ESRI’s flagship Geographical Information System (GIS) promises a “GIS for the new millennium.” ArcInfo has been completely re-tooled in version 8 and reflects ESRI’s slow but sure migration from UNIX to Microsoft Windows NT. The user environment boasts three new tools – ArcMap for map-based edit, query and display, ArcCatalog, a data-centric spatial database manager and ArcToolbox for geodata processing and transformation.
ArcInfo supports the legacy data model of other ESRI tools such as ArcView, but introduces a new object-oriented geographic data model – the ‘geodatabase.’ This will allow users to tag geo-referenced data with behavior, properties, rules and complex relationships. ArcInfo 8 is built around ESRI’s Spatial Database Engine (SDE) in the ArcSDE Application Server which can utilize other native spatial technologies where available (such as Oracle SDO). Scalability is ensured through a variety of database engines. Microsoft Jet (Access) is used for the personal geodatabase and Oracle or SQL Server can be deployed for multi-user environments.
Concomitant with the move to NT is the development of Visual Basic for Applications as the programmatical glue for ArcInfo applications. As the press release says, ‘any component object model’ can be used to drive ArcInfo – so long as it is COM! ArcInfo 8 incorporates features originally developed for ESRI’s GIS client software ArcView and is said to provide ArcView’s ease of use with the full functionality of the database-driven ArcInfo. ArcInfo 8 also offers high-quality cartographic output. Jack Dangermond, president of ESRI claims that "users will immediately realize the benefits of the new ArcInfo whether they work on a single desktop system or a large company network." ArcInfo 8 is shipping now, more from www.esri.com.
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