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ArcGIS Development

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What is ArcGIS?

ArcGIS is an integrated, ready-to-use GIS computing infrastructure used for mapping, geographic analysis, data management, and sharing. It is used globally by GIS professionals, developers, and millions of users to solve problems and work more effectively. ArcGIS is applied in virtually every field of human endeavor, across a range of disciplines and professions including all levels of government, business, and education. People bring their business data, observations, and sensor readings to life on maps and in 3D scenes using ArcGIS.

ArcGIS provides a scalable framework for implementing GIS—for a single user, departments and organizations, and entire communities—on desktops, in servers, over the web, and in the field. ArcGIS can run in a number of settings:

  • In the ArcGIS Online cloud infrastructure, hosted by Esri
  • On an organization’s enterprise servers
  • By blending both computing environments

This provides an open GIS computing platform for maps and geographic information, making it easy for users to create and share their maps, data, and analyses with others.

ArcGIS is one of the most sophisticated computing systems available worldwide, generating billions of maps and transactions every day by integrating mapping and analyzing terabytes of geographic information about our world. ArcGIS is in use today in more than 400,000 organizations worldwide both in secure, internal systems and in the cloud using ArcGIS Online. The platform is used for open data sharing and access and by open-source app developers who build on and extend the ArcGIS platform. 

How is ArcGIS development work organized?

Building ArcGIS is a team-oriented experience—we organize our work into small project teams, typically composed of 8 to 12 highly motivated, talented individuals. Team members have overlapping abilities and interests as well as complementary skills that add to each team's strengths and capabilities.

Each development team is responsible for designing, developing, testing, documenting, releasing, and supporting its specific aspects of the ArcGIS platform. Each team focuses on solving user problems as effectively as possible.

Many employees on our development teams specialize in a particular aspect of GIS such as mapping, 3D, raster, geoprocessing, geodatabases, interoperability, network analysis, surveying, geometry, and GIS algorithms. Our employees also have a broad range of general GIS and IT skills. They take a more general, holistic approach to GIS and its capabilities—how to best build and deploy GIS, the complete set of software tools that enable users to do this successfully, and the common problems that GIS users are trying to solve.

What are some of the responsibilities of ArcGIS development teams?

A typical development project will apply agile project methods with iterative and incremental development, where requirements and solutions evolve and grow. Team members take on specific responsibilities and roles based on their skills, talents, and interests and focus on specific deliverables at each project milestone. Some teams are focused on building the core system (e.g., desktop GIS, geodata management, GIS server and infrastructure), while other function-based teams focus on GIS capabilities such as editing and data conversion, cartography, analysis, networks, and 3D GIS.

Each team's goal is to create finished, quality software that can be combined with other components to comprise a highly effective, integrated ArcGIS system release that includes the software; a cloud-based GIS computing platform; rich, authoritative maps; and comprehensive web experiences—all organized into a series of shippable products. Increasingly, ArcGIS includes access to an online web GIS system that is hosted and managed by Esri.

Because the teams are small, focused, and highly talented, each member is able to make significant contributions to each new software release that is shipped to and used by thousands of people around the world. It's not only an awesome opportunity but also an important responsibility. We are looking for special people who are able to make such a commitment to our customers.

What drives ArcGIS product design?

The primary focus is on addressing our users' needs. Development projects begin with a collection of ideas from our users, marketing requirements, and the vision of individual team members. These ideas are then turned into a product design and specifications that cover

  • Software functionality
  • Software architecture
  • User interface design
  • Design and outline for the user documentation (online and printed)
  • Design and outline for online maps and geographic data layers that are delivered both in the cloud and in online data appliances
  • Deployment methodologies and best practices for our users
  • Design and deployment of an online living atlas of the world—maps and geographic data layers that provide the foundation for a wide range of GIS applications and solutions
  • Testing requirements and a test plan

The goal is to build a GIS platform that works and provides users with comprehensive, helpful tools and content as well as best practices and methods for successfully implementing GIS.

What unique qualities does Esri look for in prospective employees?

We are searching for creative, intelligent candidates who know how to effectively work on teams and can efficiently complete projects. We want engineers with software experience as well as professionals with applied GIS knowledge. We want employees who can stay focused and have the discipline to fix software errors and issues. We need staff who can stay intellectually curious and diagnose hard-to-solve software problems. We need more than just people who can dream up the possibilities—we need employees who have the discipline to implement and deliver results founded on great ideas.

We like employees who have done well in school. For example, many of our employees have completed master's degrees or higher. We appreciate the discipline and personal responsibility that is demonstrated by setting high goals and achieving them. Applied knowledge is a very important trait that we look for. We want employees who have experience building things and completing interesting personal projects, utilizing what they have learned. We find that great insight comes from building new systems, completing projects, and applying the concepts and principles learned in the classroom.

In addition to these characteristics, we look for individuals who have special skills and experience in one or more of the following disciplines:

Design—from being able to understand and faithfully implement a design to leading a design effort on a software project.

Development programming—the skills and discipline necessary to create great software.

Writing—the ability to write clear, user-centric ideas on how to apply ArcGIS to address real problems. This requires a solid understanding of GIS methods and concepts, along with the desire to redefine what we mean by GIS in the 21st century.

Testing—the ability to test our software in ways that we expect our users to deploy our systems, in addition to isolating, diagnosing, repairing, and resolving software problems. This is to ensure that Esri software works as expected, scales to large data sizes and the number of users, and is robust and continues to work around the clock. This is one of our most important roles in ArcGIS development.

Applications programming—the ability for web developers (HTML, JavaScript, JSON, etc.), iOS developers, and Android and Windows developers to use ArcGIS to build custom applications, extensions, and solutions. This includes encapsulating the best practices and methods for ArcGIS developers to employ in their day-to-day work.

Software release—the process of managing the release of robust, high-quality software products in which all issues have been uncovered and resolved. This includes the responsibility to deliver software patches and service packs for existing software releases that address key issues encountered by our users.

User support and solutions—the ability to understand the tasks our users must perform, the methodology or best practices to accomplish critical work tasks, and how we can improve our software to better support users and their daily operations. This is achieved by using the software in the same manner as our customers and can involve working side by side with customers to learn about and better understand our users' needs.

Map design and geographic content creation—the ability to both envision as well as design and compile useful maps and geographic information layers that power the use of ArcGIS in a modern online map-centric world. We work with our users to compile the key basemaps and foundational data layers that power the use of GIS across all disciplines.


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