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Spring 2004
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Introduces ArcGIS Server, Broadens Capabilities for ArcIMS and ArcSDE

ArcGIS 9 Expands Serverside GIS Capabilities

  click to enlarge
ArcGIS Server exposes the depth of Esri's GIS capabilities, as shown in this example of using editing tools within a browser to specify conservaton plan areas.

With the release of ArcGIS 9, Esri takes a significant step toward broad use of geospatial technology across the enterprise by expanding the tools available for creating and managing server-based GIS applications. In addition to new capabilities and additional extensions for ArcIMS and enhancements to ArcSDE, Esri is introducing ArcGIS Server, an enterprise GIS application server. New features offered with each of these products are described below.

ArcGIS Server

ArcGIS Server is a platform for building enterprise GIS applications that are centrally managed, support multiple users, include advanced GIS functionality, and are built using industry standards. ArcGIS Server manages comprehensive GIS functionality, such as maps, locators, and software objects, for use in central server applications.

"ArcGIS Server will change the way we do business. It provides a platform for delivering GIS capabilities to a much larger audience than was previously possible. That, by itself, is a favulous move for us."

Kenneth Gorton, GIS Manager, American Forests

Developers can use ArcGIS Server to build Web applications, Web services, and other enterprise applications, such as Enterprise JavaBeans (EJBs), that run within standard .NET and J2EE Web servers. ArcGIS Server is also accessed by desktop applications that interact with the server in a client-server mode. ArcGIS Server administration is performed using ArcGIS Desktop, which can be used to access ArcGIS Server over a LAN or the Internet.

click to enlargeEnd users can access ArcGIS Server applications using a range of clients including browsers, desktops, or mobile devices. Because the processing occurs on the server, the end user does not necessarily need to have any GIS expertise to use and benefit from an ArcGIS Server application. For example, by simply typing an address into a form displayed in a browser, a gas utility call center employee could set in motion a network trace that indicates which gas line is having problems and which gas valve potentially needs to be shut off. With one more click, the call center could find out which customers need to be notified in the event of a shutoff. In other words, ArcGIS Server makes it possible for GIS to become a seamless part of the work flow within an organization.

Because ArcGIS Server is based on ArcObjects, it exposes the depth of Esri's GIS capabilities. These capabilities include mapping, geocoding, spatial queries, editing, tracing, and high-end analysis. The ArcObjects components that are available to developers via ArcGIS Server make it possible to build GIS capabilities that are as simple or complex as desired.

ArcGIS Server leverages the data, maps, and work that GIS professionals build with ArcGIS Desktop. The applications developed using ArcGIS Server will provide the opportunity to create and serve up a whole class of advanced GIS server applications. Many users will add ArcGIS Server to their environments and leverage their GIS investments across their organizations.

The main elements of an ArcGIS Server implementation are

  • The GIS server, which hosts and runs the server objects. The GIS server consists of a server object manager and one or more server object containers.
  • The Web server or Web application server, which hosts Web applications and Web services that use the objects running in the GIS server.
  • Web browsers, which end users use to connect to Web applications running in the Web server.
  • Desktop GIS applications, which can connect over HTTP to GIS Web services running in the Web server or directly to GIS servers over a local area network (LAN).

ArcGIS Server adheres to information technology standards, providing maximum interoperability and compatibility with enterprise architectures using a variety of popular programming languages, development environments (e.g., Java, .NET), commercial applications servers, and database management systems.

"Our whole client base consists of nontraditional GIS users. The server-based architecture of ArcGIS Server allows us to create a front end that is customized and optimized for these end users. By simplifying the GIS and making it easier to use, we can more broadly deploy GIS so that it is used on a daily basis."

Brian L. Haslam, President, Azteca Systems, Inc.

The standards-based approach, as well as extensive functionality and the ability to deal with terabytes of data, make ArcGIS Server ideal for providing GIS capabilities to a wide range of distributed users.

For more information on ArcGIS Server, visit


In addition to expanded support for the ArcIMS core capabilities of serving maps, data, and metadata over the Web, ArcIMS 9 will also support some new options for data delivery, tracking, and the creation of GIS portals.

The new ArcIMS Data Delivery extension makes dissemination of data easy and open. This extension enables users to easily select, export, and deliver data in multiple formats and projections from a centralized Internet map server. It gives users and administrators the ability to publish data in all the standard spatial formats used within the industry.

During the ArcIMS 9 time frame, Esri also plans to release Tracking Server. This toolkit will provide a way for ArcIMS users to collect real-time data from many data sources and formats and then send it to Web and desktop clients including ArcGIS Tracking Analyst.

ArcIMS 9 also supports the GIS Portal Toolkit. This toolkit is a technology and services solution for implementing local, regional, national, and Global Spatial Data Infrastructure (GSDI) portals. GIS portals organize content and services such as directories, search tools, community information, support resources, data, and applications. The GIS Portal Toolkit is built using industry standards including TCP/IP and HTTP for accessing services and ISO 19115 for storing metadata. Data is stored in industry-standard database management systems and can be requested and served in all widely used GIS standards such as Z39.50, Geography Markup Language (GML), Web Map Service (WMS), and Web Feature Service (WFS).

With the release of ArcIMS 9, Esri expands the core capabilities of ArcIMS with support for the ArcIMS ArcMap Server on the Solaris operating system. ArcIMS ArcMap Server was first introduced with ArcIMS 4 and allows users to take advantage of the advanced data access and cartographic capabilities offered in ArcMap by publishing ArcMap documents (MXD files) on the Internet.

Also included in ArcIMS 9 will be enhanced support for the .NET development environment through a .NET Link, an enhanced ActiveX Connector, image and feature streaming, improved messaging for system administrators, and numerous quality and performance enhancements.

For more information on ArcIMS, visit


In addition to serving spatial data to the ArcGIS Desktop (ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo) and through ArcIMS, ArcSDE 9 will be the key component to managing a multiuser spatial database in relation to the new ArcGIS Server product. Users will be able to add ArcGIS Server to their ArcSDE environment and leverage their investment in a geodatabase across their organizations. ArcSDE will also be a significant element in the architecture of ArcGIS Engine desktop applications that require access to multiuser geodatabases, either directly or through ArcGIS Server.

ArcSDE has undergone major enhancements at version 9, the most significant of which is its vastly improved administration and performance. Other major highlights include support for compressing versioned databases while users are still connected to the database; a new spatial database model for SQL Server; additional platform support for HP-UX, Red Hat Linux Advanced Server with IBM DB2, and Sun Solaris; direct connect functionality with DB2 and Informix; partial Pyramid updates with raster data sets, allowing faster updating of large images; JPEG 2000 compression support for raster data; and an improved Java application programming interface that now includes raster functions. The release also includes OpenGIS Simple Features Specification for SQL Well Known Binary (WKB) geometry storage for ArcSDE 9, Oracle, and SQL Server as well as OpenGIS Simple Features Specification for SQL Spatial Type geometry storage for DB2 and Informix.

For more information on ArcSDE, visit

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