ESRI User Conference Summary

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Welcome to GISWeekly! This week we bring you a summary of some of the highlights of the ESRI User Conference held in San Diego July 6-11. Also, please take a look at the links to Special News Reports from the conference posted to GISCafe's Daily News and the photos!

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ESRI User Conference Summary

ESRI President Jack Dangermond
Day One -"GIS for our Human Managed Planet" full coverage of Jack Dangermond's keynote address
Day Two - "Taking Steps into the Unknown" Peter Hillary and the 50th Anniversary of the first team on Everest; Columbia Shuttle Recovery Effort
Day Three - "Bridging Gaps" Survey and GIS Summit; ArcWeb Services

The role of GIS is changing with technology, said Jack Dangermond in his keynote on Monday, and the focus for ESRI is now on systems implemented in information systems, networks, and web services that are shared and interoperable, and server oriented technology.

The theme of the conference "serving our world" illustrates GIS moving toward a new serving technology environment, and more business services offered, which we see evidenced in other aspects of industry as well.

Peter Hillary with Mount Everest looming behind him onscreen
Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund Hillary, in his keynote address on Monday afternoon, spoke about his experience climbing Mt. Everest in May 2002, on the 50th anniversary of that historic climb. Sir Edmund Hillary and Tensing Norgay were the first men to reach the summit of Mount Everest in 1953. In 1953, no one knew at the time whether Everest was climbable, or even whether it was physically possible to survive at the altitude of 29,000 feet. Peter is ever mindful of the fact that his father and Tensing Norgay climbed Everest as a team. They cut steps into the unknown, said Hillary, where "now you have ropes to hold onto all the way."

The plenary session on Monday at the ESRI User Conference presented themes that were reinforced all week--in the trends that were seen on the exhibit floor, special sessions and private interviews:

* GIS is moving more and more to the Web (ArcWeb Services and Geospatial One-Stop (GOS)
* ArcGIS 8.3 is available, 9.0 and 9.1 are in development, but are nearing the completion and extension of the geodatabase platform
* Standards and interoperability are key

GIS and the Web

On Wednesday (Day Three) I wrote about ArcWeb Services and how various partnerships are adding their capabilities as ArcWeb Services to the core content.

Thursday I spoke with Executive Director of Geospatial One Stop, Henry Garie. The goal of Geospatial One Stop, said Garie, is "to allow people to find information easier than before." The portal will reference all data sets and information available in the U.S. Government. It will harvest the NSDI's metadata and try to get communities to take responsibility for posting relevant data. "We envision it as national, not federal," said Garie, "and encourage non-GIS users to use it as well."

Garie demonstrated to me what could be done with the National Map that has been integrated inside the portal. Two or more services can be overlaid to produce a live map service, that can be emailed to others, who can then pan and zoom the data with a browser.

"It's sort of like Geography Network but more government focused," explained Jack Dangermond in his keynote, "and will be the foundation for building spatial data in this country."

Why haven't we heard much about Geospatial One Stop before? The product was publicly rolled out June 30, but wasn't given much publicity, said Garie. They began to develop it in January, so they had only three months to delivery. "This (ESRI UC) is a good venue to get people excited and to ready them to help build and populate it," Garie said.

To take a look at this in action go to

ArcGIS Development

Interestingly enough, ESRI has organized software developers in small teams, so that those working on the development of ArcGIS 9.0, for example, are not the same folks as those working on ArcGIS 9.1.

Dangermond talked about the development of ArcGIS, a new framework that has been in development for the past five years. The underlying technology of this framework is a large GIS component library called ArcObjects. "This year we will be redeploying these objects in multiple products, servers, desktops, where ever best needed."

Simply put, ArcGIS manages a geodatabase, which abstracts geographic information and organizes it in a geodatabase - data models, metadata, geoprocessing models, etc. It supports all general spatial data types in relational tables such as topology, vectors, dimensions, surveys, networks, and images.

There is a new XML/export/import standard for ArcGIS and for datamodels.

ArcGIS 9.0, called "the ArcInfo release", is going into beta next week. This product has been under development for several years, and ESRI has overlapping teams that work on the various releases. 9.0 completes and extends the platform, and is where ESRI will introduce server based GIS, geoprocessing, annotation, ArcGlobe. It will be a complete developer release. Maplex a rules based text placement application, will also be in this release.

There will be five ways to interact with ArcGIS 9.0 -- you'll be able to do it through commands, dialogs, scripting, and model builder. Model builder is a visual graphic environment for building models, incorporates all extensions, and can use any datasets.

ArcGIS 9.0 will include ArcPublisher/ArcReader which is able to embed maps into any application, royalty free. Version 9 also includes ArcIMS 9.0 complete publishing for metadata and mapping.

ArcSDE 9 is the data management server for ArcGIS, which is faster, integrates data management images, new administration tools, and provides an open gateway to scalable RDBMS environments.

"It will support centralized geoprocessing such as focused and mission critical applications, and will be a cheaper way to develop and support applications," said Dangermond. The ArcGIS Engine has a developer focus and brings in the rich environment of ArcObjects.

In ArcGIS 9.1 ESRI will introduce Network Analyst which will create service areas, and multiple models. "We are moving to storage of cartographic layers in the geodatabase," Dangermond explained. Database cartography solves problems such as map series, generalization, and multi-representation.

Standards and Interoperability

Moving along the path to interoperability, on Thursday ESRI and Bentley Systems introduced their progress on their AEC and GIS Interoperability Initiative, which seeks to integrate this interoperability into ArcGIS 9.0 and the next release of MicroStation V8. With this Initiative, users will be able to read and write DGN files into ArcGIS and MicroStation users will be able to read ArcGIS maps.

Dr. David Maguire, Director of Technology and Product Strategy for ESRI, spoke on how AEC and GIS are different and complementary:

AEC and GIS Differences


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