3D Visualization & Analytics

Brave New 3D World

Over the past few years at Esri, we’ve made extensive efforts to expand the ArcGIS platform to support an enterprise workflow that includes data creation and management, visualization and analysis, and communication tools for technical and non-technical GIS users.  With Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online, we are able to put powerful geospatial visualization, collaboration, and communication capabilities into the hands of more users in our customers’ organizations than ever before.  We are enabling customers to share 2D and 3D in standard, scalable formats that enable reuse of the same maps and scenes in multiple clients.  We are embracing the web and apps as 21st century interactive information products that allow our users to distribute easier to use, tailored experiences for exploring map data by any user in the organization.

We are constantly working to respond to customer need and to provide better user experience with GIS.  This year we introduced new capabilities, new product versions, and new products that excite our users and help them better visualize, communicate, and share information.

Emerging KML support across the platform

KML is a tool used by a significant proportion of our enterprise customers for communicating data, links, context, and even stories about their data throughout organizations.  Since KML was added to the standards maintained by the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), adoption of KML has grown.  Esri has supported KML for years in geoprocessing tool workflows and in applications such as Explorer for ArcGIS.  This year, we’re planning on wider support for KML to help our customers maintain business continuity and to preserve familiar interaction when using Esri and non-Esri GIS software and data together.

EPA Air Quality Now KML
EPA Air Quality Now KML displayed in a Runtime app

Eventually, our plan is to offer native KML capability across the platform.  With the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for .NET release, developers have access to a KML engine that provides the native ability to view KML content right next to Esri’s standard data formats in 2D and 3D.  This capability will be expanded to ArcGIS Pro and to other Runtime platform releases over the next year.  We are seeking substantial compliance with KML 2.2 for both KML content and experience and we encourage our users and partners to engage with us to help us achieve the level of compliance they need.

2D and 3D apps today and tomorrow

We are introducing new capability to help our users communicate and provide GIS capability to non-traditional users within their organizations.  The web scene viewer in Portal for ArcGIS and ArcGIS Online enables users to explore 3D data in an easy-to-use browser interface.  Web scenes can be combined with 2D maps into storymaps for communicating in an accessible narrative format that can be explored by anyone.

This summer, we released a new JavaScript API in beta that allows web developers to create compelling 2D and 3D web apps that can be used across modern browsers without plug-ins.  Custom web apps can access data on premises or in ArcGIS Online and may be combined with other web development tools to include 2D and 3D maps in dashboards and web sites.

Example of Esri JavaScript 4.0 API
Example of a web app using Esri JavaScript 4.0 API

Starting with the 10.2.6 ArcGIS Runtime SDK for .NET, developers are able to build 3D apps that can be distributed in the Windows Store and run on some mobile devices. In late 2015 and early 2016, we’ll be expanding our capability to enable developers to build 3D mobile apps on other platforms and devices.

Introducing ArcGIS Earth

An exciting new effort that merges apps and KML is a new product initiative called ArcGIS Earth.  ArcGIS Earth will enable us to put smart and interactive 3D maps in the hands of users who need or want an installable, lightweight experience for browsing data in the context of the globe.  We are not intending to replace the other ‘Earth’ that many of our customers know and love, but we intend to provide an experience that extends the power the ArcGIS platform to users throughout large enterprises.

Living Atlas Biomass data in ArcGIS Earth Prototype
Living Atlas Biomass data in ArcGIS Earth Prototype

Along with the web scene viewer and other Esri apps, ArcGIS Earth will expand the ability of our customers to put accessible GIS technology in the hands of more users in their organizations.  For users outside an enterprise firewall, ArcGIS Online publicly shared elevation and imagery will be available to any ArcGIS Earth user, including street maps and other non-imagery basemaps such as parcel maps and Living Atlas data.  Inside the firewall, customers can create their own basemaps and services that can be viewed by anyone using ArcGIS Earth.

ArcGIS Earth will include the same KML capability that is being released for the ArcGIS Runtime and it will allow users to access other open standard data types, such as the I3S format for scalable 3D web scenes and scene layers that Esri is sharing with customers and partners who want to serve out 3D data in an accessible, common format.  ArcGIS Earth will be a free app that will initially work on Windows desktop machines, but will be provided for other platforms based on customer demand.

A new world

Across many industries, we are seeing more demand for the visualization of thematic and traditional GIS data in realistic context, greater adoption of 3D, and the delivery of complex visualizations into the hands of users who may never be GIS aware.  With support for new standards, new apps, and new capabilities demanded by customers, we are focused on empowering our users to adapt and grow with industry change and ever growing volumes of and uses for geospatial information.  We are excited about our new 3D capability across the ArcGIS platform and the future ahead.


About the author

Chris Andrews is an experienced product management and technology leader who enjoys solving real world problems, establishing high performance teams, and connecting people and businesses in positive collaborations. Chris started off at Esri as the senior product manager for 3D across the ArcGIS platform, based in Southern California. Chris now leads a team of product managers with responsibility for ArcGIS Hub, ArcGIS Excalibur, 3D, ArcGIS Urban, AEC/CAD/BIM offerings, ArcGIS Business Analyst and more. Before Esri, Chris was the lead product manager for Autodesk’s Infrastructure Modeler (now InfraWorks) and Digital Cities efforts and was previously in the enterprise integration industry focused on CAD-GIS integration. Chris has focused on strategic innovation, defining and driving to production new products at top tier software companies. He is active on social media and provides mentoring on 3D, product management, and technical career growth.

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