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April - June 2007
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Consider writing an ArcUser article

ArcUser is not only the magazine for Esri users but also a magazine by Esri users. Some of the most interesting and useful articles ArcUser publishes come from its readers.

As a GIS user, you may possess tremendous expertise with one or more of Esri's products, know a great deal about applications in a particular industry, have specialized knowledge regarding the use of specific data types or formats in GIS applications, or have integrated GIS with other technologies. ArcUser magazine is a vehicle for sharing your knowledge with other users.

The magazine focuses on users and seeks three types of articles—tutorials and tips and tricks articles, articles that describe the integration of GIS with other technologies, and feature articles that tell how and why GIS was used to solve a problem or improve a process in a specific industry or field.

Tutorials and Tips and Tricks

Tutorials describe how to accomplish a GIS-related task, such as modeling a dataset, or provide strategies that make readers more productive when doing common tasks. These articles can describe the best methods to use, workflows that are efficient, tips and tricks for individual software programs, functionality in a program that may not be widely known, the use of a script or extension, how to process or manage specific types of data, or how GIS software programs can be integrated with the larger IT environment.

Consider the following points when writing any of these types of articles:

  • Explain the benefits of using this procedure, extension, or technology.
  • Provide system parameters where appropriate. These parameters could include such items as the amount of available free hard drive space needed or the amount of RAM and/or processor speed required to perform the operation in some kind of decent fashion.
  • If a tutorial uses an ArcMap document (.mxd file), make sure it was created without dependencies on extraneous extensions. The project should not require software other than that specified in the requirements for the tutorial. Note any limitations regarding specific versions of software or specific operating environments.
  • Provide sample data or use data that is readily available such as the sample data that comes with ArcGIS or United States Geological Survey (USGS) data that can be downloaded at no cost.

A Note on Code or Scripts

Include all the code required for a procedure or referenced in an article as text files. Reference these as Listing 1, Listing 2, etc., not as "shown below." Do not use screen shots to display code listings. Typically brief examples of code are used to illustrate points made in the article. The complete code listings will be made available from ArcUser Online.

Write code and scripts using standard naming conventions and something other than default control and variable names. Please comment code so that readers can better understand how the program works. Scripts or procedures cited in articles should work reliably on a typical installation of the software. Test scripts and/or procedures before submitting an article and, if necessary, include sample data.

Any programmatic alterations that change an application's working environment, especially the startup of a program or extension, should include instructions for saving the original configuration so that a modified application can be restored to its initial condition without reinstalling the program. This eliminates aggravation and wasted time if readers do not find the modifications useful.

In addition to tutorial-style articles, ArcUser is a resource that helps direct users to the many support materials Esri distributes. If you have written a handy script, developed a useful extension, created a symbology set, or designed another Esri product enhancement that will be shared with users, consider writing a description of it or a tutorial for it.

Technology Integration Articles

Technology articles explain how information or other technologies are used with GIS or show how other information technologies can be integrated with GIS. Identify the audience for the piece in terms of interest and expertise. Tell readers if your article assumes that they have knowledge of specific subjects such as a particular programming language. Direct them to sources of additional information on topics that may be new or unfamiliar to a GIS audience. These resources can be books, articles, or Web sites, but they should be readily available.

Feature Stories

These articles describe how real people and organizations have used Esri products and services and/or those of Esri business partners to solve problems, improve processes, realize cost savings, or perform tasks that would not be possible in the absence of GIS.

  • What hardware was used?
  • How was GIS integrated with other technologies in the organization?
  • How long did the project take to complete?
  • How long has it been in use?
  • What aspects of the project were the most successful or unique?
  • What is the future of the project or application?

Before Writing an Article

Detailed guidelines for articles, along with article submission deadlines for each issue, are available from ArcUser Online. After reading these guidelines, e-mail or call if you have any additional questions regarding a proposed article.

To be considered for publication, an article must comply with these guidelines and must be submitted through the ArcUser Online Web site after reading and agreeing to the copyright policy. Simply upload the text of the article using the form at the bottom of the copyright policy page. Do not e-mail articles directly to the editor or send draft copies. Send your best effort by the deadline and include all scripts, sample data, and illustrations with captions.

Remember that ArcUser is a magazine, not a journal. ArcUser articles, while often dealing with technical topics, should be written in a lively and accessible style. Articles are written in English, in the third person, and with an international audience in mind. They should be 500 to 2,000 words in length. Articles that are substantially longer than 2,000 words will not be considered. All articles received by the deadline date for a specific issue will be reviewed by the ArcUser Editorial Committee and considered for that issue or possibly a later issue.

Contact information is typically included with articles. Many ArcUser authors have reported making useful professional connections, been recognized for their expertise within their organization, or found collaborators for projects or research. Consider contributing to the Esri community by writing an article for ArcUser magazine.

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