Roundup on ArcGIS Explorer

I’ve gotten quite a bit of email asking for more information about ArcGIS Explorer (AGX) so I’ll try and answer what I can in this post. I won’t speak to specifics to the program, but mostly rehashing what has already been released by ESRI about AGX.

1. How do I become part of this beta?
Its not possible at this time. The beta is currently closed to only 9.2 beta testers. The next beta should be available publicly some time in March.

2. Does AGX require ArcGIS to run?
No, it is independent of ArcGIS. I believe that the program is somewhat based on ArcObjects and might have some ArcGIS Engine in it (there has been conflicting reports on this by ESRI), but it has been designed to be released independent of what happens in ArcGIS. I don’t believe there will ever be conflict with running an older version of ArcMap with the latest AGX release

3. Will AGX require ArcGIS Server to implement?
No. ESRI has been pushing AGX as a front end to ArcGIS Server (AGS), but you can use almost any WMS, ArcIMS, KML/KMZ or AGS. It is possible for AGX to use any web service, so you can build a task which uses other web services outside of the GIS realm, and incorporate them into an ArcGIS Explorer task.

4. Will I be able to create my own Tasks in AGX?
Yes, in fact there will be a free API to accomplish this. The default download of AGX will include everything you need to create custom tasks on the client.

5. What kind of imagery will be provided by default?
This is a harder question to answer. Every demo that ESRI has shown to the public has only had 15m resolution. I don’t know if they have any plans to increase this, but since ESRI isn’t a data provider I suspect not. You can of course use any WMS service such as the Terraserver to fill in gaps, but I don’t think there will ever be as much or as high quality imagery as Google Earth has.

6. How will AGX affect other ESRI products?
At this point we don’t know. It isn’t a replacement for ArcReader so AFAIK you can’t view ArcPublisher documents in it. I’m not sure if ArcGIS Engine will be enhanced with some capabilities as AGX, but that is also a possibility. AGX is really designed as a server client rather than a GIS reader application even though it does support adding local data sets so I suspect we’ll see more integration with AGS and ArcIMS in the future as opposed to ArcGIS Desktop. I heard ESRI say that Model Builder can be used to create tasks in AGX so maybe Desktop will help in a supporting role.

7. How do I find out more information?
The best source of information about AGX has been your local ESRI sales team. Many ESRI users have told me they have been getting tons good information about AGX that hasn’t been posted elsewhere. Google has been a good choice too. There has been much posted about AGX all over the place and if you inventory whats been said you can pretty much get the whole story. I suspect the Developer Summit will be full of AGX so if you want to learn more, you should plan to attend.

8. I want to know if AGX specifically does [this].
That I can’t tell you. If you want to know something I’ll be happy to forward you to an ESRI developer that can help, but because of the closed beta I can’t post about something that hasn’t already been leaked into the open. The Dev Summit and Business Partner Conference are just around the bend so you’ll get plenty of information then. I will say that the AGX forum on the beta site has been quite popular and the feedback seems to be helping the AGX team further develop the program. I’m sure everyone will be very excited when it is finally released to the public.

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