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Competitive Analysis - GIS with Ajith Menon

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

More Reference

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Environmental Systems Research Institute, Inc (ESRI) ( 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


        Cost (as 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.

Product Overview:

Next version: Arc/Info 8.0Released  in August 1999  - for more details visit (


ArcView 3.1 License 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 Avenue-$700

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.


Weaknesses Current Version: ArcView 3.1 - Released Sept. 1998
Avenue Scripts License Costs: $0.00

Training Costs: $2000


ArcView Internet Map Server (IMS) License Costs: Product Overview:

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.

Application Demos:

  License Costs:
Training Costs: Component Products: MapObjects Internet Map Strengths  


        Strengths & Weaknesses
Training Costs Next Version: SDE 4.0  


License Costs: $1,250

Product Overview: SDE 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



License Costs: $8,750 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.

Product Overview: ArcSDE 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.

Autodesk ( Overview

            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 fiscal
            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 individuals

AutoCAD Map® License Costs: $4495 and includes AutoCAD ($995 without AutoCAD)


Current Version: AutoCAD Map Release 3 recently released and currently shipping. Autodesk World Strengths Weaknesses Key Information on Features and Benefits at

Current Version: Autodesk World 2.0 was recently released and is currently shipping.

A very extensive analysis capability compared to other similar products

License Costs: $6995 server (up to 25 users); $995 author; Free viewer


Weaknesses Demonstration site:


Smallworld ( and ( Overview Smallworld 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.

Target Markets: Communications, Energy, Public Systems

Key customers: 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 implementation for quicker startups. This often involves deploying a scanned raster based system initially and gradually converting to an intelligent vector based system.

Products Smallworld 3: Smallworld 3 operates in a Windows environment and allows version-managed Smallworld spatial data to be stored in Oracle8. It is promoted as a three-tiered system.

License Cost: Average seat price is approximately $12,000

Solutions: (download complete product info from

Strengths Weaknesses: Current Version: Smallworld 3 began shipping on Oct. 14, 1998.

SmallworldWeb: Web-based visualization of Smallworld 3 projects.


MapInfo ( Overview MapInfo 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.

MapInfo Professional 5.0 License Costs: $1295 (available for purchase at; maintenance is $395 per year

Product Overview: Mapping/GIS software. The product from which the term "Desktop Mapping" originated.

Functionality of version 5.0

Strengths Weaknesses Current Version: MapInfo 5.0 began shipping on August 14, 1998 MapX 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.

License Costs: $4960 (40 Seats)

Functionality of Version 3.5.1:

MapXtreme 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. Functionality: MapXsite Product 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 services.

License Costs: $4995; $995 for Quick Start edition

Functionality: MapXsite includes

SpatialWare The 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.

For more information, see:

See also

Geocoding DataBlade The 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.

For more information, see:


Bentley Systems ( Overview Key information concerning Bentley software development and strategy MicroStation Geographics License Costs: $5325 ($1650 without MicroStation)

Product Overview: 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 multi-user.

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.


More reference

Federal Computer Week magazine,especially the section "Government Best Buys"

 The Ziff-Davis Companies, publishers of PC Week magazine

 Geoplace, from Adams Business Media, publisher of GeoWorld magazine (formerly GIS World)

 GeoInfo Systems magazine is also a good source of reviews and practical articles by GIS users. It is indexed online, but must be read in print:

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