Technical Information

Information to help you succeed.

3D GIS Community

The 3D GIS Community provides you with the technical resources to be successful.

System Requirements

The 3D Analyst extension requires ArcGIS for Desktop. Please refer to the ArcGIS for Desktop requirements for details.

Common Questions

We have gathered some of the most common questions that our users have asked and answered them for you.

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Do I need 3D data to use ArcGIS Analyst?

No, ArcGIS 3D Analyst can use all the datasets supported by ArcGIS. If your data does not have explicit three-dimensional coordinates, you can drape it on other surface data, such as a digital elevation model (DEM), or you can extrude the features in a 3D thematic representation (e.g., sales districts extruded by sales with the height representing the amount of sales), or you can use feature attributes (eg: the measured height of your tree features) to drive 3D symbology. You can also use 3D Analyst geoprocessing tools to convert 2D data to 3D data, as needed.

What is a digital elevation model?

A digital elevation model (DEM) is a representation of the earth's surface for a geographic area stored in a digital file containing regularly spaced point locations with an elevation attribute, usually stored in a raster (image) format. The United States Geological Survey (USGS) DEM is a specific data product that adheres to standards defined by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI). USGS DEMs can be downloaded for use with ArcGIS 3D Analyst.

Can I display TINs by slope, aspect, or other terrain analysis methods?

Yes, you can display TINs by slope, aspect, node elevation, and similar edges, as well as many other analysis methods, through the TIN symbology options.

What are the system requirements for ArcGlobe?

You can verify if your system meets requirements to run ArcGlobe by clicking here.

What are ArcScene and ArcGlobe and when should I use them?

ArcScene and ArcGlobe are specialized 3D viewing applications within ArcGIS 3D Analyst with differing capabilities. ArcScene is optimized for viewing and analysis of smaller datasets in a projected coordinate system, such as a specific study area. ArcGlobe is designed to be used with very large datasets, in both data volume and geographic extent, and displays 3D content on a planetary sphere. It has a sophisticated caching mechanism that indexes and organizes all your data into tiles and levels of detail. Once all the data is loaded, this allows for fast display and visualization as you zoom in and out, pan around, and navigate to different parts of the world.

How can I share and distribute my work in 3D?

There are many ways to share 3D GIS content – you can export videos and screenshots; you can set up a shared network drive; you can package and upload content online; you can publish 3D services; or you can publish views of your data as Web Scenes.

When sharing work with other ArcGIS for Desktop (3D Analyst) users, you can share your data and ArcScene/ArcGlobe documents directly, or upload layer packages to online or Portal.

When sharing interactive 3D views to people without Esri licenses, you can publish fully authored 3D views as Web Scenes, publish 3D services for consumption in ArcGIS Explorer (Desktop) and ArcReader, or export KML files for viewing in 3rd party applications like Google Earth.

Pre-authored 3D views, for use on web sites or in publications, can also be exported as videos or screenshots from both ArcScene and ArcGlobe.

Does the ArcGIS 3D Analyst extension support creating 3D virtual city databases?

Yes. Templates are available for constructing 3D urban landscapes using the 3D Analyst extension at ArcGIS 10 and beyond.

Fundamentally, a city is composed of four components: (1) a detailed cartographic basemap as a primary reference to place and location; (2) high resolution imagery showing actual features on the ground to provide visual realism; (3) detailed terrain information, generated from airborne LIDAR, Digital Elevation Models, or contours; (4) and building models in 3D with attributes relating to their name, address, and type. Additional elements, such as trees and street furniture, can also be included where available.

These features all live in the geodatabase as feature classes, or as cells in raster data sets, and can be shared with others, either locally for editing and maintenance or through the Web for use in project planning and visualization.

Does 3D Analyst support 3D editing?

Yes, with the release of ArcGIS 10, ArcGIS 3D Analyst fully supports 3D editing in ArcScene and ArcGlobe. You can interactively edit GIS features using the same editing framework as ArcMap and place 3D objects (e.g., buildings, street lamps, trees, etc.) within landscapes and virtual cities, as well as digitize lines and polygon features.

What is the recommended workflow between SketchUp and ArcGIS?

The ArcGIS SketchUp plug-in is no longer supported at ArcGIS 10. The recommended workflow to create a georeferenced 3D building model is now as follows:

  • In ArcGIS (any application), digitize in your building footprint (polygon) feature.
  • In ArcScene, extrude the polygon by a building height attribute to create a block model.
  • Convert the symbolized polygon to a multipatch feature using the Layer 3D to Feature Class geoprocessing tool.
  • Export the feature to COLLADA using the Multipatch to COLLADA geoprocessing tool.
  • In SketchUp, import the COLLADA into SketchUp, edit the building (e.g., add textures, a pitched roof, etc.) as needed, and then export the building back to ArcScene.
  • In ArcScene, use the Replace Sketch edit tool to update the geometry of the selected multipatch feature (without changing or losing any feature attributes).

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