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ArcView GIS Even Better In Version 10, Still Some Bugs (Updated)
Written: Apr 11, 2011 (Updated Nov 25, 2011)
a Very Helpful Review
by the Epinions community
Pros:Industry standard, full-featured, map templates and data, user-friendly, data sharing, web applications, website support
Cons:Learning curve, training recommended, can be frustrating and occasionally buggy.
The Bottom Line: My life changed the day I learned ArcView. I love using ArcView GIS and it's the lifeblood of my profession as a Cartographer/GIS Analyst.
I've used ArcView, ArcGIS and ArcMap from ESRI since 1991. That's twenty years using a software package that just keeps getting faster, more powerful and easier to use over time. ESRI's slogan is: Get the Geographic Advantage. I love their motto! Version 10 definitely takes GIS farther than ever before, and once ESRI fixes a few remaining bugs, ArcView will be even more awesome.
Background: Two decades ago, most folks had never heard of GIS ~ Geographic Information Systems. If you're using Mapquest or Google Earth or any other online cartographic service or address locator, you're enjoying the fruits of GIS technology. GIS is an engine which drives mapping and so many other geographic analysis capabilities. GIS combines coordinate data or location-based features on the earth's surface with attributes describing the physical and cultural nature of each point, line or area. Dozens of government agencies, municipalities, utilities and industries use ESRI GIS. Arcview software for mapping our world, literally, had become a leader around the globe. ArcView is now almost as ubiquitous as Microsoft Office.
ArcView, ArcMap and ArcInfo are all versions of ESRI GIS (Geographic Information Systems) software which is the foundation for any serious mapping, location analysis or geographic data repository. ArcView is the lowest priced software in the series, and comes with the necessary data sets and functionality for the beginning or basic user. More advanced users or enterprise database clients may require more expensive and advanced versions of ArcGIS. The only way to know which version and licensing options your organization requires is through your local or corporate ESRI representative. When you're paying $1000 and up for a software package with an annual maintenance cost, you should talk directly to the source to make sure your needs are covered. I recommend starting with the basic package and adding extensions or upgrading only when a clear need is defined. As a GIS analyst and consultant, I use ArcView on a daily basis to store, map and analyze my clients' data.
Special note for students: I teach online GIS courses using ESRI software with the Getting to Know ArcGIS Desktop series of instructional manuals. Some of these books come with a 3-month trial version of the software. You can install this version, but you'll find it deactivates quickly and may be out of date, especially if you've bought a used textbook. For only $100 and proof of your student status, you can buy a full featured version of ArcView for your educational use (non commercial) only. I think this is an awesome deal for students and teachers! You must renew the educational license annually, but for learning purposes it's a must-have purchase.
ArcView 10 is the most recent version of ESRI GIS software. I've been using this version since last September, when I began teaching college courses with the updated software. Having heard that the software could be slow on older computers, I purchased a new Sony Vaio notebook with 4 GB Ram and core i3 processor to handle the software. I'm pleased to say the performance is outstanding on my notebook. Map files (mxds) load in about 1 minute, which is pretty darn quick. Redraw times are seconds, compared to minutes on some older computers and versions like 9.1.
New Map Templates and Online Data: It's easier than ever to set up predefined map templates and add free online map data. A wide variety of map services like Bing maps, allow you to quickly add aerial photos, photo-map combos and composed street maps for your location, are easy to add and load quickly, thanks to their tiled format. Data that used to be cumbersome to find like the latest 2010 census popuation data by county, zipcode or block group is readily available from Arc GIS Online ~ just click on Add Data ~ ArcGIS Online and search for the data theme you need.
System Requirements: Instead of taking valuable space listing the hardware requirements for ArcView, you are encouraged to visit esri.com for a complete enumeration. Most versions of Windows OS support ArcView 10, including XP Professional, 7, Vista and others. You can't use it with Mac or Apple OS, though.
ArcView GIS is feature rich and easier than ever to use. The software has two main viewing modes: data view, which serves up your data at any scale and is not tied to page parameters; and layout view, which displays your map with your page preferences and desired scale. ArcView 10 is the first version to feature data-driven maps , which allow you to segment your study area into tiles or sectors and automatically generate mapbooks or atlases in single or multiple PDF format. Previously, map book capability required downloading a plug-in application called DSMAPBOOK. This is no longer necessary, though. I like using the new data-driven map book application, but it has a few quirks like having to scroll through your pages one by one instead of accessing a complete list of your mapbook pages to jump from page to page.
Look and Feel: 10 is still menu driven, just like its predecessors. All your data layers and their associated symbols are listed in the Table of Contents, and can be sorted by draw order, selectability, data source, and visibility. Ribbons at the top allow you to easily pin menus you need and hide menus which aren't relevant for your tasks. Service pack 1 addressed a few bugs I had with moving and unpinning menus, and I'm pleased to say the menus interface is very stable now. The Layout, Data Frame and Standard Toolbars are the ones you'll use most often to navigate around your maps in both data and page views. I use the scroll wheel on my mouse to zoom in and out ~ it works very intuitively, albeit opposite of the scrolling function on Google Maps. You can change all parameters for ArcView functions, including the scroll wheel zooming, either in the ArcMap Options menu or the ArcMap Utilities program which operates independently of the program.
Great New Editing Interface: Adding and manipulating points, lines and polygons is easier than ever with improved visualization and functionality. There's a new Feature Template which makes it easy to add features with defined attributes and symbols with the click of your mouse or digitizing cursor. For example, imagine a zoning layer with residential, commercial, industrial and parks features. Instead of requiring separate steps for adding a polygon and attributing it with proper zoning, Version 10 shows all the zoning types in the feature template, with their designated symbols and colors. You just click on the new feature you want in your database and start adding vertices ~ the polygon will have the appropriate attributes and symbology.
Analysis Tools: ArcView is not just mapping software, it's also a spatial analysis tool. I like the new Geoprocessing drop down menu located in the main menu. Typical functions like buffer, clip, union, dissolve, merge and intersect allow you to compare features in data layers and analyze how your data interact with each other. These are just a few of dozens of tools which are available for spatial selection, location and proximity analysis, one of the basic uses of GIS.
Another feature of ArcView that I love is the ability to create your own symbols from pictures, such as png files. I created some attractive map brochures for a city which highlighted their parks and recreational facilities. Instead of boring circles and squares, I used colorful cartoon-like graphics of slides, tennis rackets and skateboards to make my own symbols for the map. The resulting map looked professional and made the city's playgrounds, ball fields and skate parks really stand out.
If you're making utility maps, you'll appreciate the ability to modify and save symbols quickly and easily. For example, I chose a manhole symbol that I liked, modified it to fit the map scale, and then added it to each utility layer using standard colors from the American Public Works Association Uniform Color Code system. ArcView gives you three different methods to create the exact color you need, including HSV (Hue, Saturation, Value), RGB and CYMK. I also like the ability to represent utility lines like water, sanitary and storm sewer with line sizes that mimic their true size underground. Choose Proportional Symbols and Data Represents Width. If you're planning to dig a new foundation, it's helpful to visualize the true sizes of underground conduits which can be 42" and up! Symbolization options for point, line and polygon features are nearly endless and very flexible, including graduated symbols, graded color schemes, pie charts etc.
Bugs and Glitches: Over the years, all versions of ArcView, including version 10, have had numerous bugs which require workarounds, patches or service packs to be downloaded. In fact, there is an entire website devoted to discussion of bugs and possible solutions. The new ESRI website is so full featured you might easily get lost while searching for answers. I recommend taking some time to browse esri.com. You can type specific questions about the version you're using at support.esri.com. I have learned the answer to dozens of problems or questions about tasks I wanted to accomplish by searching the support website. Additionally, folks love to share their success stories and workarounds for bugs or missing functionality. The sheer breadth of information and resources available to the user at ESRI.COM is unbelievable. I've learned so much over the years simply by searching for problem keywords and reading the answers that other users provide.
Version 10 Data Driven Maps Export PDF Missing Features Bug: I've upgraded my version 10 with the latest Service Pack 1.0. This eliminated quite a few bugs in the software, but not all of them. I am currently experiencing problems with exported PDFs and prints missing features like labels, symbols, whole data frames and even parts of photos. This is so annoying! Sometimes it happens with map files (mxd's) that have been transferred from other users, or which have become corrupted in some way. It's not obvious what the problem is, but a workaround is to create a brand new map file and drag your layers from the misbehaving map into the new mxd. Start by dragging a single layer in the projection you want for the mxd. Then, drag everything else over. You must reconfigure the page size and add back any text, north arrows, scale bars etc. which were on the previous map. Starting fresh with a new mxd seems to fix many bugs which can't be explained or modified by other means. Another quick fix to missing features is to remove all transparencies from your map layers. Transparencies increase the load on your processor and printer and can cause exporting issues.
UPDATE #1: If you're still having trouble exporting PDFs from data driven pages, try using LZW Image Compression if you've got high resolution jpgs or other imagery. That finally worked for me!
UPDATE #2: I just resolved a severely disabling bug in which none of my Toolbox Tools functioned correctly. I received the message "Navigation to the webpage was canceled" when running a tool. After much trial and error, I figured out that the error came from not having Internet Explorer set as my default browser (I'm running Windows 7). To fix the problem, I went to Control Panel > System and Security > Programs > Default Programs > Set program access and computer defaults > Microsoft Windows. Then, I restarted my map document and my tools worked again.
File and data sharing: You can import and export from over 70 different file formats, including shape files and autocad drawings. Beginners commonly make the mistake of sending mxd or layer files to show their work. Please note that these files aren't exchangeable in their native format because they require supporting data files to function properly. Version 10 comes with an export function which allows you to export map (mpk) and layer (lpk) packages for sharing.
If my review gives the impression that ArcView is robust and full featured software, you've understood the gist correctly. Like Rome, ArcView and its many versions and extensions wasn't built in a day or even a decade!
Summing Up: I hope my review highlighted some useful features and ways in which ArcView 10 is improved over the previous versions. It's not uncommon to be wary of upgrading to the latest version. Upgrading ArcView software from previous versions takes about 4-8 hours in my experience. Upgrade time depends on product features and extensions, network environment, SDE or enterprise database, python or programming environment, etc. You need to consider your system resources, have an updated processor and video card and at least 2-4 GB RAM for best results. As for complaints, there is a message board devoted to folks with gripes about bugs or slowness in version 10. I suggest reading the forums about ArcView 10 before upgrading. ArcView version 10 may have a few bugs, but overall the features and mapping options far outweigh any glitches or occasional drag on my system. I definitely recommend ArcView 10. You'll never stop learning new things with this software ~ I learn something new every day I use it!
Rating: For all its features and user interface, ArcView deserves a 5 star ***** rating. However, due to the bug that keeps my map books from exporting to PDF properly, I removed a star and rated 4 stars **** overall.
PS For additional perspective, I've also reviewed a previous ArcView version. Got Maps? Why ArcView is great GIS software ~ my personal recommendation
PPS Forgive the length. It's a $1000 and up software package, so I tried to be thorough without going overboard.
keywords: ArcView review, ArcGIS review, ArcMap review, GIS software review, ESRI, version 10
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