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Spring 2004
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Deploy ArcObjects Anywhere With ArcGIS 9

ArcGIS provides a complete system for developing desktop and server applications that allows developers to

  • Embed GIS and mapping functionality in other applications.
  • Build and deploy custom desktop applications.
  • Configure/Customize ArcGIS products such as ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo.
  • Extend the ArcGIS architecture and data model.
  • Build Web services and server-based applications.


Through a carefully planned evolution, ArcGIS has come to be based on a modular, scalable, cross platform architecture comprising libraries of software components called ArcObjects.

ArcObjects are platform-independent software components, written in C++, that provide services to support GIS applications, either on the desktop in the form of thick and thin clients or on a server for Web and traditional client/server deployments. Because this architecture supports a number of unique ArcGIS products with specialized requirements, all ArcObjects are designed and built to support a multiuse scenario.

Libraries of appropriate ArcObjects are packaged into Developer Kits for ArcGIS, providing a common developer experience across ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server.

ArcGIS Development and Deployment Options

Developers can customize ArcGIS Desktop with common object model (COM)-compliant languages such as Visual Basic. The extensive Windows-based user interfaces for ArcGIS Desktop require the use of COM and .NET environments.

With ArcGIS Engine and ArcGIS Server, developers have the ability to deploy ArcGIS solutions as independent applications on the desktop or as Web services across an Intranet or the Internet.

Esri offers developers flexibility in implementing ArcGIS. Developers can choose from three deployment platforms (ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server), four development environments (Java, .NET, C++, and COM), and deploy applications on a variety of UNIX and Windows operating systems.

Build on Common Foundations

Many ArcObjects that make up ArcGIS are used within all ArcGIS products. This commonality of function between ArcGIS products is important for developers to understand, since it means that when working in a particular category much of the development effort can be transferred among the ArcGIS products.

The ArcGIS architecture provides rich functionality to the developer, but it is not a closed system. The ArcGIS architecture is extendable by developers external to Esri. ArcGIS provides many possibilities for the sharing and reuse of ArcObjects created by Esri, users, and others in the GIS community.

ArcGIS Architecture's Focus

  • Modularity—The ArcGIS architecture is divided into a number of logical libraries so developers can use and deliver only the libraries they need.
  • Extensibility—Users can add geospatial functionality specific to an organization's particular needs.
  • Scalability—ArcObjects perform effectively in all supported operating environments from single user desktop applications to multiuser server applications.
  • Standards and Interoperability—ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Engine support multiple operating systems, database management systems, and development environments in addition to numerous GIS and data standards.
  • Compatibility—The ArcObjects in ArcGIS 9 remain equivalent, both functionally and programmatically, to the ArcObjects in previous releases of ArcGIS.
  • Flexibility—Users can deploy GIS functionality on the server (ArcGIS Server) in custom applications (ArcGIS Engine) or in commercial off-the-shelf products (ArcView, ArcEditor, and ArcInfo).

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