Evaluation of ESRI 3D Analyst

June 1999


3D Analyst ($2500) is a set of 3D extensions to ESRI's ArcView ($1000), the dominant GIS application.

Things that ArcView with 3DAnalyst can do:

I was able to import a USGS 1-degree DEM and display it, flat-shaded with color by elevation:

3da-shot1.jpg (90739 bytes)

I was able to import a USGS 30-meter DEM and used a non-ESRI utility to import a DLG-O road map.  I could then drape the road vectors on the terrain, and color them by attribute:

3da-shot2.jpg (134529 bytes)

I was able to convert a regular grid to a TIN with no trouble.  However, the TIN was not only less attractive, but actually much slower to render, defeating the purpose of generating an 'optimized' surface:

3da-shot3.jpg (66105 bytes) 3da-shot4.jpg (59137 bytes)

I'm still trying to drape an image on a terrain.  It seems to be supported, but there is no example showing how to apply an arbitrary bitmap to an elevation (or vice-versa).

Things that ArcView/3DAnalyst does not do:

Given all these problems and limitations, i wouldn't recommend ArcView/3D Analyst for any virtual terrain work.

Detail Notes...