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10 Years Ago on Spatially Adjusted – “Stop Putting Commercial Software in ESRI ArcScripts”

10 years ago this week Katrina had rolled in and there were lots of posts on Spatially Adjusted about Digital Globe and Google Maps imagery being updated for the flooding.  But the post that caught my attention was this one on ArcScripts:

Can someone at ESRI please clean up the ArcScripts site? Plain as day on the ESRI ArcScripts upload page it says “Not for samples or demos of products sold at Web sites”. There are way too many products that are commercial in there and this latest one takes the cake. 15 days and then you have to buy it, what a joke. If you have to advertise, do it by buying ad space, not polluting the ArcScripts gallery.  Geospatial Enterprises is off my list of companies I’ll deal with. XTools Pro 3.0 is also a commercial product that tries to get around by offering some free tools, but it too is just a demo. Someone over at ESRI needs to get serious about cleaning this junk up and off the ArcScripts.

I mean how shady was XTools Pro anyway?  The original XTools on ArcView 3.x was open, free and a great tool.  Then some guys basically rebranded it for ArcGIS Desktop and started charging money for it.  Oh well, the madness of ArcScripts is over as well as the need for tools like XTools is over.  Still funny to think this was how we shared scripts and applications back then.  No Github or other platforms to help.  Life was so hard back then and we didn’t realize it!

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ET GeoWizards LT Released

Link – ET GeoWizards LT on ArcScripts

ET GeoWizards LT is a set of data processing functions for ArcGIS presented in a user-friendly, wizard type interface.

ET GeoWizards LT was created as a subset of the free functions of ET GeoWizards (available from http://www.ian-ko.com) and complies with the requirements for posting on ArcScripts:

  • It is 100% free.
  • It is not a sample or a demo. All 28 functions included are fully functional with no restrictions whatsoever.

How about that!?! Talk about being responsive. Ianko went ahead and changed his extension to be completely free. Frankly I’m very impressed with his responsiveness and it shows how he listens to the GIS community as a whole. No other company has responded in my little blog other than him and it would have been so easy (I wouldn’t have blamed him) to say I’ll remove it when others do.

So go download the updated extension and make sure you check out his website to see what the difference between this LT version and the full version is. Heck why not buy the software anyway and show him that you appreciate his work and his responsiveness.

Etgeowizrdslt

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Favorite Extensions and Scripts for ArcGIS

I haven’t posted too much on Desktop GIS, but I was thinking today I’d look at what extensions and scripts I use every day that are not ESRI products. The biggest one lately has been the TerraServer Download for ArcGIS 9.0 which has been a big help to getting up to date imagery on sites around the country. We have quite a good collection of DOQQs over the past few years, but they aren’t as up to date as the TerraServer imagery is. The other utility for ArcGIS I’ve been using is the Geodatabase Diagrammer. If you have Microsoft Visio, there is no easier way to diagram the elements of a Geodatabase. Lastly I have been using the Batch Define Projection Python script practically every day. I wish one could just highlight all the layers in ArcCatalog and just right click and define the projection, but you can’t. This script is the next best thing.

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More on Commercial Software in ESRI’s ArcScripts

As with most blogging tools have spam catching built into them to stop comment spam and this one is no exception. I try and look though the “junk comments” every once and a while just to make sure that nothing got labeled as junk by mistake. Well last night I found one by Ianko who makes the very popular ET GeoWizards tools for ArcGIS. I’m not sure why his IP is labeled SPAM, but SpamLookup thinks it is. Anyway, here is his comment on my post Stop Putting Commercial Software in ESRI ArcScripts

James,

Since you mention ET GeoWizards I think that I have to post a comment on this.

It is true that ET GeoWizards is a commercial product (I would rather qualify it as semi-commercial), but I think that it has got more free functionality than 50% of the rest of the submissions to ArcScripts that deal with data processing put together. You can check this here if you want: http://www.ian-ko.com/ET_GeoWizards/gw_NoRestrictions.htm

Do you think that it will be better if the ArcGIS users do not know about those free functions that they need in their everyday work?

What about questions on ESRI forums like: “How do I remove the excess vertices from my polylines” and answers like “Get an ArcEditor license and use Generalize!” when the users can just use the free function of ET GeoWizards and their ArcView license.

What do you think the ArcGIS users will gain if ET GeoWizards is removed from the ArcScripts site?

If you give me valid reasons, I’ll remove the ET GeoWizards entry from ArcScripts.

Cheers

Ianko

I will agree that ET Geowizards is a great tool that helps users accomplish tasks that ArcView normally can’t do on its own, but as you say it is a commercial product. I guess one persons demo is another persons “semi-commercial”. I will give you that Ianko’s product isn’t as bad as most commercial scripts in ArcScripts, but the fact that there is registration required to get all the functionality of ET Geowizards shows me that is is a demo for their full product (without a timeout period) and as the upload screen for ArcScripts plainly says.

I would say that if the ArcScripts version of ET Geowizards only had the free tools and had an “ad” only in the about screen, it would be fine for ArcScripts, but in its current form it is a demo and in turn using ESRI’s bandwidth to sell your product. Because you sell ET Geowizards, it shouldn’t be in ArcScripts.

The big problem with these smaller GIS developer companies is that they have no easy way for their product to get noticed by the masses of GIS professionals. ESRI should create a section where these companies can upload their tools. There is a huge difference between XTools and XTools Pro. The spirit of ArcScripts has been violated by commercial software and many GIS pros have told me that they don’t upload their scripts and extensions to ArcScripts because it is such a mess with commercial software.

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Better Than Buying an Ad

I’ve been critical of companies uploading commercial products into ArcScripts, but now they are uploading the same file more than once. Sure they use the excuse of German vs. English to give them reason to upload the file twice, but we all know they shouldn’t be doing it anyway and it says that you can’t upload demo software to the site so I can only conclude they did this for commercial reasons. I mean, why pay for an ad on a website or GIS magazine when you can put it right on ESRI’s site. And a trip to their website, you quickly see that their site runs so slow. Moving the downloads to ESRI’s servers should help with the speed. Why pay for your own bandwidth when ESRI can host the file for you?

More commercial software

The first screen when you upload your file you see the following.

Upload script

Even if you are color blind, I assume these companies can read. The only conclusion is they are marketing their products using a service from ESRI, that has a goal of allowing GIS professionals to freely share programs and scripts they have created so that others can benefit. No wonder most of us don’t like using it anymore.

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Suggestions Roll in For ArcScripts Replacement

Link – Talking about ArcScripts

There are some good suggestions in the comments on Brian’s blog. I think the consensus is that we need a place to collaborate. I like Richie’s idea to require source code for all projects uploaded, there are tons of other places to advertise your extensions rather than ArcScripts. Make any suggestions in Brian’s blog.

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Suggestions Roll in For ArcScripts Replacement

Link – Talking about ArcScripts

There are some good suggestions in the comments on Brian’s blog. I think the consensus is that we need a place to collaborate. I like Richie’s idea to require source code for all projects uploaded, there are tons of other places to advertise your extensions rather than ArcScripts. Make any suggestions in Brian’s blog.

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More GIS to KML tools showing up in ArcScripts

Link – KML Home Companion 0.9

“This is an ArcMap extension designed to aid in creating KML format files for use in Google Earth. I tried to create the simplest program that would do the job, so there is not much in the way of error checking or fancy features. Please feel free to modify the code, report bugs, or to make suggestions for future releases.”

Link – Shape 2 KML

Shape 2 KML (Google Earth)
Version 1.0.1
Bug fixed encoding name and description”

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More demo software shows up in ArcScripts

I know ESRI is working on getting this stuff out of ArcScripts, but demo software continues to show up. I can only guess that this stuff gets automatically updated, rather than reviewed. Maybe there should be some kind of flag users can activate to let ESRI know about these commercial products that they are hosting for companies (think about how many downloads ESRI has handled for XTools Pro and how much they are saving on their own hosting).

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ESRI Looks to Revamp ArcScripts

Link – James help me snap out of the blogging coma

“When it comes to the ArcScripts site and removing demo products or other commercial goods – I couldn’t agree more; but I think that doing so is really only a Band-Aid at best. What we really need to do is ask ourselves; what do we really want in a collaborative code sharing environment? I’m sure that most of us have already used SourceForge, GotDotNet or perhaps the new O’Reilly CodeZoo. All of these have great facilities for establishing code sharing workspaces, providing infrastructure relating to enhancements, bugs and also rating and collaborative discussion.”

Boy this is really nice to hear. Most of us have problems with the current layout of the ESRI support website and having them move off of a proprietary CMS to something like SourceForge or GotDotNet would be wonderful. There are many “scripts” loaded into the ArcScripts repository that have source code attached to them but almost no way to collaborate on development of them. A move to something like this and away from the traditional layout would do wonders to foster grassroots development of ArcGIS add ons (both for Desktop and Server). Personally I kind of like the GotDotNet option, but one of my programmers prefers CodeZoo (which I will say is growing on me). To just think that something like Walt’s PHP ArcWeb code could have a place where we could collaborate on it or Andrea’s demos could spark interest in Public ArcWeb. Even projects like TerraServer Image Download could be enhanced with this kind of collaboration.

Everyone should let Brian know what you think about this and what features you’d want to see.