The 1999 User Conference Hits All-Time High
With more than 9,000 attendees, Esri's 1999 International User Conference broke another attendance record making it the largest GIS gathering ever. For the third year, San Diego played host. The 19th annual conference attracted representatives from 91 countries and more than 20 industry sectors.
While milestone anniversaries are often celebrated with a reflection on past achievements, Jack Dangermond acknowledged the company's 30 years of success with a keynote speech outlining his vision of the future as he elaborated on the theme for this year's conference, "Sharing Geographic Knowledge."
"GIS is headed everywhere," Dangermond said. "It has fanned out across many segments of society and is culminating in universal recognition throughout the world. Working to simplify and improve our everyday lives, GIS will be even more intelligent as it evolves from addressing specific applications to a broad-based information system."
In Dangermond's vision, "Everyone will be connected to the World Wide Web, providing equal opportunity for access to spatially related information and enabling us to broadly share our collective knowledge. This will stimulate exponential growth of data and tools. Organizations that make their geographic information available will be more efficient, more successful, and more accountable," he said.
As the adoption of GIS technology becomes widespread, Dangermond encouraged his audience to work toward standardizing data collection and to help set standards for ways to deliver cartography and perform modeling. "We have to think of this as a system and not just projects," he said.
Reaffirming Esri's ongoing support of the company's users in successful GIS implementation, Dangermond said, "It's all about you. We continue to focus on our users and doing the right thing."
During his address, Dangermond proposed that organizations promote the importance of geographic information by adding a new management position--the geographic information officer (GIO). "Successful GIS organizations have good leadership, and you are the kind of people who will be filling these GIO positions," he said.
GIS for Oceans
Dr. Sylvia Earle, internationally known marine biologist, author, and a recipient of one of Time magazine's Heroes for the Planet awards in 1998, delivered the keynote address at the conference opening session.
Earle's research places special emphasis on marine plants and the development of technology for access and research in the deep sea. She played a key role in a decision in early 1999 by the Clinton administration to double the budget of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) marine sanctuaries.
A passionate advocate for oceanographic studies, Earle expressed her deep concern regarding the accelerated pollution and overfishing of our oceans and her belief that GIS technology can play a major role in remediation efforts. "Marine systems are geospatial, too," she said.
"The ocean is the cornerstone of earth's life support system," Earle continued. "For the first time in this pivotal period of history, we are beginning to realize how very little we actually know of the oceans. GIS provides a new approach to integrating information that will allow us the opportunity to understand the oceans in entirely new ways."
The best hope for positive change is with an informed public, and Earle believes GIS can play a significant role in the educational process. She said that developments in GIS technology during the last decade provide the opportunity to make a quantum leap in understanding and sustaining our seas.
Earle presented Jack Dangermond with an award from the Conservation Fund in appreciation for Esri's longtime contributions to conservation efforts throughout the world.
GIS Achievers Recognized
The annual User Conference gives Esri the opportunity to honor individuals and organizations for their exceptional work in GIS. At the opening session of the conference, Jack Dangermond presented the Lifetime Achievement in GIS award to Dr. Waldo Tobler.
Dr. Tobler received his Ph.D. in geography at the University of Washington in Seattle. He is currently teaching GIS at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has spent more than 35 years teaching and researching analytical cartography and mathematical and computer modeling of dynamic geographic relations.
Speaking about transportation and transportation systems, Dr. Tobler said, "All change depends on movement." An unconventional thinker, Dr. Tobler supplied food for thought by drawing a coordinate system on a potato to explain differential geometry.
The world is shriveling dramatically, Dr. Tobler contends, and the relationships between places on earth are much more complicated than they appear.
Esri Special Achievement Awards
Esri's Special Achievement in GIS awards go to GIS sites that have made the most impact on their society. This year, 122 Esri software users were honored at a special ceremony during the conference.
"I believe the GIS work of these select organizations will be inspirational in leading the world into the next millennium," said Jack Dangermond.
Recipients of this year's awards included representatives from every state in the United States, more than 40 different countries, and more than 20 industry sectors.
Winners of the Partner GeoChallenge
Earlier this year Esri challenged its Business partners to provide exciting new applications built with Esri's ArcIMS and ArcInfo 8 software. The following Esri developer applications were chosen as winners of the challenge and were highlighted at the 1999 Esri User Conference GIS Solutions EXPO.
ArcInfo Challenge Winners
Azteca Systems, Inc.--Cityworks 3.0
ArcIMS Challenge Winners
3DI, LLC--Bell Atlantic OSP Web Viewer
Also at the User Conference, a new initiative was launched that is designed to stimulate the data sharing process. Geographic Data Technologies, Inc. (GDT), of Lebanon, New Hampshire, and Esri announced an effort that will enable the dynamic online maintenance of the national spatial data infrastructure of the United States.
Built in collaboration with Esri, GDT's new Community Update program creates a data exchange partnership with government agencies, emergency response providers, and other local entities.
Using Esri's ArcIMS software, Community Update will enable local knowledge providers to access GDT's database over the Internet. These agencies will be able to electronically add new features and related information to the data set and submit that information directly to GDT for validation and attribution enhancement.
GDT will return the information via the Internet to the local agencies. They can use the data within their own applications free of charge. Agencies can register online at www.teleatlas.com/communityupdate.html.
ArcInfo 8--Unveiling the Future . . . Today!
The 1999 User Conference marked the debut of ArcInfo 8. Esri's professional GIS software has been redesigned and reengineered, and ArcInfo 8 represents this next generation.
Detailed presentations and demonstrations were given on many of ArcInfo 8 software's features including its new object-oriented architecture; new user interface; geoprocessing server; ArcObjects; and the applications ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox.
Easy-to-use, fast, modern, and powerful, ArcInfo 8 makes sophisticated GIS even more usable. While the depth of functionality in ArcInfo is extraordinary, new user interfaces and wizards make it easy by presenting GIS professionals with what they need when they need it. Look for an ArcInfo 8 seminar near you--visit www.esri.com/arcinfo8.
New User Interface--The most striking feature of ArcInfo 8 is its user environment. Users access it through three new applications that represent the fundamental methods of how people interact with GIS--maps, data, and tools. ArcMap, the map-centric application, expands on concepts and interfaces introduced in Esri's popular ArcView GIS software and combines the ease of use of ArcView GIS with the full functionality of ArcInfo.
ArcCatalog is data-centric and locates, browses, and manages spatial data. With this tool, you can make quick work of data "housekeeping" and move on to the tasks at hand. ArcToolbox enables ease of data conversion, overlay processing, buffer creation, and map transformation. There are more than 120 tools, each with a menu-driven interface and wizard.
ArcInfo 8 supports two primary geographic data models--the georelational model as well as a new object-oriented model. The new applications of ArcInfo 8 support both of these models.
Streamlined Database Administration--ArcInfo 8 includes a fully functional "personal" version of Esri's ArcSDE technology called Personal GeoDatabase--a geographic data management system for creating personal Geodatabases. This runs on the Microsoft Jet Database Engine (the database engine used in Access). For organizations with large geographic data sets and a multiuser environment, full ArcSDE 8 is available as an add-on extension. ArcSDE operates on a variety of database platforms including Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase, IBM's DB2, and Informix.
Unlimited Customization Options--Along with out-of-the-box GIS applications, ArcInfo 8 provides more advanced users and developers with a comprehensive customization capability. Even nonprogrammers can customize ArcInfo with its drag-and-drop and menu-driven tools. In addition, Microsoft Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is in the box for scripting and application customization. Moreover, advanced programmers can use any COM-compliant language to customize and extend ArcInfo 8.
The new version of ArcInfo also includes enhancements to ARC, ARCEDIT, ARCPLOT, AML, and Open Development Environment (ODE) customization capabilities as well as extensions such as ArcScan, ARC GRID, ARC COGO, and ARC NETWORK.
Esri Rolls Out More New Software
David Maguire, director of product planning at Esri, and a number of product managers gave conference attendees updates and presentations on an array of new Esri software packages.
ArcFM 8. At version 8, ArcFM provides off-the-shelf solutions for utility/telecommunications GIS data management and an extensible platform for the development of sophisticated enterprise solutions. Built on the ArcInfo 8 platform, the ArcFM family of software showcases a number of new important product breakthroughs including a new object-oriented data model for the creation and maintenance of complex GIS networks. Additionally, ArcFM 8 leverages ArcSDE 8 technology to provide support for versioning and long transactions. Perhaps the most significant aspect of the new platform is that ArcFM takes full advantage of the latest developments in object-component technology and uses industry-standard tools for modeling and programming.
The ArcFM software family is being built by a consortium of Esri and Business partners. The software is essentially geodatabases that represent the behavior and properties of land, water, wastewater, storm water, electric, gas, and telecommunications systems, plus an application layer that provides a consistent user experience across all product extensions. Utility Businesses can make use of a single integrated environment to manage multiple utility networks with this software. When combined with other Esri software and Business partner solutions, ArcFM is the cornerstone of a new generation of advanced enterprise architectures. www.esri.com/arcfm
ArcView GIS 3.2. A new feature of ArcView GIS 3.2 is a projection utility that enables users to project shapefiles into a common coordinate system (see page 6). Other innovations in ArcView GIS 3.2 are an enhanced CAD Reader to support AutoCAD 2000 files, a report writer extension update, enhanced ArcSDE and ODBC database access, new data readers and converters, and Esri Data & Maps updates and new data. www.esri.com/arcviewgis
MapObjects 2. Esri's MapObjects software is a powerful collection of embeddable mapping and GIS components. Developers can use MapObjects to create applications that include dynamic live maps and GIS capabilities.
MapObjects 2 incorporates many new features and enhancements. It now supports on-the-fly projection and provides read/write projection capabilities that enable the export of shapefiles in new projections. MapObjects 2 includes new vector and raster formats and a new geocoding engine. The ArcSDE connection handle is exposed, giving developers access to the ArcSDE API directly from their MapObjects applications. www.esri.com/mapobjects
ArcIMS 3. ArcIMS 3 sets the standard for fast and powerful Internet mapping and GIS tools. It is an out-of-the-box solution for creating, designing, and managing Internet sites with mapping and GIS capabilities. Some of the features of ArcIMS that were highlighted at the conference include direct data streaming between server and client; application services such as mapping, querying, and geocoding; a simple wizard-based interface; easy customization; and powerful, intelligent HTML and Java clients. www.esri.com/arcims
Maplex 3.3. Maplex is fully automated name placement and cartographic design software for high-end mapmaking. It offers the solution for the time-consuming task of ensuring that names on a map do not overlap and are clearly associated with the features they annotate.
Maplex 3.3 provides on-screen label-editing capabilities including leader lines. For users working with multiple data formats, version 3.3 imports ArcInfo coverages, SDE layers, and VPF data. Maplex 3.3 also has an updated GUI in a more familiar Esri style, improved U.S.-style street labeling, and added support for land records and parcel map labeling. For petroleum users, the multilabel capability is increased from four to eight in version 3.3. www.esri.com/maplex
Atlas GIS 4.0a. Currently available in beta at the Atlas GIS Web site (www.esri.com/atlasgis), Atlas GIS 4.0a is an ActiveX control for developing applications. This enables direct modification of an Atlas GIS session interface such as menu items and window display. The AtlasMap OCX also enables automated GIS and mapping tasks. Flexible applications can be written using the Atlas GIS functionality as well as the tools of the native programming language used to create the scripts.
PC ARC/INFO 4. Marking a major evolution in this software package, PC ARC/INFO 4 introduces 32-bit Windows executables for faster Windows 95, 98, and NT processing. In addition, Esri has added many new features including image support in ARCPLOT and ARCEDIT, double-precision coverages, new spatial operators (theme-on-theme selections), user-defined commands, and persistent and multilevel relates on data files. www.esri.com/pcarcinfo
For additional information about the Nineteenth Annual Esri International User Conference in San Diego, visit the User Conference Web site at www.esri.com/events/uc.