Disclaimer: The author take no responsibility on the authenticity of
the information provided here. These have been collected from different
sources. For rough comparison, I have listed prices for some of the
software packages. Most software companies offer substantial discounts
for nonprofit, educational, bulk, and other discounts, and many do not
provide "list" prices even on their own websites.
PLEASE NOTE that the following descriptions were written in 1999.
To find up-to-date software descriptions and reviews, please refer to the
respective website of the GIS Vendor or the references I have given at
the end of this page.
Back to the Main Page
Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc
Overview ESRI is a privately held company with approximately
1200 employees with ten regional offices in the U.S., sixteen international
offices, and is headquartered in Redlands, California. ESRI has over 50%
penetration of ArcView into Local Government Market.
Key information concerning ESRI software development
All flagship products (Arc/Info, ArcView, MapObjects) are
currently being re-engineered to take the advantage of COM, CORBA, ODBC,
and commercial RDBMSs.
Reprojecting to other coordinate systems/datum transformations
can be accomplished using AML (for Arc/Info), or Avenue (for ArcView).
Forty-six map projections are supported in Arc/Info.
of Nov 1999)
License Costs: Primary license - $9,900; annual
maintenance fee is $3,000 (beginning in second year). Secondary license
is $8,100 with annual maintenance of $1,200 (second year).
Training Costs: Training is $1750 for each course.
Arc/Info runs on Windows NT or UNIX and is implemented as
a true client to ESRI's Spatial Database Engine (SDE) universal spatial
Customization is generally required on all implementations.
You can design and build the system using development tools including Visual
Basic, C++, PowerBuilder, Tcl/Tk, and Motif. Or, use ARC/INFO's built-in
scripting language, ARC Macro Language(AML).
Arc/Info is supported by many additional sub-modules including:
ArcStorm (Arc Storage Manager) is a storage facility and
transaction manager for spatial information. ArcStorm is a feature-oriented,
continuous geographic database that can be closely integrated with a commercial
ARC NETWORK: network modeling and analysis
ARC COGO for coordinate geometry
ARC GRID for raster geoprocessing
ARC TIN for surface modeling and terrain analysis
ArcPress for graphics metafile rasterization
ArcScan for scan digitizing and scanning data entry
ArcExpress for display speed acceleration
Next version: Arc/Info 8.0 - Released
in August 1999 - for more details visit (http://www.esri.com/)
ArcView 3.1License Cost: $1,195 for single license; Annual
Technical support is $349; Annual upgrade is $295; Annual Support/Upgrade
bundle is $595.
Training Costs: Intro to ArcView-$700; Intro to
Product Overview: A desktop GIS built on a separate
datamodel from either Arc/Info or MapObjects. Runs on either Win95/NT or
UNIX flavors such as Digital-Unix, AIX, HP-UX, IRIX, or Solaris.
Large installed user base (reportedly over 200,000 copies
since its first release)
Lots of data available in shape file format
Includes charting window
Thematics are very good
Join with external tables through ODBC (dynamically updated)
Runs on multiple platforms
Available add-on packages including 3d display, networking,
Shapefile Format: the Shapefile does not support text, compound
geometries, arcs, Z-values, or even retain information on units of measures
or coordinate systems. In addition, if you have 2 people connected to the
same file (actually files since there are 3 of them) you can not edit without
creating a new Shapefile altogether.
It stores all you maps, scripts, and project data in
a project file called an APR. APR gets pretty big when you start
making some maps, and once it gets too big (20MB or so), it has been known
No saved queries
No buffer zones
Hybrid data structure - Graphics stored in shape file format,
attributes in DBF.
Poor data capture and editing solution.
Must customize with Avenue
Projection Systems: integrating data from multiple projections
in ArcView is not straight forward task; and from non-ESRI data sources,
it is more difficult.
Current Version: ArcView 3.1 - Released Sept. 1998
Avenue ScriptsLicense Costs: $0.00
Training Costs: $2000
ArcView Internet Map Server (IMS)License Costs:
ArcView IMS Internet/Intranet Deployment License is $10,500
per CPU; $10,000 additional Internet deploy license (12 months)
ArcView Internet Map Server extension is $500
ArcView IMS annual renewal fee is $2000 per CPU
ArcView Internet Publishing Kit (Includes ArcView GIS, ArcView
IMS, ArcView GIS Deployment License for one CPU and initial 12 months)
ArcView IMS is an out-of-the-box GIS and mapping solution
for publishing ArcView GIS maps on the Web. ArcView IMS includes a built-in
setup wizard and ready-to-use Java applet.
MapObjects in-house deployment Licenses: $250 each
Programming MapObjects with Visual Basic: $800
MapObjects IMS: $400
Component Products: MapObjects Internet Map
Server (IMS) provides the ability to create dynamic Web mapping
applications for distributing geographic data. IMS allows user to author,
publish, and view live maps and data on the Web. The MapObjects Internet
Solutions Kit includes three integrated applications: MapObjects IMS, MapObjects
Professional, and ArcExplorer
Works to view either Shapefile or Arc/Info coverages
MapObjects IMS administration wizard simplifies the process
of Internet-enabling of data. Within a GUI, administrators set permissions,
establish data downloads, start and stop applications, query the status
of an entire network of map servers, and link to sites where users can
purchase GIS data.
A new paradigm for the existing ESRI users. They
represent a whole new set of languages and commands,
Incompatible with older versions.
In using raster data sets (ESRI Grids) MapObjects cannot
handle such data in combination with vector data sets
MapObjects is only good for small datasets
Next Version: MapObjects
Spatial Database Engine (SDE) is client/server software
that enables spatial data to be stored, managed, and retrieved from commercial
database management systems like Oracle, Microsoft SQL Server, Sybase,
IBM DB2, and Informix. SDE is a scalable solution. SDE is integrated with
ESRI's family of client applications and CAD products like MicroStation
SDE stores their geometry and attribute tables separately.
ESRI does not currently have a direct write to Oracle SDO/SC
this is probably in the works. you must currently go through SDE which
means that SDE and SDO are effectively competitors. There are several flavors
SDE for CAD
SDE for Coverages
SDE requires that all data is migrated to a database from
legacy storage. However, there are a lot of users who are not willing to
step up to this solution yet. Many ESRI users do not even have a database
and rely on coverages and Info tables for all their storage. SDE for CAD
and SDE for Coverages allow the user to move into the SDE world without
migrating the data to a spatial database. They are stepping stones to full
implementation of SDE if you like because it is quite clear that the future
for ESRI is SDE.
SDE for CAD and SDE for Coverages allow the user to access
the legacy data in its native format. In this way you can maintain your
data in CAD format or Coverage (Arc/Info coverages, Libraries, Arc Storm
databases, Shape files) format but manage it using SDE tools. These tools
allow you to access data from all these sources in a single SDE client.
The client could be ArcView, Arc/Info, MicroStation, map objects app, or
ESRI has several different development languages to deal
with such as Arc/Info with AML, ArcView with Avenue, Map Objects with Visual
Basic, Arc Info 8.0 with Visual Basic, ArcCAD with auto lisp. And
also support multiple operating systems in Unix, NT and DOS, and multiple
hardware platforms and databases. SDE is the unifying piece for all of
SDE requires a separate add on programming language for developers-
SDE Basic. Every time SDE or the client (ArcInfo, ArcView, MapObjects,
changes a new version of SDE Basic is required. If you have ArcInfo
and ArcView, you will need 2 brands of SDE Basic on top of Avenue and AML/SML,
and the calls for one are not identical to the other.
SDE Administration: $800
SDE with Avenue: $1,200
Accessing SDE with ‘C’: $1,200
Next Version: SDE 4.0
License Costs: $1,250
CAD Client extends CAD software (MicroStation or AutoCAD) to work with
SDE. Once an SDE database is available for loading, the CAD Client connects
to the SDE server, identifies a layer in a data set, selects the CAD objects
in existing CAD files to be loaded, and sends them to SDE. Each CAD object
is stored in a single record of a DBMS table. What is stored is the object
itself: the complete definition as created by the CAD software. When it
is retrieved, the exact CAD object is returned: no translation and no simplification.
At storage time, that object is indexed and stored as a geometric DBMS
spatial feature in a second column of the table. The spatial operations,
searches, and analysis are performed on this feature while the corresponding
CAD object is returned for use by the CAD program
and includes one SDE Server License for the RDBMS of choice, 5 SDE connection
licenses, first year of technical/upgrade support for the SDE server and
the SDE connections.
is a special release of ESRI's SDE technology for ARC/INFO users with an
additional capability to serve existing data formats. Its purpose is to
integrate SDE client/server technology within ARC/INFO.
ArcSDE utilizes SDE software's standard continuous feature
model, which means, for example, that polygons crossing ArcStorm or ARC/INFO
LIBRARIAN tile boundaries will be assembled on the server and presented
to ARC/INFO clients as a single feature.
In the initial release, the ArcSDE server is read only. It
works through the defined layers in ARCPLOT and as a background layer in
ARCEDIT. A further important feature of ArcSDE is that not only can ARC/INFO
access all supported data types, but also ArcView GIS, MapObjects, and
CAD clients such as AutoCAD and MicroStation can access this same data.
In fact, virtually any third party or custom application that embeds SDE
software's API can freely access ESRI customer databases via this open
published access technology. For example, an ArcView GIS user can now display
transactional ArcStorm databases over a TCP/IP network. Similarly, an SDE
CAD Client user can display coverages as a backdrop to their drawings.
Intergraph Corporation is publicly owned company with
common stock traded on the NASDAQ market under the symbol "INGR". Intergraph
expertise is on graphical computing such as Geographic Information Systems
and Computer Aided Design. Intergraph is a pioneer of interactive graphics
computing, offers full range of GIS hardware, software, and services for
the open Intel/Windows NT computing environment.
GeoMedia PRO introduced anopen GIS environment,
enabling organizations to combine datasets from multiple sources to form
an enterprise solution for spatial data access and analysis. GeoMedia
Pro include data capture, maintenance, and management.
GeoMedia Web Map : is a unique product in that
it can publish smart vector maps on the web by connecting live to one or
more diverse spatial databases.
GeoMedia® Web Enterprise helps to create dynamic,
custom web-mapping applications to analyze and manipulate geographic data.
The server software includes sample applications for vehicle routing, crime
analysis, rezoning notification, and site selection so one can start working
with these templates right away.
MGE Intergraph's flagship GIS product, MGE meets
all the spatial data needs of an enterprise. MGE improves GIS workflows
by enabling users to view and analyze digital data and by adding smart
features to CAD data. MGE is used by the transportation, utilities and
natural resources industries, and by various state and local governments.
The program allows users to input, manage, analyze and
present data, and with the addition of ODBC support, expands users' options
for storing and using data. In addition to ODBC support, RIS is still supported
in MGE 7. The MGE Data Client (MGDC) application, delivered with MGNUC
7.1, is designed to provide an integration path to consolidate data from
the supported GeoMedia data servers [currently: Arc/Info, Arc/View, Oracle
Spatial Cartridge, MGE, MGDM, MGSM, FRAMME and CAD] into a MGE project.
For product pricing please refer the vendor website TOP
Autodesk is a publicly traded company under the symbol ADSK. GIS
revenues for the second quarter 1998 doubled from the prior year. Total
company revenues for the second quarter ended July 31, 1998 were $186.6
million compared to $154.1 million for the same quarter in the previous
year. Autodesk is the world´s leading supplier of design
software and digital content creation tools - AutoCAD. AutoCAD map
and Autodesk Map guide
are their main GIS products. Autodesk has as many as 20% of all AutoCAD
customers that use it for mapping applications and Large base of trained
AutoCAD Map®License Costs: $4495 and includes AutoCAD
($995 without AutoCAD)
Very competitive price (<$5000) for one package that does
the whole process of creation and maintenance.
Includes Access Jet Engine that enables users to start without
buying a new RDBMS.
Support for Raster backdrop including BMP, CALS-1, FLIC™,
GeoSpot, GeoTiff, GIF, IG4, IGS, JFIF, JPEG, PCX, PICT, PNG, RLC 1, RLC2,
Includes VBA and a very strong API
Includes "Mapping objects" to have some kind of continuous
features across maps
Includes Spatial and some Linear analysis
Includes plotting capabilities
AutoCAD Map Release 3 software contains the latest AutoCAD
Release 14 improvements including an updated License Manager to support
IPX-based networks, full AutoCAD support for Microsoft® VBA and ObjectARX
APIs, and additional Release 14.01 maintenance work.
Current Version: Autodesk World
2.0 was recently released and is currently shipping.
MapGuide A very extensive analysis capability compared to other
License Costs: $6995 server (up to 25 users); $995
author; Free viewer
MapGuide Author is an easier to use set of tools to customize
Report generation and reporting feature capabilities are
made available through customization using Cold FusionÒ . Cold Fusion
is a separate component developed by Allaire. It is shipped with Autodesk
MapGuide Server. MapGuide uses Cold Fusion’s development platform to design
Where you have data to communicate via Web-browser, and the
data changes quite often over time (which is the normal case in the GIS-arena),
you ALWAYS have to translate the data to the Map Guide Format whenever
changes are made. Author this data again.
and (http://www.smallworldamericas.com/)OverviewSmallworld has approximately 500 customers around the
world. The company's world headquarters are in Cambridge, England, and
its headquarters for the United States, Canada and Latin America is I Englewood,
Colorado. A publicly held company, Smallworld plc trades on the NASDAQ
National Market under the symbol SWLDY.
TargetMarkets: Communications, Energy,
Keycustomers: Entergy, Cablevisions
Systems Corp, Providence Gas, New York City Dept. of City Planning, Dakota
Electric, San Diego Water, Wisconsin Gas, Niagara Mohawk, Minnegasco.
Key Strategy: Smallworld is beginning to talk the language
used by the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) companies such as SAP, Peoplesoft,
and Baan by stating to be "spatial resource planning (SRP)" company.
The newly released system, Smallworld 3, "does for spatially-referenced
data within engineering operations and distribution network management
what Enterprise Resource Planning solutions do for data held in accounting,
human resources, procurement and project management systems." Smallworld
states that the system is "integrated" with SAP’s R/3 via an "SAP certified"
product knows as GISConnect.
Smallworld emphasizes rapid prototyping of system implementationfor quicker startups. This often involves deploying a scanned raster
based system initially and gradually converting to an intelligent vector
Smallworld Circ.it: provides the ability to manage the bandwidth
usage and provide circuit inventory for a broadband network.
Smallworld Model.it: provides the ability to engineer and
document a physical end-to-end model of a telecommunications network from
the inside-the-plant rack-mounted equipment (RME) to the outside-plant
fiber, coax and copper components.
PowerOnÔ : outage management software; It integrates
with systems such as CIS, SCADA and AMR
Objects representing features can be turned on or off in
the display individually or in a group (e.g. surrounded by a polygon).
Data driven graphics - The graphics are driven by the data
base so if the data base is updated externally, the graphics will be automatically
updated when Smallworld is brought back up.
Three-tier Model: The client-server functionality allows
Smallworld to use three-tier architecture from the old two-tier architecture.
With this, system designer’s can remove the presentation layer out of Smallworld
GIS which can either become a data repository or a service provider. The
layers of this architecture are as follows:
Database Layer: Database/datastore serving records or blocks.
For instance an Oracle database or Smallworld datastore server
Application Layer: Implements business logic and provides
services to client applications. It is a client of the database layer.
This layer is implemented with one or more Smallworld servers running a
mix of services. These services are clients of the Database Layer.
Presentation Layer: Heterogeneous mix of light-weight clients
(web browsers, Visual Basic applications and so on).
Unified Data Base - they store both graphics and attributes
in the same data base which eliminates synchronization problems.
Automation: The Smallworld Automation components use the
Automation protocol, which is a part of the Component Object Model (COM),
a standard invented by Microsoft and used in all Microsoft applications.
Smallworld Automation comprises two providing a mechanism for connecting
a Smallworld 3 session with various third party applications.
The Smallworld Automation component allows developers using
third-party languages to write applications that will integrate with Smallworld
The Smallworld Automation Client component allows Magik developers
to control the behavior of other applications.
MapInfo (http://www.mapinfo.com/)OverviewMapInfo is growing their product suite to attract larger
companies and offer them an enterprise solution.
MapInfo is a publicly traded company on the NASDAQ exchange
under the symbol MAPS. MapInfo expects to report record revenues
of approximately $17.0 million and earnings per share of approximately
$0.20-0.22 for the three months ended September 30, 1998, reflecting strong
operating performance in Europe and the Americas. This represents a 32%
increase over prior year revenues of $12.9 million and a near doubling
of earnings per share from the $0.11 reported one year ago. Total revenues
for fiscal year 1998 are expected to be approximately $60.5 million with
earnings per share of approximately $0.52-0.54 as compared to revenues
of $47.4 million and no earnings per share reported last fiscal year.
Announced on November 2, 1998 that MapX component technology
will be included in the newest release of Seagate Software's reporting
tool, Crystal Reports 7. Similar agreements have been signed in the recent
past with Manugistics and SPSS.
Mapping/GIS software. The product from which the term "Desktop Mapping"
Functionality of version 5.0
New thematic type: Continuous Thematic Shading based on grid
technology, enables analysis unconstrained by pre-existing geographic boundaries.
Using an inverse distance-weighted interpolator, it populates the surface
values from MapInfo point tables.
Other Grid analysis via Northwood Geoscience’s "Vertical
ODBC enhancements: Live database access gives users the capability
to connect to data sources through ODBC but to then cache and update the
source directly with no intermediate copies stored locally. The key advantages
of this feature are improved multi-user access to central databases with
reduced local data redundancy and enhanced data integrity. Access to dBase,
Microsoft Access, Microsoft Excel, Lotus 1-2-3, ASCII; Oracle, Informix,
Sybase, Ingres, SQL Server, and other ODBC compliant databases.
Includes Seagate Crystal Reports
Much data provided with product
Enhanced cartographic annotation capabilities
Gravity Modeling via Spatial Insights "Trend Map"
Upload MapInfo TAB files into a SpatialWare database: Informix-Universal
Server (IUS) with SpatialWare DataBlade, or DB2 Universal Server with SpatialWare
Dynamically updated queries
Tabular data manipulation and access is straightforward
Numerous solutions available from third parties (Telco, Crime
Analysis, ProAlign for sales territory planning; deciBel Planner for mapping
and propagation solutions for RF Engineers)
Spatial queries are difficult to construct. Some knowledge
of SQL is necessary.
Poor graphic import/export
Collection and editing is limited
Hybrid data structure.
No saved queries
Current Version: MapInfo 5.0 began shipping on August
Product Overview: MapX is an OCX component that
can be integrated into client side applications using Visual Basic, PowerBuilder,
Delphi, Visual C++ or other object-oriented languages and in Lotus Notes
(v4.5) using Lotus Script.
Product Overview: MapXtreme is a mapping server
for Corporate Internet or Intranet. It is available in two versions for
both the NT platform and the Java platform. It enables companies to spatially
analyze their data on interactive maps.
MapXtreme Java Edition is a multi-platform solution that
is highly-scalable, performance. It is available at a cost of $24,495.00
for a 4-CPU server license, and can be downloaded free for a 30-day trial
Develop using Microsoft's Active Server Pages (ASP)
Inclusion of the latest version of Hahtsite which provides
a robust distributed application architecture
Write or "insert" and "update" data from MapXtreme to SpatialWare.
Supports scaling the application to multiple servers.
MapXsiteProduct Overview: MapXsite is a development package
that enables interactive, map-based "Find the Nearest/Dealer Locator" applications
to a web site. Site visitors type in their addresses and the server returns
detailed maps showing the nearest locations of the site owner’s goods and
LicenseCosts: $4995; $995 for Quick Start
Functionality: MapXsite includes
Mapping Engine - MapX, MapInfo's mapping OCX is the mapping
engine for MapXsite.
US Streets - MapXsite includes MapXsite Streets for the entire
Geocoding Client and Server - MapXsite includes complete
geocoding functionality (the process that actually places address locations
on maps) with MapInfo's MapMarker.
Java applet - Optional with the MapXsite Developer Edition,
the MapXsite Java Applet provides developers with additional tools that
allow for the creation of a more dynamic interaction with the maps.
Publisher - Provides templates which enable you to seamlessly
integrate dealer locator application into the look and feel of the existing
web site, and immediately incorporate changes as the site evolves
Application Server - Manages the client interaction with
the mapping engine.
Session manager - Supports scaling the application to multiple
SpatialWareThe SpatialWare DataBlade Module allows users to store,
access, manage, and manipulate spatial data in the same database as the
rest of their business data. Based on MapInfo SpatialWare technology, the
SpatialWare DataBlade Module is the first spatial information management
system to implement SQL-based advanced spatial access, analysis and modeling
in an Informix DataBlade environment. This DataBlade is sold, supported,
and distributed by MapInfo Corporation.
Geocoding DataBladeThe MapInfo Geocoding DataBlade module assigns latitude
and longitude to data records stored in the Server. The DataBlade module
encapsulates everything needed to create a geocoding application, maintains
the integrity of the relationship of the latitude/ longitude to the street
address information as it is changed or inserted, and makes data available
for visualization such as MapInfo Professional or MapInfo MapX. This DataBlade
is sold, supported, and distributed by MapInfo Corporation.
(http://www.bentley.com/)OverviewKey information concerning Bentley
software development and strategy
MicroStation/J: MicroStation/J inherits all functionality
of MicroStation SE, but is based on the new JMDL kernel, which includes
Sun’s Java Virtual Machine. Purchasers of new licenses of MicroStation/J
are entitled to an additional license for one of the engineering configurations
for building engineering, geoengineering, or manufacturing and mechanical
engineering. The first edition of MicroStation/J will use the Bentley DGN
file format for data storage. In subsequent releases, Bentley will introduce
the concept of component modeling for creating fully associative engineering
models that encapsulate real-world behavior, not just a geometric representation
(see ProjectBanks below). MicroStation/J kernel and the Java run-time environment
are written in C/C++ and run at native compiled speed. Some modules and
applications can be written in Java. Find a good FAQ at: http://www.bentley.com/products/mstation/j/qanda.htm
ProjectBank: ProjectBank is client/server software
that manages engineering project information at the component rather than
file level. When released, ProjectBank will work with existing versions
of MicroStation and AutoCAD. Users will be able to store both DGN and DWG
files in a ProjectBank and extracted for editing by MicroStation and/or
AutoCAD. After files have been edited, only the changed information is
returned to the ProjectBank. See more information at http://www.bentley.com/products/projbank/projbank.htm/
EEM—Enterprise Engineering Modeling: new Bentley "buzzword"
for the automation of engineering, architecture and related disciplines.
MicroStation GeographicsLicense Costs: $5325 ($1650 without MicroStation)
ProductOverview: MicroStation GeoGraphics
is an integrated CAD/GIS solution with raster and vector functionality.
It extends MicroStation’s data capture and editing tools with a database
interface and spatial analysis functionality. MicroStation GeoGraphics
integrates with MicroStation 95, and provides tools to input, manage, analyze,
and visualize geographical information within MicroStation. Almost all
mapping projects require some level of customization, which is why MicroStation
GeoGraphics is designed to be an application development platform, as well
as an end-user product. Although database is not absolutely required for
MicroStation GeoGraphics you will need to use one in order to access features
such as map manager, project administration, and query building facilities.
When operating with a database, MicroStation GeoGraphics requires that
the database be ANSI SQL compliant. The following databases are currently
supported with MicroStation GeoGraphics: Oracle, Informix, Microsoft Access,
Microsoft SQL*Server, Intergraph RIS.
New in MicroStation 95 is MicroStation BASIC, a full implementation
of the language with extensions to all major MicroStation functions. MicroStation
BASIC can be used to combine different MicroStation GeoGraphics’ tools
into workflow-specific applications.
The MicroStation Descartes raster engine is the raster
display technology of MicroStation GeoGraphics, which means that MicroStation
Descartes is the recommended tool set to create image scenes or mosaics
for inclusion in MicroStation GeoGraphics data sets.
Model Server Publisher
License Costs: $9950 (single user); $24,500 for
Functionality: ModelServer Publisher is a server-based
"publisher" of engineering documents. It allows MicroStation design files
(.dgn) and other files, such as AutoCAD drawing files (.dwg), to be dynamically
viewed and queried across a corporate intranet or the Internet. The published
data is viewed using popular Web browsers such as Netscape Navigator™
or Microsoft Internet Explorer.