The Carbon Project, which is an effort to provide open source GIS tools for Open Geospatial Consortium interoperability using .NET, has made a new tool available for ArcGIS Desktop- CarbonArc. CarbonArc is an extension for ArcGIS that allows an ArcGIS client to access OGC-compliant Web Map Services (WMS), Web Feature Services (WFS) and Geographic Markup Language (GML).
While ESRI's Data Interoperability Extension also provides this functionality, along with offering a whole host of other interoperability options, the ability to have a simple extension for OGC-only will be good for many organizations, because the ESRI Data Interoperability Extension is not included by default in an Enterprise License Agreement (ELA). No fault of ESRI, as for DIE they are using core functionality provided by Safe Software (producers of Feature Manipulation Engine).
Back in September, in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, my company was involved in developing a Web Feature Service for a federal agency to allow drilldown into a massive facilities database, from an ArcGIS client. As the backend had some limitations, we ended up developing a wrapper in .NET, which accepted WFS requests (GetCababilities responded with a series of 'themes' that we had classified the facilities into, DescribeFeatureType responded with the appropriate schema, and finally a nontransactional GetFeature which actually queried the legacy database, transformed the response, and rendered a GML response with the facilities geometry and attributes). Additional query parameters could be passed to filter facilities based on various criteria.
We initially did our testing using Carbon Project tools, such as CarbonViewer and Gaia, for lack of better WFS clients that were readily available. Then we were able to also test using ArcGIS and Data Interoperability Extension. Ultimately it worked quite well (barring the limitations of the legacy backend database), but DIE was a slight limitation for the agency, due to the licensing issues. Ultimately I felt we were a little ahead of our time, but it's great to see the rest of the world catching up.
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