ArcGIS Jungle of Programming Languages

It occurred to me (stroke of genius!) while fiddling with some VB Script code for labeling expressions in ArcMap last week that ArcGIS asks a lot of you in terms of programming languages. Visual Basic for customizing the software, Python for geoprocessing, VBScript or JavaScript for tweaking like labeling… wouldn’t it be nice if you only needed one language ?! I haven’t spent any time reviewing what’s under the hood of ArcGIS 9.4. Maybe more potential for Python? I think there was some talk of more functionality working in Python with layers. We’ll see.

On a related matter, I am faced with the same confusion when it comes to Web GIS. Which platform for web development is the one I should choose? So I enjoyed today’s email from that asked readers to participate in a survey on this matter. Looking at survey results, the three front runners are Google Open Layers, Maps API, and Mapserver. So my recent efforts with Mapserver may not have been in vain. Amazingly, Geodjango garnered an astonishing 5% !

Over all, I want to stick with Python and hope that eventually it will become the tool to do it all. I ordered a book on Iron Python the other day and then actually saw post on James Fee’s blog about Iron Python & ArcGIS. I would love to see Python turn into the ultimate super-glue language that connects ArcGIS with the Open Source realm.



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2 responses to “ArcGIS Jungle of Programming Languages

  1. I have been teaching my students Python for the past 4 years. It’s versatile and easy to pick up. I also hope there is more integration in the future.

  2. Ultimately Python will be the glue to proprietary and open source software. Since Python already has access to libraries like GDAL and OGR, it is possible to read shapefiles and proccess it in a Open Source environmnet, spiting it all back to shape.

    The biggest transformation of all, as you said, is Django. With time, it will grow, embraced long used libraries (such as GDAL and OGR) and will enable us all to work within a web, (geo)processed environment.

    I agree with you Python is cool!

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