Wednesday, October 21, 2015

ArcGIS Earth (Beta): Initial Impressions

Back in June 2015, Esri made an announcement about an upcoming offering, the ArcGIS Earth
ArcGIS Earth is part of Esri’s offer for Google customers and partners looking to transition to Esri software. Along with other capabilities of the ArcGIS platform, ArcGIS Earth provides an alternative to the Google Earth Enterprise Client.
Here is an Esri Video showcasing an alpha version of the product. Just yesterday, Esri started sending out Beta invites as part of Early Adopter program.
I received one and decided to try the product immediately. The email mentioned that following features are ready for use:
  • Display KML layers in 3D.
  • Connect to Esri RESTful services including feature, map, image, and scene services.
  • Browse Esri basemaps and Living Atlas of the World content.
  • Save your view as an image and share it with others via email.
  • Securely access data stored in ArcGIS for Server on premises or in ArcGIS Online.
  • Create placemarks by drawing points, line, polygons on the globe.

The product sports a nice black theme and minimilastic UI as shown above. 
  • One toolbar (which can also be collapsed) at the top left corner has the following options 
    • To add layers (which can be done either by entering a URL or file location or directly from ArcGIS Online)
    • Draw
    • Measure
    • Capture snapshot in three different formats, 
    • Email 
    • Print
    • Change basemap layer
  • Search bar at the top right corner
  • A north arrow button below the search bar. This can set the north orientation as well on double click
  • A home button
  • It is possible to Sign In to one's Esri global account just like Google Earth
  • A full screen option

Issues faced

Moving around the virtual globe was not as smooth as in Google Earth and one could feel the lag. Also, the refresh rate on panning or after adding new layers seemed to be a bit slower. Lack of settings option meant lesser configurability for advanced users. 

I believe these things would change and the product would be even more refined when launched in December 2015.