ArcGIS. A powerful and intuitive GIS Suite which sets a high bar.
Updated May 25, 2016

ArcGIS. A powerful and intuitive GIS Suite which sets a high bar.

Anonymous | TrustRadius Reviewer
Score 8 out of 10
Vetted Review
Verified User

Overall Satisfaction with ArcGIS

Previously, I used ArcGIS in an educational capacity as a student. For a number of years I learned ArcGIS and used it to complete projects, assignments, and other tasks as required for my classwork.

Currently, I use ArcGIS in a personal/educational capacity as a tool to complete my thesis reseach. ArcGIS has proven to be absolutely critical in my thesis research as it is a fully functional GIS suite that in many regards is the industry standard (analogous to the Adobe Suite in the creative fields). Due to its long legacy, ArcGIS contains a huge suite of varied tools for analysis, display, and sharing of my data and results.

Over the years, ArcGIS has transitioned to being a bit more open in many regards. One of the biggest changes was switching the tools over to Python to ease scripting, updating, and modification of the internal tools and analyses. ArcGIS has also improved its ability to import/export various proprietary and open data formats and sources.
  • Fully-featured and powerful GUI.
  • Large library of integrated tools for analysis and visualization.
  • Large community of experts, novices, and academics to provide tons of examples, help, and guidance for users.
  • Excellent documentation.
  • Industry-wide acceptance and usage means ease of deployment and exchange with others.
  • Fully x64 native client is needed for large/complex datasets, which are not uncommon in GIS.
  • GPU-accelerated analyses is needed as it will reduce analysis times orders of magnitude in most every case.
  • Fully multi-threaded analyses where possible. Currently, analyses are almost exclusively single-threaded on the CPU with ArcGIS' GUI running in a separate thread to prevent lockup.
  • Better interchange capabilities with Open Data formats and sources like OpenStreetMap.
  • Product stability could use some improvement, especially when working on a very large project file.
  • ArcGIS has enabled me to collect, process, display, and analyze my thesis data.
  • ArcGIS has also enabled me to easily share and visualize my data with its excellent Publishing tool which is a fully-featured Layout Editor akin to InDesign.
  • ArcGIS unfortunately has a bit of "platform lock" as not all of its native data formats are easily portable to other GIS suites, though one can manually export all of their data individually to open/proprietary interchange formats if needed.
Compared to other suites like ENVI, ERDAS Imagine, IDRISI TerrSet, and OSGEO QGIS, ArcGIS compares favorably in most use cases. Naturally, different tools are best suited for different tasks (ENVI/ERDAS for spectral analysis, for instance) but ArcGIS is competent enough across a wide variety of tasks to be a great jack-of-all GIS tool.

Personally, I find IDRISI TerraSet to be the least intimidating for new users, while also containing an incredible LandChange modeling tool and Time-Series toolset which are far better than what ArcGIS currently offers.

Furthering that, I find that OSGEO's QGIS has made major changes and realized great improvement recently, becoming ever more intuitive and simple to use while still maintaining incredible power.

Despite that, I have chosen ArcGIS due to its wide range of features, incredible documentation, large community, and industry-wide acceptance. It is a great platform to perform GIS analyses on, and has been markedly improved with each new generation. I'm beyond excited to see what ArcGIS Pro will offer and I'm optimistic that ESRI have another winner in the making.
If you work in the industry, I do not believe you can go wrong with ArcGIS, especially if your company is willing to license it for you. The power of ArcGIS combined with its industry-wide presence means it is the defacto tool in many companies and institutions. It also has an incredibly intuitive (for a GIS suite) GUI, which eases the learning curve when compared to other offerings which historically have had more obtuse GUIs. ArcGIS manages to strike an impressive balance between functionality and intuitiveness.

For home use, I think ArcGIS could potentially be overkill, though recently ESRI has offered a home-use single-seat license for $100 which is an excellent deal. For use-cases like this, I would recommend QGIS from OSGeo as it would be more than sufficient for home or hobbyist uses without carrying any cost for licensing.