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Ye Ole Db Connection

Posted by geonetadmin Apr 26, 2012

The fabled blue marker, what do you do?!

Our lives are filled with things we often overlook. Case in point, what are the little blue reflectors on the road that you see on the way home from work every day? I've tried to establish a pattern. Are they marking the center of the lane? Sometimes they’re right on the road center line, sometimes they’re right in the middle of your wheel path, thump thump, and sometimes they’re barely on the road at all. If you look, you'll see them all the time; you just have no earthly clue as to what they actually do.

The OLE DB connection is not so different. It’s always sitting there in ArcCatalog staring right back at you under Database Connections. You usually skip right over it on your way to adding a Spatial Database Connection. Today, however, I urge you to stop, peer under the hood, and look at what an OLE DB connection can do.

The OLE DB connection is a window into the abyss, a.k.a. your geodatabase repository. This area is typically off limits. Perhaps your DBA isn’t a fan of people tinkering around in the RDBMS. Esri typically says “hands off” as well, since we don’t usually support errors caused by messing around with the underlying repository tables. Their sensitive nature aside, these tables can be quite helpful and using an OLE DB connection to access them is read-only, so it’s also safe. Your DBA can rest easy.

Many of the problems you might have during the course of a normal week might be sniffed out by using this connection. I typically use mine at least once a week, maybe even three or four times depending on how heavy my workload is. I’ll give a couple examples on how this connection can help.

Pretend, for a moment, that you’re trying to take your geodatabase to a fully compressed state (i.e., State 0). The dialog indicates that the process has completed successfully, but since you’re a rock star GIS professional, you know that a successful compression is not always indicative of a full compression.  So you crack open the OLE DB connection, scroll down to your compress_log table, and look up your end_state_count. It reveals that you have a count of 1. Since 0 is a state and is always present, you know that a count of 1 indicates that you’ve successfully achieved a full compression.

But what if the value isn't 1? What if the end_state_count reveals that there are two states remaining? Not a problem, you scroll down to the state_locks table, revealing that state_id 233 is being locked by sde_id 622. You then deftly maneuver up to the process_information table and you find that sde_id 622 is your SOC account. Then it dawns on you, you never did disconnect your web server, so you stop your web server, freeing up this connection and it’s resulting locks, compress again, and you’ve achieved full compression, all without ever cracking open Management Studio or SQL Developer and freaking out your DBA.

Ye Ole Db Connection

Making the connection is relatively easy. Microsoft OLE DB connection drivers, which can handle Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle databases, are automatically installed. However, you may have to install the drivers for PostgreSQL databases yourself. Once installed, just click on “Add OLE DB Connection” within ArcCatalog, highlight the provider you want to use, fill out the requested information, and test the connection. If successful, click OK and you’re in! I know you 10.1 users are out there too. Don't worry, the link to opening an OLE DB connection is no longer on your ArcCatalog tree, but it's still around. It's now a button for your toolbar, so just click on Customize, go to Customize mode, select the Commands tab, highlight ArcCatalog, and drag the Add OLE DB Connection to your toolbar.

Good luck!

Oh yeah, the next time you see a blue marker on the road, glance to the right. I bet you’ll find a fire hydrant.Steven E. - Geodata Support Analyst

Edited on 4/27.
ArcGIS-Explorer-for-Desktop-300x179.jpgRecently a user wanted to be able to standardize the ArcGIS Explorer for Desktop application for GIS clients in his organization. He found that once ArcGIS Explorer was configured locally on his machine, he was able to share the default .NMF map document file with users, but the .NMF only held the configuration information for layers in the table of contents - not for add-ins or geoprocessing tools.

The Application Configuration Manager could be used to allow or prevent the usage of specific ArcGIS Explorer functionality like the analysis tools or to add new functionality, but couldn't be used to persist a URL to a specific geoprocessing service. The user thought it would be great if ArcGIS Explorer could be provided to users in such a way that the references to add-ins and geoprocessing tasks remained in place for users installing ArcGIS Exolorer for Desktop thus saving clients the time it may take to set up the environment as desired.

There are two places that ArcGIS Explorer for Desktop keeps reference to data layers:
  1. The default .NMF document itself
  2. The add-ins folder

After saving the default document in ArcGIS Explorer, use these simple steps to homogenize the Explorer experience for all employees in the department.
  1. The admin should:
  • Copy the folder "C:Users<username>AppDataRoamingESRIarcgis explorerAddIns" to a place accessible to network users.
  • Copy the file "C:Users<username>DocumentsArcGIS ExplorerMy Default Map.nmf" to a place accessible to network users.

2.  The users should:
  • Install ArcGIS Explorer.
  • Copy the ad-ins folder referenced above to the corresponding location on their local machine.
  • Copy the 'My Default Map.NMF' to the corresponding location on their local machine.

When ArcGIS Explorer for Desktop is started on the user's machine, the experience should be identical to that of the application set up by the administrator.Randal W. - ArcGIS for Server Support Analyst
buildings_colored-150x150.pngCityEngine is a powerful product that can build amazing cityscapes.  Digging into this software can be a little tricky at first; however, the more you use it, the easier the functionality becomes.  Esri CityEngine on the ArcGIS Resource Center is a great place to start, as you take on the learning curve.  There are some tutorial videos and data templates available that will help you to better understand the software.  In addition to these resources, here are five quick tips for basic functionality within CityEngine.

Downloading Tutorials and Example Data
DownloadContext.jpgOpen the Help menu > Download Tutorials, then download the desired Tutorials and Examples from the Download Tutorials and Examples dialog.

During the download process, the option to run in the background can be set in the data status window, so that you can continue to work on your scene while the data is loaded.

View Settings
cityengine_viewsettings.jpgThere are a wide range of view settings that can be accessed from the Viewport settings dropdown. To the scene, you can alter lighting settings, activate reference information (grid, axes, compass, etc.).

There are also settings for the 3D display, such as wireframe, shaded, textured, or textured display with wireframe. Also, take note of the shortcut keys for toggling these settings.

Save Screenshot
SaveSnapshot.jpgFrom the bookmarks button in the viewport, you can access the functionality to save a snapshot/screenshot. The output dimensions can be set along with additional information elements. There are a variety of formats available to save the screenshot (.png, .jpg, .tiff, .bmp, etc.).

CityEngine Shortcuts
shortcuts.jpgThe Key Assist can be accessed from the Help menu or by pressing CTRL + SHIFT + L.  This will open a dialog at the bottom right corner with a list of all the shortcut keys.

With the Key Assist Window you can press CTRL + SHIFT + L again, to open the Preference dialog, where the default settings can be modified.

Window Layout
WindowLayoutSmall.jpgThere are many windows available within CityEngine, and you may find yourself looking for a specific one, such as the Viewport or Navigator. The Window Menu will give you access to all windows individually.
Using the spacebar, you can maximize a window to the full screen, docking the other window on the right border. Predefined layouts are available via the Window Menu > Layout.

There is also the ability to save a custom perspective if you have a particular setup you like.
I hope these tips have helped get you started using CityEngine. If you need additional help, visit the CityEngine section in the Support Knowledge Base or the CityEngine forums.

Timothy H. - Raster/3D Support Analyst

Bitdepth1-300x220.pngThere are many different kinds of rasters that can be used in ArcMap. To better describe and explain these different kinds  of rasters, Esri has created help documentation on technical specifications and supported raster formats.  Included in the documentation is the ESRI GRID format. This is a very flexible format that many users are comfortable using to process and display data. There is a unique aspect to this format that many users are unaware of that is mentioned in the help documentation.

A section in the help documentation on bit depth capacity reads,
A grid dataset is always stored as 32 bit (either signed, unsigned, or floating point), but ArcGIS shows it above as being the most appropriate bit depth with regard to the cell values it contains.

So while the bit depth of the ESRI GRID may say 8 bit unsigned or 16 bit signed, the storage is still 32 bit.  However, the properties in the source tab of the particular ESRI GRID raster may say something different.  This is important when considering the behavior of the GRID compared to other formats like .imgs or .tifs.

This does not affect the average user of ESRI GRIDs, but just something to keep in mind and understand about the format.  So fear not if you create a new ESRI GRID and the bit depth does not match your defined bit depth; it is still okay. Once the data is added,it should report the most appropriate bit depth.  ESRI GRIDs are always 32 bit rasters regardless of what the source properties report.Jeff S. - Raster Support Analyst
Background processing is a new feature that was added at ArcGIS 10. Background processing provides the ability to run a geoprocessing tool and not lose the ability to work within ArcMap.  Instead, the tool progress dialog message has been replaced by a scrolling bar in the lower right corner of the map document.

You can now stack up multiple geoprocessing tools to run in order.  The intermediate progress messages can still be seen when background processing is enabled, by expanding the Results Window.  This can be the best of both worlds, as you can continue to work within ArcMap, but still see information about what step the current geoprocessing tool is on.



Results Tab


Background Processing Completion

When the background processing completes, a less obtrusive message will appear in the lower right corner of the map document, indicating it has completed.  You can control the time this message is visible under the Geoprocessing Options and adjusting the slider.

I know what you are thinking,  "but where did my captivating progress dialog message go that is usually center stage on the map document?"

Foreground Processing Message

Well fear not fellow users! You too can return the progress dialog message to its former glory with these steps:

1. In ArcMap, open up Geoprocessing tab.

2. Select the Geoprocessing Options.

3. Uncheck the 'Enable Background Processing' radio button.geoprocessing-options1-240x300.png

Now the next time you run a geoprocessing tool, you will see the familiar message and be captivated again.

There is more information about the background processing here.Jeff S. - Raster Support Analyst

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