Map Happenings

Mapping Industry Tidbits, Activity and Musings

Finally!! About Time!! Announcing: ArcGIS for macOS. 😱

If your day job is not in the mapping industry then you might find the title of this post a little yawn inducing. But bear with me, this is actually pretty momentous…

ArcGIS is a product that comes from the largest enterprise mapping technology company on the planet. That company is the Environmental Systems Research Institute, now commonly known as ‘Esri’. People call it ‘ezz-ree’ although for the longest time it was known to employees as ‘E-S-R-I’ or sometimes just ‘The Institute’.

Esri has both an impressive and illustrious pedigree. Started by Jack Dangermond and his wife, Laura, in 1969 they have built the company into an industry juggernaut. Through Esri’s work Jack has pioneered the geographic approach to technology, developing a foundation on something called ‘GIS’ or geographic information systems.

While the term ‘GIS’ is meant to be a generic term, it has actually become synonymous with Esri. In other words ‘GIS’ means ‘Esri’ and there are no other significant GIS players in the market.

Esri ArcGIS
Credit Esri

‘What about Google?’ I can hear you exclaim. Well to Esri, Google is but a pittance. While Google has become a master of consumer maps and navigation they have done relatively little in the enterprise mapping market. Sure, I guess you could say they ‘dabble’, but it’s not a core focus.

For Esri, mapping technology is central to everything they do. And as a result you will find it is used under the covers almost everywhere — national, regional and local governments, utilities, oil & gas, telecommunications, transportation, banking, insurance, retail, education — to name just a few.

It’s used by organizations not only to create super detailed maps of places and infrastructure, but more importantly it’s used for geospatial analytics — or what I’ve always liked to call ‘location analytics’.

You can use Esri’s software to map your cities — parcels, water and sewer lines, roads, bridges and parks. You can use it to figure out the optimal location for a store, a school, a cell tower or a wind farm. You can use it to assess risk or to plan for emergencies. You can use it to optimize emergency response. The list is essentially endless. At anytime when the question ‘where?’ comes up then Esri has a product for you.

And since 1969 that list of products has grown.

In the beginning Esri started with prefacing all their product names with the letters ‘Arc’ — as in ‘arc’, ‘line’ or ‘polygon’. This is much like Apple, who in the Steve Jobs days used to preface all their products with the letter ‘i’.

First there was ‘ArcView’, ‘ArcMap’ and ‘ArcInfo’ and more recently they’ve settled on prefacing all product names with the word ‘ArcGIS’ 1, for example ‘ArcGIS Pro’, ‘ArcGIS Enterprise’ and ‘ArcGIS Online’.

I’m actually quite astounded at how many ‘ArcGIS’ products there are now. When I last counted there were 110 of them — they even have a product for breakfast cereals (!!):

Esri ArcGIS list of products  (1 of 2)
Esri ArcGIS list of products  (2 of 2)

But if you look through the list carefully you might notice there’s one product that’s not listed.

Yes, there is no product for that operating system favored by the many millions of people who use computers from that large fruit company in Cupertino, California.

It’s true, dear readers, you will not find ‘ArcGIS for macOS’.

This is surprising, particularly given the popularity of the macOS ecosystem — not to mention its cool factor. It is also very surprising given Esri’s propensity and strategy to ‘get em while they’re young‘.

I asked Perplexity about how much Macs are favored in universities. Even I was surprised at the number — some 71% of college students prefer Macs over PCs.

Percentage of students that prefer Mac over PC
Credit Perplexity.AI

And real life backs this up. Here’s a screenshot of freshman students attending one of their first lectures at a well known US college:

Err — I think I can detect just one or two Apple devices in the audience!

But here’s the exciting news…

Thanks to some little birdies that have graciously kept me in the loop I can now tell you that your long wait is now almost over:

And I’m told this isn’t going to be some Windows lookalike hack either. No, it will be fully compliant with all the nitty gritty, pixel-perfect details of the Apple macOS Human Interface Guidelines. It’s also going to built from the ground up on Metal so it can make full use of Apple’s latest M-series chips. All-in-all it’s going to be gorgeous.

But wait, I hear you clamoring — just when is the exciting date?

Well I’m told that in deference to Apple it will be on the anniversary of Apple’s founding.

Go figure. 🙂

1 Although when I worked at Esri I sometimes heard people call it ‘ArghhGIS’ in frustration at the complexity of its UI.

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