[postgis] Re: PostGIS and ESRI

Angus Carr acarr at geospatial.on.ca
Tue Oct 16 04:28:21 PDT 2001

What about the ArcIMS/Geography Network protocol?
I recognize it is text-parsed, and is really just a viewing protocol, but
there are free viewers and free sources. Simple (in principle), no?

Angus Carr

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Paul Ramsey [mailto:pramsey at refractions.net]
> Sent: Monday, September 24, 2001 6:17 PM
> To: Matt.Wilkie
> Cc: postgis at yahoogroups.com
> Subject: [postgis] Re: PostGIS and ESRI
> "Matt.Wilkie" wrote:
> >
> > > also GeoMedia and MapInfo and AutoCAD) will eventually be able to work
> > > with PostGIS as a spatial backend. And in the short term the answer is
> > > "no", because ESRI holds an effective desktop monopoly on GIS
> > > viewers/editors which they are using to push their own client/server
> > > protocol: the protocol used by ArcSDE.
> >
> > Does this mean it would be too difficult (not worth the effort) to
> > reverse engineer the protocol (a la SAMBA)?
> For the GIS community in general, it is entirely worth the effort to
> break the ESRI client/server protocol lock. But for us in particular, it
> is not: it would be a very expensive undertaking, far more that we can
> support as a small company.
> > Or that there is no point
> > to developing an open source SDE-compatible server when there are
> > no open source clients to speak of?
> I think there is definately a point, for the very reasons you point out
> in your own workplace: there is a huge overburden of ESRI software on
> the desktop, and the only client/server protocol that software speaks is
> SDE. If non-ESRI servers are to make inroads, they realistically need to
> speak the SDE protocol.
> > (except that Mapserver can access
> > SDE directly, yes?)
> Yes, Mapserver can access SDE directly. Stephen Lime added that
> functionality so that Mapserver could be used by the Minnesota DNR,
> which is also heavily invested in ESRI. An SDE developers kit is
> available which allows you to program your own SDE client. An SDE server
> is another kettle of fish. :)
> I have thought about trying to reverse the wire protocol ala Samba, and
> it is very tempting. If we had no financial requirements it would be
> cool to do "just because". My understanding of the Samba history is that
> the original versions were done while the authors were either grad
> students or university employees: ie, essentially subsidized by another
> big organziation (which may not have really known what their dollars
> were paying for). Once the original versions "proved the concept", UNIX
> vendors hired some of the Samba team and made contributions. Basically,
> there are a few large commercial organizations (Oracle? Intergraph?) for
> whom such a piece of work would be desirable and worth paying the couple
> hundred thousand dollars of seed money to get started. But for the rest
> of us, the cost of reverse-engineering the protocol dwarfs the cost of
> an SDE licence.
> --
>       __
>      /
>      | Paul Ramsey
>      | Refractions Research
>      | Email: pramsey at refractions.net
>      | Phone: (250) 885-0632
>      \_
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