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Using ArcGIS display technologies to perform common display tasks (ArcObjects .NET 10.8 SDK)
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Using ArcGIS display technologies to perform common display tasks

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Deciding which ArcGIS display technologies to use

ArcGIS offers several technologies that can be used to display geographic and non-geographic content in ArcGIS applications or in a custom ArcGIS Engine application. As you construct your application, it is important to understand the pros and cons of each technology, then choose the most appropriate one for your application. 
This topic focuses on the main ArcGIS display technologies and situations where you might want to use them for a specific application.

Standard display

ArcGIS standard display is the basic display offered in ArcMap, ArcReader, and ArcGIS Engine applications. The standard display offers a full range of display capabilities and has the broadest compatibility with maps and map layers. However, because it has no limitations on content, the performance of the standard display is directly related to data sources, symbology options, and other properties of the map in question. 
Understanding standard display provides a firm foundation when developing any ArcGIS application, and it is the basis for the advanced display technologies discussed later in this topic. For more information about ArcMap's standard display, see the Display library overview.

Basemap layer

Basemap layers are a user- or developer-specified group of layers that offers continuous panning and zooming in ArcMap, ArcReader (via previously authored Published Map Files [PMFs]), and ArcGIS Engine applications. 
Basemap layers act like group layers; therefore, they are easy to create and manage for developers and users. Since they are drawn with an asynchronous, multi-threaded drawing engine, they can provide good display performance and interactivity with a minimal amount of coding.
Basemap layers can use hardware acceleration, but they can also be used in remote desktop sessions if needed. However, basemap layers do not support all layer types in ArcMap and layers in the basemap layer cannot participate in an editing session. Also, basemap layers use in-memory and disk caches to improve performance, so their resource consumption is higher than a normal group layer.
As implied by their name, basemap layers are most suitable for use in providing a basemap for your operational data. A common application for basemap layers would be displaying a city basemap with complex symbology and rich annotation that is used as a background reference for operational layers, such as transit stops or points of interest. Since the basemap draws continuously as your user pans and zooms, they can easily locate geographic locales without having to stop and wait for a redraw.


The RasterBasemapLayer is a special case of the basemap layer designed specifically for Image Analysis workflows. By using a special drawing cache that displays a raster at lower resolutions first, then the full resolution as it is loaded, the RasterBasemapLayer can achieve near-seamless panning of a raster dataset.
Because of this special additional drawing cache, the RasterBasemapLayer is resource-intensive. For this reason, limit the number of RasterBasemapLayers in use in any given map. This is the same technology that is used to implement the Accelerated Raster layer in ArcMap's Image Analysis window.
RasterBasemapLayers can be used to implement an application for viewing different raster layers, for example, comparing newly obtained orthophotography for a region against existing data. 
For more information on how to work with the BasemapLayer or RasterBasemapLayer, see Creating and working with basemap layers.


A GraphicTracker allows you to easily draw dynamic or animated items on a map or globe. A GraphicTracker is not a replacement for standard or dynamic display. It works in conjunction with other display technologies to deliver animation of symbology and features with a minimum amount of coding. 
Because the refresh of GraphicTrackers is handled automatically as you update the symbology or position of each track, you do not have to handle the details of calling refresh on a region or a specific drawing phase.
A common application for the GraphicTracker would be to display animated content on top of a rich basemap using the BasemapLayer or dynamic display technologies. An example of this would be an application that plots weather data from a Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feed on top of a rich topological map, such as the World Topographic map from  
For more information on how to use GraphicTrackers, see Using a GraphicTracker.

Dynamic display

Dynamic display overrides the standard display system to use the system's graphic hardware to quickly draw content to the screen. The key to effectively use dynamic display is that the content must be pre-computed to get maximum performance, and the system must contain graphic hardware that is compatible.
Because dynamic display is hardware-dependent, it should not be used in a remote desktop or Citrix session. Also, because at its core, Dynamic Display utilizes the standard display to create the tiles it displays, complex symbology or large numbers of layers can make a big difference in performance. However, if your content is already rasterized (for example, orthophotos), dynamic display can perform well even on hardware constrained systems that have a compatible graphic card.
A common application for dynamic display would be displaying a large number of points animated using a GraphicTracker atop a mosaic dataset containing aerial imagery. Because the content the dynamic display is working with is already rasterized and is only a single layer, it can display this content quickly, and with smooth panning and zooming.
For more information on using dynamic display in your application, see Dynamic display.

Development licensing Deployment licensing
ArcReader ArcReader
ArcGIS for Desktop Basic ArcGIS for Desktop Basic
ArcGIS for Desktop Standard ArcGIS for Desktop Standard
ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced
Engine Developer Kit Engine