Help with Visual C# for ArcGIS !

If you’re relatively new to GIS programming like me, you’ll find that finding a good GIS Programming book or manual or online tutorial is nearly impossible. I am not a programmer by training and don’t have a CS degree. As a geologist, I’ve come to GIS from the geo-side. But I would like to pick up enough programming skills to make me a more productive and powerful GIS user/analyst. If that sounds like I want to do merely scripting, maybe so.

I’ve put in some time learning Python using a number of Python books, some better than others, and looking at some online help. But the books cover only Python, and the ArcGIS specific stuff online is very basic, gets your mouth-watering, and then leaves you to your own devices.

When it comes to development with C#, it’s even more difficult. I’ve only glanced at Visual Basic or VBA, and wasn’t encouraged to spend more time since ArcGIS 10 will be the last version to support VBA (and here). But at least there was lots of information on how to get started with VBA, e.g. BoxShapedWorld. With C#, I feel like I’m having to bridge the chasm between the easy-to-follow instruction for VBA and the resources directed at the hardcore-C# developer… hahaha. Well something like that.

I enjoyed the first few chapters of “C# Unleashed“. But when I picked it up again last night to find some help with my problem, I quickly got frustrated because I didn’t feel like part of the intended audience for this text. Fortunately, I also had a copy of Beginning Visual C# 2005 Express Edition. With this one, I felt like diving in. It takes more of a hands-on approach, rather than a let-me-tell-you-everything-and-then-some approach.

My first encounter with C# code was baffling. I decided to print out the code for the project and ended up with four pages! And all the curly braces take some getting used to. As someone who wants to start learning the language while starting to use existing snippets, it would sure help to know how the different parts of the program all work together. That’s exactly what chapters 1 and 2 of Beginning Visual C# 2005 Express Edition are all about. Hopefully this will be a gentler intro to the .NET/C# newbie although, of course, it lacks any reference to or help with ArcGIS.

The ESRI tutorial I started this week is not bad, but again, I didn’t feel like it was addressing my kind of audience – the person with no .NET background. One neat little tutorial can be found here – GIS Lab: Program in ArcGIS using the .NET framework and C#.  I just wish it had been 12 chapters instead of just this one.

I might have to try Geospatial Training’s course: Programming ArcObjects with .NET. The course sounds just like what I need. My only hesitation is that I didn’t enjoy their download for Geoprocessing with Python.



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8 responses to “Help with Visual C# for ArcGIS !

  1. Jack

    Hi Arne, I’m new to programming ArcGIS in .Net too. Found your blog and GIS Lab are quite helpful, easy to get hands on. Thanks for sharing your experience. Just wondering if you happen to know whether “ArcGIS Snippet Finder” (in the right-click context menu) is available in Visual C# Express 2008 as well? I couldn’t find it on mine thought can still insert snippets. Thanks!

    • Arne

      Hey Jack,

      sorry I’m behind on responding to blog comments… I haven’t fooled around with Visual Studio in a few weeks. My “day job” has taken over temporarily. But I seem to remember having no trouble with the Snippet Finder. I will pay attention to it next time. Fixing to start up with GIS again. Oh, and I am trying out the .NEt course by If that turns out to be worthwhile, I will post about it. – Thanks for your comment. Keep in touch. How is the weather in .au ?

      • Jack

        G’day Arne, that’s totally fine. Thanks for your reply, and I tried reinstalling the package still have no luck with the ArcGIS Snippet Finder. I guess that’s just something been left out in Express version. No worries. I’ll survive without it. Will keep visiting your blog : )The weather in Brisbane is all right. We got a lot of water for last a few weeks, Autumn here now

  2. Pingback: Programming Library – “Pro Iron Python “ « Adventures in GIS

  3. Ann

    Nice post. I am also beginning with C # in ArcObjects. The Geospatial training for c# is bullshit. They don’t even know how to make a decent tutorial. Never buy anything from them again.

  4. Nana

    Hi Arne, I was happy to find your blog. For what I read I think you could give me a little feedback on your experience, I have done some programming with vba for arcgis but evidently i have to move forward, since my daytime job is not programming, i have limited time to do that if I want to not be left behind, I want to know which is better to learn C# or, and which one is more supported, and if you can give me other recommendations, I would appreciate your help

    • Arne

      Sorry for the super late reply. Can’t help with VB or C#. I’ve dabbled with C# and wasn’t too successful. Eventually I will have to try it again. in the meantime, I get a lot done with Python and am focusing on learning more SQL. I think Python is the best solution for those of us in GIS who are not programmers and just need the occasional help with scripting and batch processing of data. Thanks for your comment.

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