Much of what I have read about Esri Add-Ins describe these unique containers of custom ArcGIS Desktop functionality as having behaviours that make deployment, installation and development “easier”. That is, easier than that required by their predecessor – the Classic COM component, which became an essential for Desktop customisation when ArcObjects first hit the scene in the late 90’s.
I have “walked through” numerous help references and tutorials that are based around the Esri Add-In type, but none that I have found articulate the “how” of the Esri Add-In. That is, how can the Add-In type have such new and appealing deployment characteristics ? – There is many a forum posting and support request focused on the intricacies of COM registration and deployment; The first Add-In type , to which we were introduced at Desktop 10.0, utilises ArcObjects libraries; ArcObjects libraries are COM libraries. How then, could the Esri Add-In model employ ArcObjects “COM” libraries, without the need for registration on the underlying operating system?
Although there has been a great blog on this subject already (see: http://esriaustralia.wordpress.com/2011/02/17/the-new-arcgis-runtime/ ) there still seems to be a bit of confusion over what the ArcGIS Runtime actually is and what you can do with it. First of all ArcGIS Runtime is actually a series of 6 runtimes, each based on a specific platform. These cover IOS, Android, Windows Phone, Windows Mobile, Windows and Linux. So we have 4 runtimes for mobile and 2 runtimes for ArcGIS Desktop. When people refer to the “New ArcGIS Runtime”, most are referring to the Desktop version(s) and this is where I will focus this blog.
So what is it for?
ArcGIS Runtime will enable developers to build custom applications that can be easily distributed to users. Such applications may be required to deliver custom interfaces and/or automate of a set of tasks . Additionally there is a LOT of functionality within ArcGIS Desktop, but most users use only a fraction of it. Being able to strip out unrequired buttons, menus and the underlying code, libraries etc is a big bonus. Not only does this make an application more intuitive and streamlined, it also has the potential to reduce the size of the installation footprint and decrease licensing costs. Continue reading →