Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Testing New GPS Tools in ArcGIS Explorer Desktop

We've been working on a new release of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop (which will be labeled build 1700 - to be released sometime at the end of May) for a while now, and one of the new features that we'll be adding is direct GPS support. We don't often post about futures on the official Esri ArcGIS Explorer Desktop blog, and I had such a fun time this evening driving around and exercising this new capability, so I thought I'd share the results here, unofficially.

I took the long way home using a USB GPS receiver I borrowed from a colleague (only $18) and ArcGIS Explorer in disconnected mode on my laptop which I placed on the seat next to me. Once the GPS receiver was plugged in, I could begin receiving locations and could capture waypoints at the click of a button, or set Explorer to capture waypoints, tracks, or both at regular intervals automatically.

Below is the map in 2D, showing the waypoints and tracks collected along my drive. I set the collection to automatic, grabbing a location every 10 seconds. As I drove along I could view my current location as a blue dot, and could center the map as I moved.

Once captured, the GPS waypoints and tracks are stored as notes. The lat/long and elevation are automatically added to the note popup along with the date and time.

Below are my travels shown in 3D mode. The green flags are waypoints I collected via a click, and the yellow flags and tracks were collected automatically every 10 seconds.

I'm certain this will be a welcome new addition to ArcGIS Explorer.


  1. Awesome - I don't have much experience with Explorer as I use Publisher/Reader with a custom GPS layer but this only displays your current location and coords and doesn't store any waypoints, tracks, etc. So my question is - will there be a way to export those waypoints and tracks into a shapefile or another format?


  2. When will they incorporate GPS functionality into ArcReader???

  3. The waypoints and tracks are stored as Explorer notes, which you can export to layer packages or KML. ArcReader and Explorer Desktop will eventually evolve together into a single solution that covers all the bases of both. In the meanwhile you can take layer packages saved from Explorer Desktop and use them in ArcReader.