ESRI’s ArcGIS 9.3 - Overview of Enhancements

By Joe Francica

Ed. note: This article was slightly modified after it was published to clarify how the release of ArcGIS 9.3 is being handled by ESRI.

ArcGIS 9.3 is preceded by a series of service packs for ArcGIS 9.2 with emphasis on refining and improving workflows; the bulk of the product is to be released next year. ArcGIS 9.3 will include ways to improve "geographic science" such as using Gaussian geostatistical simulation and rich error messaging, and improving mapping and labeling, scripting, modeling, and WYSIWYG graphic editing. Below are some of the additions shared during the ESRI User Conference.

Label placement for contour maps will better match what users of USGS quad sheets expect. In particular, the contour elevation labels appear on the major contour intervals and do not overprint the line work. The new release introduces WYSIWYG editing for line work and improvements will be made to street number placement, support for Asian language characters, multiple view windows, labeling on 3D services, the speed of import of Web services, tracking in 3D, textured COLLADA and schematic diagramming.

ArcGIS Server
ESRI believes that CIOs are increasingly dealing with GIS and that server-based GIS is used in most major cities around the world. Key priorities focus on the high bar set by IT departments, including systems that are:
  1. reliable and recoverable
  2. interoperable and scalable
  3. highly secure
  4. deployable to the non-GIS specialist
Key enhancements for ArcGIS Server include:
  1. printing updates to enhance graphic output, also known as "pretty maps"
  2. map tips that provide "mouse over" access to attributes
  3. support for Web Feature Service (WFS), Web Coverage Service (WCS) for raster, Simple Feature KML and GML
  4. spatial data management and cartographic capabilities for AutoCAD users with the new product "ArcGIS for AutoCAD" which is available now in ArcGIS 9.2
  5. REST API and Java Script API support
  6. caching to enhance Web application performance
  7. security for Web applications and services, allowing users access based on Windows authentication
  8. support for PostgreSQL, Oracle Express and DB2 (z/OS)
  9. a mobile client built on the Windows Mobile platform
ArcGIS Explorer is now available and is delivered as a free client with ArcGIS Server.

ArcGIS online, ESRI's Web data repository, continues to grow with more data additions.

There will be a number of functionality enhancements to the geoprocessing framework in ArcGIS 9.3.

There will be new business graphs and charts including matrix scatter plots that reveal data characteristics. Scatter plots show slices of different correlations (disposable income, age, ethnicity, race, etc.). The plots are interactive such that each data theme can be selected to graph on a map. A user can select a chart type, draw a box around a group of points on the plot, and have that specific set of data points displayed on the map. Regression analysis will allow users to look at the correlation between data. Users will be able to build a regression model and then apply the model to other geographic areas.

In addition, spatial regression models will allow users to understand how data compare with predicted circumstances or events. If a user determines that certain spatial patterns are not random, there may be some underlying geographic relationships to explore.

The Geographically Weighted Regression Model (GWR) fits a separate regression equation to each data point. It's possible to predict where other phenomena will occur and make comparisons of "before and after” sequences of data. For example, banks may want to determine areas where there is a higher probability of foreclosures.

Users will be able to develop geoprocessing tools on their own using Python scripts, ESRI's current scripting language. ESRI is seeking partners to add Python-written models to ArcGIS. Other spatial statistical calculations such as mean distributions, quartile ranges and spatial autocorrelation (Global Moran's I) will also be included.

Real-time modeling
ArcGIS will support building custom solutions to incorporate dynamic displays for real-time events. This visualization will require managing a large number of display objects changing location very quickly.

ArcPad 7.1 (which does not follow the ArcGIS numbering system) includes a street map extension for no additional cost, with data from NAVTEQ. A "quick project” tool allows mobile users to immediately begin capturing points, lines and polygons. Categories, basically data themes, can be named and created on the fly. ArcPad 7.1 is in beta now, and will be available in a few months.

Integration with external modeling systems
A new extension will provide a connection between ArcGIS and Clark University's IDRISI software. It will allow access to IDRISI raster tools to perform tasks such as change detection. This new extension should be into beta this week.

Published Wednesday, June 27th, 2007

Written by Joe Francica

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