What's new for raster and image data in ArcGIS 10.1


New or improved support for data sources

Many new raster formats have been added to the list of ArcGIS supported raster datasets, and improved or added raster types for adding data to a mosaic dataset. See the list of supported raster data in ArcGIS.

More raster dataset formats

ArcGIS has added support for reading the following raster formats:

  • AIRSAR Polarimetric
  • CEOS SAR Image
  • Earth Resources Laboratory Applications Software (ELAS)
  • ENVISAT Image Product
  • Grid eXchange File
  • Heightfield raster (HF2)
  • Image Display and Analysis (IDA)
  • ILWIS raster map
  • MrSID Generation 4
  • MrSID Lidar
  • New Labelled USGS DOQ (DOQ2)
  • NOAA .gtx vertical datum shift
  • NOAA Polar Orbiter Level 1b Data Set (AVHRR)
  • PCI .aux Labelled Raw Format (PAux)
  • SAGA GIS Binary Grid
  • TerraSAR-X

Lidar support as raster data

LAS, LAS dataset, and terrain raster types are available, allowing you to create a mosaic dataset using lidar data. This is useful for display, management, and dissemination of these data sources. You can publish the data as an image service allowing clients and web applications to use the raster surfaces and allowing clients to download the source files from the image service.

Learn about lidar support in ArcGIS

More satellite imagery support

Improved support for RADARSAT-2 and SPOT 5 imagery, and added support for others. Added support for the community sensor model (CSM) and the pushbroom sensor model to help support more data and more analysis applications.

  • SPOT 5—By adding the XForm to support the pushbroom sensor, the spatial accuracy of the imagery is improved and the imagery can be orthorectified.
  • RADARSAT-2—Added raster type to fully support the dataset and the polarizations. Appropriate filters and radiometric calibrations can be applied based on the product type.
  • FORMOSAT-2—Added new raster type and new XForm to support orthorectification.
  • KOMPSAT-2—New raster type.

Made imagery easier to use and better to look at

One overarching enhancement to this release is the improvement to the usability of raster data in ArcGIS, which included creating new tools, reading more information, and improving the defaults for display.

Raster products

ArcGIS has a new way to handle specific vendor products, called raster products. These are designed to make it simpler to add these products to your map. A raster product is a raster dataset that uses metadata and header information to pre-create a raster layer from the raw data. One key difference is raster products have their own icon (Raster product icon) and when expanded in the catalog, they don't contain traditional raster dataset bands. Instead, they contain one or more derived raster datasets, such as a multispectral or pan-sharpened product, depending on the metadata and available bands.

Catalog view of raster product

These raster products can be used for display and can also be used with existing tools.

Learn about raster products

Key metadata

Key metadata is used to assist the application with some processing and rendering, including providing some useful information such as the band names associated with imagery. It is extracted from the file's metadata and is generally associated with a raster product (and NITF data), a mosaic dataset created using a product description, or for each raster within a mosaic dataset, added using specific raster types.

This information can be found on the Key Metadata tab on the Properties dialog box. Properties such as sensor name, product name, acquisition date, data type, cloud cover, sun information, sensor information, and wavelength is available, if it exists, in the metadata files.


ArcGIS has improved the default display of raster data. For starters, if a dataset doesn't have statistics—which are used to enhance the appearance—ArcGIS will generate them from a sampling of pixels in the dataset. Also, ArcGIS now applies rendering settings based on the raster properties and available metadata. The Source Type raster property is used to determine default rendering and display resampling—this property is also editable. For raster products or data with particular key metadata, the information is used to apply specific rendering to the data.

The Esri stretch method was added, which analyzes the statistics and histogram and applies a modified sigmoid stretch. This method is useful in providing a good overall stretch with imagery, by preventing pixel values from being stretched to the extreme. Because it isn't a linear stretch, you cannot use the new Interactive Histogram Stretch tool or apply a gamma adjustment.

Additions to the Image Analysis window

There are new tools on the Image Analysis window, including the Interactive Histogram Stretch tool Interactive Histogram Stretch and the Add Function button Add Function.

  • The Interactive Histogram Stretch allows you to interactively enhance the raster data in your map by adjusting the minimum and maximum range of values to which the stretch is applied.
  • Functions allow you to define processing that is applied to the raster data on the fly; therefore, they can be applied quickly without enduring the time to create a processed product on disk. Functions are organized within a function chain allowing you to create various processed products by chaining together multiple functions. They can be applied to various raster data, including raster datasets, mosaic datasets, and image services.

New or improved tools or capabilities

Many new tools and capabilities have been added to improve all aspects of working with raster data in ArcGIS: for analysis, display, management, and serving.

Image mensuration

The Image Analysis window provides a set of tools for image mensuration, including tools to measure point, distance, angle, height, perimeter, and area from an image (raster dataset or mosaic dataset) with sensor information (or geodata transformation).

Learn about mensuration

Geoprocessing additions

There are several new raster geoprocessing tools:

Many new tools have been updated with enhancements, and all core raster tools now accept a mosaic dataset as input, when applicable.


The Gram-Schmidt pan-sharpening method has been added. This is based on a general algorithm for vector orthogonalization-the Gram-Schmidt Orthogonalization. This algorithm takes in vectors (for example, 3 vectors in 3D space) that are not orthogonal in the beginning, and then rotates them so that they are orthogonal afterwards. In case of images, each band (panchromatic, red, green, blue, and infrared) corresponds to one high dimensional vector (#dimensions = #pixels).

Learn more about pan-sharpening

Additional raster function capabilities

Not only have new functions been added, but the usability of the functions has expanded.

New raster functions:

Improved georeferencing

The georeferencing user experience has been enhanced with new and improved tools that provide more capabilities and better workflows. For example,

  • An Auto Registration tool helps you automatically find links to georeference your image against a referenced image.
  • A new viewer window that allows you to display the data side by side makes image-to-image registration easier.
  • An Auto Complete option helps you identify control points between two raster datasets.
  • The link table is enhanced with new and improved tools to collect control points.
  • Images can be registered in pixel space.
  • An image service layer can be georeferenced.

See all the georeferencing tools.

Improvements to mosaic datasets

The workflows and tools for creating and editing mosaic datasets have been enhanced, including improved generation of seamlines and footprints, support for more raster types, additional properties, and tools to analyze the mosaic dataset for known errors or limitations.

Mosaic datasets are versioned. The following table describes how they are supported:


10.0 mosaic dataset

10.1 mosaic dataset


Full (read/modify/create)

Not supported



Full (read/modify/create)

You can upgrade a mosaic dataset to a higher version using the Upgrade Dataset tool.


The Build Seamlines tool has a new method that determines the optimum location of seamlines between images. Seamlines improve a mosaicked image by defining natural or less-obvious joins between images, such as along natural paths like rivers, or boundaries like grass and pavement, and not cutting across buildings. The tool will perform an analysis of overlapping images and determine the path for the seamlines where they will be least perceivable. Where necessary, the seamlines can be edited using the editing tools. Also, the pixels in the images along the seamlines can be blended to make the seamline less perceivable.


The Build Footprints tool can generate more accurate footprints to better represent the outline of the data.


The Mosaic Dataset Analyzer tool examines your mosaic dataset to look for commonly known anomalies and report them as errors and warnings along with suggestions to resolve problems and optimize performance. Individual items are analyzed to check for invalid parameters or incorrectly constructed function chains. The tool also performs visibility analysis on the mosaic dataset, checks validity of overviews, and makes general recommendations to improve the performance if the dataset is published.


The Synchronize Mosaic Dataset tool has had many new parameters added to improve the capabilities of the tool. For example, you can choose to update specific fields and build a cache for any LAS items in the mosaic dataset.


Support for additional properties in all raster data has improved, such as the addition of the key metadata highlighted earlier. Like the raster product support, you can define a mosaic dataset product definition. The product definition allows you to customize the mosaic dataset to contain data with a specific number of bands and wavelengths, such as a three-band natural color mosaic dataset or QuickBird dataset. The product definition controls how the data is added to the mosaic dataset, how it displays by default, and aids in some processing.

Learn about the product definition

There are also new mosaic dataset properties, including the cell-size tolerance factor, blend width, and an option to clip or not clip the data to the boundary.


Publishing a service has changed, for example, the ability to analyze data before publishing and creating service definitions to publish your data and maps. You should review the What's New information for ArcGIS for Server and review the steps to publish image services. But, beyond these changes, image services have many improved functionalities.

New publishing steps

The steps to publish an image service have changed, including adding the step to analyze your data before it is published. This identifies a number of commonly known errors and warnings and provides suggestions to optimize the image service.

Server-side processing

More server-side processing is allowed. Now, one or more functions (in a function chain) can be defined in a raster function template, which can be published with the image service. This function chain is exposed through SOAP or REST APIs that can be consumed by web clients.


Image services can be cached directly, like a map service.


Clients can edit image services, if the permissions are granted, giving them the ability to do the following:

  • Add rasters to an image service. The source raster data is uploaded to the server and added to the mosaic dataset.
  • Update raster attributes in an image service.
  • Delete a raster item within an image service.


The image services can have attribute tables, color maps, and histograms. This allows more rendering options when sharing your raster data.

REST enhancements

The image service REST API exposes new resources, including Tile, Attribute Table, Colormap, Histograms, and Metadata. It also exposes new operations, including add rasters, update rasters, delete rasters, mensuration, and compute histograms.


This isn't image service specific, but it's useful information, since some image services have intensive processing that utilizes the processing cores of the servers.

By default, every ArcGIS for Server site has one cluster. If you have multiple server machines, you can configure them to operate in a cluster. Each cluster can be configured to run a dedicated set of services. You can identify the cluster on the service parameters when publishing or creating service definition.

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