Does everybody hate ArcGIS 10?

We have all been there.  You are in the middle of some process using ArcGIS 10, trying to finish a project for a deadline, and one of two things happen: the hour glass starts to run and never stops, or your ArcGIS  screen just disappears and you get the “oh no, something broke” window to report an error (which you never do).


Since ArcGIS 10’s debut back in June I’ve read and heard a number of opinions (many times unsolicited) about the latest release and subsequent service pack.  As you can imagine some reviews are glowing, and some are not so great.  When I do a quick Google search for “ArcGIS 10 Review” very few results appear that aren’t from Esri themselves.

Now when I do a Google search for “esri arcgis 10 stinks” or “esri arcgis 10 sucks” the results are much more, let’s say, robust.  Three message boards really stuck out and can be found herehere, and here.

When reading though these message boards you must read them with a grain of salt. First of all, people will complain about anything and everything.  Second, many complaints have nothing to do with the software itself, but with user error or machine problems.

I also believe that many users are intimidated by GIS software and when something goes wrong they may get the urge to post insane comments with poor grammar because they are frustrated with something that may be out of their control.  I can understand where some of these people are coming from, but ArcGIS really isn’t a beginner’s software.  I’ve been using Ersi’s software for over eight years and I learn something new all the time.

Yes, ArcGIS 10 has its share of problems.  Yes, ArcGIS 10 probably isn’t the best piece of software for beginners or light users of GIS. I do believe if you are a high end user working with large datasets or you need to  perform some serious GIS analysis ArcGIS is a strong tool that I would recommend.

It could be worse for Esri, they could be SQL Server, Oracle, or Visual Studio.

And for the record, I like ArcGIS 10, especially ArcGIS Server 10.

Well, that is my two cents.  What has your experience with ArcGIS 10 been like?  Did you have to revert back to 9.3.1?  Do you post insane comments on GIS message boards when you are having a tough GIS day?  If so let me know.

45 Replies to “Does everybody hate ArcGIS 10?”

  1. I really do not like how Tables are displayed in 10.
    Tables should be able to be viewed in separate windows, no matter if you can split pane… Way to many extra steps.

    I really do not like how editing is implemented in 10. I like the idea of templates, but its current incarnation is far to time consuming and extra-task centric.

    The blue docking VS style is subjective, but I could handle this style if when moving windows the display behind would display data rather than the ridiculous blue box.

    I do like that more windows are now realizable, and as far as UI goes this is the biggest advancement.

    Most of the “raved about” additions of ArcGIS 10 like ArcCat in Table of Contents where already available in 9.3 as a set of Developer Tweaks to the UI.

    The Tables alone are reason enough not to fully deploy 10 since editing and snapping can be reverted to 9.3 style. Basemaps (is that the off. name) has show little incentive.

    Glad you like Sever 10.

  2. I actually have a different question. I am a user of ArcGIS 9.3, so I can’t answer any questions about 10. I am looking for a list of the major competitors to ESRI in the field of GIS software along with their market share. Do you know where I can get this list? I’ve been looking and haven’t found the information yet. I am a teacher of GIS in a school in Virginia and I do like what I can do with ArcGIS. I do have some performance issues, but I believe most of them are related to the hardware and network at my school.

    Thank you.

    1. I would seriously look into QGIS as an educator. Hard to beat the performance and price. We use it in our GIS lab daily and find it a very valuable tool for day to day analysis work, data editing, data viewing and output. We are finding we are using ArcGIS less and less as QGIS evolves.

      It does have a different UI than ArcGIS, but in a short amount of time and help from the large and active community you should not have a problem learning at all.

      1. If I ever teach again at the college/university level (and probably will) I will use QGIS and GRASS. No doubt about it.

      2. QGIS is moving forward quickly.

        They need to work on the text labeling. Still not as good as ArcMap but the edit tools in QGIS are just as good and some are better and the price is right.

        1. I have been an ESRI user for 6 years now (server and desktop) and I think version 10 is great, but has a considerable learning curve. However, I think QGIS is simply fantastic! I especially like how you can have multiple datasets of different types mashed together like a shapefile and a TAB file. However, the serious lacking feature of QGIS is making high quality maps. Considering the price though, this may be very easy to ignore and import it into another program to beautify it.

        2. I would also like to strongly endorse QGIS. As an ArcGIS Desktop user at the lowest license level (ArcView/Basic) I was pleasantly surprised to find so many advanced processing tools available in QGIS for free that are only available at the highest ESRI license level. I still use ESRI products for work, but I have recommended QGIS to more than one small/nonprofit companies and it’s worked super well for everyone.

  3. “You keep using that software. I do not think it does what you think it does.”

    I imported a CSV, and even though I set the a field type to text in the field map, it still strips leading zeros. It seems like every workflow requires multiple work-arounds…

  4. Until there come innovative competitors, ESRI will not care much of what the General users really feel about the software. I seriously believe it will follow the Microsoft into the sunset soon. We are exploring other types of GIS tools which may not offer so much called “functionalities” but we feel much better about being paying less and having a better performance. Talking about productivities, ESRI is off the table for now.

  5. I’m a long time ESRI/GIS user. From 1995 to the present. I’m constantly amazed how Jack and the ESRI gang can continue to release products with more and more supposed “features and improvements” while removing basic functions. For example, in ArcMap 10 the interactive Zoom simply does not work! At all! I’m trying to do some simple “select by location” operations, and ArcMap 10 gets them all wrong, manifestly wrong.

    I agree though, ESRI doesn’t care about real productivity, as long as they can sell more licences to “intro users.” Sad, Sad, Sad…..

    1. You sir are right on! I’ve been a “user” since 2000 and it’s become more and more difficult to do easy things. It’s also a killer on the machines, just way too slow. Very difficult to find basic functions. I’ll take ArcGIS 8.1 over any of the other versions.

      1. Yes, the ArcMap 8 versions were great! You could edit ESRI coverages in the old 8 versions. And 8 was VERY stable. I miss those days working with GOOD ESRI software.

        I now use QGis more and more. It runs totally great on my Mac, unlike the ESRI software. And I can do most things that the super expensive ArcMap will do. There needs to be better plugins made for labeling and outputting files but everything else is very good and free! The U.S. government should wake-up and start using QGis. They need to turn in some of their expensive ESRI licenses which the tax payers are footing.

    2. I am a self employed contractor for land research and have been an ESRI user since 2003. Made the mistake of not renewing maintenance agreements since 2009 through the bust. Just got off of the phone with ESRI where we had a painful discussion of “back maintenance” owed and how an upgrade of my software would be more than the purchase price for a new customer $1,600+ vs $1,500 new. Bought the software outright in 2006 and upgraded in 2008 with a one year maintenance agreement. Should count myself lucky that I did not buy Editor or Info. Time to review other providers.

  6. ArcGIS Desktop 10 is pathetic and virtually unusable for any serious GIS analytical purposes. I can’t see anyone successfully employing it in any kind of environment that is the least bit mission critical. It is slow and constantly crashes on large datasets. Memory leaks are rampant. There are lots of neat features and tools that don’t work properly due to poorly developed and poorly tested code. Does anyone at their shop profile the code they develop? Do they test it on more that one polygon at a time? 64 bit computing has been around for almost 10 years now and at 10.1 they will take baby steps into the 64 bit world with the release of a 64 bit server product. WooHoo good job. Don’t expect a 64 bit desktop for at least another 5 years.

    The product costs the earth, the maintenance fees are ridiculous but we users continue to suck it up and come back for more. Our organization sends ESRI a check for $100,000 every year for something that does not work as advertised and probably never will.

    I’m searching for an alternative that can easily handle spatial analysis involving millions of polygons. Any suggestions?

    1. What sort of spatial analysis are you performing? The Maptitude Mapping Software has no problem with large area databases. We provide the 11,102,478 US Census Block polygons as a single layer for example.

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  8. Dear GIS Doctor,

    Should I be worried that I am about to move a project that I was doing in 9.3 to 10? if so Are there any suggestions that will be quick and painless?

    1. I had no issues migrating to 10. Upgrade your geodatabases using catalog by going to the geodatabase properties. I think this can be done in toolbox as well. I too was nervous and backed everything up before I did anything.

    2. Short answer, Yes, but there is hope…

      Now here is the long answer. Whenever I have moved up a version I make sure to back-up important, version specific files, test the new version in a virtual environment, and plan for the worst. One of the big problems I have seen with people switching to v10 is that their custom tools they have built may no loner work. In my office several of my coworkers spent considerable time rebuilding custom tools from the 9.3 to 10 upgrade. Moving forward we will set up a single virtual environment with 10.1, get the crop of internal and external tools running properly with 10.1, and then install on other machines within the organization after the first service pack. With business critical decisions being made with this software organizations cannot plan enough before an upgrade!

  9. – “It could be worse for Esri, they could be SQL Server, Oracle, or Visual Studio.”

    I have used Oracle, SQL Server, and Visual Studio extensively for over ten years. The minor frustrations I’ve experienced with those applications pale in comparison to the absolute buggy garbage released by ESRI.

    – “…but ArcGIS really isn’t a beginner’s software”

    This lame straw man argument is trotted out by every naive ESRI fanboy I’ve ever heard. Frankly, statements like this just demonstrate the extent to which ESRI shills will bend over to make excuses for crappy software.

    Do defend this company’s downward spiral of junk releases, you’d have to be incredibly inexperienced with software in general, on ESRI’s payroll, or perhaps have Stockholm Syndrome from years of ESRI captivity.

    – “Do you post insane comments on GIS message boards when you are having a tough GIS day?”

    No, I post informed responses to ESRI shills who demean anyone who expects expensive software to actually work.

  10. I really hate three “improvements” which seriously complicate my daily work:
    -attribute tables cannot be separately located
    -tools panel with missing seach feature is not very user friendly and searching of right tools is time consuming now
    -multiple selection in TOC in ArcScene at least works badly (selected layers behave as unselected during certain operations – e.g. remove function)
    and much more other smaller discrepancies 🙁
    (ArcGis 10 SP3)

  11. We’re building a specialized platform using ArcGIS Server 10 & FlexViewer as foundation. Thank goodness, everything I needed to find I found in the API spec and the forums, so ESRI couldn’t make a dime more off me than the actual Server 10 & Desktop 10 license.

    We have absolutely no need for all the “high-level” features and other ESRI baloney, in general the GIS now comprises less than 10% of the whole application.
    The more advanced visualization stuff I had to code more-or-less myself, although extending ESRI’s flex API. Things that I thought would be in a “commercial GIS product” were not there. Not only that, but the bugs are overwhelming. Sometimes, I load the app in the browser, and ArcGIS dynamic layers won’t render, issuing an HTTP error. This disappears when I simply reload the app. Only thought: “If you want to annoy your customer, use ArcGIS 10.”

    Have you seen FlexViewer’s source code? It’s like *insert company name here, perhaps starting with M* releasing its source for everybody to find the bugs and design flaws.

    In the meantime, I’ve developed my own GIS server/client framework, using PostGIS and modestmaps (strictly what we need), and base64-string-encoded REST transfers. I haven’t had the pleasure to integrate it yet (busy with other, more important things), but we’re dumping ArcGIS ASAP. Curses to the guy who proposed to use it in the first place.

  12. I too have had it up to here with lack of useability in ESRI kinderware. 10 adds so little to day to day GIS operations and so much time to every task I do. Yes we have a network, yes all databases are not as optimized as I’d like, but the program seems to go out of its way to loop around on itself. I have spent the last 20 minutes watching the Catalog loop into displaying the little icons in a geodatabase. It goes thru 5 or 6, then starts relisting them again. IF I can catch the redraw and clik to a different directory some times I can move to another location; all this just to pop open some file properties. Really Jack? It hangs all the time in Desktop as well if you have a mxd with more than 10 or so layers. Huh? Maybe that is the warning, ArcGIS<10 layers? Ha Ha. Too bad most of my simple landuse projects have 30 or more. So many bugs! Who has time to spend one's day/life doing ESRI's "beta-ware" debugging with their tech support? AAAAHHHH!

  13. bottom line. it sux!!!!! never in my life have i been so frustrated with a program as i am arc. i have a degree in mapping and used auto-cad for years. i realize CAD is more of an engineering based program whereas Arc is more of a cartography oriented program. both have their drawbacks, but at least CAD only crashes occasionally. Arc hangs on my computer at least 5 times a day and crashes 4 or 5 times. I have 16G of ram and my computer literally takes minutes sometimes to even turn a layer on or off. its rediculous. and if you do encounter a problem you need to solve by trial and error, good luck having the patience to do that. a 10 step trail and error solution could take over an hour!!!!! Good Lord! if i had the choice i would go back to cad. if cad would come up with a way to incorporate base mapping into their system i would be on board. ARC SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    1. Data not available . There’s no way MS and Google are going to let pontltiaely millions of people make dynamic requests against their servers.And yes, you’re right, you can put a dummy MXD on the production server and still see the tiles. You need some feature class in there (turned off) to define the map extent, but that’s about it. This saves you the need to put all your data on the production server. It doesn’t work if you’re doing queries or cache on demand, though.

      [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

    1. Oh, i forgot:
      “you get the “oh no, something broke” window to report an error (which you never do).”

      I can’t report errors even if i would like to, because they forgot to support web-proxy-servers. This dumb piece of software isn’t able to read out our companies proxy-settings (as most of other programs on my computer can)…

      I would spam them with error reports!

  14. Hi,

    Have used Integeo products for the last 6 months, gives google functionality with data. Can build a map from a excel spreadsheet and create a html file for posting. May not have all the bells and whistles that ArcGIS offers, however the quick turnaround time in building a map report and ease of use (if you’ve used excel and google maps, you already know how to use it) make it a strong choice in the field. I’d say it would satisfy most (85% – 90%) clients map reporting needs without a huge technical team to support it.


    Paul Byrne.

  15. GIS SUCKS!!!!! I’ve been working for a mining company using GIS for 10 years and 10.1 still sucks. I have more faith it will rain on a mid-summer day in Arizona than I have in GIS. ESRI should never try to make another version of GIS, or they should let AutoDesk help them. Hey ESRI, I’m sure you can polish a terd until it shines, but it’s still a terd.

  16. Dear Doctor,
    thank you for calling us all “light users”! Now I know that it is my fault and not Esri’s.
    First of all I agree with you, that there are a lot of professional analysis functions others might not have. But accessing this functions by a crappy ui and without getting useful error messages most of the time is not acceptable for the price of ESRI-Software. I’m working with ESRI-Software for 8 years now and are realling doing everything to convince my company to switch to another product.
    Especially Arcgis-Server sucks!Yeah, it sucks! WebADF is (was, ESRI realized that it sucks themselves) really a joke, GeometryService is really nothing for production-environments, log files with absolutely no useful content, and and and. I could give you bad examples for hours. I have coded my own javascript client in the past, I have deveolped a desktop gis in the past, I coded a mapserver in the past, so i know what I’m talking about. I am able to fullfill all of the requirements of our customers with my own code without esri and would love to do that!!!
    But now I know what my problem is: I’m a “light user”! They should print that in their manuals. Maybe the should release a “Dumbass-Edition”.
    I don’t like ESRI and I really hate ArcGis-Server!
    I like SQL-Server and I like Oracle.

    Oh, stop : I really like the Silverlight API, works really good (honestly)!!!

    Did I say that ArcGis-Server sucks?

    I wish you, that you have to code WebAdf and that you have to administer ArcGis-Server for the rest of your life! But as a “hard user” it should be no problem for you!

    Let me cite Beavis and Butthead: “This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before!”

  17. Execrable, Sickening, Repulsive, and Intimidating… good ol’ESRI

    Another night wasted waiting for “Not Responding” to either go away or for the thing to crash.

    10.1 is miserable…

  18. 10.1 is not a good software. just start to use it. a lot of problems such as image analysis, profile, …………..

  19. Where to begin… I have been using ESRI products for the last 12 years. Since 3.2 they have become more and more difficult to use (larger learning curve) because the really use functionality is either disabled or workflows are just changed for no apparent reason (possibly to make us more insane and keep upgrading like mindless drones!)

    I am trying to convert labels into graphics so I can simply just delete some and color code others. This was once a very easy task. I now find myself banging my head against the keyboard and drinking way too much coffee! Damn company maintenance agreement!

  20. OK, this has got to be the most annoying thing that randomly happens to line feature classes: edits to a line feature are made BUT NOT DISPLAYED, i.e., I can split a line and two lines are created from one, BUT THEY ARE NOT DISPLAYED!!!!!!

    The only solution I have found in the past is to COMPLETELY REBUILD THE DATA FRAME!

    Fuck everything about that.

  21. Not worth it in Australia, just called the Australian supplier and they are charging around $35,000 for the same product going for $2,500 in the US. The only reason they said they are charging this amount is because they “act” as the middle man if you have an issue by contacting the US support for you.

    So sick of Australian companies charging more for software in Australia, not going to pay it, will buy direct from the US. So if you are in Australia, don’t bother calling ESRI Australia as you will be ripped off. Buy direct from the states.

  22. There are a handful of affordable or even open access/open source GIS software packages that are very good and linked with powerful programming languages like Python, R and C++, etc ……Examples: Quantum GIS, GRASS GIS, ILWIS GIS, gvSIG, IDRISI, SAGA GIS…Several of these software contain image processing capabilities for Remote Sensing, so you can also throw away ERDAS/ENVI products.

    People who are talented in programming are light years ahead in the GIS world, producing amazing programs, models, scripts in a variety of GIS and statistical oriented fields like hydrology, stochastics/probability theory, biology, environmental modeling, spatial planning, etc……..These people, their ideas and home made products are hired and used in all kinds of positions like in Engineering, Environmental protection, mineral exploration and Catastrophe/Risk modeling (you can also add GIS software companies to the list ;-).

    My point is……its unfortunate that many GIS users are stuck with highly commercial software that its main purpose is profit…..due to like lack of time, forced by employer, data format availability/compatibility or just plane lazy. Anyways….I don’t blame them, whatever gets the job done right?

  23. I suggest a “Do you want to save your project before running tool” for 10.2. Alternatively a “Do you want to save your project before proceeding with whatever you are about to proceed with”

  24. I have serious problem with ArcGIS 10.1 whenever is start it Send error report error comes alway!! I have tried my best to set this, but in vain!! So can someone help me how to remove this error from ArcGIS, I am working very hardly on this.

  25. really? i can spend hours on here bashing arc as i wait or the 1st of a 15 map project to export. been waiting about 30 minutes now. let me say it again. ARC 10 SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is the bane of my existence!

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