We just rolled out a new Beta version of Arc2Earth Sync, all current users will be updated automatically. New users can get the latest version by signing up for the beta here. There was a lot of bug and feature fixes in this build but we also added some fairly major functionality as well.
First, we overhauled how Table Providers are used by the desktop client. The original design had assumed a user would choose a provider (Fusion Tables, Earth Builder CartoDB etc) and use that exclusively for all of their work. However, what we found was users wanted to mix and match tables from different locations or accounts. So, in this version, there is still a default provider (Google Fusion Tables) that needs to be authorized on setup but there is a also a new “Connect” button that allows you to add any number of other providers as well.
Second, and the primary reason for this post, is the addition of the CartoDB provider in the beta. CartoDB is an excellent GIS cloud service, a lot like Fusion Tables except more power is exposed to the user. Under the hood, CartoDB is PostGIS, portions of TileMill and a lot of extra code to host your data and expose it via SQL and Map Tile APIs
By adding a CartoDB Provider to Sync, we make it available directly in ArcGIS. You can edit the points/lines/polygons in ArcMap and watch as it changes in the online CartoDb tables (and map tiles). We also allow it to work with other services like ArcGIS.com or any of it’s online APIs and applications.
One other item of note in this provider, its the first one to take advantage of Sync’s ability to translate ArcGIS renderers and symbols into other formats that can be used to draw maps outside of ArcGIS. In CartoDB’s case, that other format is Carto from DevelopmentSeed (the makers of MapBox/TileMill ). Carto is an excellent format for map symbology/labels and is drawn via the excellent Mapnik graphics library, so the results are visually beautiful.
In CartoDB, Carto is used as the custom format for styling and labeling any of your tables. Sync will translate the symbols used in any simple, uniquevalue or classbreaks renderer in ArcMap, into the appropriate css attributes. What’s better is that Carto supports “attachments”, or the ability to apply multi-pass rendering of different drawing attributes to the same feature on the map. The best example of this is drawing streets, one wide line is drawn as the outline while a second smaller stroke is applied over the top (after all of the features have been drawn). This makes for a smooth transition and visually appealing linework. ArcGIS has a very large set of symbols that use multiple levels to achieve the desired result, Sync will translate all of these into the appropriate “attachment” for the style. It will then upload the style when it detects a change, keeping your online map looking just the way you want it (note – this can be optionally turned off)
Here’s some sample multi-layer line symbols from the standard ArcGIS style gallery applied to a CartoDB based table. You can see the levels, colors, dash-arrays and x/y offsets are all applied correctly to the Carto CSS attributes. There is a limit to what can be translated but it seems to be the best correlation between ArcGIS symbols and another format that we’ve run into so far.
And here’s the live result up on cartoDB
There is currently a known issue on CartoDB that prevents url-based images to be used in a carto stylesheet, however, when this is fixed, all of your ArcGIS markers, marker lines and marker fills should work as expected. Many of our users have complained that Fusion Tables does not support custom markers for symbols (an issue Google is working on) so I’m hoping the CartoDB folks get this worked out asap
CartoDB is a great service with flexible pricing, give it a try for free and see if its a good fit.