ESRI ArcGIS Explorer preview podcast: Worth listening to

This is why I rarely listen to podcasts: You don’t know what’s in them until you listen to them. You can’t scan them for interesting content, nor can you find them using a search engine. That said, some podcasts do contain interesting information, information that makes you wish there was a transcript.

That’s the case with the ArcGIS Explorer Overview podcast, posted to the ESRI ArcGIS explorer home page in lieu of the actual application, which everybody’s been expecting to find there for several days now. The podcast is worth listening to. First thing I learned is that you have to say “Eeh Ess Argh Eye” instead of ESRI, rather like calling NASA “En Ay Ess Ay”. Bernie Szukalski, a product manager at Eeh Ess Argh Eye, is interviewed about ArcGIS Explorer, and is eager to position the application as something other than a competitor for Google Earth — here is his response to a question about what the major differences are between ArcGIS Explorer and Google Earth:

First, ArcGIS Explorer has been designed from the ground up to be a deeply integrated, integral part of the ArcGIS family of products, and specifically, its been designed to be an excellent client for ArcGIS server, and provide a way for people to publish GIS capabilities to whomever they choose, either within their organization or to anyone on the web. So, first and foremost, ArcGIS Explorer is designed to be part of an overall GIS system, and not a standalone consumer product.

Second, while we publish a globe of worldwide imagery that is similar to Google Earth’s globe, we’ll also publish a series of globes — we call these ArcGIS online services. And these globes will include worldwide streets, terrain, boundaries, labels, political maps, physiography and a whole lot more. So our product is not meant to focus on a single globe but on many globes, and more importantly these globes will represent the foundations upon which our users will publish their data on top of.

You mean like default layers in Google Earth? Oh, wait, I don’t get to ask the questions.

But Szukalski’s explanation of the concept of “tasks” and “results” in ArcGIS Explorer later on in the podcast is genuinely interesting, and makes me eager to try it out. It sounds intuitively right, it produces XML, and its modular nature also sounds promising. He also mentions how the application will be able to work not just with ArcGIS Server but with “any web service,” such as a web service offering financial reports. This could be interesting, depending on how it works: Imagine being able to query Flickr Maps for keywords directly from within ArcGIS Explorer, as a plugin.

6 thoughts on “ESRI ArcGIS Explorer preview podcast: Worth listening to”

  1. Stefan:

    One of my takeaways from the podcast is that ESRI doesn’t consider AGX a Google Earth competitor because ESRI is not much interested in the mass market who is not, and never will be, ESRI licensed customers. And considering the costs of providing spinning-globe content over the web, it’s a reasonable tack to take. If ESRI can provide a good-enough solution that their own customers–the primary generators of professional geospatial content (at least in the US)–and offer integration with their proprietary server products, etc., then mission accomplished.

    Add the above with Virtual Earth making a quite respectable debut with 3D, and the question to me is whether GE has squandered its first-mover advantage (16 months in time; and a ton of buzz and publicity) in the professional market. With ESRI’s entrenchment in the traditional GIS sector and Microsoft’s corporate presence (and its significant developer mindshare with .NET), where’s Google’s presence in the workplace? Are they willing to roll out a significant sales-and-support force? Or is there a fundamental contradiction between their high-growth model of advertising-generated revenues with the prosaic training, support, and hand-holding that corporate customers expect for their licensing dollars?

    None of the above should be interpreted as a denigration of the enthusiasm, DIY hackery, and tremendous exposure of the power of geobrowsing that Google has single-handedly wrought over the last year-and-a-half. KML has been a truly innovative format for its combination of flexibility, functionality, and relative simplicity. But as the late Milton Friedman observed, there is no free lunch. GE will ultimately have to pay its way on the Google balance sheet, and presumably the professional market is expected to be a significant part of that equation.

    If Mountain View has a master plan for world dominance, then bully for them. GE is clearly the class of spinning globes today and the engineering team has so far displayed an impressive pace of innovation. However as a developer/consultant with my own interests to look after, the data I’m getting from the field is that 1) Enterprise is often underutilized since companies have to figure out for themselves how to integrate it with their own systems; 2) Virtual Earth is getting uptake (because the corporate world has a built-in comfort level with Microsoft) and the average .NET developer can whip up some sort of map fairly easily; and 3) the organizations with significant GIS are indeed intrigued by GE but aren’t going to wrestle with integration if AGX gives it to them out of the box. As I’ve mentioned before, $400/head Pro licensing and IT departments’ policing of ‘illegal’ free versions have effectively reinforced the perception of GE as a fascinating novelty with its loose, informal ‘community’ of hobbyists and enthusiasts.

    Many of your readers will read the above and think “why should I give a damn whether anyone uses GE at work?” Well, as someone clever once put it, these great new map interfaces will be free as long as somebody else is willing to pay for them. Astonished by the innovation and usability of Keyhole/GE, we assumed Google would figure out a clever way to monetize it. Now that two significant competitors have come out with their own products and very clear methods for getting their existing customer base to integrate their globes with their other offerings, I think the issue is of some urgency. Because if you think the professional world has been cautiously conservative in embracing virtual globes as a data visualization tool, wait until you ask them to absorb the switching costs (time, training, development, etc.) down the road even if you’re giving them the geo-browser for free.



  2. Hi, Brian. I know your jobs. This very nice. Thanks!

    I am occupied by the development of modules for GE and by Argis.

    ESRI did not create way for the professional developers.

    I look forum ESRI and see 30-50% of answers to a question “How to…” the answers to “in –£–ï Geowizard”. And answers to these answers: “It is self promotion and spam”. I nice to Ianko works. This developer cannot find way to the professional promotion.

    I can add to 70% of these publications “still possible in Geoselect, Typeconvert…”.

    Programmers XTools also can add such answers.

    We can make 30, 100, 300 identical answers to identical questions. This is repeated. If we open the forum in the month, then we see one and this is dead cycle. It’s very poor practice and dull forum without the content for the users. You can compare with GEC.

    Before ESRI team delete my free extensions from ArcScripts. No problems. Part of extensions these guys not open :) It’s real problem! We see real level of communications and tolerance in ESRI.

    I think Argis users need see this

    Codes of this module make one guy in one year. It is first module of this guy :) This not supported Google. It’s himself way. How many ESRI users know about?

    We can integrity ModFlow and other FEM models into GIS, adapt voxel structures to tracking. I see this way technically, but i do not see way for the contacts with ESRI. Is thus far ESRI interesting only ESRI. Therefore in actuality the real sources buzz this ESRI.

    Entire advertisement from GE is based on the real results and is supported by real friends throughout the world.

    To ESRI now need REAL help of professionals.

    Not answers near —

    Q: “How to…”

    A: “In my great module…”:)

    Developers not must make 10-20 these answers in month. It is bad work of managers from ESRI! It is quest to managers, not to developers.

    You developer and can talk about tech solutions of ESRI (AGX, Net…). This solution is great, best, power etc. But i do not see the way of their use in my ideas and projects.

  3. One of the major reasons that Google Earth has not caught on like it’s sibling Google Maps is the requirement of a special client viewer instead of just working in a browser. It’s a real barrier to have to download and install an application, especially in a corporate/government setting where users might not even be allowed to install their own software. For a while I believe it wasn’t free. Then it has these confusing different versions. Then it wasn’t available for Linux. And the last time I tried (catch what I just said), the linux version didn’t work too well. Put it in the browser and watch popularity take off.

  4. In ArcGIS 9.2 personal geodatabases do not work with previous versions of ArcGIS. Before this problems we see 8.x to 8.x+1, 9.x to 9.x+1… Shp files not can have names of attributes fields more of 8 symbols. It’s dbf based solution. ESRI managers see this before release?

  5. I think Google Earth is beautifully designed, intuitive tool that is great for zooming in and previewing your next vacation spot. But I’m a geospatial professional, and as much as I’d like to use KML/Google Earth in the workplace, we can’t due to the licensing restrictions. It’s just that simple. So I’m waiting anxiously for AGX with the intention of using it as the primary geospatial data display tool for all our our non-GIS users.

    Why pay $400 for the pro GE license when I can use AGX or Visual Earth for free?

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