Categories
Thoughts

Running ArcReader on an average PC

Ubikcan wonders why ArcReader requires such a powerfull PC to work. Simple, it is pretty much full blown ArcGIS minus all the features. I’d expect ArcExplorer to be much easier on the systems than ArcReader. Still, the point of a reader program is that you don’t need a full blown GIS system. If ArcExplorer supports PMF files, I’d say Reader is pretty much dead anyway.

Categories
Thoughts

Running ArcReader on an average PC

Ubikcan wonders why ArcReader requires such a powerfull PC to work. Simple, it is pretty much full blown ArcGIS minus all the features. I’d expect ArcExplorer to be much easier on the systems than ArcReader. Still, the point of a reader program is that you don’t need a full blown GIS system. If ArcExplorer supports PMF files, I’d say Reader is pretty much dead anyway.

Categories
Thoughts

Where is ArcGIS Explorer?

For years ESRI has had versions of ArcExplorer. The first versions were based upon MapObjects while the later ones have grown out of ArcIMS Author. They work pretty well for most people, but their limitations are beginning to show. I think ESRI should introduce a new ArcGIS client that would enable people who want and need to view GIS data, but not perform analysis. The current versions of ArcExplorer don’t support Personal Geodatabases, Coverages and other GIS data formats that users need to see. ArcReader does a good job of displaying the data, but the PMF documents can only be created in ArcGIS with ArcPublisher and no data can be added in ArcReader.

A simple solution would be to sell a version of ArcReader that allows the ability to read PMF/MXD as well as add data to them. Leave the ArcToolbox and ArcCatalog out of it and sell it for about $49. I don’t think this would hurt the sales of ArcView as people who need to edit or perform analysis on GIS will still need at least an ArcView license. This ArcGIS ArcExplorer (it should be called ArcView, but that is already taken) would be able to connect to ArcSDE, ArcIMS services, ArcWeb as well as read all the GIS formats that ArcView can. I’m guessing one could create such an application using ArcGIS Engine, but I’d rather just have our planners, engineers, biologists and other users of GIS have an ESRI product on their desk. The cost of ArcView is just too much to put on as many desks as we have users who want it (since most of our clients are using Geodatabases we can’t have them view the data sets with ArcExplorer).

ESRI should be putting GIS tools in front of as many people as possible and this new ArcGIS Explorer would fit the bill very well. There are just so many datasets on the internet for download and if people could access them even on the home PC with ArcGIS Explorer they would have a tool to introduce them to GIS and eventually become an ESRI customer.

Categories
Thoughts

Moving away from web based GIS

I’ve noticed an interesting trend during the last year with our clients. Many of them have decided that internally they don’t want web based ESRI ArcIMS or similar products. We’ve worked with them to create either stand alone ESRI MapObjects applications (hopefully we’ll upgrade them to ESRI ArcGIS Engine soon) or just using ESRI ArcPublisher and ESRI ArcReader. The MapObjects applications have been more geared at management who need access to the GIS information, but not the complexity. These applications usually answer “what if” scenarios that we used to program via the web. The clients who request them don’t have or don’t want to invest the money in server side (hardware and software) GIS. Most if not all of the ArcReader implementations we’ve done use ArcSDE to store the data (some even use ArcIMS services). These clients seem to want the added cartography options that can be created with ArcMap that we’ve never really been able to get programming AXL. Printing has also been an issue. While we’ve gotten pretty good with some of our layouts on the web, they just don’t look like the ArcMap products that their GIS teams are creating. With ArcPublisher they can have the exact map their GIS analysts are working on. I’ve just received an RFP from one client that wants to look into the new ArcGlobe features of ArcPublisher which should be perfect for displaying what they want.

I’ve always pushed web based GIS because you don’t need to install software to gain value from it. But it seems with today’s managed computer installs, rolling out ArcReader to all clients isn’t as difficult as it once was. I will say the one feature that ArcPublisher/Reader still doesn’t have is a better “pack and go”. I’d love to see a way to embed the GIS layers in the PMF so that you only need one file to send to people. PDF is a pretty good solution, but sometimes you just want to grab that ID tool and see exactly what the database behind a layer is hiding. Oh well, maybe ESRI ArcGIS 10?

We are still developing web based solutions for clients and are even currently working on an open source solution. I just think some people have been burned by overly complex websites in the past and don’t want the overhead of maintaining them or dealing with another department that might control the webservers.