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Spring 2004
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ArcGIS 9: Providing a Complete GIS Platform

Recent developments in computing—the growth of the Internet, advances in database management system (DBMS) technology, object-oriented programming, mobile computing, and wide GIS adoption—click to enlargehave led to an evolving vision and role for GIS. The ArcGIS product line was built to satisfy these changing requirements to deliver a scalable, comprehensive GIS platform. This platform encompasses a set of products that contain generic GIS components known as ArcObjects (see below) and is structured around the geodatabase, the core model for organizing geographic information.

The ArcGIS 9 Family of Products

ArcGIS 9 is an integrated collection of GIS software products for building a complete GIS. The fundamental architecture of ArcGIS enables users to deploy GIS functionality and business logic wherever it is needed on desktops, on servers, over the Web, or in the field:

Desktop GIS—ArcReader, ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo, and the ArcGIS extensions are a scalable suite of products for authoring, sharing, managing, and publishing geographic information.

Embedded GIS—ArcGIS Engine is a complete library of embeddable GIS components and tools packaged together for developers to build new, or extend existing, custom desktop applications. Using ArcGIS Engine, developers can embed GIS functions into existing applications, such as industry specific products and commercial productivity applications (e.g., Microsoft Word and Excel), as well as build focused custom applications for delivering GIS to many users in their organizations.

Server GIS—ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS, and ArcSDE are used to create and manage server-based GIS applications that share geographic knowledge within larger organizations and with many other users on the Internet. ArcGIS Server is an application server that includes a shared library of GIS software objects to build serverside GIS applications in enterprise and Web computing frameworks. ArcIMS is a scalable Internet map server for GIS publishing of maps, data, and metadata through open Internet protocols. ArcSDE is an advanced spatial data server for managing geographic information in a myriad of relational database management systems.

Mobile GIS—ArcPad, coupled with wireless mobile devices that are GPS enabled, is increasingly used for focused data collection and GIS information access in the field.

ArcObjects: Shared GIS Components

ArcGIS 9 is based on a common modular component-based library of shared GIS software components called ArcObjects. Each of the ArcGIS product architectures built with ArcObjects represents alternative application development containers for GIS software developers including desktop GIS (ArcGIS Desktop), embedded GIS (ArcGIS Engine), and server GIS (ArcGIS Server). Together ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and ArcGIS Engine become a comprehensive GIS development platform for deploying GIS functionality anywhere.

Geographic Information Model

The geodatabase is the core geographic information model for organizing GIS data into thematic layers and spatial representations. The geodatabase is a comprehensive series of application logic and tools for accessing and managing GIS data. The geodatabase application logic is accessible in client applications (ArcGIS Desktop), server configurations (ArcGIS Server), and logic-embedded custom applications (ArcGIS Engine).

The geodatabase was designed as an open, simple geometry storage model. The geodatabase is open to many possible storage mechanisms and can be implemented using a multiuser or personal DBMS or XML, and it is not tied to a single DBMS vendor.

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