[postgis] Re: PostGIS and ESRI

Paul Ramsey pramsey at refractions.net
Fri Sep 21 15:36:19 PDT 2001

"Matt.Wilkie" wrote:
> Do you see PostGIS ever being in a position to work with (and/or
> replace) ArcSDE and [Oracle|DB2|SQL|etc]?

Hi Matt,

PostGIS/PostgreSQL should, long term, be able to replace ArcSDE, Oracle
Spatial, and DB2 Spatial. That is the goal. That is why we are working
so hard to follow the OpenGIS "Simple Features for SQL" specification. 

When you ask whether PostGIS can "work with" ArcSDE/OracleSpatial/DB2 I
assume you are actually asking whether the desktop software which
currently works with those products (mostly ArcGIS/ArcView/ArcINFO but
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. 

In the longer term (12-24 months) there is a moderate probability that
the Web Feature Server standard will begin to open up the client/server
communication path, and as the commercial vendors start to implement WFS
in their software, we will already be there. Most of the hard stuff
about WFS (transactions, locking, intersections, buffers, other
topologic operations) can be done by a spatial database, if you have
one, and we do (or at least, we will). But that is a ways out. 

In the short term, there is Mapserver as a PostGIS client. I imagine
sometime soon, either GRASS or OpenEV or OpenMap will end up supporting
PostGIS as a data source as well. But it'll be slow going and for now
we'll be writing our own clients. If we're lucky, forward-looking
companies like Byers will include PostGIS as a part of their own desktop
GIS software offerings. The future is hard to see, but I think we're on
the right track.

Hope that helps,

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