2013 Esri International User Conference

Q & A

Interoperability, Standards

Q: What is Esri doing in the open source area?

Esri has long been a user and supporter of open-source technology. We believe that by providing a top-to-bottom open platform we enable our user community to be active participants in developing powerful solutions. Where current technology exists we are integrating our ideas into those open source projects; and where we are the first ones we are publishing our work and engaging the community to participate. Our strategy incorporates the many aspects of an open platform: open code, open data, open formats, open content, and open community. 


We recently centralized many of our open software projects to the Esri GitHub community where anyone can freely access, modify, and contribute code, issues, and documentation. There are currently 90 public projects in over 10 programming languages and over 200 Esri engineers who are actively working in the open community on these open source projects.


The open source software covers desktop, web applications, mobile, and server environments. We have open-sourced end-user solution templates for local government, defense, water, electrical utilities, and other industries. Our web applications include the popular GeoPortal and numerous libraries to make it easier to work with data formats. We have open-source applications and frameworks for mobile GIS applications, and integration with other desktop to support open communities such as our OpenStreetMap editor.


We incorporate the OpenStreetMap data into ArcGIS Online and Community Maps program in order to provide users with complete, up-to-date global coverage in remote areas. ArcGIS Online currently hosts 307,580 datasets and services that anyone can immediately access and use. 


We broke new ground by open-sourcing a core geometry engine to enable developers to leverage the Hadoop big data framework combined with our geospatial processing to begin answering new questions that weren't possible before. We are now integrating these GIS tools for Hadoop into other tools and applications. 


Beyond just code, we have led the development and support of open formats and standards such as shapefiles, and more recently the Open Web Foundation GeoServices REST specification, and adoption of community standards such as GeoJSON


For open content, we share all of our Education Community Resources under an open Creative Commons license so that everyone can improve their curriculum materials.


Lastly, we work entirely in line with other open source projects and computing stacks and include industry standard technologies such as Linux, PostgreSQL, GDAL, and Wine within our own core platform. 


Overall, we are interested in working with the community to build on our open source work and extend the platform into ways that we never could have imagined. Esri GitHub is open for anyone to join our projects, and you can contribute your ideas to our open forum. Please join us and collaborate.