Useful ArcIMS tools

In my travels there have been a few nifty tools i have picked up along the way to make my life in ArcIMS a little bit easier.

ArcXML DTD. Is extremely useful for validating those painful AXL files. I dont know how often I have left a field open, or missed a quotation mark. This will validate the structure and report any errors found. Very useful for those doing a lot of editing of AXL’s by hand. I recommend XMLStar to do the DTD and general well-formedness checking, but there are lots of others out there.

Shapefile UPPERCASE.exe. Arcims has an uncanny habit of dropping or simply not adding services with shapefile layers having a combination of lower and upper case field names. This program will open the DBF file and automatically convert them to all uppercase. Sure beats doing it manually.

PHP Logwatch. This is a multipurpose PHP script that monitors any number of log files running on your system and outputs that last X lines (eg. 50). It is particularly useful for monitoring the 400 arcims log file locations and any other system log of any importance (eg. IIS/Apache logs). Oh, and it also has error syntax highlighting. The script detects the latest log file in a given directory, making it even more relevant for ArcIMS where it creates a new log at every restart (not neccessarily each day). The script can be monitored from a remote location with only the PHP script needing direct access to the log files.

Webtail. Webtail is similar to PHP Logwatch in that it tails log files, however the main difference is that Webtail is able to tail any log file visible on the web so it does not need to reside on the same machine. Extremely useful if your sysadmins have given you read access only to a web readable directory, but you dont actually have access to the machine.
Example: Read access only to a website with the logs (eg. http://log.com/arcimslogs/). All we need to do is call webtail via “java -jar WebTail.jar http://log.com/arcimslogs/AppServer_1123623189000_0.log 10″ and at 10 second intervals, it will look for any updates to the file and output the difference. It only needs to retrieve the entire file once, and so lessening the impact of downloading a large log file every 10 seconds. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

MXD to AXL converter. If you search at ESRI you’ll hear that there is no way to convert between the two, but there is, and there has been since 2003. Jeroen Ticheler’s converter on Arcscripts has been helping me for well over the year doing the arduous task of converting MXD’s to AXL’s. It isnt going to solve all our problems (as you will still need to manually do some of it), but it sure as hell speeds up the process.

Arcexplorer installed on the same ArcIMS machine. Nothing annoys me more than the conflicting installs of ArcIMS / ArcMap and ArcExplorer. “Sorry, we detected X on your system, install cannot proceed.” There is thank god, an easy way to get round this and this is to just use ArcExplorer version 4 (unfortunately i dont have a link handy). Version 9 will throw the error, but v4 runs happily on the same machine. This workaround has saved me 20 times over when we have needed to debug our production ArcIMS server and this was the easiest way to grab a service. Very useful when there is no other access to the machine.

Thats all that comes to mind at the moment, but im sure theres a heap more.

Please post a comment if you have something else to recommend. Anything to make administering the nightmare that is ArcIMS, a little less painful :)