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Special Insert   

ArcInfo 8: Platform Support

Existing users currently use ArcInfo across a range of UNIX and Windows NT platforms. Esri will continue to support and extend ArcInfo on both of these platforms taking advantage of their inherent strengths. We envision that UNIX systems will form the backbone of future GIS systems for many users in the same manner as it does today. Conversely, the new ArcInfo applications (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, ArcToolbox) that are graphic, highly interactive, and user-interface oriented will take advantage of the Windows environment and all that it offers.

ArcInfo 8 is a system of integrated components. The components can be deployed on a single workstation or can be distributed over a heterogeneous network of workstations and servers.

At ArcInfo 8, users will start to think of their computer networks as the "platform." Our vision is that users will continue to leverage their investments in UNIX hardware, and they will also begin to add Windows NT seats on their networks for appropriate tasks. ArcInfo 8 is designed to facilitate this.

ArcInfo 8Three new "applications" in ArcInfo 8 (ArcMap, ArcCatalog, and ArcToolbox) are designed for use solely on Windows NT (and in the very near future, Windows 95, 98, and 2000). Yet they are also designed to integrate and work directly with the ArcInfo UNIX environments. Alternatively, all of ArcInfo can operate on a single Windows platform in a client/server mode.

Users will be able to implement an integrated UNIX/Windows network to perform many tasks. A single license manager process on a network can be used for both UNIX and Windows NT seats. ArcInfo on Windows can work with data stored and maintained on UNIX systems. Furthermore, the ArcToolbox application can execute its geoprocessing functions on remote UNIX servers. In this way, users can compose and execute very large geoprocessing jobs in a Windows environment and run them on UNIX hardware anywhere on the network.

Distributed GIS Vision
The ArcInfo 8 architecture allows users to begin considering their investment in Esri software as part of an overall system of components that can be distributed across a network.

Frequently Asked Questions About ArcInfo 8

Who will get the new parts of ArcInfo (dependent on Windows NT)--only Windows NT users? No. All ArcInfo users, regardless of their current platform, will receive both ArcInfo for their specific platform (e.g., Sun Solaris) as well as a complete copy of ArcInfo for the Windows environment. A single license manager will regulate use of the integrated system.

Will I have to do anything different to run ArcInfo 8? No. You can install and use ArcInfo 8 as you have all past releases.

Has Esri stopped development on UNIX ArcInfo? No! A large range of enhancements have been added to ArcInfo and are available for the same platforms that Esri supports at ArcInfo (Sun, HP, IBM, Silicon Graphics, Digital UNIX, and Intel and Alpha versions of Windows NT). Highlights include

  • New data converters (SDTS, TIGER, DIGEST).
  • More than 20 major new functions and tools in ARC COGO.
  • Industry line and marker symbol sets for many users. These same symbol sets are provided with ArcView GIS 3.2.
  • Java support for ODE, allowing users the ability to develop standard interfaces that work across all supported platforms.
  • New generalization tools such as automated street centerline generation from simple road casings and tools for simplifying building shapes.
  • ArcSDE 8 support including many performance enhancements and advanced search tools.
  • Shapefile 2 support integrated with ArcSDE 8.
  • Advanced layer-on-layer selection in ARCEDIT and ARCPLOT.
  • Support for three-dimensional coordinates and measures in shapefiles and ArcSDE.
  • Improved map projection of grid data sets.
  • Integrated license management.
  • New Geoprocessing Server for remote geoprocessing.
  • Bug fixes and performance enhancements.
  • And much more.

I have invested a lot in my UNIX network and hardware. What should I do with my UNIX investments now? The majority of ArcInfo 8 will run on supported UNIX platforms. This means you can continue to use your UNIX investments. You should consider adding at least one Windows NT platform to your network to start to exploit the new ArcInfo applications. ArcInfo 8 is designed to run the new applications on Windows while being networked into a UNIX platform (server), which is envisioned for analysis and data services.

Your UNIX platforms should be used for server-based tasks, as well as for intensive computing activities. For example, when high availability for a specific task is critical, UNIX may be a very important and wise choice. These are exceptional cases. In most cases, we recommend that you start to think about using PCs for many of your advanced desktops in your organization. But plan wisely.

Once you have started to use and understand ArcInfo 8, you will probably want to add additional Windows desktops on your network for appropriate work. You will probably perform highly interactive tasks on Windows and major heavyweight computing and data management on UNIX via your desktops.

This "new" strategy may not be much of a change from your existing system configuration; many users today have similar configurations with PCs running X-emulation software on their UNIX networks.

What about my investments in AML and ODE? All AML and ODE applications will continue to work. All existing procedures that have been built with them will also continue to work. Nothing needs to change about your ArcInfo system and day-to-day work. AML applications written in version 6 of ArcInfo work perfectly with ArcInfo 8. Data sets created in previous versions also continue to work.

I hear there is a new spatial database format at ArcInfo 8 that is all-relational. Am I required to purchase a DBMS or convert my existing data to use ArcInfo 8? No. ArcInfo 8 will work on all existing data including ArcInfo coverages, Esri shapefiles, SDE layers, GRIDs, TINs, images, CAD drawings, and INFO tables. For example, ArcMap is an excellent editor for ArcInfo coverages and Esri shapefiles. Moving data to SDE is optional.

What about INFO as a tabular database tool for ArcInfo? Does it continue to work? Do I have to move all my attribute data into another database? INFO is a supported software module within ArcInfo 8 and continues to be maintained by Esri. The 8.0 version of INFO is year 2000 compliant.

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