sixth edition takes readers beyond the graphic symbols that comprise maps and into cartographers' decision-making processes to give them the insights they need to better use maps."

Read more about it: http://tinyurl.com/cpqroa

Tip on Curved Annotation Editing

Tip from Charlie Frye on a shortcut to editing curved annotation in ArcMap:


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

What I wish I had known about ModelBuilder before I started using it – ESRI Mapping Center

[ This is a nice list of things (13 of them) you might not know about ModelBuilder that will make your life easier when using it. Always nice to have Tip & Tricks in one place to find!  - full post at: http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2009/02/20/10-things-i-wish-i-had-known-about-model-builder-before-i-started-using-it/ ]
We’ve been compiling a list of "What I wish I had known about ModelBuilder before I started using it". Here are a few things that made the list:
  1. Create personalized tools in ModelBuilder: Until a few days ago, I thought the ModelBuilder editing window (the one that you access when you right click a model that you made adn select Edit) was the only environment I could interact with. For years, I dragged and dropped folders and features into the tools of the ModelBuilder editing window before clicking the black triangle to run the processes. Recently I discovered that ModelBuilder is the editing environment to create a custom tool from existing tools and personalized parameters and conditions. But then when you double click the tool in the ArcToolbox window, you get right into the user interface for the tool.
  2. Controlling the flow: Setting preconditions and parameters in ModelBuilder guarantees that the geoprocessing operations will run in the correct order. For example, I wanted to create a tool that projected a dataset into a new personal database, which I set as a parameter of my model. Before projecting the feature dataset, the new personal geodatabase had to be created. I relayed this information to ModelBuilder by right clicking the Project tool and setting the new personal geodatabase as a precondition. I also had several other parameters in my model, including a coordinate system and a geographic transformation method. Since the geographic transformation depends on the selected coordinate system, I set the coordinate system as a parameter before I set the geographic transformation method as a parameter.
  3. In-line variable substitution: In-line variable substitution is useful if you have a model parameter that serves as a precondition to another process in your model. Using the example above, I wanted to create a tool that projected a dataset into a new personal database, which I set as a parameter. The name and location of the new personal geodatabase is only defined when the model is run, so I had to use in-line variable substitution to parse the processes together within the same model. With a precondition set on the new personal geodatabase, the output notation for the projected dataset is %new personal geodatabase%\ProjectedDatasetName. Note that the new personal geodatabase name is enclosed with the percent signs (%new personal geodatabase%).
  4. Editing tool documentation: The tool and parameter descriptions for a model can be edited in ArcMap by right-clicking the model and selecting Edit Documentation. You can add as much information about the tool/model as you like. The most useful documentation for me is the Abstract and Parameters Dialog Reference. The Abstract allows you to fill in information about what the tool does. The Parameters Dialog Reference allows you to fill in information about the parameters and can be populated by selecting Dialog Reference under the parameter name. You can then click one of the icons to add paragraphs, links, illustrations, code and formatting options. You can also documentation for the parameter by right clicking the tool in the Model Builder window and selecting Edit Documentation. Remember to click Finish or OK when you are done editing. Now, when you double-click your model, you will see the Abstract and the content that you added for each parameter of the model.
  5. Model environments and overrides: There are three places to where you can set your model Environments. One is at the ArcToolbox level, another is at the model/tool level, and the third is at the process level. The Environments setting at the process level in ModelBuilder will override the Environments setting at the model/tool level. The Environments setting at the Model/Tool level will override the default at the ArcToolbox level. This gives you the flexibility to define general Environment settings for the majority of processes in your model, but tailor specific settings to specific processes
  6. Current workspace: This is the directory from which inputs are taken and into which outputs are placed. If you set this (right click the tool in ArcToolbox, click Properties, click on the Environments tab, click General Settings, click Current Workspace and point to the directory you want to use), then your tool will automatically point to the same directory every time so you don’t have to keep navigating to the location. When I create a new tool, I also create a "Tooldata" folder in the directory that stores my tool. It contains some sample data which, when I set it as my Current Workspace, is used as input and it is where the outputs of the model will be placed. That way the tool knows where the data for inputs and the location for outputs should be.
  7. Intermediate data: When you run a model, output data is created for each process in the model. Some of the data created is of no use after the model is run since it was only created to connect to another process that creates new output – this is called “intermediate data”. To set a data variable to be intermediate, right-click the data variable and check the option to set it as intermediate data. If it is intermediate data, it will be written to the scratch workspace.
  8. Scratch workspace: This is the directory for temporary storage of execution results that are created with an auto-generated name. As with the Current Directory, when I create a new tool, I also create a “Scratch” folder in the directory that stores my tool and the Tooldata folder. I set this as my Scratch Workspace. That way the tool knows where the temp files should be placed. This way I can easily delete them or use the model to delete them when I am done with the processing.
Hit the site to view the rest – 13 total when I posted this (link updated July 7, 2012): http://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2009/02/20/10-things-i-wish-i-had-known-about-model-builder-before-i-started-using-it/

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Opening the Landsat Archive

[ I thought some folks out there might find this of interest in case they weren’t notified ]

Electronic access to the entire USGS Landsat 7 archive, enabling users to download standard-format scenes at no charge, has been an amazing success, with over 225,000 scenes downloaded since October 1, 2008.

Previously acquired imagery from Landsat 1 through Landsat 5, is also now available for download at no charge using the same standard processing format. Processing parameters and other details about the products can be found at http://landsat.usgs.gov/products_data_at_no_charge.php

<http://landsat.usgs.gov/products_data_at_no_charge.php> .

Previously offered USGS Landsat products with customer-defined options, including media, are no longer available.

Newly acquired Landsat 7 ETM+ SLC-off and Landsat 5 TM images with less than 40 percent cloud cover are automatically processed and made available for immediate download. Imagery with greater than 40 percent cloud cover can be processed upon request. Once the requested scenes are processed, an email notification is sent to the customer with instructions for downloading. These scenes will then become accessible to all users.

Landsat data can be searched, downloaded, or requested from GloVis or EarthExplorer. High demand for this data may result in slow search performance and processing times, which typically range from 1-3 days for Landsat 7 ETM+ and some Landsat 5 TM data and 3-4 weeks for Landsat

1-5 MSS, Landsat 4 TM and some Landsat 5 TM data. Please contact Customer Service at custserv@usgs.gov with any comments or questions.

Landsat scenes can be requested and downloaded from Glovis (http://glovis.usgs.gov <http://glovis.usgs.gov/> ) or Earth Explorer (http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov <http://earthexplorer.usgs.gov/> ).

Monday, February 09, 2009

ArcGIS Mobile Videos

ArcGIS 9.3: Improve mobility using ArcGIS Mobile

ArcGIS 9.3:  See an example of how an Insurance Claims Manager uses ArcGIS and a mobile solution

ArcGIS 9.3: Disseminate Information To The Field Using ArcGIS Mobile

ArcGIS Mobile Questions and Answers

ArcGIS Mobile Users Conference Demo

Do You Know Your Training ROI?

By Suzanne Boden, Program Coordinator, ESRI Educational Services

Faced with daily media reports of grim economic news, many organizations have cut or eliminated nonessential spending. Often, staff training becomes one of the first casualties. The reasoning may be that training, like a store-bought latte, is considered a luxury that can be done without in lean times.

Undoubtedly, fiscal belt tightening is in order for many of us, at least for the near term, if not the long haul. However, forward-thinking organizations consider relevant training an investment, not a luxury. Similar to a flu shot, training for GIS staff can reduce the likelihood of a high-impact illness (i.e., operational breakdown) down the road, when you least need or expect it. Having a cadre of well-trained staff does not guarantee that nothing will ever go wrong with your GIS program or the business operations that rely on the GIS, but training does instill a measure of confidence that your program is healthy.

Gaining a Return on Instruction

Is it possible to define a training return on investment (ROI)? Or, perhaps we should think in terms of return on instruction. Typical ROI analyses are complex and require many different data from several points in time. Below are some training benefits that, while they have not been measured scientifically for this article, are supported by strong anecdotal evidence based on what our customers tell us. Training will

  • Increase staff efficiency. It is not uncommon to hear students who have learned a single software task in an ESRI instructor-led class excitedly claim they will now save hours on the job.
  • Raise staff productivity. A natural result of increased efficiency, productivity increases when tasks are completed more quickly. More tasks can be completed in less time.
  • Increase staff knowledge. This benefit may seem obvious, but knowledge is more than the sum of the topics covered in a class. Knowledge is the synthesis of different concepts and skills learned over time, which enables a person to recognize and act to prevent errors and reduce liabilities.
  • Lead to new business opportunities. Again, this benefit is a natural extension of the previous benefit. When your employees are well trained, they are free to be creative and see possibilities for information products and workflows that may not have been apparent before the training. Interacting with peers in class by exchanging ideas and experiences certainly helps realize this benefit.

Lee Hartsfield is the Tallahassee-Leon County GIS (TLC GIS) coordinator. Last August, ESRI recognized the work of TLC GIS with the 2008 Special Achievement in GIS Award. Hartsfield sees benefits from hosting ESRI instructor-led courses together with other agencies to jointly train their staff and share costs.

"We have built relationships that are called on time and time again to share knowledge and experience," says Hartsfield.

Invest in People Who Work with GIS

Training is not a cure for an economic crisis, and it will not save a GIS program that has systemic flaws. It can, however, help bolster the bottom line in the long run. Especially in lean times, investing in the people who work with GIS is a good strategy for earning the organizational benefits expected from the GIS.

For Darren Rozenek, GIS administrator for the City of Akron (Ohio) Public Utilities Bureau, ESRI training was invaluable when the city decided to migrate its old shapefile-based system to an enterprise ArcSDE geodatabase.

"With a more effective and streamlined workforce, the city of Akron GIS program is positioned to take full advantage of the GIS technology and fully support the needs of our city and its citizens in the future," Rozenek says.

Read the full article: http://www.esri.com/news/arcwatch/0109/training-roi.html

Thursday, February 05, 2009

ArcGIS Explorer 900 preview

ArcGIS Server / ArcGIS Mobile Code Challenge

ESRI Offers $16,000 in Cash Prizes for the 2009 ArcGIS Server Mashup and ArcGIS Mobile Code Challenges

Redlands, California—ESRI invites developers to share their creativity and expertise with the geographic information system (GIS) developer community by submitting original code samples to the ArcGIS Server Mashup and ArcGIS Mobile Code Challenges at www.esri.com/codechallenge. The first-place prize for the ArcGIS Server Mashup Code Challenge is US$7,000, and the second-place prize is US$3,000. The first-place prize for the ArcGIS Mobile Code Challenge is US$4,000, and the second-place prize is US$2,000.

The ESRI developer community will have an opportunity to review and vote for the top two entries in each challenge based on creativity, applicability, and the relevance of each code sample. Each entry must be a mobile GIS application developed using the ArcGIS Mobile Software Development Kit (SDK) or a Web mashup built with ArcGIS Server SDKs.

Code challenge winners will be announced at the 2009 ESRI Developer Summit, an event for developers who use GIS, mapping, and spatial data. The summit will be held March 23–26, 2009, in Palm Springs, California. Developers will learn the latest GIS technologies and best practices to build, customize, and deploy spatially enabled applications.

These code challenges are open to developers worldwide, including ESRI business partners, provided the applicant or the applicant's organization is a licensed user of ArcGIS Server 9.2, ArcGIS Server 9.3, or a current ESRI Developer Network (EDN) subscriber.

More info: http://www.esri.com/news/releases/09_1qtr/2009_arcgis_code_challenge.html 

Details: http://www.esri.com/codechallenge