ArcGIS ExplorerI get people asking me all the time how ArcGIS Explorer will do against Google Earth or NASA World Wind. For now one can’t speak because it is still in closed beta, but I will address one part that people have been asking me about. The ArcGIS Explorer Community. Right now the only community online is the ArcGIS Explorer website, which really isn’t a community at all (though I guess you could count the Beta Web forums as community). The AGX team told me at the UC that they plan to have a community site up and running and that this current website is really just a plug until AGX is released to the public. As Jeff Atwood says, “It’s clear that community support can make or break a product.” I hope that ESRI will let the AGX team run with their community, rather than force it into existing community platforms that really don’t lend themselves to community at all (though astute readers will point out that the big GE community is just a forum).

I do think in the end the community is just about as important as the product itself (if not more so). A mediocure product can be made much better with great community support and putting a middle man between users and developers can cause as many problems as it can resolve.