GIS Tips: Adding OSTN02 to ArcGIS Explorer (build 2500)

Adding OSTN02 to ArcGIS Explorer Build 2500

This is a quick walkthrough of how to apply OSTN02 to ArcGIS Explorer build 2500, it assumes a Windows 7 install, though this fix will work with XP.

First download & install the Projection System expansion pack:

Then navigate to the ArcGIS Explorer program folder, this can be found at: C:\Program Files (x86)\Explorer (x86)\


Navigate to the projection engine (pedata) folder:


Add a new folder and call it “united kingdom”:


3Next you need to download the OSTN02 transformation from Ordnance Survey, the zipfile can be found here:

Select the “Download OSTN02 NTV2 data” option:

Within the zipfile you will see 3 files, the only file you need is the OSTN02_NTV2.gsb file.  Copy this into the “united kingdom” folder you created.


The transformation should now work!! Start up ArcGIS Explorer desktop and load in a OSGB36 dataset, go to the map properties and select “2D Coordinate System”, when you click on “Transformation” next to OSGB36, you should see this:


QGIS 2.0 (Dufour) is here!

Back in June the world waited with baited breath for the release of QGIS 2.0, and we all shed a little tear (ok, just me then) when we heard that the developer team wanted to hold back the release to ensure it was solid and not some rushed effort.

Since June rumours have been rife about the release date, some guessing that it had been held until Christmas, others guessing at a release around the FOSS4G…..

Well, I am happy to say, it is here!! QGIS 2.0 PAGE

Having played with it extensively over the last week (partly due to my ArcGIS machine having to go to IT AGAIN) I have to say that it is everything I was hoping it would be.

Upon opening it you notice that it looks far from any old expectation of open source, it looks slicker and more rich than many propriety software out there. The tools have been juggled so that they are easily read (we all got a little confused over the plethora of tools on the toolbar) and the best bit is the print composer has had a revamp and is comparable with many of the cartography specific software out there.


Screenshot of the QGIS GUI from Nathan Woodrows Flickr

London, UK: mapping flickr tags to colours (draft)

Example of the cartographic output possible using QGIS 2.0

So far, I am enjoying the discovery of the new features and keep being surprised by little “oooh, I didn’t know it could do that” moments which keep occurring. Like most ESRI/MapInfo/AutoCAD people, I am a little nervous the whole time that something will go wrong or I will trip over a bug any minute, but in a week of vigorous use I couldn’t find anything.

I will post some more at the end of the month once I’ve really given it some real welly.

I highly recommend anyone using a GIS gives this a go, and If you’re unsure,  what’s it going to cost you?

Nick D

Microsoft Fix for Geodatabase Data Corruption Issue

In case you missed it, ESRI finally released a link to fix the issue with data corruption to geodatabases on shared networks, this is a god-send for me as it means I don’t have to save a copy of everything locally “just in case”.

Information on Microsoft Patch to Fix Data Corruption Issue

In May of this year, we informed you about Microsoft update KB 2775511 that could result in data corruption when using ArcGIS on a Windows 7 system and writing data to remote data storage on a Windows Vista, 7, 2008/2008 R2, or 2012 system.

This is a follow-up to inform you that Microsoft has now released a fix under KB 2732673 for this issue.

Esri has tested the fix and verified that it resolves the data corruption problem previously mentioned.

The following describes what you need to do to apply this fix:

  • If you previously installed Microsoft KB 2775511, download and install the update found in Knowledge Base article 2732673 according to the IT policies of your organization.
  • If you have not yet installed Microsoft KB 2775511 but plan to do so at a future date, install the update found at KB 2732673 now to avoid any issues that may impact file geodatabases and shapefiles stored on network drives.

See Esri Knowledge Base article 41119 for further information and updates.

GIS Tips – Create and Share layer packets (.lpk) in ArcGIS Explorer

I’ve currently been inundated with projects that need the ability to share GIS data in their projects and most of them don’t really understand why they pay £10,000 for a survey and then £75k – £100k for a server solution to share it, let alone understand what GIS really is and WHY they need it in their business.

So, I usually find myself starting small and then slowly feed more functionality to the client as they start to understand what it is the system really does.

Today, I was doing just this, a project worth £Billions and they knew they needed GIS but not entirely sure WHY, so out came the good old ArcGIS Explorer, a little less scary to look at for the average client and enough like Google Earth to make it easy to pick up and run. The only issue I ever had with it was that it wasn’t fully compatible with ArcGIS, by that I mean that ESRI could have gone the extra mile and provided an mxd to nmc converter or at least ensured it used the same format for hyperlinks as the ArcGIS. Though these are small grumbles for what in essence is a great piece of software that can easily convince people to un-install Google Earth.

Anyhow, enough about how great this tool is, during my presentation the client asked whether there was any way that they could mark and update things on the map and I talked them through the “notes” tool and how they could be sent and brought into ArcGIS….as I said this I noticed another option, save the note as a layer package…..amazing!!

I’m not going to go into too much detail otherwise I would be doing myself out of a job, but lets just say that with the ability to have interactive maps on a Google Earth type GIS viewer that uses KMLs, GDBs, SHPs, GPX amongst some of the formats, has imagery layers, open street map topography layers, provides the user with query, measure & geocoding tools AND has the option to allow the user to create their own data which can be sent back to the GIS controller…..well you can see the value of this.

Many of you are sat their thinking about the options like ArcGIS Online – This has feature size restrictions at the free end or is the cost of an ArcGIS licence at the basic end….some of you may be wondering why I don’t just set up a web map – This may be a shock but some of use don’t have masses of server space or can outlay the money for web hosting based on a potential project……and the rest of you who are wondering why I haven’t just used QGIS – Simply too scary for the average Project Manager, in fact I have always wondered why there isn’t a QGIS “viewer” option that is more straight forward for younger wannabe GIS stars or those who need a little more functionality than Google Earth.

To get back on track, the core of this post is to say that you can save drawings on the ArcGIS Explorer as layer packets, for more information on how to do this, it is all here on the ESRI ArcGIS Explorer Resources page:

Sharing notes as layer packages

A new feature in the latest release (build 1500) of ArcGIS Explorer is the ability to share (export) notes as layer packages.Notes have always been an easy and powerful way to add non-geographic content, such as photos, documents, movies, websites, and more to your map. Now those same notes can be shared as layer packages to use in ArcMap. Let’s take a closer look…

We’ve placed a point note in the middle of the Esri Redlands campus and added a link to the Esri website in the note popup. Here’s what the popup looks like:

To share this as a layer package, right-click the note in the map contents and choose Share…

You’ll be presented with a couple of choices to make. First is the format for sharing. The choices are: as an Explorer map content file (.nmc), layer package (.lpk), or KML. We’ve choosen Layer Package in this example.

Next, you’ll have a choice of how you want to share the layer package. You can share it as a file, E-mail it, or add it to ArcGIS Online. We’ve chosen File.

Layer packages require a description, and when sharing one from Explorer you’ll be automatically prompted to add one:

After completing the above steps, you’ll now have a layer package, in our case one named Esri Redlands.lpk, saved to the folder you specified.

Next we’ll start ArcMap and add the layer package we’ve just created. In ArcMap layer packages are not yet supported using Add (that’s coming in the 10.1 release) but we can drag-and-drop our layer package into the map document instead. We’ve also added the World Topographic basemap from ArcGIS Online to get our map off to a good start. After drag-and-drop, the layer package will be listed in our contents:

To display the popup window we use the HTML popup tool, which was introduced at the ArcGIS 9.3.1 release.

Use the HTML popup tool to click the note in ArcMap to display the popup contents – it’s just like the original Explorer note.

For more information view the sharing layer packages Explorer help topic

GIS Tips – Display Some Text Labels from Attribution and not Others – ArcGIS

We’ve all been there, an awesome map and you need to label the features based on the attribution of a feature…..

….only you just realised that the feature is classified and you only want to show the values associated with one of the classifications, so what do you do?

The usual answer to the question from a lot of my colleagues is convert the labels to annotation which, in my opinion, is a poor solution as text easily gets lost or you find you have to re-allocate 100+ labels by hand…..and then you find that not all the labels are the correct size, sure, they SAY they are but you can see that they aren’t!

I had this problem a few days ago and instead of using the route above, I decided to brave it and open the VBscript options within the “label expressions” options and write a little code to solve this problem. I thought you might find it useful too.

Let us consider the scenario where we have an undersea cable which we have marked with Kilometre Points (KPs) and for each of these there is a reason why the KP has been added and we ONLY want to show the whole numbers, where there is a KP marker (Not any of the other reasons).

The Attribute table may look a little like this:


In this example we would only want to show the numbers 15, 16, 17, 18, 19 & 20 on the map and ignore all the other values in the KP field.

First open the feature properties and go to the “label” tab,  in the “Text String Label Field” select “KP” and then click on the “Expression” button.

Select the Advanced option (on the right) and ensure that you are using the VBscript parser (bottom of the window).

This is the script I used – feel free to update me on how this can be improved, I am no programmer (Unless it is Sinclair Basic!!):

Function FindLabel ([Reason], [KP])
 If [Reason]="KP" Then
  FindLabel = [KP]
 End If
End Function

Of course, this can be adapted to suit your needs, for example you could add another field to check muliple values or add some additional text to the output by using something like FindLabel = “THIS IS AN EXAMPLE “&[KP] instead of the FindLabel = [KP] to get it to produce your own text before each label.

I only post this as a building block though it is something I have never seen in any of the training or help pages, so if you have any further tricks like this for labelling text I would be happy to add it & share it!! Nick D

Free Online GIS Course with Pace University

I want the world to be able to use GIS, if I could I would do this for free and spend my days helping everyone in need like a GIS version of Kick-Ass, unfortunately this idea sends my employer into meltdown and is often followed by discussions about contractual obligations and social media…, until the day I win the Lottery, I am legally obliged to keep the help to a minimum.

What I can’t give, it appears Pace University can, Dr Minnis is running a FREE GIS basics course. Peggy Minnis, who introduced the idea of a “GIS 101” sort of course to readers back in April, is currently welcoming students to the real McCoy. Her “GIS Basics” massive open online course (MOOC) begins September 9 and runs for 12 weeks. The course focuses on key GIS skills using ArcGIS for Desktop.

Minnis is a member of the Department of Chemistry and Physical Sciences at Pace University. While she’d hoped to use many of her existing resources from her residence GIS course for the free online course, it was not to be. When she looked them over she decided it was time for a refresh. While it was a lot of work, Minnis is happy that her videos now populate YouTube and do not require Flash.
The Course
Students are expected to gain access to a copy of ArcGIS 10.1 either by buying the GIS Tutorial 1: Basic Workbook for ArcGIS 10.1  book ($51 via Amazon in the U.S.), a Home Use license ($100 worldwide) or for those who are testing the waters, a free trial available for 60 days. Of course, those with access at work or elsewhere can use those licenses.
Each week of the course, students will view an introductory video laying out the plan for the seven days. The complete syllabus provides more detail. Short, focused skill videos will introduce key concepts. Then the fun begins! Students will take on assignments and projects. The first one, for example, is creating a map of the student’s home using Census data. International students are invited to explore data from their own country or to adopt a U.S. location.
Of course, many of you reading this will be too advanced to be signing up to this, I would recommend you check out the ESRI training if you are looking for something to get your teeth into, though I have always found that sometimes it’s good to refresh or get an insight into new methods from some of these basic courses.
Nick D