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…

ESRI, MapObjects and .NET

As I’ve posted here a couple times, we are looking at moving to a complete .NET environment. We’ve not really decided on what tools we’ll use, but that will come probably after we start testing ArcEngine.

I was researching some .NET threads on ESRI’s support site while floating in the pool on a Memorial Day weekend and say this amusing thread over at the ESRI Support site:

Mapobjects dot net version (dead link)

I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be having to explain to people how many COM programmers there are out there in this world. We are moving to .NET, mostly because my programmers prefer the .NET components over COM. We’ve talked about this at great lengths and we plan to keep our maintenance current on MapObjects for at least the next year and most likely until they abandon it because we just don’t see COM going away. BUT, reading the tread there at ESRI, you have to wonder why the “average” ESRI Developer would even think so. Lets just ignore that there are still tons of VB6 and Delphi programmers out there with no plans to move to .NET and focus upon VBA. We’ve created many programs for our clients using Microsoft Access as most people are very comfortable in it. Adding a simple map to is easy using MapObjects and I can’t imagine having to create a .NET application to do the same thing. VBA, while not one of my favorite development environments, is going to be here for years to come. Yet people seem to think that just because Microsoft is pushing .NET, that COM will go away.

The future is murky when it comes to programming languages. What is popular one year, becomes forgotten the next. If I was a betting man though, I’d assume COM will be around for years to come and probably in one for or another might even outlast .NET. For some of these VB6 programmers, you’ll never get them to upgrade to .NET and why should they? Simple is better, I’d take a small footprint (in file size and memory) COM program, over a bulky .NET application almost every day.