After reading this post in the morning, I just couldn’t resist but to have a quick look at the long-awaited ArcGIS Explorer. If you have an ESRI global account (or are willing to register) you can download it here.
As mentioned in a few discussions earlier this year, ArcGIS Explorer won’t be a mass market product and is not supposed to compete with Google Earth. So I expected a product that would fit my needs as ArcGIS user and offer new possibilities for data and result dissemination for instance.
Basically it does.
After trying different globe-types offered by ArcGIS online (btw, which software is needed to create nmf files?) I wanted to load some local content.
Since ArcGIS 8 (if I remember correctly) ESRI is promoting its Personal Geodatabase file format for local storage. If you moved over the years from Shapefile to Personal Geodatabase (as we did) you’re now screwed. Apparently ArcGIS Explorer can only access the new File Geodatabases, coming with ArcGIS 9.2, and good old Shapefiles. So if you consider, among other things, ArcGIS Explorer as tool to access locally stored information, you should migrate to ArcGIS 9.2 and File Geodatabases, another ArcGIS island file format, or just stay and be happy with Shapefiles.
Because there is no ArcGIS Server in sight and there won’t be any in near future, I tried WMS. Well, it works. Basically. Sometimes.
Still, the major drawback of ArcGIS Explorer is its overall performance. Once you’ve seen how fast you can move and fly around in Google Earth, it’s hard to go back to a sluggish performance like the one you’re experiencing in ArcGIS Explorer.
It would be interesting to see ArcGIS Explorer in combination with ArcGIS Server together in a local network. I bet it performs somewhat faster.
The concept (e.g. extensible with customized tasks) is great and there is definitely a market for usable professional globe applications (cf. Google Earth’s license agreement), but this software isn’t ready yet. Even ESRI evangelists have to face that fact.