So ESRI ArcGIS Explorer is also opting for the soft launch — either that, or it is putting its trust in security through obscurity, which in the age of blogs is rather optimistic. James Fee shows the way: Follow this link to the download, though you will first need to set up an “ESRI Global Account”, which I did without problems or needing to use credit card info.
First impressions of ArcGIS Explorer? Hmm:
I guess I had taken it for granted that in virtual globes text info would simply face me, especially as both Google Earth and NASA World Wind manage to do it, and since the whole point of having a virtual globe is that you get to choose the perspective. But now Microsoft Virtual Earth and all the “globes” I’ve tried in ArcGIS Explorer put their labels in rasterized layers that assume you’re facing North and looking straight down at the ground.
Imagine if that’s how Second Life worked with labels and such — always horizontal, facing North. You’d go bonkers. Instead, they face you. Why would information dissemination on a virtual globe be any different? Either because it is difficult to do, or because old thinking about maps continues to dominate the new technologies for viewing geospatial information. A virtual globe, just like a virtual world, should be about you.
I haven’t had the time to get much more of an impression of ArcGIS Explorer, so that will have to wait for another post. Data loads relatively slowly at the moment (maybe because servers are still not ramped up) and navigating across the poles is equally screwy as in Virtual Earth (and, BTW, NASA World Wind.) People, there is nothing special about the poles. Why can’t I drag myself across them? Planes do it all the time in real life.