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Basic data

developer ESRI Inc.
Publishing year 1999
Current  version 10.8 ( Windows )
February 2020

10.1.2 ( Android )
October 8, 2013

10.1.2 ( iOS )
August 6, 2013

10.1.3. ( Windows Phone )
January 6, 2014

operating system Windows , Android , iOS , Windows Phone
programming language Microsoft Visual C ++ , Python
category GIS
License proprietary
German speaking Yes

ArcGIS is the generic term for various geographic information system - software products of the company ESRI . The software products are subdivided by the type of application: In the product family ArcGIS Desktop there ArcView , ArcEditor and ArcInfo , differing only in functionality, ArcReader and ArcGIS Explorer as a free Viewerprodukte and ArcGIS Engine own as a programming environment for building desktop applications. In the server area ( ArcGIS Server ), a distinction is made between ArcSDE as a database component , ArcGIS Server , ArcGIS Server Image and ArcIMS . For mobile devices, ArcGIS Mobile and ArcPad belong to the product group. There are also some geodata and online services that are listed under the heading. ArcObjects is the name for the collection of program libraries that serve as the basis of ArcGIS software products for your own software development.

The names Arc / INFO and ArcView GIS also refer to previous versions of ESRI software. Arc / INFO was the workstation software that was controlled via the command line and ArcView GIS was the first desktop GIS to be accompanied by ArcView from version 8.0 from version 8.0 from the ArcGIS Desktop product family . The ArcGIS Pro and ArcMap applications are included in the ArcGIS Desktop desktop application suite .

Use and areas of application

ArcGIS will u. a. Used in the military field, in disaster control , by municipalities and by security authorities , in particular by police authorities of the federal government and various federal states (e.g. Bavaria , Bremen ). For example, the “Police State Security ” department at the Federal Criminal Police Office uses ArcGIS to analyze geographic data. Even with predictive policing z. Geographic information systems such as ArcGIS are used , for example, with PRECOBS , a software for crime prognosis and crime mapping .

With a dashboard for ArcGIS, the current spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) is clearly displayed by Johns Hopkins University , the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Robert Koch Institute .

ArcGIS on the desktop: ArcView, ArcEditor, ArcInfo, ArcReader, ArcGIS Explorer

The three product scales (product variants with increasing thickness) ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo differ in the attached functions. From version 10.1 ArcView became the Basic version, ArcEditor became the Standard version and ArcInfo became the Advanced version. The structure of the three products is otherwise the same. The product includes four different main programs:

  • ArcCatalog as a data management component
  • ArcMap for displaying and designing 2D maps
  • ArcGlobe for displaying and designing 3D globes
  • ArcScene for special 3D display and analysis
  • ArcToolbox (from version 9.0 is part of the ArcCatalog and ArcMap applications; until then, the Toolbox was another independent application)

The products can be expanded to include functions using extensions.

ArcReader serves as a free program to display pre-made maps or globes from ArcMap or ArcGlobe in PMF format (Portable Map File).

ArcGIS Explorer is a free 3D viewer that can be used to visualize and analyze both services and local geospatial data.

ArcGIS in the server: ArcSDE, ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Server Image

ArcSDE describes the extension of database management systems (DBMS) to include spatial data management. Supported DBMS are Oracle , Microsoft SQL Server , DB2 , Informix and PostgreSQL . The geodata is stored in the DBMS, the administration and access to the geographic coordinates is guaranteed by ArcSDE. From version 9.2 ArcSDE is used under the term ArcGIS Server .

ArcGIS Server originally referred to the software for providing various geospatial services , from Version 9.2 ArcSDE is also included. As in the desktop area, there are three different versions, which differ in the functions offered: Basic (geodatabase, replication), Standard (additional 2D and 3D maps), Advanced (additional geoprocessing). Map services (2D), global services (3D), geoprocessing services (analyzes), spatial data services (data access), as well as geocoding and geometry services can be offered via ArcGIS Server. SOAP and REST are used as the standard protocol for the services ; there are additional protocols for the different versions, such as B. KML , WMS , WCS and WFS . ArcGIS Server also includes components for creating clients, including a. on ASP.NET , Java , JavaScript or Flex . Up to version 9.3, ArcGIS Server included a generator for applications that can be operated via the web interface. As of version 10, the Web ADF is no longer available. As an alternative to ESRI's WebADF, there is currently only one content management system for Flex cards. The software can also be expanded using extensions, just like on the desktop.

ArcGIS Server Image is used to quickly connect file-based raster data to the service interface .

In order to enable a quick display of the map when the map is called up, ArcGIS Server offers the option of precalculating maps and saving them as picture tiles (see Tile Cache ). The generation of these map caches can be controlled by the ArcCatalog utility, especially with the .Net version of ArcGIS Server. With ArcGIS Server for Java / Linux there is also the option of creating caches using shell scripts. The shell scripts call Java, which then calls Python. An automatic cache generation via Python scripts is possible.

ArcIMS is another product that has been available for a long time for the provision of map, geodata and metadata services. The map services are defined in an XML file that is read out and interpreted when the service is started (AXL file). ArcIMS reached the last version with version 10.0 in summer 2010. The ArcIMS product will then no longer be continued. ArcIMS is to be completely replaced by ArcGIS Server products.

ArcView GIS 3.x

The integrated programming environment based on the Avenue programming language and the Dialog Designer extension , which can be used to create user interfaces, allow the user interface and functionality of ArcView GIS 3.x to be adapted and expanded.

However, the software can only be used in its full functionality through extensive integration of user extensions. Some particularly powerful and popular extensions are listed here:

  • XTools : A tool for geoprocessing shapefiles (e.g. blending , merging, joining, cutting, etc.)
  • Memo Tools : A tool collection that provides tools for everyday use
  • Grid Machine : A collection of tools for Spatial Analyst, especially for working with multiple grid data (ESRI-grid)
  • Edit Tools : A collection for converting geodata between different formats and states.

Avenue scripts and extensions for ArcView GIS 3.x are not compatible with program versions 8.x / 9.x.

File formats

A list of the formats to be read by ArcGIS can be found in the ArcGIS online help. ESRI has published a list of element types that can be added to ArcGIS Online.

For raster data , ArcGIS supports several formats for reading and writing. The current version does not offer its own raster data format.

A still commonly used file format for the exchange of vector data are shape files (* .shp / shx / dbf). From version 8.0 the so-called Personal GeoDatabase has been added, which is based on the Microsoft Jet Engine (* .mdb files). In version 9.2 the file geodatabase (* .gdb directories) was also introduced. Both geodatabase variants can contain both vector and raster data and are available in the file system so that they can be exchanged easily. Smart Data Compression was developed for optimized data transfer, which combines compressed objects and their characteristics in one file.

The projects themselves are saved as * .apr files under ArcView 3 and as * .mxd files under ArcView 8 and higher. Starting with ArcGIS Desktop version 9.3.1, it is possible to save projects for map services in an optimized format called a map service definition. Individual layers and group layers are available in * .lyr format. The so-called toolboxes that save geoprocessing processes are saved as * .tbx files, but can also be saved directly as Python scripts.


The ArcView geographic information system can be greatly expanded both in the old version ArcView GIS 3.x and in the ArcView 8.x / 9.x versions by integrating extensions. Various extensions, which are offered as proprietary software by the company ESRI, extend the GIS with additional spatial functionalities:

  • Spatial Analyst : Working with raster data
  • 3D-Analyst : Working with surface data and 3D representation, TIN support
  • Network Analyst : Working with network data (e.g. routing)
  • Military Analyst : Working with data for defense, battlefield planning, and terrain analysis
  • Military Overlay Editor : MOLE, military overlay editor, is a set of COM components used by developers to create applications that meet the United States Department of Defense (DOD) MIL-STF-2525B and NATO military standard Support APP6a standard.
  • MapLex : Extension of the cartographic display options through detailed regulation and prioritization of display elements , especially labels ( MapLex )

Free alternatives

The following geographic information systems are available as free software :


  • Klaus Brand, Peter Kaiser, Albert Strauss, Matthias Benedek: ArcGIS 10.5. The German-language manual for ArcGIS Desktop Basic and Standard including an introduction to ArcGIS Online . Wichmann, Berlin / Offenbach 2017, ISBN 3-87907-636-7 .

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ArchGIS published version. Retrieved March 24, 2020 .
  2. Download page for Android at , accessed on January 19, 2014.
  3. Preview page for iOS at , accessed January 19, 2014.
  4. Download page for Windows Phone at , accessed January 19, 2014.
  5. ArcGIS Pro components . In: . Accessed March 31, 2018.
  6. ArcPad - Mobile GIS . In: . Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  7. ^ Simon Elfert: Geodata and Oracle - Bremen police . In: . Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  8. Portal for ArcGIS, ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online . In: . Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  9. ^ Matthias Monroy: LKA study explains the pros and cons of “Predictive Policing” . In: . January 9, 2015. Accessed December 17, 2015.
  10. Eric Töpfer: Police - Power - Maps - Crime Mapping and police situation images . In: . July 17, 2008. Retrieved December 17, 2015.
  11. ArcGIS Dashboard provides information on the spread of the coronavirus . In: . March 4, 2020. Accessed April 5, 2020.
  12. Web ADF at
  13. ^ Atlas FX ; PDF; 363 kB
  14. Web help for AXL
  15. Note on the lifecycle at ( Memento from September 6, 2015 in the Internet Archive ); PDF; 165 kB
  16. ArcGIS online help: An overview of data support in ArcGIS
  17. What can be added to ArcGIS Online? . In: . Retrieved February 18, 2016.
  18. ^ GIS Tools for the Defense and Intelligence Communities - ArcGIS Military Analyst Available . In: . Retrieved December 22, 2015.