Serving KML with ArcGIS Server

ArcGIS applications are interoperable with clients that read and write Keyhole Markup Language (KML). KML is the Google Earth specification that describes geographic features and rasters in 2D and 3D. ArcGIS Server GIS serves content in KML.

The three primary steps to serve GIS data as a KML network link are

  1. Author maps using ArcGIS Desktop.
  2. Publish the service with enabled KML capabilities.
  3. Make the service available.

KML network links support both vector and raster elements and allow the consuming applications to request GIS data for a particular location as KML. This service-based approach is critical for serving high-resolution imagery, or data that needs to display in varying levels of detail, as the data that is applicable at one viewing distance is no longer useful at another. For vector elements that display at all resolutions, it may be just as effective to simply create a snapshot of the GIS data as a KML file using ArcGIS Desktop.

Authoring maps using ArcGIS Desktop

Layers created in ArcMap, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene are the primary mechanisms used in ArcGIS to prepare and deliver information using KML. You essentially author your map layers so that they support various KML capabilities. For ArcGIS Server, a map document is served as KML, so if 3D layers are authored in ArcGlobe or ArcScene, they must be copied into an ArcMap document before they can be served as a KML network link.

KML encapsulates the graphical display of GIS features and imagery, as well as the presentation of feature attributes and other descriptive information. All this information must be authored inside ArcGIS Desktop before creating the KML file. Some of the key properties to be defined include the layer's name, the layer's label expression, and the HTML pop-up presentation of attributes.

Learn more about preparing your map documents in ArcGIS for KML publishing

Publishing the service with enabled KML capabilities

Once you've created your map document, next publish it as a map service. The KML capability can be enabled for the map service. The capability is exposed for review through Manager or ArcCatalog.

Making the service available

Once the KML service is published, it is automatically enabled for Web access. An associated network link URL for the service is generated, and this allows the service to be added to KML client applications, such as ArcGIS Explorer, ArcGlobe, or Google Earth.


Consuming the KML service in ArcGIS Explorer

The process to add your KML service in ArcGIS Explorer is explained in the online ArcGIS Explorer Help. It will also guide you in more detail about working with KML or KMZ data.

Consuming the KML service in ArcGlobe

To view a KML service in ArcGlobe, click the Add KML Network Link button on the KML toolbar and enter the Network Link URL.

Learn more about the process for viewing your KML data or KML service in ArcGlobe

Consuming the KML service in Google Earth

To view a KML service in Google Earth, right-click My Places, click Add > Network Link, then type the network link URL.

The Google Earth help should be consulted for more details on adding KML content in Google Earth.