All this ArcGIS interoperability …

has revived a rant i had a couple of months ago regarding WFS support.

In a word, its terrible.

As has been discussed elsewhere, the fact ESRI expects its consumers to purchase *another* extension to read open standards that they “openly support” is questionable and laughable at best. Sure the cutdown FME is a great addition if you want to read 50+ formats, but when 8.3 had a free plugin with arguably better WFS support, you really gotta question ESRI’s motive about supporting the standard in the first place.

From where i’m sitting, they rant about their free WFS/WMS server connectors for other products such as ArcIMS but then when they don’t include the same functionality for their client’s to consume, whats the point?

WMS support is dime a dozen in all desktop GIS products nowadays so i couldn’t care less that this is out of the box with v9 … but ESRI has really fallen behind the eight-ball when competitors such as Mapinfo include OGC support out of the box, and Intergraph with two nicely configurable extensions.

In contrast with the ESRI / Interoperability approach, one size definately doesn’t fit all. Last time i looked (and please correct me if i’m wrong), the WFS connector through FME simply attempts to download the *entire* dataset from WFS, indexes it and you’re supposedly ready to go. Thats fine when the dataset is tiny and or relatively simple, but when its a complex cadastral dataset its just not going to work. There isnt any smarts built in to use the filters at all (no, not even bbox), use any intelligent caching or make it even configurable to setup what you would like FME to request. It’s just plain dumb.

Kudos must go out to Cadcorp, Carbontools, UDIG and Mapinfo for some excellent WFS support. Hopefully the big E can take note, although i’m not holding my breath
Uh oh, I’m starting to sound like the GISDirtbag‘s apprentice!

3 thoughts on “All this ArcGIS interoperability …”

  1. Well I agree, this extension should be standard. I believe both KML and GML will be supported out of the box at 9.2 so at least that is something.

    The problem with the data interoperability extension is that it isn’t an ESRI product. I guess ESRI should have done this themselves, but they worked with Safe Software so I assume that they couldn’t include it without paying huge royalties in the first place.

    I agree though, out of the box ArcGIS should at least support WMS, WFS, GML and KML.

  2. Hi Chris,

    I can advise that the most recent FME WFS reader does not pull down the entire dataset and only queries what is needed, so at least that part of your rant has been addressed.

    The other thing is that in 9.2, the WFS reader is part of the core of ArcGIS install, and doesn’t need an interop license. More correctly, if people install the interop extension but don’t license it, they still get WFS reading (with the bounding box filter), as well as Simple Features Profile Level 0 GML reading and writing.

    Lastly, if you can let us know (support AT of some good sample WFS sites to test against, we’d very much appreciate that. One time at a trade show I asked a well known vendor of WFS servers for some suggestions of good sample sites we could use to test against and was told “why should I tell you that”. So we’re always interested in alternate ways of finding good WFS sites to test with.


  3. Hi Dale, thanks for the info.

    Its quite difficult getting information on exactly whats upcoming in 9.2 unless you are on the beta list so thanks for the headsup.

    Public WFS examples are indeed hard to come by, but i could easily setup some test services for you guys to have a play. Otherwise, running the usual service=wfs google search should give you some hits

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