Looks like it is going to be a busy November. We’re going to upgrade the rest of our servers to Windows Server 2003 and at the same time upgrade our last Oracle 8i to 10g. On top of all this we’ve got the ArcGIS 9.2 upgrade to install. Seems like someone will be spending some time in our server room (well more like server closet). At least our RedHat doesn’t need to be upgraded.
I got a trackback from a new blog from an ESRI user who is attempting to migrate over to open source. He/She doesn’t seem to be a Linux pro so this might be a good blog reference for those thinking of making the migration.
I was very saddened to read in the comments that Jeff Jackson let us know that Beckett or “Bex” as many ESRI users better know him, passed away a couple days ago. Very sorry to hear that you lost a great friend Jeff.
All Howard Butler wanted to do is write a GDAL driver for ArcSDE raster support. He couldn’t afford a production license of ArcSDE, but he took a look at ESRI’s EDN which is supposed to help people like him develop using ESRI Server tools. After looking at the fine print, he’s wondering if he can use it at all.
The problem is that I’m an independent developer, and I don’t have the financial resources to purchase a full ArcSDE seat (or have the ability to include it in the development of the driver, which would inflate the cost of development by nearly four times). Initially, I thought EDN had the potential to support development like this, but after reading the license, I’m not so sure.
My companies lawyers read the agreement and didn’t think any of it would constrict us, but everyone is different. Anyone from ESRI EDN (I’d ask Brian but he’s not at ESRI anymore) care to help Howard out?
In the past month I’ve had 4 people tell me that they are probably not going to be using ESRI Server (ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, ArcSDE) on their projects unless their clients specifically demand it. I’m not talking about 4 people off the street here, but ESRI MVP types. When asked why they felt this way, they all said it was because they have invested so much in their web clients that they no longer needed to be tied to ESRI Server products and their added cost. One also said that there was nothing in the new ArcGIS Server 9.2 that they would be using anyway so it made no more sense to pay maintenance. Interesting that this is happening now, after ESRI is finally delivering clients that developers can use (ArcGIS Explorer, Web ADF). When I mentioned the Web ADF to one of these folks, she just laughed and said they already put thousands of dollars into their own web client and they didn’t want to walk away from it. I guess if the Web ADF had come out at lets say 9.1, many people might be already locked into the ESRI server stack. But the delay has caused people to go out on their own and in turn they have looked at open source solutions.
The other issue is that the added functionality of ArcGIS Server doesn’t give them any value. Some of the functions of AGS are impressive, but in the real world they have almost no applicability. As one person said to me, “ArcIMS really hasn’t changed in the past 3 years, so why should I pay maintenance on such a product? I’m sure the new wizard based map creation back end will be helpful to some, but it doesn’t add anything to my development work flows.” Another said that AGS is impressive, but speed makes it very difficult to use. “We looked at a combination of ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS to try and get a handle on speed issues, but the cost was so great that we just abandoned that route and went with Mapserver. We had some cool stuff going on but in the end we couldn’t justify the cost.”
So implementors of server GIS products are beginning to look elsewhere because of perceived value and speed right at the time ESRI is releasing their most impressive server update in years. As one business partner told me, “Desktop is so impressive that I can’t ever see using something else, but in the server marketplace, the competition might have surpassed ESRI.” Simplicity, speed and freedom seem to be at the forefront of web GIS and ESRI might be losing out on that front. We’ll have to see what ArcGIS 9.2 does to that, but it would appear that release might be 1 year too late.
James: I’d love a show of hands of folks that never made the switch to 8.x or 9.x because of common everyday tasks that a 3.x workflow still carries out quiet satisfactorily…
I use ArcView 3.2a almost every day myself, though I’ll be honest I can’t recall the last time I wrote an Avenue script. I guess I have them all ready to go, already written. Just copy and paste into a new APR and away I go.
I talked about trying to get some of our clients to move to ArcGIS over a year ago.
Remember when I was complaining about cloud coverage over my house? Well the latest update to the Google imagery removes the clouds, but reverts back to an older image. The freeway on this new image is no longer finished. I guess someone thinks that a less relevant image is better than having to deal with clouds. I’m not so sure about that. I want that old image with the clouds and the updated road network back.
james, love the blog! I have a question that I hope you can answer. I was looking at some of the downloads on ESRI’s ArcScripts site and noticed that they are all listed as having a license of “public domain”. Downloading ET GeoWizards LT, I don’t see any of the source code included. How can ESRI allow this program to exist on the ArcScripts site if it doesn’t include the source?
We’ll we’ve been down this road once or twice. ESRI has eliminated much of the commercial software so it has gotten better. Still I do find it humorous that ET GeoWizards LT does have a Public Domain license, though I’m 100% sure that isn’t the intention of the developer. ArcScripts really isn’t public domain even though ESRI claims it is. Think of it as more “non-commercial”. There are a ton of public domain/open source scripts and applications out there, but just because ArcScripts shows it to be public domain, doesn’t mean it is.