Bad Esri Products are Good

I was having drinks the other day with an ex-Esri employee and we were talking about what Esri products I liked to work with. The short list is right below:

  1. ArcView 3.x
  2. MapObjects
  3. ArcIMS

Arc/INFO might be on that list but let’s cap it at three. None of them were products that Esri wanted to keep around. All of them were thrust in the marketplace and then poorly supported. I get the idea that Esri wanted everything on ArcGIS platform (Server being a joke for so many years is proof of this) but being a developer on those platforms was really hard. The transition from Avenue to VB/VBA was particularly brutal. There were books written to help with this transition, but none by Esri.

My trajectory was shaped by these products above being abandoned by Esri. I went another direction because of being burnt by proprietary products that when abandoned cause huge problems. I think you have two choices, either double down or hit the eject button. I’m so glad I ejected…

Designing a front end

I manage a GIS at a small company in Tempe, AZ. We’ve been designing web based GIS sites since the old ArcView IMS extension. We’ve moved from MapObjects IMS to ArcIMS 3,4,9 and now we’ve begun to look at UMN Mapserver. Basically we’ve heard from clients that they are having problems with the cost of maintenance of ESRI products. If we could eliminate ArcIMS/ArcSDE for these people and still provide our look and feel, this might be a market worth looking into. I’d love to make our sites work with any backend that the client wants. We’ve used .NET in our latest products, but maybe PHP or JSP would be a better choice for doing this. I’m just not sure what to think at this point, but I’ve got our database programmer looking at getting PostGIS and Mapserver installed on our Linux server.

It’s going to be quite a move from ArcIMS/ArcSDE/Oracle, but maybe we’ll learn something. I’ll post more about this next week when we get it installed.