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Mapping and GIS

A guide to mapping resources, including GIS (geographic information systems), at the UNT Libraries and on the Internet. The guide also provides links to geospatial and other data that can be downloaded and mapped.

ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop is a robust geographic information system that allows users to display and analyze geographic and spatial data using a variety of tools. ArcGIS contains many basemaps and community-contributed maps to enrich maps displaying your data. The Other Datasets tab in this LibGuide has links to data clearinghouses where you can download GIS data to get you started. You can also search for data in the Library catalog under the Databases tab. Learn more about ArcGIS on the ESRI (Envionrmental Science Research Institute) website.

ArcGIS is a package of mapping software programs and is available on all student-access PCs at each UNT Library location. Go to the Start menu and then look for the ArcGIS folder. Within this folder, you will see several applications: 

ArcMap 10.x is the "flagship" mapping program where most of your mapping, analysis and modeling needs will be completed. A video series on essential ArcGIS elements can be found here: ArcGIS Essential Training.

ArcCatalog is a handy program to use because it helps you organize your GIS files. Two file management benefits that ArcCatalog specializes in are:

  1. Since shapefiles have multiple file extensions that, when packaged together, make one shapefile, ArcCatalog allows you to view each shapefile grouping as one file. 
  2. Geodatabases cannot be edited using Windows Explorer or My Computer, but can be in ArcCatalog.

ArcGlobe and ArcScene both utilize 3D perspective natively. ArcGlobe is ESRI's "version" of GoogleEarth. ArcScene is good for visualizing data that contains significant elevation information (e.g., a stream channel or the skyline of New York City).

ArcGIS for Desktop Help is an offline version of the online help that you can find here. The Help pages are quite helpful for answering quick questions about a tool, analysis method or data compatibility. GIS Tutorial 1 & 2 and GIS Tutorial 3 are available for use at Eagle Commons Library and are located in the Reference section.

ArcGIS Pro is the new Esri software that helps you create, manage and share geographic maps, data and perform analysis. Here is a basic tutorial/info page to help get you acquainted. Lynda.com has a ~4 hour video introduction to ArcGIS Pro entitled ArcGIS Pro Essential Training.

ArcGIS in all of its constituent parts supports the Python programming language using the ArcPy module. GIS Tutorial for Python Scripting and Python Scripting for GIS are available for use at the Eagle Commons Library. Python can automate repetitive analytical tasks or take an out-of-the-box functionality and make it customized to fit your needs.​ ModelBuilder comes with ArcGIS - it is Esri's "visual programming" environment where you can drag and drop tools to create an automated process without needing any coding knowledge. Getting to Know ArcGIS ModelBuilder may be of interest for those who do not want to get into full-blown programming.

Remote Sensing

If these false-color infrared images pique your interest at all, then you should consider taking a closer look at some of the GIS-related courses the Geography Department offers. Some of their labs offer robust orthoimagery analysis software, such as ERDAS Imagine or ENVI. Please note: the Library currently does not have access to these software packages.

Additional ArcGIS Software

ArcGIS Online takes the most commonly used functionality from Desktop and puts it into your browser (e.g., Chrome) so you can easily create and share your data without having to install additional software. The basic version of ArcGIS Online is free and you can set up an account here. UNT Libraries does have an ArcGIS Online Organizational account available for limited use - please contact your GIS Librarian for more information. If using Web App Builder, this website has a few additional tools that might be helpful. For an introduction to Web GIS capabilities/tutorial, check out Getting to Know Web GIS.

To extend the capabilities of the ArcGIS Online Organizational account, the UNT Libraries also has two optional packages:

  1. Community Analyst - up-to-date demographic and tapestry data that can be easily searched to answer a variety of questions (see image below for an example)
  2. Business Analyst - similar to Community Analyst, except with a focus on businesses and marketing potential

This screen capture illustrates the results of a SmartSearch in Community Analyst to highlight areas with high rates of diabetes, obesity, no car ownership and high percentages of poverty that could be used to identify areas that could benefit from community assistance programs:

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