Well I think most would agree, the 2008 DevSummit was one of the best. There was tons of new stuff to learn about, much more attendees, more ESRI staff, better layout of the conference (the Community Center was particularly good) and better session (and more of them). So what did I take away from the conference?
So underneath it all, what has changed. Well first ESRI has really focused on bug fixes. I know we’ve all heard this before, but I think the new crash reporting dialog will give better feedback to ESRI and internally they’ve caught many bugs that might not have been caught without the crash reporter. In addition ESRI is using Coverity to help uncover hidden bugs in the code (read some of these case studies, very interesting stuff). I was told that they found stuff that has been hidden for years in the code that would have caused problems, but for one reason or another never was discovered. I think it is safe to say the 9.3 code base will be as bug free as anything they’ve ever released (hold for joke) and given how short this beta period is I think they are confident that they’ve delivered on this.
The focus at 9.3 is stability, performance and security. Those are 3 areas I know have been a great concern for most ESRI users/developers and the examples that we were given between 9.2 and 9.3 showed great performance increases (I can’t comment on stability until I’ve worked with 9.3 for a while). The new security improvements aren’t revolutionary, but address the specific concerns users have had with the product (specifically check out the security presentation on EDN from the DevSummit for the details).
I’ve already posted on the new features in the 480 release due in May and the 600/700 release due by the end of the year in my Plenary session post, but I’ll list some of the new features in Explorer that caught my eye. First off 480 will increase performance (multi-threaded), direct connect to SDE, GPX support, GeoRSS support and improved task frameworks and popups (the bubbles). Build 600 has the new Microsoft “ribbon” interface and looks great. From a usability standpoint, the information you are working with gets presented right to you and not hidden by interfaces. You will also be able to finally view the maps in 2D mode. I think this will be a boon to organizations who are using AGX as a decision making tool. Ease of use goes a long way. The “enhanced” ArcGIS Explorer SDK will allow you to embed AGX inside your applications. I asked how ESRI would charge for this SDK and they are still thinking about it (will the SDK be free and the deployments cost, will the SDK cost and deployments be free, or will everything be free).
ESRI Resource Centers
New at 9.3 is the ESRI Resource Centers. You’ve already been looking at the first one for quite some time (the ArcGIS Explorer Resource Center) and the ones for ArcGIS Server, Desktop, Engine, Image Server, Mobile, IMS and Geodatabase are currently available for those in the 9.3 beta program. These are help centers where you can get support, online help, code samples, interactive SDKs and other resources that you can use with developing (or even using) the ArcGIS Platform. The forums are due to be re-launched based on the Beta forums (which means you’ll be able to subscribe to a forum topic via RSS). There will be many new blogs available from teams that haven’t blogged yet and there might be community aspects introduced as well. How this all interacts with the EDN site I have no idea.
So go get on the 9.3 beta, but you’ve got to hurry as 9.3 RTM could happen as early as “June”.