ESRI UC 2000: Technical Workshops Begin

By Bill Huber

The ESRI User Conference began its technical workshops Tuesday with a session on ArcInfo 8 and ArcView GIS 8 for Developers.There was no standing room left.People lined the back wall, both side walls, and occupied the floor behind the seats.

Jeff Jackson led the session.The point, he began, is that with the new ArcMap, GIS developers can embed GIS components in their applications. "With ArcView if you saw something you liked, you were out of luck.You could only deliver a map." Now you can deliver almost any piece of ESRI's GIS functionality, seamlessly embedded within another application.

Some of the technical points have important ramifications for all users. "Arc 8 [itself] is a series of extensions," says Jackson.Developers therefore are in the same position as ESRI.They can now have the same access to underlying functions to create new GIS applications."You can build extensions--customizations--that are way better than the stuff we're doing.It's a real significant thing, exciting for the end user." It means that the clunky avx architecture of ArcView is out and that third party developers can provide the same quality and rich functionality in their products that ESRI provides with the base Arc products.

Attendees were concerned with the distinction between ArcInfo and ArcView. "ArcInfo 8.1 is ArcMap.ArcView is ArcMap," said Jackson.The component libraries for ArcInfo 8 and ArcView are the same.Developers will be able to use the same code with both products.

(Why pay about ten times more for ArcInfo then? For the extra functions: coverage editing, geodatabase editing of "non-simple features," and data conversion.)

However, pricing and licensing are still evolving."Using a component ties up a license.Currently, the minimum seat is an ArcView seat." This means at present, applications developed with an ArcMap component will cost at least as much as ArcView--typically $1000 street.Jackson indicates that a MapObjects-like pricing structure, apparently reducing component costs, may be in the near future.

A lot of GIS developers presently write extensions to ArcView 3.2. Jackson's illustrations with VBA (shipped with ArcMap) look a lot like developing with ArcView's Dialog Designer.A developer writes code to do something and then ties it to events, such as selection of geographic features.The learning curve will be steep but it looks like programmers with Dialog Designer experience may become productive quickly.

--Bill Huber
San Diego, June 27, 2000

Published Wednesday, June 28th, 2000

Written by Bill Huber

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