ESRI has posted the results from the 2008 ESRI Q&A and most of it isn’t news, but a couple things caught my eye…

Q: When will ESRI allow licenses to be checked out of the central license manager?? ArcGIS 9.4 will support the ability to check out licenses and borrow licenses from a central license manager and for use in the field.

Q: Are you considering eliminating the dongle as a license protection mechanism? Yes. In one of the service packs (post 9.3), ESRI will support the ability to use a license manager without a dongle on Windows and Linux.

Hallelujah!

Q:When will the metadata editor in ArcCatalog be improved? We will be overhauling the metadata editor as part of our metadata creation, management, and data sharing improvements in ArcGIS 9.4.

I’d say this is very welcomed. The metadata editor hasn’t improved since 8.x was released and if we are to expect people to edit metadata, it should be made easier.

COLLADA Support.?At 9.3, ESRI has added support for the COLLADA standard.

Improved Performance. There are significant enhancements in display speed in ArcScene, ArcGlobe, and ArcGIS Explorer.

COLLADA support is wonderful, but ArcScene and ArcGlobe are still dogs. I’m not sure I’m too hopeful that this improved performance will actually translate into anything. If we are to integrate with BIM and 3D models of cities, both programs really need to be totally redone. Neither one has kept up with the times.

Portal Toolkit’ At 9.3, ESRI is releasing its newest version of the geospatial portal toolkit built on ArcGIS Server.

Say goodbye to ArcIMS for the Portal Toolkit. I’m interested to see if the new version is actually any good, the old was was very complex and cluttered. If ESRI could design user interfaces as nice as their presentation graphics, this thing would probably be very impressive.

Search?- At 9.4, ESRI is launching an ambitious effort to have search capabilities deeply integrated into all elements of ArcGIS. This will allow users to automatically create and discover various GIS resources using simple search tools. Users will have search tools integrated in their desktop that search local files, workgroup servers, enterprise servers and the open Web.

The ability to discover datasets on the Internet and on your local servers is critical. It makes me cringe when I see someone type “*.shp” into their Windows search tool to try and find a file. If done well, this will be a valuable tool.

Q: Is ESRI going to provide a hosting environment for ArcGIS Servers? ESRI is currently researching this and is already hosting the data and Web services for a number of our users in both federal and state government.

Interesting, I wonder what the price points will be. Could make a ton of sense to buy EDN and then pay ESRI to host your application.

Q: Are shapefiles going away? No, ESRI will continue to support shapefiles for the foreseeable future.

So begins the transition away from the shapefile to the file geodatabase. Actually until ESRI opens the file geodatabase format up to everyone (they nicely mention that they opened shapefiles up later in the Q&A page), it probably will not gain much more traction than the personal geodatabase did.

Q: Will ESRI continue to support Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) in the future?? Yes, ESRI is committed to continuing support for Microsoft VBA with the ArcGIS Desktop applications and has updated to VBA version 6.5 at the ArcGIS 9.3 release. However we strongly suggest developers use Visual Studio 2005 / 2008 for customizing and extending ArcGIS Desktop.

This is the number one question people asked me after I got back from the DevSummit. The writing is on the wall guys, time to move on. And VB6 folks, the end is here. 9.3 is the last release that supports VB6.

Q: What is the current level of support for OGC standards? At 9.3, we have extensive support of KML, WMS, WCS, CSW, and WFS. By including support for style layer descriptors, filter encoding, and transactions support for WFS, we believe our support for these Web service standards are comprehensive and ready for use in real projects. Our support for GML includes both out-of-the-box simple features GML support and extended GML support (different application schemas like OS MasterMap, Top10NL, CityGML) using the ArcGIS Data Interoperability extension, which is based on Safe Software’s spatial ETL (extract, transform and load) platform. We have partnered closely with Safe Software, the global leader in spatial ETL technology solutions, which allows our users to stay current with evolving GML standards.

At 9.3 with WFS Transactions, the geodatabase is now accessible for simple features based transactions from any client that communicates using the WFS-T protocol. Support for emerging OGC specifications such as Web Processing Services (WPS) and for Sensor Web Enablement (SWE), are currently being studied for implementation in our future releases.

Good news for those who want to take part in the GeoWeb. Lots of standards support means users will be able to leverage your data. No sense locking them into that ArcIMS HTML Viewer when they can use W_S. Plus Sean those who don’t like W_S services can always use that wonderful RESTful API as well.

Q: Is ESRI going to offer a Certification Program? ESRI is using your feedback to determine the need and potential structure of a certification program. More information will be available in 2009.

Looks like they are seriously looking at a certification program. Would you take it any more seriously than a MCSE?

Knowledge Base, wikified: For many years, our online Knowledge Base?has been a great way for us to push the latest technical documentation between releases.?Later this year, we expect to complete the loading of our entire Knowledge Base document database into a wiki, so the community can participate, sharing with other users what they know and what they have learned.

Finally, we’ve all been asking for this and it appears it is on its way. Wikis are so good at collaboration and pulling some of that?knowledge?that is stuck in the ESRI forums and put it on a Wiki will be a huge benefit to all.