CLEAR Research

Maps on the Web

ESRI Interactive Mapping Software - ArcGIS Server

Pros/Cons Highly interactive, customizeable. Designed for both interactive maps and interactive processing (do your GIS tasks online). Setup is moderate for standard settings, challenging with your own configuration. Setup requires permissions and tuning.
Required in order to Create ArcGIS server software, a server (or several), ArcGIS Desktop in order to publish services via ArcCatalog. Patience!
Know-how Necessary Network and server administration skills. Desktop GIS skills for publishing services. Visual Basic or Java programming skills for modifying the look & feel of the default web mapping application.
Cost A lot. Server hardware, plus software cost (street price starts at around $10,000; prices are different depending on your sector - academic, private, public), not to mention employee time.
Requires to Use (besides the internet and a browser) GIS desktop software to consume services (optional). Custom application can be built to consume services outside traditional desktop GIS.
CT Example Central Naugatuck Valley Council of Governments

There are two types of ArcGIS Server Installations - .NET and Java. These are programming languages and if you know one better, use it. If you are indifferent, choose .NET. ArcGIS Server installation is not trivial - consult someone who knows something about servers.

After installing ArcGIS server, there are two ways to manage and create new services: ArcCatalog and ArcGIS Server Manager (which is in a web browser). Both do the same thing. Creating and managing services is actually easy!

1. Create an ArcMap document with all the layers and symbology and names and scale dependencies that you want.

2. Log in to ArcGIS Server in ArcCatalog or the ArcGIS Server Manager.

3. Choose Publish a Map. Then choose Add new Service.

4. Follow the wizard. There are many choices and configuration options that are too much to mention here. If you find yourself actually creating a service, consult the help or That's it!

5. Well, except you need to create the part of the website that is not the map. It's called the WebADF (Application Developer Framework). There is an out-of-the box WebADF which isn't bad and you can change the color. After that, customization requires Visual Studio to change the Visual Basic Code. There is a Visual Studio express that is limited but free.

Cool Things Worth Mentioning that Set ArcGIS Server Apart

- When a map service is created, it can be configured using OpenGIS Standard (OGC) formats as a WMS (Web Map Service), WFS (Web Feature Service) or WCS (Web Coverage Service).

- When you create the ArcGIS Server Service, it can include regular GIS data AND services from other places.

- There is a lot more than just Map services. One worth mentioning is the Geoprocessing Service. If you build a model in model builder, you can set it up to be used as a geoprocessing service. Users than select the correct inputs and outputs, the processing is done on the server and the results returned. A huge advantage of this is that a model can be created using an ArcInfo License of ArcGIS Desktop but the license is not necessary to run the model.

- Map Services can be Cached. This means all images at fixed zoom levels are created ahead of time increasing drawing speed. Google maps is a good example of cached maps (notice the tiles as they draw).

- A thing called the Java API (Application Programming Interface) allows a map from an ArcGIS map service or other sources to be embedded in a regular old web page. It takes some programming but the result is cool.

There is probably a lot more cool things, but we're new at this too!

For more information, visit the ESRI ArcGIS Server Page.


Viewing Sample Websites

This activity is to view and poke around too different ArcGIS server websites. Feel free to stray from the lists below and discover what is possible with ArcGIS server.

1. Highly Customized WebADF and Cached Maps: Solar Boston

- Close the splash window upon entering the Site (hit the x in the upper-right)

- Use the Neighborhood menu in the upper left to zoom to a Boston neighborhood
- View the Planimetric, Terrain and Aerial Views

- Zoom in so you can see individual buildings. The zoom levels are on the vertical bar on the left of the map. The pre-set zoom levels are characteristic of a cached map service. The images have already been created for the entire area for each level of zoom with the intent of increasing drawing speed.

- Click the Tools button and notice the address locator. This is a geoprocessing service.
- Click the Select Building icon and click on a single building. A Solar Potential Chart and Calculations appears. This is the result of a geoprocessing service that uses the Solar Analyst extension and does the calculations over the web.

- Click the Projects tab and notice the list of solar projects. Click on a project and the pop-up contains a picture and information.

- Click around and explore other tools on this website. It is an excellent example of custom programming, a cached map service, geoprocessing services and integration of tabular data and photos with the map.

Solar Boston reports this for the details of their ArcGIS Server setup:
Solar Boston was built entirely with ESRI ArcGIS. Basemap content was authored with ArcGIS desktop. Solar radiation was calculated using the Solar Analyst extension using a building-aware digital elevation model. Basemap content is tiled/cached and served with ArcGIS Server 9.3. Solar project data is stored in SQL Server and served to the application via geoRSS. The client was authored using the ArcGIS Server 9.3 Flex API.

2. Java API. This is a new option so let's look at the ESRI sample for Site Selection and Trade Area Analysis.

This application uses the ArcGIS API for JavaScript to combine spatial analysis capabilities from ArcGIS Server with base maps from ArcGIS Online to help analyze potential business locations. When you click on the map your drive-time distances and starting location are sent to ArcGIS Server and used by the ArcGIS Geoprocessing Model hosted by ESRI. Let's give it a try.

- After following the link, notice that the map opens inside a regular html page. The address is: This is the advantage of the Java API, that the map is inside a regular web page

- Select a drive time from the drop-down menu (Step 1) and click the Locate button then click inside the map (Step 2).

- The geoprocessing service does the analysis and returns the result to the map. It allows you to explore demographics by clicking on one of the service area rings. The service area is sent to ArcGIS Server which performs a spatial analysis on the Census Block Group demographics within the service area.

- A pop-up tells you to "Click on a drive-time ring for a demographic report." Close the pop-up and click on a ring. The geoprocessing service does the calculation and returns the pie chart.

If you have time and interest, visit the Live User Sites on the ESRI ArcGIS Server web page to see more ArcGIS server websites.