The ESRI UC Q&A Response Is Up

One of the best insights into ESRI and their direction is the UC Q&A. ESRI has posted the latest one here and some highlights are below:

Q: What has ESRI done in the area of map books?

A: At ArcGIS 10, functionality has been added to allow you to create map books using a feature layer to define map extents for multiple pages. This new functionality, in conjunction with all the other enhancements to support map books, is referred to as data driven pages. Data driven pages give you the ability to generate multiple pages by taking a single layout and iterating over a set of map extents. Any feature layer, point, line or polygon can be used, along with a margin, to define the extents.

A question I still get asked again and again is when is ESRI going to update DS Mapbook. Well now you’ve got a real solution built into ArcGIS 10.

Q: Does ArcGIS 10 open up more functionality for use with Python?

A: Python integration is one of the key features of ArcGIS 10. At this release we’ve introduced a new Python subsystem called ArcPy, which exposes many of the ArcGIS functions.

ArcPy is still a little kludgy, but wasn’t isn’t with ArcGIS 10.

Q: What are ?add-ins? and how do I use them?

A: The new ArcGIS Desktop add-in model provides developers a method to easily extend desktop application capabilities. This is done with a declaratively based framework for creating blocks of custom functionality within a single compressed file. These add-in files can then be easily shared between users without relying on installation programs or Component Object Model (COM) registration. Add-in files can be installed by copying them to a well-known folder location and uninstalled by deleting them from that folder location.

Add-ins are really a game changer for ESRI extension/toolbar developers.

Q: When will ArcGIS Desktop be able to take full advantage of the 64-bit operating systems?

A: We are aware of the need for 64-bit desktop support. ArcGIS Desktop is currently a 32-bit application that is fully supported on 64-bit versions of Windows operating systems. We have started the migration to 64-bit ArcGIS. Our priority will be to complete the migration of ArcGIS Server first (the next release).

Basically sit back and wait for Server to go 64-bit first.

Q: Can I open a map that was built using Maplex on a computer that does not have that extension enabled?

A: Yes. At ArcGIS 10 users can open map documents authored using Maplex in a ?read only? mode on any ArcGIS Desktop regardless of whether the Maplex extension is enabled. The map retains all the labeling properties. The Maplex extension is required to edit or alter them.

I’m sure this will make all Maplex users happy. A wonderful change…

Q: How does GIS Data ReViewer help review crowd sourced data?

A: GIS Data ReViewer provides tools for sampling and visual review of large datasets such as crowd sourced data. The sampling check automatically generates a statistical sampling of features or records from one or more layers or tables for your review. Using this tool, you can ensure that your data meets the accuracy standards put forth by your organization. GIS Data ReViewer also provides guided visual review tools that allow you to keep track of the areas / features that have been through the quality control process.

It is a new world isn’t it?

Q: Is VBA supported with ArcGIS Desktop 10?

A: Yes, ArcGIS Desktop 10 does support Microsoft VBA. However ArcGIS 10 is the last version with VBA support, so we encourage you to start the migration process. Python is an integral part of ArcGIS Desktop for automating tasks and the new add-in capabilities allow developers to easily create and deploy ArcMap customizations.

An important change at version 10 is that VBA is not part of the ArcGIS Desktop install. If you need VBA, you need to install the ArcObjects VBA SDK, which will setup the VBA Runtime, Editor, and Help. Please note that an additional authorization file is required for VBA. This is a no charge license that can be requested from ESRI Customer Service.

Not only is the writing on the wall, but the door is closing. Migrate those VBA apps now!

Q: Are ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS.com closed communities?

A: No. ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS.com are fully open and accessible to anyone and include access to the rich set of ESRI-hosted basemaps and image services. Shared items from ESRI and the user community are available for use in a variety of ways with free, lightweight Web applications like the ArcGIS Web Map and ArcGIS Explorer Online as well as ArcGIS Desktop 10. The services are published using standard and open RESTful architecture, and can be consumed in many different ways. Free Web APIs are available that enable developers to use these resources freely.

I personally think ESRI is answering this question all wrong. Part of it is that they define open one and and others define it another way. For now I still see them getting beaten up on ArcGIS Online being closed.

Q: How is ArcGIS being integrated with Python statistics packages?

A: At the data level, ArcGIS 10 supports import and export of rasters to NumPy arrays; this is a starting point in many statistical analysis workflows. On the Geoprocessing Resource Center Model and Script Tool Gallery you will also find examples of using R in ArcGIS 10, and we expect to expand these samples throughout the year.

Very nice that ESRI is taking it upon themselves to push some of these Python packages. I think all boats will rise in the Python community because of it.

Q: Is there a place for ?crowdsourced? data in my ?authoritative? GIS environment?

A: Sometimes referred to as volunteered geographic information (VGI) or user-generated content (UGC), crowdsourced data is contributed by nonauthoritative sources (e.g., everyday citizens). The challenge for GIS practitioners is to ensure the usability of this data in a GIS workflow or to turn this crowdsourced data into useful geographic knowledge. This can mean checking the data to make sure that it is correct. It can also mean getting involved in data collection; structuring the process to ensure that the collected data has meaning and is appropriate as well as accurate.

Does anyone else get the feeling of someone taking down with this response. At least that is my “authoritative” response.

Q: What is the future of the Web ADF?

A: The Web ADFs will be deprecated in the next release after ArcGIS Server 10.

Hmm, I think I need a picture of me dancing on Web ADF’s grave.

Q: Will ArcGIS be available for iPhone, iPad or other iOS devices?

A: Yes. ArcGIS for iOS is the latest ESRI mobile product available at the ArcGIS 10 release that extends GIS to the popular Apple iOS platform. It includes a ready to deploy application which will be downloadable from the Apple App Store, and a native Objective C API that developers can use to build GIS applications that meet their business needs. By making ArcGIS available for iOS, existing customers can extend the reach of their GIS to a wider market.

Apple’s platforms are going to be a key part of ESRI’s mobile strategy moving forward.

Q: Will ESRI support the Android phone?

A: We will continue to build on our supported mobile platforms. We plan to release both an API and an application for the Android operating system around the end of this year.

Makes sense, having ArcGIS Mobile on the two big mobile platforms is not unexpected.

Q: Is Visual Basic (VB) 6 supported with ArcGIS 10?

A: No, as previously announced, ArcGIS 10 doesn?t include a Visual Basic 6 SDK or support. Older VB 6 code will need to be migrated using Visual Studio 2008 or 2010 (VB.NET or C#). The ArcObjects SDK provides several topics on migrating to VB.NET.

VBA devs take note, you’ll be experiencing this answer next year.

Q: Is ArcGIS open?

A: Yes. ArcGIS is open, and it is interoperable.

This is how they should have answered the ArcGIS Online Open question. There are ways to interact with ArcGIS and they have support for some open standards. Better than most GIS companies…

Q: Why has ESRI released its REST APIs as open technology? What does it mean?

A: We see this as a big thing. In many ways, by releasing the ArcGIS REST APIs as open technology, ESRI is repeating what it did in the early 90s?releasing shapefiles as an open data format.

Hmm, I say shapefiles and REST APIs are apples and oranges, but clearly ESRI is using the word “open” as much as they can with their APIs.

Q: How does ArcGIS 10 support OpenStreetMap?

A: You can use OpenStreetMap as a basemap in ArcGIS. ESRI has also developed OSMEditor (OpenStreetMap Editor) and provides it as a free add-on for ArcGIS Desktop. This technology supports disconnected editing, template-based editing, and basic conflict detection.

Nice, very nice!

Q: How does ArcGIS support open source?

A: While ESRI is not an open source company, we are empathetic to the open source movement and seek to collaborate on interoperability that further integrates our technology with this environment.

A nice pragmatic answer to a tough question. I think that is all anyone could ask for. BTW, I’m empathetic towards sea turtles.

Q: What are ESRI?s plans for 64-bit native support?

A: ESRI is actively working to ensure that our server technology runs natively on 64-bit operating systems. This is a major undertaking and a high priority for the ArcGIS Server team. The next release of ArcGIS Server after 10 will run entirely as a 64-bit application.

I’m sure ESRI is counting the days until they can stop answering this question with their “we can run as 32-bit on 64-bit operating systems”.

Q: Does ESRI have plans to support native Mac OS?

A: ESRI has no plans to support native Mac OS for ArcGIS Desktop. However, we have a growing number of users who have adopted the Mac platform for running their ArcGIS Desktop applications using Windows emulation software. We have had excellent feedback regarding interoperability and performance of the Windows environment on this Intel-based platform.

ArcGIS Server applications based on the ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs (JavaScript, Flex, and Silverlight) work well on Mac OS.

Yea, ArcObjects on Mac OS X? Never going to happen.

Anyway looks like some exciting stuff going on. I hope everyone has a chance to drop by and see us at the UC or for adult beverages after.