1) The Geodatabase is maturing.The
announcement of a new file-based geodatabase and enhancements to the
personal geodatabase and a workgroup version indicate this smart
storage format is gaining popularity.Moreover, its use, and the demand
for sharing data in this form, are both growing.This should be an
indication to many users that coverages are quickly becoming a legacy
2) The single code base is a reality. The years of several
different development streams at ESRI are long gone.Tying the desktop,
server and client tools to a single core set of objects, while
difficult, is reality within ESRI.I spoke with third party developers
who found it "easy" to port their ArcEngine based apps to ArcGIS
Server.The core of the new ArcExplorer (for different platforms) will
also share code.
3) The desktop is no longer the center of universe. While ArcGIS is still important, its role within organizations is changing.More of the work that "doesn't need the power" is being pushed out to ArcIMS apps, ArcGIS Server and ArcPad apps.It's my sense that while the number of ArcGIS seats is growing, the number of products surrounding those seats in the enterprise is growing faster.
4) The ESRI User Conference is like summer camp.One of the
reasons kids enjoy summer camp is that year after year, they meet the
same kids (more or less) and do many of the same activities.The User
Conference has that feel, too.While ESRI tweaked the opening session
on Monday, enough of the core things remained the same, so that it felt
"homey and familiar" to those who have attended for years.
5) It's time to unite consumer and "professional" Web GIS.
ESRI's choice to partner
with consumer/education-focused National Geographic is part of that
move.So is Geospatial One-Stop's partnering with National Geographic.
It's not clear where these connections will take either set of
technologies, but it's exciting to see them linked.
6) At 25, ESRI is "more professional." Several attendees used
that term to describe the opening session, and I'd have to agree with
the description.I'd also add that ESRI's workflows and interactions
with users are stepping up, too.From EDN, to the new procedure for
entering bugs (only Tech Support does that now, not "everyone"), to
enhanced customer service tools, ESRI is focusing on better processes
to create better product and better serve its users.
7) ESRI is slowing down.Instead of focusing a great deal in
the plenary on the next set of feature functions, ESRI concentrated on
workflows and how these enhancements would be used in context.On the
"show floor" at the ESRI "islands" the focus was 100% on the version of
ArcGIS users had in their hands, 9.1.For information about 9.2, users
were directed to a whole series of detailed "Road Ahead" sessions.The
sessions were well attended, based on my experience sitting on the
floor in the back, but created a reality check, keeping today in focus
and tomorrow in perspective.
8) The show floor had some new faces.Some new attendees (at
least that I don't recall from years past) included Nextel and as well
as a content management company, Hyland Software.The latter was
showing off its OnBase
product.Missing were Bentley and Oracle.
9) Visualization rules.From the main stage presentation to the
show floor, visualization is coming into its own.The Northrop
Grumman/Applied Minds terrain table is a perfect example.But so were
the "sand castles" of Z Corp, the beautiful globes from Worldfx and the
models company offer museum quality 3D art.Mapping is going online,
but we humans still enjoy and learn from looking at, and touching, real
10) Single Word Summary: Services.I'm the first to admit that
ESRI has been speaking about services for some time (as have other IT
areas).But now it seems more real.ArcGIS Server will allow anyone to
build and offer up their own service (be it for internal, public or
is becoming easier to use at 9.2, in part, I'd offer to allow those
services to be more easily created and shared.ESRI is offering more
and more services, including some free ones.(Of course, services don't
live in a vacuum, they need data and clients, too.)