Today’s release of ArcGIS 10.1 is arguably one of the most significant releases for some time. Yes – it’s got plenty of new and improved features that will be well received by the existing GIS community and I’ll cover the highlights shortly. However in my opinion, it’s the capabilities baked into 10.1 that allow it to extend GIS out to non-traditional audiences that are really make you stop and think about the possibilities.
The overarching theme of ArcGIS 10.1 is sharing and collaboration – and there has been much focus in the release on making it simpler and faster for GIS professionals with ArcGIS for Desktop to deliver any GIS resource, including maps, imagery, geodata, and analysis tools, as a web service on both ArcGIS for Server and ArcGIS Online. Desktop users can also easily package their maps and layers – their “trade-craft” if you like – and make that content available to staff, stakeholders, partners, or the public via online groups, while maintaining complete control and ownership of their content.
Although ArcGIS Online has been around for some time, with the 10.1 release it really comes into its own as a cloud-based, collaborative content management system for maps, apps, data, and other geospatial information. New at 10.1 is the option for organisations to take out subscription that allows them to customise their “slice” of ArcGIS Online and host feature and tiled services published directly from ArcGIS for Desktop, using Esri’s cloud infrastructure.
ArcGIS for Server continues to be the key enabler in this world of increased sharing. At 10.1 it sports a brand new 64-bit only architecture that leverages state of the art server hardware and features a much simpler and streamlined installation and configuration experience – regardless of whether you’re running it on Windows or Linux. Its job is still to take GIS resources and deliver web services, but it does this significantly faster and with a “footprint” that will make it simpler to administer in on-premise and Cloud-based IT environments. That extra speed can be seen particularly in demanding web editing and map caching, on-the-fly analyses, and imagery exploitation scenarios.
At 10.1, developers will gain even greater access to the ArcGIS system via improved APIs and SDKs for web and mobile applications, configurable viewers, and the new ArcGIS Runtime. To be released separately to the main 10.1 release, ArcGIS Runtime allows developers to create and deploy focused, stand-alone GIS applications for desktop users. The runtime is a small, lightweight deployment that, in terms of capabilities, fits between ArcGIS Engine and the ArcGIS web mapping APIs. For web application developers, a feature that will be very popular is the new out the box print service that allows users to produce high-quality, large-format PDF maps directly from web maps.
Users of ArcGIS for Desktop will welcome the new features in 10.1, such as dynamic legends that only show the information that is displayed in the current map extent, key numbering for labels and Maplex advanced labelling rolled in to the core product. Another one that should get anyone who looks after their organisation’s Geodatabase excited is a Geodatabase Administration toolset that allows admins to interactively view and administer user connections, locks, and versions.
While 10.1 is a “dot” release, it’s a significant one. As well as some great new features and functionality, there are some elements in the release that really challenge the current view of how GIS is used. The good news is that it is designed to support a comfortable transition to next-generation GIS concepts and platforms without jeopardising current GIS investments.