Dangermond described the software strategy for ArcGIS 9.2 as focusing
on enhancing the desktop, strengthening and simplifying the
geodatabase, extending the server tools and enhancing the mobile
products.He noted 20 project teams working on different aspects of the
9.2 release.Some highlights from a long laundry list across the family
include the following.
Interoperability - In particular Dangermond highlighted semantic
interoperability, the ability to translate (or as he put it
"transliterate") between schemas.That, he offered, will allow
"different user views" of the same data.In the future, he expects that
will become a service.That is, you can upload your data to a service
and have it be translated to match another data structure, say that of
your state, to enhance local and national data infrastructures.
Cartography - One key idea is that individual features can have
multiple representations.That information will be stored in the
database just like other attributes.Cartographic
simplification/generalization will also be enhanced.
Sketching - A new sketching toolbar allows for redlining, but
also allows redlining of real geographic features.Dangermond
highlighted the use of this feature in planning and his discipline of
choice, landscape architecture.
Geoprocessing - There'll be enhanced support for large
databases, and more spatial analysis and statistics.One from the list
of note for me was random sampling.
Time - There are several new tools for managing, storing and
querying data relating to time.
Terrain - A new feature type will store multi-resolution terrain
surfaces.It will be valuable for managing LiDAR data in particular.
Imagery support - Look for dynamic ortho creation, support for
JPEG2000, ECW, and raster attribute tables (which drew applause).
ArcGIS Server will soon be able to serve "Globes," that is 3D data
services, which is "sexy." And while more ArcGIS functionality is
moving to ArcGIS Server, much of the work will be on making the Server
behave better in a traditional information technology.
ArcIMS hasn't had a "big upgrade" in a number of years, but it will
with 9.2.David Maguire, director of products and international,
explained that ArcIMS will be "modernized via .NET" and will sport a
new tool for developing websites, Designer.It's essentially a "wizard"
that walks you through the process of setting up a service.Both those
looking to produce a quick and easy service and those looking for a set
of code as a starting point will find it useful.
At the opening session, ESRI announcedImage
Server, a means to process and distribute raw imagery.A demo
illustrated data being radiometrically balanced, mosaicked and
pan-sharpened on the fly.The 8 TB database would have required 30 TB
to be preprocessed.Instead, the area of interest was processed when
needed.One particularly cool thing: since the server has the raw data,
it's possible to see orthos from another direction, that is, the other
side of the building.Dangermond noted the server as a paradigm change,
and commented that it would not compete with other ESRI or partner
products including desktop image analysis packages.
I got the backstory from one of the products developers.Originally
Server (pdf), Image Server was developed by Middle East ESRI
partner MAPS geosystems.The data can be stored either in flat files
(very fast) or in a database (not so fast, typically) depending on the
user's needs.Further it can serve up the data either via its own
streaming, HTML or via OGC's Web Map Service specification, WMS.For
the former, you need a client that "speaks the language." The good news
is that there are plugins for AutoCAD, MicroStation, GeoMedia, ArcGIS
and other products.For HMTL, just a web-browser can act as a client
and for WMS, any WMS client will work.
In other server news, there'll be an Oracle SQL API.David Maguire
explained what that means.First off, there are already ones for DB2
and Informix, both written by ESRI.But, there's already an SQL API for
Oracle, from Oracle, called Oracle Spatial.Recall that to make it,
Oracle created a new abstract type (one that's not integer, date, char,
etc., that databases already understand).ESRI will have its own.new
abstract type called the ESRI Spatial Type.The type itself is not that
important, Maguire was quick to point out, it's the fact that there's
an SQL API available to "put data in and get data out."
The API is built on ISO SQL and OGC's specs, so it only handles simple
features (points, lines and polygons).That may make it less appealing
to those doing high powered analysis with networks and the like.On the
other hand, it will be possible to move data into and out of Oracle
from ArcGIS, going around SDE, which may be appropriate for some users.
ESRI currently plans to package the API with ArcSDE.
Down the road, ESRI will implement an SQL API for Microsoft SQL Server.
That work depends on the 2005 release of the database, since it will be
the first to support abstract types.The implementation will be a bit
more complex than with Oracle, as ESRI will need to write its own index
for the new data type.
Services News ESRI announced some free ArcWeb Services, called Public Services.To
date, ArcWeb Services have been "pay for" services.But now ESRI offers
several (2D) for free for non-commercial use.The data is from National
Geographic, GlobeXplorer and TeleAtlas."Public Services provide
non-commercial and non-governmental publishers with an environment
permanently free of advertising." There' a .SOAP (NET/Java) API.3D
data will be available later this year.This announcement, it seems to
me, addresses current newly available services in the marketplace.
On the client side is ArcExplorer - a new ArcExplorer.ESRI is
"recycling the name" of its original viewer to reflect the movement of
GIS users from creators of geographic information (ArcInfo), viewers
and analyzers of it (ArcView) to explorers of it (ArcExplorer).Today,
Maguire suggests, casual or non-technical users want to ask a question
and get an answer, not fuse data or reproject it or run into "overhead"
while doing so.
ArcExplorer will be "free, simple, attractive and fun" and can tap into
data from ArcIMS, ArcGIS Server including Globe Server, OGC Web
Services and other sources.A demonstration showed taking 2D data out
to a globe for draping, then overlaying it on a globe, right in the
free viewer.Then, the user tagged locations with messages that could
be viewed by others.Next up: service area analysis.Said Dangermond,
"this is very significant" referring the fact that you could, with
ArcGIS server at the back end, do "very complicated analysis." His
intent, I feel sure, was to distinguish this offering from the consumer
ones currently available in the marketplace.
Expect a standalone .NET (Windows) version, an HTML versoin, Java
version and perhaps a mobile version.The first one is expected in
The new vision for a file based geodatabase was described as the next
shape file.But there are other new offerings, including a personal
version (free) and workgroup version (not so free geodatabase,
but not as much as ArcSDE).Each one comes with embedded SDE and
database.SDE is the solution for the enterprise.
Three Legs of the Stool
Depending on who you speak to at ESRI, you'll get a different answer to
the question, what's the key technology at 9.2? One respondent said
ArcExplorer and smart clients.Another said the servers and services.
The real answer, according to Maguire, is all of those: (1) servers
that create (2) services (data and processing) and (3) clients from
which to use them.