running a series of full
day seminars around the country and world to introduce users to
ArcGIS 9.2. The morning of the event in Boston focused on products,
specifically ArcGIS desktop and ArcGIS server. The afternoon (which I
was unable to attend) focused on technology that spans the ArcGIS
family (cartography, visualization, etc.)
ESRI is providing a wealth of in-person and online introductions, along
with white papers, articles and other documents about ArcGIS 9.2 so
there's no need for me to repeat that material here. What I do want to
share are some themes, key questions and software features covered in
Themes Authoring.ArcGIS desktop, which for many
has been the platform on which we "do" GIS, is now more than that. It's
now also "an authoring tool." It's the tool for pulling together,
managing, editing and rendering data as well as authoring models and
other things that can be published to a variety of targets: the Web,
mobile devices, new document types (pdf), ArcReader, etc.
Open. ESRI has made it clear that this release supports more
standards (GIS, IT, data models) than ever before. It supports
(read/write) more file types (some via add-on extensions) than ever
before and renders them in more ways than ever before.
Consolidation. Several related features/technologies that in
the past were offered in separate products are now together. ArcSDE is
"part of" ArcGIS server. The ability to publish an OGC Web Map Service
is "part of ArcGIS server." I think this is a wise move for ESRI. Fewer
products are easier to sell and frankly, easier for users to manage.
Developers and End-users. While ESRI continues to grow its list
of partners who enhance the software with add-ons, or use it as the
basis for vertical applications, much of the focus of ArcGIS Server and
ArcIMS for that matter, is to make them useful and usable by end-users.
Graphical interfaces and wizards mean that those who use ArcGIS desktop
are empowered to publish data and services via ArcGIS Server without
tapping an IT expert.
Key Questions Timing. ArcGIS is expected to ship in bulk to users up-to-date
on maintenance in mid-November. That will include the availability of
ArcGIS Explorer (in the package and for download online). The beta
ArcGIS Desktop software demonstrated did alas suffer from a few
glitches which the presenter good naturedly worked around and explained
afterward for clarification.
Licensing. ArcGIS desktop licensing remains the same with
ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo "levels." ArcGIS Server comes in three
flavors distinguished by "power" and "capacity." On the power side,
there is basic, standard and advanced. The first includes data
management and basic service publishing, but no map publishing.
Standard adds map and globe publishing as well as some geoprocessing
(Network Analyst can be used at this level). ArcGIS Server Advanced
adds editing and support for mobile devices along with more
geoprocessing. On the capacity side there is workgroup for small shops
(limit of 10 users, 4 GB of data and 1 GB of RAM, Windows only, built
on SQL Server Express) and enterprise for large ones (unlimited users,
data size, multiple databases supported, multiple operating systems).
Features Help. The help for ArcGIS desktop has been 75% rewritten and
new features have been added. The help system remembers where you last
looked at the help and recalls your last searches. There is not only
text help, but also videos to illustrate workflows, sort of a "best
practices" offering. To get a head start, you can look at a draft
of the help online.
Tables. Tools to change the look and feel of tables make it
possible to rename columns with ease, make fields wider and taller to
fit text, change fonts, etc. And, it's easy to print those tables.
Excel. Support for Excel spreadsheets means there's no need for
ODBC connections to access data stored in workbooks. Changes to
workbooks in Excel are reflected in ArcGIS, but of course, only one
program can edit a workbook at a time.
Smarter Measure Tool. The measure tool is now a free floating
box that includes linear and area measures. The tools now "snap" to
vertices as needed for more accurate values.
GoToXY. Key in coordinates (lat/long, MGRS, National Grid, and
others) and zoom to them on the map. Simple but valuable!
Solar Radiation in Spatial Analyst. Many types of analysis
(landscape design, building solar housesï¿1⁄2) require knowing where the
sun is and how much heat/light reaches different parts of the world.
That data and the tools to use them are available as part of Spatial
Analyst Solar Radiation tools.
PDF. It's easy to write out a PDF of a map from ArcGIS desktop.
The recipient who opens it in Adobe Reader can now turn layers on and
CAD. There are two big innovations for CAD. First, the
georeferencing tools that are used for images can now be used for CAD
files. Second, there's an option to display the CAD file "just like" it
appears in the CAD program, complete with line types, colors etc.
Viewer Windows. The presentation was made much easier to see by
those of us in the audience because the presenter used the magnifier
window. He used it to "blow up" small options on dialogs or details on
the map. It's also possible to open a "regular" (non-magnifying) window
and use it while working with any ArcGIS tools. It was particularly
handy when georeferencing a CAD file.
Share bookmarks in My Places. Saved bookmarks date back to
ArcView 2 (I believe). Now, they can be saved in My Places and applied
to multiple MXD files.
Publish and Consume Data Services. ArcGIS Server is indeed a
server that can publish any data ArcGIS desktop can consume. But it can
also republish other services (also called service chaining). That is,
it's possible to use a Web Map Service (WMS) or a KML (Keyhole Markup
Language) as an input to ArcGIS Server and publish it out again as part
of a new service.
Many of these enhancements and others are illustrated in short
flash videos on the ESRI website. The audience in Boston seemed
very pleased with the new features and were thinking ahead as to how to
implement and use ArcGIS Server in their work.