If you want to see some of the topics that people came up with to ask ESRI before the DevSummit next week, ESRI has posted them on their website. Here are some of the ones that caught my eye.

Q: What are future plans for releases following ArcGIS 9.3? ESRI Director of Research and Development Scott Morehouse will provide a brief overview of the themes for ArcGIS 9.4 during the Plenary. If you have suggestions for ArcGIS 9.4, we encourage you to share them with development staff in the ESRI Showcase and during the Meet the Development Teams sessions.

We’ve known that 9.4 was coming down the pike and it appears that ESRI is going to talk about what it is and how it might impact ArcGIS 10. I am really interested to see what the timeline moving forward will be.

Q: Are you planning 64-bit versions of ArcGIS Desktop and ArcGIS Server? ArcGIS Desktop is fully supported on 64-bit Windows at 9.2 SP 3 and beyond. While ArcGIS is a 32-bit application, it has been tested and certified on the 64-bit versions of Windows. We have no immediate plans to release a native 64-bit version of ArcGIS Desktop, although we do continue to research this possibility.

At ArcGIS 9.2, we released 64-bit versions of the ArcSDE component of ArcGIS Server for some UNIX platforms. At 9.3, we will also release a native 64-bit version of ArcSDE technology for Windows and Linux.

Nothing new there but I don’t see anything aut ArcGIS Server (non ArcSDE). That is the big issue for us. Sure Desktop 64-bit might be nice, but all of ArcGIS Server as 64-bit is critical.

Q: Will there be a replacement for MapObjects? In other words, will there be options for desktop deployments that don’t require the full functionality of ArcGIS Engine? Yes, we are doing some research work on building a focused, lightweight .NET API deployment option with functionality similar to MapObjects. We will discuss our thoughts at the DevSummit Plenary. We encourage your feedback both at the summit and in the postsummit survey.

Every MapObjects developer just sat up and smiled. Wonderful news.

Q: Discuss performance improvements in ArcGIS Server 9.3. Performance improvements in ArcGIS Server 9.3 are significant. First of all, Web mapping applications built with the Web ADFs (both .NET and Java) have been greatly optimized in different ways (reduced number of requests to the server, more lightweight, etc.). This has resulted in more responsive applications and increased scalability of the whole system. Additionally, 9.3 features a new core service for efficiently publishing imagery called image services. This new service provides superior map throughput compared to standard map services. Performance improvements also derive from optimizations at the geodatabase level. Finally, we have made map caching workflows easier and faster and provided you with the choice of partially caching your map services. The new caching-on-demand feature of map services will allow you to leverage the power of cached maps without having to build an entire cache of your maps.

I know most ArcIMS devs are usually unhappy with ArcGIS Server performance, but it sounds like they’ve addressed this. And building portion of the map cache on the fly will be great. More good news.

Q: Will ArcGIS 9.3 support backwards direct connect compatibility? Yes. ArcGIS 9.3 clients will have backwards direct connect compatibility with 9.2, 9.1, and 9.0 ArcSDE geodatabases. This will make ArcGIS software upgrades easier, especially for large enterprise systems, by giving more flexibility to perform a sequenced migration. For example, clients can be updated first followed by server updates.

Nice, as ESRI says it will make ArcGIS software upgrades much easier.

Q: How and when will ESRI support the spatial types in Microsoft SQL Server 2008? ArcGIS 9.3 will support the two new spatial types in Microsoft SQL Server 2008. A geodatabase implemented on SQL Server 2008 will be able to store vector geometry in either spatial type (Geography or Geometry). This will enable users to perform SQL queries and operations on spatial data within SQL Server.

Basically ESRI will enable access to SQL Server 2008 beta at 9.3, but will not support it. When SQL Server 2008 goes final, ESRI will release a SP to address any concerns (if any) and then support SQL Server 2008. Seems logical and better than having to wait for SQL Server 2008 to go final before getting any ability to use with ArcGIS.

Q: To what extent does ESRI support interoperability with KML? KML is one of the supported formats of ArcGIS Explorer and the ArcGlobe application within ArcGIS 3D Analyst. You can simply use these 3D applications to explore the contents of KML files. Additionally, you can use ArcGIS Server to publish your GIS data and output of GIS analysis in KML format. You can either create map services to publish GIS data as KML overlays or placemarks or use the new REST interface of ArcGIS Server to enable your users to get KML outputs from map queries and geoprocessing services.

It looks like we’ll still have to use third party extensions to import/export KML out of Desktop. I’ve heard good things about KML support in Server though so that takes the sting out of the lack of support on Desktop.

Q: How are you improving software documentation especially for developers? More sample code is required. We have clearly heard this feedback and have made additions to the online help and SDK documentation. For example, in 9.3, there are three or four times more help topics and samples for developers. In addition, we are introducing resource centers for each product that bring together online resources, including samples, blogs, and best practices information, to help make you successful. ArcGIS 9.3 beta testers have access to the beta documentation and are encouraged to provide feedback.

Good news, but ESRI needs to improve the search as well. More documentation and code is very welcomed, but not being able to find it reduces its value. Documentation at 9.2 was poor, so if 9.3 can get that back up to where it should be, the we all win.