I’m in Warsaw this week to present at the 20th ESRI European User Conference. An interesting contrast to the “big show” in San Diego, today the first day had a similar agenda with presentations from Jack Dangermond and David Maquire, but rather than an audience of thousands, the audience here in the wonderful Palace of Culture and Science was measured in hundreds.
Little difference in terms of message from July, although clearly progress has been made, and there are now a few more details around the upcoming products.
Of particular note for me was the “first public demonstration” of ArcGIS Explorer, the real thing this time rather than the “smoke and mirrors” prototype shown at the International User Conference. ArcGIS Explorer is a Google Earth Killer, clearly ESRI were more than a little put out by the hype surronding Google Earth and have come out fighting.
ArcGIS Explorer will be a free 15Mb download from the ESRI website and will connect to a dedicated ArcWeb server farm at ESRI providing an experience similar to Google Earth, although I was not clear where the imagery is sourced from. What got me excited however, is the ability of ArcGIS Explorer to use other data services including OGC WMS and WFS servers and any ArcIMS server you may already use. ArcGIS can also display local data, File GDB’s,shape files, most image formats and even KML files from your PC’s hard drive.
The interface is quite radical for ESRI and has a task driven interface similar to google earth, with simple search tools as the primary user interface. ESRI have developed a interactive navigation tool which floats as a separate window, and according to my ESRI friend has been developed based on the rich experience of games designers who really know how 3D navigation works.
The open nature of ArcExplorer in data terms is complemented by an API which will allow developers to customise and extend ArcGIS Explorers capabilities. This could be a really hot product for ESRI, and its timing might well allow it to benefit from the building anti Google sentiment – it also might just turn out to be the ArcView 3.x replacement everybody is still looking for.
Written and submitted from the Westin Hotel, Warsaw, using the hotels broadband network.