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Changes to ArcGIS and Bing Maps

If you are like me, you often use Esri’s online Base Maps as a starting point for many maps and projects. These base maps have included online services provided by Esri and Microsoft BING. Access to these services have provided a time and cost saving method to get new projects started by provide foundational data layers.


BingMapsAerial – Image courtesy of USGS © 2013 Microsoft Corporation

When Esri released ArcGIS 10.1, it had to make some changes to how Bing Maps worked within ArcGIS. This was due to a licensing change between Esri and Microsoft which requires the Bing Maps logo to appear on all maps that consume Bing Map services. The Bing logo draws on top of all layer to ensure it will be visible no matter what layers are in the map. This may adversely affect the map when it is exported or even printed because all layers are automatically rasterized on export. Possible issues can include:PDF with Bing Imagery created in ArcGIS 10.1

  1. Data hidden by Bing Logo
  2. Blurry data or map
  3. If  “Include Layers” option is selected during PDF export, everything is  placed on single raster layer

This is a known issue but there is not much Esri can do because to the new license agreement with Bing. Recommended fix or work around is to use your own base maps or one of the other Esri online base maps.

On Friday, January 18, 2013, Esri announced further changes using Bing Maps in ArcGIS including ArcGIS Online. Starting February 28, complimentary use of Bing Maps with ArcGIS will begin to be phased out. The plan is to have the phase out complete by September 30, 2013. ArcGIS will still continue to be Bing Map ready. You will need to acquire your own product key from Microsoft.

So what impact will this have on the use of Bing Maps in ArcGIS? If you don’t get a product key from Microsoft, you will not be able to use Bing Maps within ArcGIS. This will include Desktop, Server, Mobile and ArcGIS Online. For Desktop users the full impact will also be determined by the version you are running. ArcGIS 10 and 10.1 users will need to install a patch in order to input their Microsoft key. This patch is scheduled for release sometime in the 1st Quarter of this year. ArcGIS 9.3.1 or earlier will no longer be able to use Bing Maps even with a key. You will have to upgrade to 10 or 10.1.

Esri Basemaps

Esri Basemaps

ArcGIS Online users will also feel the bit of this change. Those with ArcGIS Online Subscriptions will be able to use a product key from Microsoft if they wish to continue using Bing Maps with web maps published from ArcGIS Online. Personal ArcGIS Online Accounts will no longer support Bing Maps even with a product key at least as it stands now.Of course Esri does provide many other base maps to choose from including their World Imagery service. The World Imagery services is updated frequently using data from DigiGlobe. Esri recently added 50 TB of new imagery to this service so it might provide a viable alternative to Bing Maps.

Esri is working to further enhance the World Imagery service with even more new and higher detail aerials. They are also working to expand other base maps to further increase the usefulness and value they can provide. So the long and short is all is not lost. While these new changes will certainly impact user experiences, there are alternatives.


Tripp Corbin, GISP
eGIS Associates, Inc.
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© 2013 eGIS Associates, Inc.