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PRODUCT REVIEW ARCVIEW 92

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					PRODUCT REVIEW:
ARCVIEW 9.2
ARCGIS IS BILLED AS ‘THE COMPLETE GEOGRAPHIC INFORMATION SYSTEM’ AND IS A
COLLECTION OF PRODUCTS INTEGRATED INTO ONE FRAMEWORK THAT ENABLES GIS
APPLICATION DEVELOPMENT AND USE FOR INDIVIDUALS AND ENTERPRISES.
A key component of the collection is ArcView 9.2. The current release       gies. Finally, they ought to be able to publish results of high quality,
includes several enhancements over the previous version and                 providing enhanced, professional and attractive output, while increas-
completes the company’s shift toward a next generation GIS platform         ing collaboration. There are few GIS in the world that deliver this kind of
to meet the challenges of the broadest array of user needs for geospa-      performance - ArcGIS 9.2 is one that does.
tial data and information system handling into the future.
     Likely the most widely used geographic information system (GIS)        Installation and licensing
product internationally, ArcGIS 9.2 is now available after a long wait      The product loads easily from a single DVD. Users can register the
following the earlier version. The wait was worth it. ESRI got more than    product online using email and a single seat license is returned almost
a few things right with this release, and plenty more surprises and         instantly. The following programs are included in the basic product and
additions are included in the ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 release I reviewed.        are exposed on the product Menu bar;
                                                                            • ArcGIS Desktop Help
GIS Today                                                                   • ArcGlobe
Spatial information and geographic data have emerged from a lesser-         • ArcMap
known and smaller community of savvy (and knowledgeable users) in           • ArcReader
recent years to arrive on the mainstream scene. The ESRI company itself     • ArcScene
has been instrumental in building the capacity leading to widespread        • Desktop Administrator
mainstream use. This arrival can be identified by both small and large
networked organisations and enterprises operating GIS applications in       Opening the Desktop Administrator shows the product information
regular and mission critical applications around the world.                 installed, service pack information and the license manager environ-
    Today, geographic information systems must scale well and operate       ment variables. A Registration Wizard allows users to include any
securely. They must be capable of networking and interoperating             extension products being licensed at this time. Installing the Single Use
effectively and efficiently – bridging data types, formats and standards.   license without extensions - we are ready-to-go. This product includes a
They ought to be able to deliver geographic results to static and mobile    hardcopy manual entitled ‘What is ArcGIS 9.2?’ that is designed to
locations, and they should be able to interface data capture technolo-      familiarize users with basic GIS concepts and requirements as well as


52                                                                                                     April 2007 | GEOconnexion International Magazine
explaining the overall ArcGIS framework. This           ently and bring all the information into one        ArcGIS architecture.
manual is concise and informative – and                 map space. This applies to ArcSDE and SQL                I used ArcCatalog more in this release than
effective - I read it all.                              databases also.                                     in previous releases and attribute that to ease-
                                                             New in ArcGIS 9.2 is the ‘GIS Servers’ item.   of-use, but also the fact that many of the
Help                                                    It includes the possibility to connect to:          databases (warehouses) I was connecting to,
A good starting point for any program                   • ArcGIS Server                                     like the Geography Network Services – worked
includes the Help menus. Opening ArcCatalog,            • ArcIMS Server (map server)                        and were ‘running.’ There is a provision to
as example, users will find numerous                    • WMS Server (OGC compatible)                       connect to Add WMS Services, but one needs
selections under the ‘Help’ menu item which             • Geography Network Server                          to know where they are. It would be useful to
connect directly back to the ESRI web site.                                                                 have the ‘top 25’ services in the drop-down.
There are numerous sources of helpful online            Furthermore, connections to Interoperability        Most people will know their own ArcIMS and
information at that site. It is apparent the            connections for Geographic Markup Language          ArcGIS Server. ArcGIS 9.2 will also connect to
company has invested time and effort, even              (GML) and OGC compatible Web File Server            ArcWeb Services through the new ArcGIS
including a GIS Dictionary online. The ESRI             (WFS) are possible. In the later 2 cases, data      Online offering, once a user has an account
web site also includes several Forums and               format, dataset and the coordinate system can       and password. The product now lists all
published information pertaining to the                 be assigned.                                        Microsoft Excel tables in ArcCatalog. This is one
ArcGIS product. For those unfamiliar with ESRI,              It is important to understand that the         of the strongest additions to the product,
and perhaps not immediately evident to most             ArcGIS Framework, as it is designed,                effectively bringing the world’s largest spread-
users, this company pays attention to detail,           encompasses not only locally based informa-         sheet user base into the GIS world – instantly.
and ArcGIS 9.2 is no exception. There is a sense        tion with which users will be most familiar, but
of intuitiveness, a sense that someone went             it also includes the capability to connect to       Geodatabase
through the process as you are when using               more than 40 other data formats and data            The geodatabase now includes two different
the product. In other words, ArcGIS 9.2 exudes          types that one can anticipate to encounter. In      types, the Personal and File geodatabase.
the distillation of over 25 years worth of GIS          addition, each network service can be               Using the latter, I was able to download an
development, experience, feedback and reflec-           administered for security and access, thereby       image of Portugal from the MODIS Rapid
tion – and investment.                                  allowing information services to be published       Response Gallery at NASA, store it as a raster
                                                        ‘one-to-many’ with selective access as needed.      (3-bands) inside the geodatabase, and then
ArcCatalog                                              In practice, one could envision ArcGIS 9.2 on       locate feature information including cities and
ArcCatalog provides the connection between              the desktop of many users, connecting to a          import it into the same database. The value of
the user interface on the local machine and             myriad of data around the world (Fig. 1).           this lies in the fact that all project data can
the data warehouses and servers connected                    It is very important to understand the         reside inside one database.
both internally and externally on networks.             value of this approach because it leads to a             In recent times a considerable amount of
Database connections allow users to connect             ‘system-by-system’ form of networking which         attention has been given to Survey – GIS.
to OLE compliant databases and other spatial            ultimately leads toward a wider ‘GeoWeb’ of         Surveyors will often say, “our measurement-
databases through the Spatial Database                  inter-connectivity. This advanced functionality     based reference systems” are more accurate
Connector. For example, if I had an office              is what places second generation GIS beyond         than GIS “coordinate-based reference systems.”
network where each computer was connect-                traditional desktop file-based approaches. The      This is an important point, since all the talk
ed on the network and each had a different              concept of linking systems together is the          about CAD/GIS integration requires a founda-
GIS Layer, I could connect to each independ-            fundamental point to understand about               tion of higher tolerances. In fact, many pieces
                                                                                                            of survey equipment, to be effective in a GIS
                                                                                                            will require higher levels of accuracy. At ArcGIS
                                                                                                            9.2, a new ‘XY’Tolerance Property is in place.
                                                                                                            ESRI states that “for meter units, the tolerance
                                                                                                            is 0.001 meters and for coordinate system
                                                                                                            units in feet, the default value is 0.003281 feet
                                                                                                            (0.03937 inches). What exactly does that
                                                                                                            mean?
                                                                                                                 It means that the tolerance for any given
                                                                                                            location measurement resolves to those
                                                                                                            values. For surveying purposes the parcel
                                                                                                            cadastre accuracy is improved inside the GIS.
                                                                                                            This is why survey technologies with high
                                                                                                            accuracy, such as total stations, can now be
                                                                                                            applied through the field to the GIS process
                                                                                                            more completely. But there is more to this,
                                                                                                            taking into account the geodatabase. Since a
                                                                                                            geodatabase can hold imagery and feature
                                                                                                            data, those data can resolve to the same
                                                                                                            tolerances. ArcGIS 9.2 also includes several
                                                                                                            improvements for consuming and using CAD
                                                                                                            data, but the interoperability extension really
                                                                                                            makes the CAD/GIS connection fly.
                                                                                                                 Symbolically, feature classes can be woven
                                                                                                            together, which, when one thinks about it,
                                                                                                            makes the concept of imagery and feature
FIG. 1 - Connecting to a GIS Server using ArcCatalog Services to display information                        classes inside one database even more
about Tsunami.                                                                                              powerful. Lastly, geodatabases allow users to


www.geoconnexion.com                                                                                                                                      53
FIG. 2 – Transparency, brightness and contrast controls in                       FIG. 3 – New charting capabilities inside ArcMap
ArcMap.
include ‘rules’ inside the database. Topology           consumption.                                         to learn, and I am not so sure that is a bad
and map symbology benefit significantly from                                                                 thing. But be prepared to learn. Alternatively, I
this feature, ensuring spacing and inclusion            Reviewer Positives:                                  had an ArcWeb service going in 20 minutes. It
and so on are monitored.                                ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 is at the top of the list         all depends on your need. While WMS Servers
                                                        when it comes to considering a GIS package. It       can be connected, a better interoperability
Map Editing and Production                              has more functionality, more features and a          capability that includes the ArcGIS Data
ArcGIS 9.2 includes several new features for            wider selection of added extension possibility       Interoperability extension as part of the core
map editing, publishing and production. The             than any other GIS. This product was stable          product would be welcome.
new transparency functionality is useful and            and performed well from the point of installa-
flexible, allowing numerous layers to be                tion. The documentation and help files are           Reviewer Summary:
displayed and viewed transparently if desired           located throughout the software during use           ArcGIS 9.2 is state-of-the-art GIS. For all those
(Fig. 2). I particularly liked the new charting         and available easily online. In my view, this        who would complain it is too complex, you
capabilities (Fig. 3) which allow users to create       product sets a new course for GIS and how we         should be using ArcWeb Services, which are
different types of charts from individual GIS           think about and apply geographic data. This is       simpler and quicker to get rolling while
layers through a Chart Wizard. Additional               revealed in the architecture of the overall          maintaining performance. To appreciate
functionality includes contrast and brightness          framework which straddles client, internet,          ArcGIS 9.2, it is critical to understand the
controls during the chart editing process.              wireless, and ArcWeb Services – how people           framework of the ArcGIS family of products.
Areas and feature measurements can also be              are changing the way they consume and                This is not traditional GIS, it blends geographic
made, and ideally these pieces of information           develop GIS. The geodatabase is the strong           information processing with very strong
can then be appended to records, then re-               point to the overall system, which are more          publishing capabilities, which are aimed to
charted once again.                                     robust than shapefiles. There are so many            capitalise upon enterprise inter-connectivity.
     I want to touch on ArcWeb Services here            improvements in this software since I last           As a journalist, I have heard Jack Dangermond
because I spent some time working with them             reviewed it in 2004 that I can’t list them all in    apologise numerous times, all around the
also. In principal, users can subscribe to              this short space, but I found many of them to        world, for the previous release of this product.
ArcWeb Services which consists of a large               be useful, adding value to the product, rather       The long beta testing of this version, the
number of pre-determined services from ESRI.            than simple appearance. The NetCDF data              incorporation of hundreds of changes and
For example, routing and network services for           capabilities of this software are impressive. The    well-written literature for this product; all
delivery vehicles could be purchased, high-             90-day credits for trial ArcWeb Services is a        combine to deliver high performance and
resolution imagery or any other number of 3rd           good policy, since 30 days is not enough for         value. ArcGIS 9.2 is designed to operate
party vendor or ESRI create service. However, it        many people. This product imports a spread-          throughout organizations from day-to-day
is important to know that users may create              sheet directly now. The product also outputs         operations through decision making and
their own ArcWeb Services, using their own              to JPEG2000.                                         strategic levels. What you don’t know about
data. Simply upload a zip or database file and                                                               this product can put you at a competitive
the tables are created, then ‘build’ your own           Reviewer Negatives:                                  disadvantage.
service which would be distributed over the             In my 2004 review of this same product, I
web. The link between ArcMap and ArcWeb                 mentioned the ‘Arc’ prefix to the product line       PRODUCT: ArcGIS 9.2
Services, in my view is powerful. Although              was beginning to become difficult to                 MANUFACTURER: ESRI
spatial queries, as an example, can be                  understand. At ArcGIS 9.2, with the advent of        INTERNET: www.esri.com
designed and delivered through ArcWeb                   ArcWeb Services and other products, I find this      SUPPORT: support.esri.com
Services, the ArcMap client is much stronger            more so. Is it possible to be over-branded?          Price: Available from local distributor
on the processing side. This leads to the new           Secondly, with stronger connections to the
ArcGIS Server however, and that is another              surveying and environmental communities,             Jeff Thurston is editor of Geoconnexion
review for another day, since development of            perhaps we will see more connectors in the           International Magazine and has reviewed
services could be created and distributed from          ArcToolBox to manufacturers of instrumenta-          leading hardware and software products
there. Conceptually though, to understand the           tion and data logging equipment, though              throughout the geospatial industry
ArcGIS Framwework is to understand creation             again, that is where the many extensions to          internationally.
and development – and geographic data                   this product come in. This product takes time


54                                                                                                            April 2007 | GEOconnexion International Magazine

				
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Description: PRODUCT REVIEW ARCVIEW 92