GISuser Conference Notes – ArcGIS 9.0, ArcGIS Server, extensions and the road ahead

GlennOnce again, we’re pleased to provide readers with some notes from the floor of the International ESRI user conference in San Diego, CA. Today we provide some brief notes about ArcGIS Server 9.0, ArcGIs extensions, the road ahead, and some final notes from the floor.

ArcGIS Server 9.0 is a platform for building spatially enabled enterprise applications (i.e. web apps and services) built on industry standards, namely, .Net and J2EE. The primary purpose, to provide for the serving of advanced functionality to multiple users. The bonus; it includes strong APIs (Java, .Net, SOAP/XML) providing for easy implementation and customization using existing developer resources and skill sets.

ArcGIS Server is built from the same core ArcObjects that makeup the Arc Desktop and Engine. ArcGIS server is available for Windows only at 9.0, however, we’ve been told to expect support for Red Hat Linux and Solaris at 9.0.1

Extensions supported by ArcGIS Sever include:

Spatial Extension – enables server-side spatial analysis of raster data

3D – 3D spatial analysis

Streetmap – street level mapping and address matching

So if you ask yourself why ArcGIS Server?

Provides server-based capabilities

Enables the distribution of IT applications

Full functionality of ArcObjects to the server

Centralized data management

Increased ROI

Remote access to full geodatabase functionality

Supports IT standards

Out of the box tools for developers

A scalable environment

ArcGIS Server is ideally suitable for local, County, and State government agencies currently holding a number of user seats/licenses – particularly those using Blade servers as they are ideally suited for a scalable system. From my perspective, the coolest thing about ArcGIS Server is that it enables users to edit and manage their data and apps using a web browser client.

Look for ArcGIS Server (at 9.0 and beyond) technology to be available in 3 tiers:

Personal Server – lightweight; easy map publishing; based on MapObjects; provides an effective collaboration tool

ArcIMS Server – More ArcObjects technology; provides catalog, metadata, and portal enhancements

ArcGIS Server – geoprocessing; geodatabase services; provides ArcGlobe services; complies wit OGC standards

New in ArcGIS Desktop

ArcGIS desktop 9.0 looks and feels very similar to ArcGIS @ 8.3, however, a number of enhancements have been included. Noteworthy mentions include:

legend now only displays visible layers

fit to margin capabilities

toggle to draft mode

PNG and GIF raster export

toolbars are sorted alphabetically

refresh pause

automatic linking of urls

toolbox comes with ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcGlobe, or ArcScene

Tip: For users who have already installed ArcGIS 9.0, be sure to look for the “What’s new in ArcGIS 9.0″ document, additionally, while running a session, hitting the F1 key brings up a list of all the new features available in the table of contents.

Cartographic enhancements in ArcGIS 9.0

Loads of movement has been made in this area in a response to the user’s common need to produce clear, simple, and elegant output. Coming as a bit of a blow to some partners, the end goal of the cartographic team is to move in the direction where users won’t require additional add-on products to complete their cartographically pleasing output. Cartographic enhancements for ArcGIS at 9.0 are enabled through the additional of Maplex to the portfolio of extensions (http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/extensions/)

Some of the noteworthy features provided by Maplex:

improved display, print speed, and quality of output

usability gains

storage of maps within the geodatabase

geometry filters

map generalization tools

feature masking

3D Analyst

3D analyst is an extension for ArcGIS that enables 3D viewing of massive datasets, surface modeling and analysis. Supported 3D data types include TINS, rasters, and 3D vector data types. 3D analyst can be accessed and used in ArcScene – provides the look and feel of ArcMap but a 3D data view pane is provided – and ArcGlobe – data is viewed and represented on a Globe surface – suitable for working with large datasets. Of interest to many users, Globe supports feature layers, raster data layers, CAD, ArcIMS, and map server layers.

Some of the things falling under the “new” category in 3D Analyst include:

true 3D symbology

linking of attributes to drive symbol assignment

3D graphics toolbar

3D animation tools

TIN to raster creation and now supports break lines

Requirements: 3D Analyst runs on Windows NT, 2000, and XP while a minimum 256 MB of RAM is suggested (512 is desirable for Globe), Open GL 1.1 card with min 64 MB RAM, min 1.1 GHz processing speed.

Interoperability

 

Perhaps one of the biggest announcements concerning ArcGIS 9.0 is the support for a new extension developed by B.C-based Safe software. the Interoperability extension essentially provides users with the ability to read more than 65 spatial data formats (GML, XML, Autodesk DWG/DXF, MicroStation Design, MapInfo MID/MIF and TAB, Oracle and Oracle Spatial, and Intergraph GeoMedia warehouse), export to more than 50 formats, but even better, users can work with and edit their data in the source projection and eliminate the need for time-consuming data translation. You will definitely be hearing lots about this one – See http://www.esri.com/software/arcgis/extensions/datainteroperability/index.html for more info

More on the road Ahead

ArcPad

Currently there are more than 50,000 licensed users of ArcPad. Down the road, users will be greeted with ArcPad 7. some of the noteworthy enhancements we can expect include:

enhanced editing toolbar

improved symbology and editing

enhanced performance

integrated camera support

redline and mark-up tools

streamlined GPS connectivity

integrated forms creation

support for large rasters

ArcGIS

Just released, word has it that there has already been more than 15,000 downloads of SP1 – see esri.com for details. At 9.0.1 expect ArcGIS for Linux and SOLARIS (Beta is currently available). The release will ship in the fall of 2004. Even further down the road, 9.0.2 will have even more focus on quality and users can expect improved compatibility with older version (e.g. Save as 8.3)

Network Analyst (coming at 9.0.2)

Designed to further enable routing, directions, nearest to, and origin/destination functionality, this extension will provide a simpler user interface and an integrated model builder. Network Analyst will be available for desktop, server, and Arc Engine clients.

Given that the ArcGIS suite has now jumped a full release from 8 to 9, there’s simply way too much to discuss at this time so I’ll leave myself with a bit of work to do on the plane ride home! If I can manage to muster up enough energy after this busy week I’ll be providing our readers with more detailed information and updates about ArcGIS 9x, supporting extensions, and some of the many business partner solutions that have been showcased this week. In closing, here’s a few quick notes from the floor about some of the business partner solutions being shown here in San Diego.

Trimble – GPS analyst extension for optimizing field-to office workflows. It comes with Trimble’s differential correction engine

GeoSmart.net from MoosePoint Technology – a companion product to ArcIMS providing site builder wizards enabling users to build and maintain web apps.

The “Touch Table” – perhaps the coolest thing on display at the conference, the Touch Table enables users to collaborate around a large table surface to view and manipulate geospatial data. Users operate the table by touching the surface. Imagine a large, flat, back-lit surface where you can view high-resolution imagery, access geospatial processing commands, redline, and more. In my chat with Clint Brown this morning he described it as “The Globe I always dreamed of having” – I have to agree! for details see Northrop Grumman (www.ngc.com)

Feature Analyst 3.5 from Visual Learning Systems Inc – Extract shapes and vector features from raster data automatically. Provides batch classification, new clean-up tools and smoothing algorithms, and much more – See www.featureanalyst.com

Tracking Server from Compasscom.com – software to enable integrated mobile tracking from a variety of communication systems. The Compass LDE receives vehicle location information and other data from mobile fleets and assets and communicates/distributes to Tracking Server.

Special mention… you cartography buffs may be interested in getting information about the Ancient Maps on Mexican Talaverna tiles which have been on display at the conference all week. These beautiful maps and works of art are preserved on tile (images to come when I return) – See www.talaveradelaluz.com

Once again, much more info from the floor will follow in the days to come.

See Glenn’s column #1 – ESRI User Conference 24 Introduces The Language of Geography

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