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Documentation

  • The Getting Started with Virtual Fairfax document is a quick start guide designed to enable new users to swiftly begin their exploration in Virtual Fairfax.
  • The Installation Guide will lead users through the process of downloading and installing the TerraExplorer 6.6.1 plugin that is necessary to use Virtual Fairfax.
  • A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) have been placed at the bottom of this page. If a question you have is not answered by this list, please see the contact information section about sending an email.

System Requirements

A downloadable plugin (TerraExplorer 6.6.1) is required to use the Virtual Fairfax application. TerraExplorer 6.6.1 is a sophisticated 3-D GIS desktop viewer produced by Skyline Software Systems Inc and is only available on Windows operating systems. Full system requirements are detailed below. It is understood that the Windows OS and hardware requirements makes it difficult for some, however Virtual Fairfax will expand to more platforms once the technology allows it.

Previous users of Virtual Fairfax that had used versions of the plugin lower than 6.6.1 need to upgrade the TerraExplorer 6.6.1. Please follow the instructions in the Installation Guide for uninstalling previous versions before downloading and installing 6.6.1. Once installed, please click the launch button to enter Virtual Fairfax.

  • Operating System: Windows® XP / Vista / 7/ 8/ 10. 64 bit is strongly recommended. Unfortunately, MacOS is not currently supported.
  • System Memory: 1GB of RAM (4 GB or more recommended).
  • Video Card: 256MB of video memory (1024 MB or more recommended). Pixel and vertex shader v3.0 and vertex shader v3.0 is required for the display of dynamic water effects, animated cloud map, and sky texture.
  • Processor: Pentium Dual-Core or equivalent.
  • Internet Connection: Broadband connection.
  • Browser: Microsoft Internet Explorer 10 or higher. Other browsers will work with a slightly different experience.

Data Disclaimer

The geographic data contained in Virtual Fairfax is NOT to be construed or used as a “legal description”.  Virtual Fairfax does not contain survey data.  Any determination of topography or contours, or any depiction of physical improvements, property lines or boundaries is for general information only and shall not be used for the design, modification, or construction of improvements to real property or for flood plain determination.  While Fairfax County strives to provide the best data possible, it does not provide any guarantee of accuracy or completeness regarding the map information.  Any errors or omissions should be reported to the Fairfax County Geographic Information Systems and Mapping Services Branch of the Department of Information Technology.  In no event will Fairfax County be liable for any damages, including but not limited to loss of data, lost profits, business interruption, loss of business information or any other pecuniary loss that might arise from the use of this application or information it contains.

Contact Information

Questions about Virtual Fairfax may be sent to DITVirtual-Fairfax@fairfaxcounty.gov. The developers of Virtual Fairfax are also interested in hearing ideas for new features and changes in future versions of the application.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


A list of frequently asked questions (and answers) will be posted soon. The developers of Virtual Fairfax are waiting for feedback to determine which questions to include. If there is a question that which you wish was included, please send it to DITVirtual-Fairfax@fairfaxcounty.gov.

System Requirements

Your computer or network security settings may prevent you from installing the plug-in. You may need to use an administrator login to complete the installation.  Additionally, this plug-in is only designed to work on MS Windows operating systems (XP, Vista, 7, 8, 10) and may not install in other operating systems.

Yes, as long as the license is valid and recognized.

The TerraExplorer plug-in that is necessary to run Virtual Fairfax is not currently available for these other operating systems.  Future updates to TerraExplorer may change this condition.

Data

The aerial imagery was captured in spring of 2013, but is not scheduled to be updated until 2017. The 3-D models were captured from 2013 oblique aerial imagery and will be updated with additional buildings as funding and needs arise. The 2-D layers of address points, parcels, and roads are updated weekly..

The building wireframes and textured imagery on their facades were created from oblique (taken at an angle) aerial imagery captured in 2013 by the Pictometry International Corporation. With many overlapping images of buildings from multiple angles, computer algorithms were able to construct accurate models of the buildings in 3-D using processes similar to triangulation. Images from the aerial imagery are then wrapped around the wireframes. Technicians further refine the buildings to add details and ensure integrity.

The creation of detailed 3-D building models is an expensive and time-consuming process. Fairfax County has focused its limited resources on commercial areas that are likely to experience significant commercial development and a few other areas of interest. See a map of all areas that have buildings modeled in 3-D.

The ground imagery was captured from an airplane in spring of 2015.

Searching

You may search for any valid Fairfax County address, FCPS school, Fairfax County Park, and a variety of other types of locations like cemeteries, churches, post offices, shopping centers, etc.

There are a variety of reasons for an unsuccessful search:

  1. A wrong spelling
  2. The searched address may not be in Fairfax County
  3. Missing or wrong data in the application

Using Virtual Fairfax

For a brief introduction to Virtual Fairfax, a Quick Start guide is available. For topics not included in the quick start guide, use the interactive help Help button form the Home tab on the toolbar.

Make sure that you are in an area of the County that has 3-D buildings. Because of the time required to download and render the very rich 3-D data, it may take a few moments for the buildings to appear. It may also help to move the map a bit to force a redraw. If you are still unable to see buildings, it may be because:

  1. Your computer and/or network connection may not be of sufficient specifications to properly render the 3-D buildings.
  2. A firewall or other security setting on your computer or network may be preventing the download of the building models.
  3. A communication problem between servers or over the network may prevent buildings from downloading.

The 3-D building models are very rich in data that must be downloaded from the internet and rendered on your computer.  This requires significant network and video processing resources, and some computers may strain under this load, causing slow performance.

Ensure that the desired layer is turned on ("checked") in the left-hand blue panel.  It is also possible that you are zoomed too far away from the data features; try zooming a bit closer (within a few kilometers) to see if the layer draws.  2-D layers may take a bit of time to download and draw.   If you still do not see the layer after waiting, you may also try to navigate or zoom slightly to force the layer to draw.

Refreshing the web page may fix this issue.  The problem, however, is likely due to a network communication problem that must be resolved before Virtual Fairfax will work properly.

To unfreeze the application you may hit the refresh button on your browser, or failing that, restart the web browser and navigate back to Virtual Fairfax.

Yes. After creating a drawing object from the Draw tab on the toolbar, you may use the “Select” tool from the same tab to click the drawing object and edit its properties.

The 3-D buildings layer may obscure address point icons.  If you are unable to click the address point in an area where 3-D buildings exist, temporarily turn off the 3-D building layer by unchecking the box next to it in the left-hand blue panel.

This movement, "throwing", is a feature of navigating in Virtual Fairfax. If you wish to stop this motion, you right-click on the map and select "Stop".

Please send all comments and questions to DITVirtual-Fairfax@fairfaxcounty.gov.

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