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July 18, 2006 / Steven Pousty

Forget av 1 – I want my ArcInfo Workstation

Some are calling for the return of ArcView 1 or something simple – forget that! I want Workstation and Coverages. Some of you might say it is archaic and didn’t have the slick gui – well for the “elites” that part doesn’t matter.

Here is why I want workstation back:

  1. First and foremost – it was rock solid
  2. It was fast
  3. Coverages were relatively easy to work with – I have spent most of the day grappling with corrupted shapefiles and I don’t really have a way to fix them.
  4. I didn’t have to grapple with VBA and COM just to script some repetitive work – yeah yeah python and toolboxes would be ok if I felt like Geoprocessing did what is was supposed to do.
  5. There was no corrupt registry settings
  6. I loved the shelf full of documentation. The doc was complete and told me what I needed to know – and they were printed out for me. I really dislike reading off a screen.
  7. It ran on some platforms I still want to use. I would love to be working on Solaris and ESRI is basically the main one holding me back.

There is my nostalgic wish for the day. There are parts I love about ArcMap/ArcCatalog – but having things crash on me and not behave as expected really harshes my mellow…

I know I said I wouldn’t rant but ArcMap is making me cranky right now and I had to get some of it off my chest. I’m looking to the blogsphere for a little lovin’ to cure my crankiness. Somebody leave me a funny comment so I can laugh it off…



Leave a Comment
  1. James Fee / Jul 18 2006 10:03 pm

    All the cool people are using Python Steve….

  2. thesteve0 / Jul 18 2006 10:10 pm

    k, but that is not funny 🙂
    Are you helping or hurting?

  3. James Fee / Jul 18 2006 10:31 pm

    You do know you can run python from the command line right Steve….

  4. Matt Perry / Jul 18 2006 6:11 pm

    Right on! I use ArcMap/Catalog for alot of visualization tasks (which is great) but I end up crashing it if I try to do any modest analysis with it. Plus when it crashes and/or fails there is rarely a helpful error message. It just sucks compared to the stabilty and error handling of good ole arcinfo. Ditto the python geoprocessor which is even buggier.

    What good is an easy to use GUI if you have to spend half your time figuring out why you crashed it?! How esri ever saw it fit to let this ArcGIS stuff out the door is beyond me. It is beta-quality software at best (albeit very powerful beta software).

    And don’t even get me started on the fact that you’re limited to the Windows OS…

  5. GeoMullah / Jul 18 2006 6:52 pm

    Why don’t you just use GeoMedia?

  6. Jeremy / Jul 18 2006 7:01 pm

    You will take my command line from my cold dead hands!

    Ahh..Just kidding. While I love ArcInfo Workstation (especially the descriptive help docs) and the stability, it really had some odd features. They always had some strange limitations built in to the software (number of raster combines, size of dataset you build and clean, etc). I also didn’t really care for tables and info. I have seen a lot of GIS specialists who were wizzes at tables and info STRUGLE with traditional sql.

    Also I do like model builder–once you get it working 😉

    I have seen GIS specialists create really powerful models using Model Builder.

    Its a moot point though…ArcInfo Workstation comes with ArcGIS.

    Glad your back blogging Steve!

  7. Matt Ingenthron / Jul 19 2006 5:01 pm

    Hey Steven, good luck with the career change.

    You’re not alone on the desire for ArcInfo, but I understand why ESRI went where it did.

    The only disappointing thing to me is how much, over the last few years, ESRI’s ‘new features’ have mapped to what certain large software vendors have delivered. What I mean by this, is if you look back over the last 5-8 years, joining the network only became important once certain toolkits started coming out from certain large vendors.

    Anyway, the current GIS market is very different than the old one. In fact, the current computing market is different than the old one. More recently, computers have been bastardized into data processing, not just computing as one of Sun’s Distinguished Engineers likes to say. There was a point in time when computers were used for computing.

    Having stood at the Sun booth for years at the ESRI UC, and talking to the large # of joint customers, it’s possible to turn this around. The argument needs to find the right person at ESRI… without getting in to details… Sun really, really tried to do the right thing for these joint customers, but it’s the ESRI customers that have the votes– Sun doesn’t.

  8. thesteve0 / Jul 19 2006 5:46 pm

    Hey Matt, nice to hear from you. You know in certain ways this is “sun’s fault” for losing the market for workstations. As you point out, ESRI is very driven by customer demand and most of the customers have asked for GIS software running on Windows. I don’t expect any different from ESRI though I have tried arguing the chicken and egg situation. So you are absolutely right that until a large amount of customers or customers with large pockets start saying that they need ArcGIS on *nix there will be no chance. And given the COM underpinnings of ArcGIS, when I say large I mean LARGE.

    So it is up to Sun, RedHat, Suse, and Apple to win back a bigger chunk of the desktop market before we will see any movement from ESRI and I don’t really blame them. It just kinda makes me sad.

  9. mighty / Jul 25 2006 5:22 am

    hey steve, why did you leave esri? you were’nt there very long? BTW esri’s largest customer (the US military – we bomb a lot of people) wants UNIX and always has.

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