Committing to Open Standards
Since the early 1980s Esri has been a strong believer and supporter of open standards in its approach to creating products. This began with a commitment to support multiple hardware vendors and operating systems, thereby providing our users with the opportunity to select the most appropriate platforms for their organizations.
Esri was the first vendor to openly support a wide variety of methods for standards-based data interoperability including conversion, direct read, open API methods, and extensive DBMS support. Esri continues to support a wide array of two-way conversion utilities for transferring to and from public (governmental) and industry-standard data formats. In addition, ArcGIS 8.1 supports more than 40 direct data readers, as well as features a software tool that allows users to write procedures to openly read any unique data format. Esri was also the first and only vendor to openly publish its desktop data format (shapefile) and support an open API to its ArcSDE database gateway across all DBMS vendors' platforms.
Esri works closely with OGC, ISO, and other standards-setting bodies at the technical and management level to evolve new standards and implement them in our products. These include support of standard methods for storage and access of simple features in a DBMS. Esri is also one of the first vendors to support the Web mapping server specification with its ArcIMS product and the Geography Network. Esri participates in a large array of other standards efforts in ISO and various U.S. federal government and interested committees, and we will continue to evolve our tools and incorporate open standards. We believe strongly that closed systems are the enemy of progress in our field and that adoption and integration of standards creates greater opportunities for everyone.
As our GIS industry creates better standards, it will mean that GIS is more accepted in the general IT community. We appreciate our technical colleagues in other software companies, as well as within OGC and other standards organizations, for working diligently on these efforts and providing leadership and direction, which has helped us in turn build tool sets compliant with these open standards. We will continue to pursue this in evolving our technology.