ArcGIS Road Ahead — What’s Coming for GIS Developers at 9.2

I decided to change up my schedule and head over to a “developer” technical workshop. I tried to first go to ArcGIS Server: Developing Applications with .NET but that was overflowing. I then peaked into ArcGIS Developer: ArcGIS for Java Developers, but I’m just so far removed from Java that I didn’t stay (sorry Steve). I ended up sitting at the “Road Ahead” for developers. Brian Goldin was talking about the new changes with 9.2 so I sat down.

ESRI has really changed how they treat developers over the past view years. The big news for my GIS shop is the new Developer Kit for Visual Studio.NET and for our Java IDEs. The new ESRI Developer Network hasn’t really been pushed during this conference and I can’t understand why. I would have figured that during the plenary they would have shown the EDN, but other than just a one line blurb in the PowerPoint presentation. Brian did go over some of the enhancements planned for EDN including RSS feeds and better search, videos and code.

VBA will continue to be supported (meh) but they are going to try and move it toward customization in ArcGIS Desktop rather than extending the Desktop. I was surprised how many people are still developing with VB6, but it does appear that people are moving to .NET and with integration to IDE that will probably happen sooner.

The demo on the integrated toolset in Visual was really nice with templates for ArcEngine, ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop (with a wizard interface). This should really help with programmers workflows (there is the word again) simplifying the creation of a project. I’ve always hated setting up projects to extend ArcGIS Desktop because of having to add all those classes, but now it is pretty much automated. ArcGIS 9.2 will include the .NET 2.0 Framework so we won’t have to make sure that .NET framework is installed on clients. I’m sure they don’t want this announced, but there might be a release of ArcGIS 9.1 IDE integration on the EDN website this fall.

The next demo was of the quick start templates for ArcEngine. The wizard allows you to choose the license and extensions that you want in your project with all the ESRI references added. What is nice is that the map control and toolbar is also created with this wizard and in fact you can run the application without writing one line of code. There is nice documentation of the quick-start templates so you can modify them to better fit your workflow.

There are new GeoProcessor functions in 9.2 which is going to be welcomed. Developers can now add any GeoProcessor toolbox in their Engine applications. The ArcEngine runtime will run all toolboxes available to ArcView and with an extension to Engine you can have access to ArcEditor toolboxes. If you want ArcInfo GeoProcessor tools, you’ll need to use ArcGIS Server.

Some of the new Engine controls include, symbology, add data, cross platform widgets (GTK and QT on Solaris/Linux and Windows). There are over 80 new commands and tools (such as identify, find) as well cartography enhancements. The toolbar control now supports XP themes as well as many new “MS Office like” toolbar features giving your applications a really nice professional look. The new TOC control gives you much of the same functionality of ArcMap (drag and drop) and the new symbology gives you control of symbology to your applications. The demo Engine applications that ESRI shows really looked nice and after the demo was done people applauded.

There are tons of new Java enhancements in 9.2. The changes to the Java API have focused upon fixing many of the current issues. There is also IDE integration for Java IDEs (Eclipse is preferred) an there will be some really nice Visual Java Beans as well as some very nice JToolbar framework. ESRI has moved toward supporting common frameworks and away from custom frameworks. Java will support JRE 5.0 (and 6.0 if it is out) and support for Windows, Solaris and Linux. The SDK for Eclipse is wonderful and I’m going to have to get my Java programmer on it. Geoprocessing is also available with Java as it was with .NET. Keyur showed the Java IDE integration and the generators for toolbars. The automation is going to save programmers much time eliminating repetitive tasks, very nice. 9.2 is going to be a great release for Java programmers.

Some new features for .NET Server Developer are ArcExplorer Web, Web site designer, AJAX support, Server object extensions and .NET 2.0 framework and some new ADFs. There will be another session that will go into more detail on .NET Server Developer. New Enterprise Java Beans will help Java programmers simplify calls to the server. There is a new API for Geoprocessing, Globe, etc and AJAX support. Again ESRI seems to be supporting Eclipse, but there will support for Sun Java Studio will also have some integrated support.

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