Interview with Jack Dangermond
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Interview with Jack Dangermond

Interview with Jack Dangermond

by Susan Smith
GISWeekly: There is a lot of discussion and activity around various types of approaches to providing geospatial solutions to a broader audience this year. Specifically, there is much discussion around open source software. Companies such as Autodesk who are offering GIS or geospatial solutions are looking at open source. Is this a direction you see ESRI taking at any time in the future?

JD: ESRI is not an open source company, our engineering style is not open source, and our business model is not set up to support open source. On the other hand, we definitely support the open source movement in principle and are in the process of supporting PostGreSQL DBMS. We make part of our software development in open source format, specifically in the area of geospatial statistics. We embed Python, which is an open source language, for doing customization, which is our core application development language. We also run on Linux, we have a library of extensions and tools on our products that are open source. We are also supporting a number of initiatives for open source, primarily in Europe, to support and extend our portal tools, but generally speaking our business model and our engineering model is not open source.

GISWeekly: Much as been said about Google Earth and comparing it to ArcGIS Explorer. Do you see ArcGIS Explorer becoming a consumer oriented product, although with richer capabilities than Google Earth?

JD: We don't see Google Earth as a competitor. Google Earth is browser-based visualization technology, providing continuous access to imagery and maps, and is principally consumer oriented. With the release of ArcGIS 9.2 there will be exactly the same style of usability, except not just for visualization, but for a whole rich stack of GIS. This will be available so people can run spatial analysis from the server. It will be as easy as a consumer product. It is not that ours is better, it's just that ours will be available to do more than visualization.

More consumers will access ArcGIS Explorer, so there's a possibility for that although our main design with Explorer is for system GIS users to serve their users. GIS departments can publish their data in a form that other professionals can use. It adopts the usability style of a Google Earth but it is not designed to be a consumer product. It is designed to be as easy as a consumer product but I doubt if consumers are going to be running watershed models on it. Our style is to allow our users to publish their services and use KML to be matched up to Google Earth if they want to.

GISWeekly: Now that web application has been extended across ArcGIS 9.2 Server, where does this put ArcIMS now?

JD: ArcIMS and ArcGIS Server have the same web mapping application. That means that you can develop mapping applications on the server that are usable in the browser. It's a simple way to build mapping applications, it's creating a complete template for building a map service in about 45 seconds and launching it. It's a map server in either ArcIMS or ArcGIS Server, so you don't need to be a programmer or GIS developer. It's very easy to make a really good looking map, whereas before that was a lot of work. The diagram that shows web applications span across ArcIMS and across the server. The web application is designed to read maps from ArcIMS, from Server, from WMS, or from ArcWeb Services or any service coming through ArcIMS or ArcGIS. It allows someone to formally do mashups or author map overlays. Our server products are all integrated.

Tier #1: ArcGIS 9.2 is a sophisticated desktop and is going to be used for project based GIS. It will be used for personal productivity and for authoring, so you can offer a map and drag and drop it onto a server.

Tier #2: The ArcGIS 9.2 Server is for serving information and sending it out.

Tier #3: All these newweb clients: browser, ArcGIS Explorer, ArcMobile, etc. that consume the services - consume and fuse services dynamically so you have a whole new complete architecture offering of serving and viewing. That's very different from anything that exists right now.

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