Blog Archives

Setting up Anaconda, PySAL with ArcGIS Python environment

This tutorial shows you how to set up conda environment to work with ArcGIS 10.4 and ArcGIS Pro 1.3. You can download a pdf copy of the tutorial with screenshots HERE. At the 2016 Esri International User Conference in San Diego last month, Esri released ArcGIS Pro 1.3, which can now use conda for packaging Python libraries. This allows support of python under multiple Python environments. You no longer need to install a separate Python install to get the full Python capability with ArcGIS as you did with past versions.

Workflow to set up Anaconda with ArcGIS 10.4

  • Install Anaconda without fouling the Windows environment (paths, registry) to break Esri’s python stack
  • Configure Anaconda with the particular add-ons you want, and
  • Configure ArcGIS’s Python so that it is aware of the appropriate Anaconda content.

1) Install Anaconda for All Users

  1. Go to
  2. Download the 32-bit version of Anaconda (Python 2.7)
  3. In the install dialogs:
    • Select install for All Users
    • conda01
    • Install to a folder by default (C:\Anaconda2)
    • conda02
    • IMPORTANT: To avoid breaking ArcGIS (or other software), uncheck the checkboxes (a) make Anaconda the default Python and (b) add Anaconda’s Python to the PATH.
    • conda03
  4. Go to Start > All Programs(apps) > Anaconda2(32-bit) > Anaconda Prompt. Right click, run as administrator

2) Configure an Anaconda environment for use with ArcGIS

  1. Find the versions of numpy and matplotlib ArcGIS is using.

Open ArcMap and its Python window, and enter these commands:

    • >>> import sys, numpy, matplotlib
    • >>> print(sys.version, numpy.__version__, matplotlib.__version__)
    • (‘2.7.10 (default, May 23 2015, 09:40:32) [MSC v.1500 32 bit (Intel)]’, ‘1.9.2’, ‘1.4.3’)
    • conda04
  1. Create an Anaconda environment that is compatible with ArcGIS
    • Get to the Anaconda Command Prompt (Start > All Programs(apps) > Anaconda2(32-bit), pick “Anaconda Prompt“), Right click, Run as Administrator.
    • Type (depending on ArcGIS version, I am using ArcGIS 10.4 as an example here):
    • “conda create -n arc104 python=2.7.10 numpy=1.9.2 matplotlib=1.4.3 pyparsing xlrd xlwt pandas scipy ipython ipython-notebook ipython-qtconsole”
    • conda05
    • Enter y to proceed.
    • Anaconda’s conda command will then set up an environment subdirectory, ex: ” C:\Anaconda2\envs\arc104 “, installing the downloaded packages into it.
    • conda06
  2. Test the virtual environment
    • At the Anaconda Command Prompt, type: activate arc104
    • Type: conda list. You can see the list of packages installed.conda07
  3. Add more packages
    • You can add more packages using conda install, but make sure you specify version numbers for these that won’t change the environment’s version of python or numpy (or ArcGIS will not be able to use that environment anymore).
    • Let’s add the Python Spatial Analysis Library (pysal) module.
    • Type the following command at the Anaconda Prompt:”conda install -n arc104 python=2.7.10 numpy=1.9.2 matplotlib=1.4.3 pysal”
    • conda08

3) Configure ArcGIS to see Anaconda and vice versa

  1. Anaconda Python to ArcPy
    • Copy the Desktop10.4.pth file to the Anaconda environment site-packages folder:
    • From: C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.4\Lib\site-packages\Desktop10.4.pth
    • To: C:\Anaconda2\envs\arc104\Lib\site-packages\Desktop10.4.pth
  2. Arcpy to Anaconda Python
    • Create a zconda.pth (path) file with the content “C:\Anaconda\envs\arc104\lib\site-packages” in it.
    • Then copy zconda.pth to C:\Python27\ArcGIS10.4\Lib\site-packages
  3. Testing in ArcMap
    • As a regular user, start ArcMap, open the Python window
    • type “import pysal”
    • type “pysal.” A popup menu with a list of pysal-provided functions is a pretty good sign the installation succeeded.
    • conda09
  4. Testing in PyCharm
    • Start PyCharm, in File\Settings…, choose Project then Project Interpreter
    • Ignore the drop down list for Project Interpreter, and click the cog button to Add Local, and in the file browser pick C:\Anaconda2\envs\arc104\python.exe
    • conda10
    • To run your script, right click it in the Project window, and choose either Run or Debug
    • Restart PyCharm for the Python Console to use the arc104 environment.
    • conda11

Workflow to set up Anaconda with ArcGIS Pro 1.3

1) Create an Anaconda environment that is compatible with ArcGIS Pro

  • Copy the folder arcgispro-py3 from C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Pro\bin\Python\envs and paste to C:\Anaconda2\envs
  • Rename the copied folder arcgispro-py3 in C:\Anaconda2\envs to arcpro

2) Test the virtual environment

  • At the Anaconda Command Prompt, type: activate arcpro
  • Type: conda list. You can see the list of packages installed

3) Add more packages

  • Let’s add the Python Spatial Analysis Library (pysal) module.
  • Type the following command at the Anaconda Prompt:”conda install pysal”

4) Configure ArcGIS to see Anaconda and vice versa

  • Arcpy to Anaconda Python
    • Create a zconda.pth (path) file with the content “C:\Anaconda2\envs\arcpro\lib\site-packages” in it.
    • Then Copy zconda.pth to C:\Program Files\ArcGIS\Pro\bin\Python\envs\arcgispro-py3\lib\site-packages
  • Testing in ArcGIS Pro
    • Start ArcGIS Pro, open the Python window
    • type “import pysal”
    • type “pysal.” A popup menu with a list of pysal-provided functions is a pretty good sign the install succeeded.
    • conda12
    • conda13
  •  Testing in PyCharm
    • Start PyCharm, in File\Settings…, choose Project then Project Interpreter
    • Ignore the drop down list for Project Interpreter, and click the cog button to Add Local, and in the file browser pick C:\Anaconda2\envs\arcpro\python.exe
    • conda14
    • To run your script, right click it in the Project window, and choose either Run or Debug
    • Restart PyCharm for the Python Console to use the arcpro environment.


  1. USGS:
  2. Esri:
  3. GeoNet:
  4. UC-Davis:

Esri Releases Drone2Map for ArcGIS

Drone2Map for ArcGIS, released on February 24 by Esri, is a stand-alone desktop app for processing imagery collected by drones. Check out the Drone2Map FAQ and an interesting presentation (Working With Drone Data In ArcGIS) by Tony Mason of Esri. Interested users can visit for more information.

Q: Is Drone2Map for ArcGIS going to be an ArcGIS Extension?
A: No. It is a stand-alone 64-bit Windows desktop app that will run alongside ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro.

Q: What does Drone2Map for ArcGIS do?
A: Drone2Map for ArcGIS is a desktop app that turns raw still imagery from drones into  stunning information products in ArcGIS. Now, with drone hardware becoming more accessible, you can create 2D and 3D maps of features and areas.

Q: Can Drone2Map for ArcGIS be used to make 3D models?
A: Yes, Drone2Map for ArcGIS will produce 3D colorized point clouds in LAS format as well as 3D textured meshes for use in ArcGIS Desktop and Web Apps.

Q: Does the Drone2Map for ArcGIS work only with a specific type of drone?
A: Drone2Map for ArcGIS is designed to be generic for all drones. What is important is that the drone collects certain types of metadata. At a very minimum, this metadata needs to include Latitude, Longitude, and Altitude. The addition of orientation, focal length and pixel size of the sensor will greatly improve results. Many commercially available drones have this capability and automatically add this information to the image metadata.



ArcGIS 3D LiDAR Toolset

ESRI has released a new version of 3D LiDAR toolset, which was designed to extend the LiDAR capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop. It can be downloaded from :

cwduyyhweaau4fdFunctionalities of the LiDAR toolset:
  • Classify ground*, building, vegetation, and noise points
  • Extract building footprint approximations
  • Clip LAS files*
  • Improve QA/QC processes with lidar data:
    • Evaluate LAS files for errors through the CheckLAS utility
    • Export LAS file header information
    • Define the spatial reference of LAS files with missing/incorrect information*
    • Project LAS files to desired coordinate systems*
    • Evaluate coverage of overlaps in lidar scans
    • Rearrange LAS files to optimize data access I/O*
  • Optimize lidar data for operational use and rapid access through the compressed ZLAS format
  • Evaluate Z statistics with advanced height metrics*
  • Analyze the proximity of LAS points to 3D features**
  • Convert lidar data between various data formats
  • Create tiled raster derivatives
Analysis & Data Management of 3D Features & Surfaces
  • Correct the Z value of a multipatch model so that it “sits” on the ground
  • Create a point skymap of sun positions for visualization and solar analysis workflows
  • Simplify dense, 3D breaklines to support scalability in TIN-based surface modeling*
  • Integrate a design surface, such as one created using the Grading tool, into a base TIN
  • Export a TIN to LandXML for use in 3rd party applications
  • Cross sections of a multipatch can be used with the Intersect 3D tool to:
    • Generate contours in 3D space that capture cliff overhangs
    • Determine a 3D model’s footprint at different heights
    • Generate sightlines for visibility analysis

Access Landsat Imagery in ArcGIS Pro

Related post: Landsat 8 data on Amazon AWS

Here’s how you can access the Landsat archive which is hosted on Amazon through ArcGIS Pro.

  1. Open the Projects Pane
  2. Click on Portal and then on the cloud icon on the far right to see everything that’s on your portal.
  3. Search for “Multispectral Landsat” in the search bar.
  4. Drag and drop.

To take advantage of the archive, we’ve designed a number of pre-defined band combinations and indices. You can find these from the Data tab, under Processing Templates.

Play around with these. Here’s some cool stuff that I found poking around in Alaska for a few minutes.

Read the rest of this entry

2015 Esri User Conference Plenary Session Videos Available

The 2015 ESRI International User Conference is happening now in San Diego, California with 16,000 attendees. Some of the new features released on Monday’s plenary sessions include:

My personal favorite is the R & ArcGIS. More information about this can be found in another blog at

The following videos from the Plenary Session on Monday, July 20, 2015, are now available for viewing at

• Keynote from Jack Dangermond
• R&D at Esri
• Southwest Florida Water Management District – A Mission-Critical Approach to Water
• Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Web GIS Delivers Safety and Efficiency
• Beck’s Hybrids – Feeding the World: Precision Agriculture Simplified
• State of Victoria, Australia, Government – Proactive Rejuvenation: Ignite Your Potential
• World Health Organization – The Battle against Ebola and Polio
• National Geographic Society – Understanding Geography
• Mentoring the Next Generation – Connecting GIS with Education
• Keynote from Martin O’Malley – Smart Government: Reduce the Distance between People

Check out here for some pictures I took at the conference.


R-bridge for ArcGIS


R-bridge for ArcGIS:


Today at the Esri User Conference in San Diego, Esri announced a new initiative to build a collaborative community for R and ArcGIS users.

Esri has been teaching and promoting integration with R at the User Conference and Developer Summit for several years. During this time we have seen significant increase in interest, and received useful feedback from our ArcGIS users and R users about a variety of needs and techniques for integrating ArcGIS and R. Based upon this feedback, we are working with ArcGIS and R users to develop a community to promote learning, sharing, and collaboration. This community will include a repository of free, open source, R scripts, geoprocessing tools, and tutorials.

I recently sat down with Steve Kopp, Senior Product Engineer on the spatial analysis team, and Dawn Wright, Esri’s Chief Scientist to talk about what this focus on building a bridge to the R community means for ArcGIS users and other users of R.

Matt Artz:
What is R?

Steve Kopp: R (aka the R Project for Statistical Computing) is an extremely popular and the fastest growing environment for statistical computing. In addition to the core R software, it includes a more than 6,000 community-contributed packages for solving a wide range of statistical problems, including a variety of spatial statistical data analysis methods.

Dawn Wright:  R is widely used by environmental scientists of all stripes, as well as statisticians. Since R has limited data management and mapping capabilities, many of our users find good synergy in using R and ArcGIS together.

Matt Artz:
Does the ArcGIS community use R today?

Steve Kopp: Yes, R has become very popular in the ArcGIS community over the last several years.  Many in our user community have been asking for a mix of its functionality with our own, as well as better code-sharing interaction with the R community.

Dawn Wright: A great example from the marine ecology community is Duke University’s Marine Geospatial Ecology Tools, where they have already long since moved forward with integrating R and ArcGIS for Desktop for some time.

Matt Artz:
What is the R – ArcGIS Bridge?

Steve Kopp: This is a free, open source R package which allows ArcGIS and R to dynamically access data without creating intermediate files on disk.

Matt Artz:
Why did Esri build the R – ArcGIS Bridge? 

Steve Kopp: It was built for three reasons: to improve the performance and scalability of projects which combine R and ArcGIS; to create a developer experience that was simple and familiar to the R user; and to enable an end-user experience that is familiar to the ArcGIS user.

Dawn Wright: The bottom line is that this project is about helping our user community and the R user community to be more successful combining these technologies.

Matt Artz:
So is this initiative just some software code?

Steve Kopp: No, the R – ArcGIS Bridge is simply some enabling technology, the real effort and value of the R – ArcGIS Community initiative will be in the development and sharing of useful tools, tutorials, and tips. It’s a free, open source library which makes it fast and easy to move data between ArcGIS and R, and additional work which makes it possible to run an R script from an ArcGIS geoprocessing tool.

Dawn Wright: This community will be important and useful for R users who need to access ArcGIS data, for ArcGIS users who need to access R analysis capabilities from ArcGIS, and for developers who are familiar with both ArcGIS and R who want to build integrated tools or applications to share with the community.

Steve Kopp: The community of tools will be user developed and user driven. Esri will develop a few sample toolboxes and tutorials, but our primary interest is to facilitate the community and help them build what they find useful.

Matt Artz:
How do you see the ArcGIS community using the R – ArcGIS Bridge?  What does it give them that they don’t have today? 

Steve Kopp: The R – ArcGIS Bridge allows developers with experience with R and ArcGIS to create custom tools and toolboxes that integrate ArcGIS and R, both for their own use, and for building toolboxes to share with others both within their organization and with other ArcGIS users.

Dawn Wright: R developers can quickly access ArcGIS datasets from within R, save R results back to ArcGIS datasets and tables, and easily convert between ArcGIS datasets and their equivalent representations in R.

Steve Kopp: It allows our users to integrate R into their workflows, without necessarily learning the R programming language directly.

Matt Artz:
What about the R user who doesn’t use ArcGIS?

Steve Kopp: It’s not uncommon in an organization for a non-GIS person to need to be able to work with GIS data; for these people, they will be able to use the bridge to directly access ArcGIS data without creating intermediate shapefiles or tables, and without needing to know any ArcGIS.

Matt Artz:
How can people start using the R Bridge? 

Steve Kopp:  The R – ArcGIS community samples, tutorials, and bridge are all part of a public GitHub community site similar to other Esri open source projects. And if you happen to be at the Esri User Conference in San Diego this week, this project will be discussed as part of a workshop on Wednesday.

– See more at:


Asia & Australia SRTM 30 m Available

The void-free 1 arc second (~ 30 meters) SRTM data for Asia and Australia are available now. See below for an index map of the newly available full-resolution data. The new data are available for download from the USGS EROS Data Center.

See an ESRI blog below for more details:

Asia & Australia SRTM 30 m in Esri World Elevation Services

Esri World Elevation Layers  are enhanced with more detailed void-free 1 arc second (~ 30 meters) SRTM data for Asia and Australia. The Australian DEM (DEM-S), which is a cleaned and smoothed version of SRTM 1 arc sec, is courtesy of Geoscience Australia, while the Asia data is acquired from NASA. With this update, there is now 3 times more detail in these areas.

Mount Everest – the highest peak in Himalayas and World at 8,848 m (29,029 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90 m vs SRTM 30 m)

Eravikulam National Park, Western Ghats, Kerala, India. Western Ghats mountain range is UNESCO World Heritage Site and is one of the eight “hottest hotspots” of biological diversity in the world (SRTM 90 m vs SRTM 30 m)

Mount Fuji, Japan – an active stratovolcano and the highest mountain in Japan at an elevation of 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90 m vs SRTM 30 m)

Mount Bogong, Australia – is part of the Victorian Alps of the Great Dividing Range and the highest mountain in Victoria, Australia, at 1,986 meters (6,516 ft) above sea level (SRTM 90 m vs SRTM 30 m)

Our dynamic world elevation image services (Terrain and TopoBathy) are not just for visualization (such as multi-directional hillshade,tinted hillshade) but provide access to raw elevation values and derivatives (such as slope, aspect) for analysis. Access to these global layers is free and does not consume any credits; all you need is an ArcGIS Organizational account. It’s that easy!

With this update and previously released Africa , South America & Western Europe, SRTM 1 arc second is now available for the most part of the world from N 60 to S 60 as depicted below:

SRTM 1 arc second (~30 meter) covers land areas between 60 degrees north and 56 degrees south

Elevation Analysis Services are also updated to consume SRTM 1 arc second for Profile, Viewshed and Summarize Elevation tasks. SRTM updates are also rolled out in Terrain 3D service powering Web Scene viewer and ArcGIS Pro Scene.

For more information about the coverage of the World Elevation services please check out our Elevation coverage map.

by Rajinder Nagi, Lead Community Elevation

ArcGIS Terrain Toolbox

Terrain Tools Sample v1.0 beta:  A suite of Geoprocessing tools to produce cartographic effects for terrain representation

Download it here.


Take your terrain mapping to new heights

by Kenneth Field, Senior Cartographic Product Engineer

Standard techniques for representing terrain, like a hillshade, are adequate for many applications, but you may want to represent terrain under different lighting conditions, or perhaps use more artistic techniques. In these cases you might need to go a little further than creating a simple hillshade. For this reason (and because we like making tools that extend what we can do!) we’ve built a new toolbox, called Terrain Tools, that helps you take your terrain mapping to new heights.

Cartographic research often develops techniques, models and tools that supplement or extend what you find in software out-of-the-box. They are often difficult to find, hidden in journal articles or cumbersome to implement. We’ve brought together some of these ideas and workflows in the Terrain Tools toolbox that provides capabilities for creating alternative terrain representations in ArcGIS (ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro). Terrain Tools are designed to extend your out-of-the-box toolkit for representing terrain in GIS by encouraging you to be more creative; how to think more critically about design choices; and how to go beyond the defaults.

You can download a zip file from ArcGIS Online that contains the toolbox, sample data, documentation and also an ArcMap Map Document and ArcGIS Pro Project. The Map Document and Pro Project also include results layers so you can see how the tools work before you use them on your own data. It’s important to note that the sample results show the results of running the tools using the default output. They are a starting point and many of the tools give you the flexibility to modify parameters and customize your own output. The documentation is in workshop format that includes discussion of each tool and instructions for use. Because the tools are written in Python they can be viewed, modified and used as a starting point for further development.

Here’s a brief look at some of the output you’ll get from running Terrain Tools.

Terrain Tools incorporates a few previously available tools which were available as models (built originally using ModelBuilder). They have been rewritten and optimized as Python scripts which improves stability and speed of processing. Additionally, a range of new tools have been either written (from the original published algorithms) or optimized as Python scripts from code samples.

One of the highlights of Terrain Tools is the new Cluster Hillshade which provides you with the ability to make spectacularly detailed and artistic hillshades with your own data. This is just about as close as you can get with an automated process to classic hand-drawn hillshading – and all from just a Digital Elevation Model input and a click of a mouse.

The Tanaka method for creating Illuminated Contours and Filled Contours are also included, here depicted one on top of the other:

Thematic maps haven’t been ignored. It’s perfectly possible to run the tools for any input raster (e.g. a statistical surface rather than a DEM) but there’s also a specific 3D Choropleth tool, useful for adding depth to a choropleth, encoding a second piece of information or as a way to see variation within a single class interval:

There’s plenty more tools to explore and, of course, the scripts are entirely open to being customised further. Here’s the full list of what’s included in the Terrain Tools sample:
Read the rest of this entry

USDA released 4-Band NAIP Imagery

USDA finally starts publicly distributing the 4-band NAIP imagery in addition to the natural color imagery.  To access NAIP Public facing data, use the following URL in ArcGIS:  Instructions can be found on the APFO website at:  By adding “rest” to the link you can apparently get more options:


Landsat 8 data on Amazon AWS

If you are using or plan to use Landsat 8 data, you might want to check out the following links. Access to Landsat 8 data has become much easier.

You can now access over 85,000 Landsat 8  scenes through our newest Public Data Set: Landsat on AWS. The scenes are all available in the landsat-pds bucket in the Amazon S3 US West (Oregon) region.

Landsat is an earth observation program conducted in partnership by the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and NASA that creates moderate-resolution satellite imagery of all land on Earth every 16 days. The Landsat program has been running since 1972 and is the longest ongoing project to collect such imagery. Landsat 8 is the newest Landsat satellite and it gathers data based on visible, infrared, near-infrared, and thermal-infrared light.

Because of Landsat’s global purview and long history, it has become a reference point for all Earth observation work and is considered the gold standard of natural resource satellite imagery. It is the basis for research and applications in many global sectors, including agriculture, cartography, geology, forestry, regional planning, surveillance and education. Many of our customers’ work couldn’t be done without Landsat.

As we said in December, we hope to accelerate innovation in climate research, humanitarian relief, and disaster preparedness efforts around the world by making Landsat data readily available near our flexible computing resources. We have committed to host up to a petabyte of Landsat data as a contribution to the White House’s Climate Data Initiative. Because the imagery is available on AWS, researchers and software developers can use any of our on-demand services to perform analysis and create new products without needing to worry about storage or bandwidth costs.

You can learn more about how to access the data on our Landsat on AWS page.

What’s possible with Landsat on AWS
We’ve been testing our approach to hosting Landsat imagery over the past few months and have been amazed by what people have been able to do with it.

Development Seed
Development Seed has updated the popular open source landsat-util library to use data from Landsat on AWS. Now developers who rely on landsat-util can access Landsat data more quickly and with more processing options. Learn more about the updates to landsat-util. Here’s a screen shot of their Libra image browser:

Esri has created a demonstration of how ArcGIS Online can quickly visualize Landsat data for visualization and analysis within the browser. Visit Esri’s site to see how powerful and beautiful Landsat data can be. Read the rest of this entry

Alex Tereshenkov

Programming and managing GIS

REDD+ for the Guiana Shield

Technical Cooperation Project

Dr. Qiusheng Wu @ University of Tennessee

Writing Science

How to write papers that get cited and proposals that get funded

GIS In Ecology

Providing Training, Advice And Consultation On The Use Of GIS In Ecology


On cities, land, ...


Open GIS: No Bounds

Scientia Plus Conscientia

Thoughts on Science and Nature


Learning hydrology with R

Karl Hennermann

GIS at the University of Manchester

GIS and Science

Applications of geospatial technology for scientific research and understanding.

Whitebox Geospatial Analysis Tools

Open-source GIS development and spatial analysis with Whitebox GAT


MATLAB-based software for topographic analysis

Anything Geospatial

Dr. Qiusheng Wu @ University of Tennessee

Dr. Qiusheng Wu @ University of Tennessee