Is There a Future ArcGIS Explorer Desktop Application?

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02-18-2015 01:47 PM
Regular Contributor II

The last major, new build of ArcGIS Explorer Desktop (AGX) was February of 2013, two years ago.  AGX 2500/2505 has been limping along now for way too long and continue to fall farther and farther behind with each new release of ArcGIS for Desktop and updates of ArcGIS Online.  In its day, AGX was considered a wonderful desktop solution for end-users of GIS data and services.  Today, it barely functions.

At the 2014 Esri User Conference (seven months ago), a new product, Explorer for Windows Desktop or ArcGIS Viewer, whatever the name is today, was available for viewing (beta version) at an Esri Showcase island.  It looked very promising.

I think it is poor business for Esri to not be sharing with its multitude of users the plan for new AGX builds or a new AGX replacement application.  There are many loyal and ardent users of AGX who have been left hanging for well over a year for an updated AGX product. Frankly, I feel disrespected.

In the mean-time, ArcGIS Pro, ArcGIS for Desktop and Server, ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, iOS and Android Apps, Community Maps, Open Data, etc., continue to be updated and upgraded, regularly and frequently.

Esri – do you really have nothing to tell us about the next version of AGX?  Is there no beta program for the next version of AGX?  Are you even working on a new version of AGX?  Should your users be looking for a Windows desktop alternative to AGX (Google Earth Pro just went to Free)?

Your army of struggling AGX users have been patiently waiting for any hint of news regarding the future of AGX.  Please tell us what’s going on.


44 Replies
Occasional Contributor II


Thank you for that quick reply, we are eagerly awaiting it.

Best Regards,

John Nowlin

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Occasional Contributor


I too am very glad to see this AGX continue to be supported.

Is it too late in the game to request/suggest a simple change in the next version? I would love the default polygon symbol to have an outline. The current default symbol for polygons is yellow with no outlines, so if you add a shapefile with multiple polygons, like HUC watersheds, it looks like all one polygon. My non-GIS users don't know easily that it might be multiple polygons.

Thank you. Very much looking forward to the new version!



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New Contributor III

Hi, it's 6/4/2015 and still hoping for a new release. Just allowing better use of AGO basemaps/services would be enough.

Occasional Contributor

Cory and other AGX enthusiasts

I too am watching eagerly for another release.

A question about your post: what improved handling of basemaps and services are you wishing for? I've been able to use many basemaps and services fairly well, or so I thought. Maybe I'm missing something good?.

New Contributor III

Hi Ellen,

I only meant that ArcGIS Online basemap availability (to my knowledge) still requires less than ideal workarounds to get them to appear. Same with adding Layers from AGO. So the release of at least a fix for these connection issues would be enough for us at this point. 

New Contributor III

I too am looking forward to the new release, checking daily
and staving off new installs waiting for it.  Any day now, right?  The organization I support continues to
request Google Earth and now GE Pro since its free and both work well, yet I
continually point out that AGX Desktop can read kml/kmz AND work with all our
Esri geodatabases and image services.  However, without regular updates
and fixes to AGX it is getting more and more difficult to market.  Please
don't let this product die!   Mark B. asks why ArcGIS Pro, AGSO,
ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, etc. can not be used to replace AGX desktop.  My short answer is that all these products
come at a cost.  My org has invested heavily in ArcGIS Desktop and Server
for many years and built a huge inventory of authoritative data and services
that we host.  We have also built many systems that integrate the GIS
rdbms with other business databases, and have built map caches and image
services using authoritative data.  AGSO can not replace this level of
integration and does not have the local-scale data we need and so our interest
in it is minimal.  I find it very ironic that Esri boasts of AGSO
open data and authoritative data yet there is no metadata in AGSO, so Explorer
for AGSO is really no better than Google Earth since both hook users up with lots
of "junk" undocumented data.  With AGX Desktop, we have a free tool
that can connect to all our locally-hosted Esri format databases that we
have spent so much time and money to create and
maintain.  The inability to expose metadata is a shortcoming
with AGX Desktop but since we publish our metadata in xml format on our Web
site, we have a pseudo-workaround.  While the canned content available for
ArcReader clients is acceptable in some situations, AGX Desktop
gives users the flexibility to create, save, and share map documents,
markups, etc. to meet their needs.  If it is discontinued we will have to look at
other desktop viewers, and Esri does not have anything comparable so where does
that leave us?   Esri should realize that
not all Esri customers want or need AGSO, esp. those who have mature in-house
implementations of ArcGIS Server  Trying
to force everyone to use AGSO is not the way forward.  We need desktop tools like AGX Desktop that
can utilize our internally-hosted data and services and make GIS available to
those who can't afford, don't have the time to master, or don't need the
licensed desktop products.

Occasional Contributor II


There are three days left in the month, any updates on the release?



Esri Regular Contributor

I was planning to send an update once the install package was sent to the team that manages the download hosting, but its taking longer than expected for ArcGIS Explorer Desktop 3400 to be posted for download.  At this time setups are being finalized and certified for the various install scenarios... including testing on the forthcoming Windows 10 OS.

At this point all I can say it that it will be available soon...


Occasional Contributor II

Thanks for the update Mark.

Best Regards,

John Nowlin, M.A., GISP

National Service Systems Developer

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New Contributor

Thanks, John, for your diligence.  Your efforts are appreciated.  Community Transit (Everett, WA) is also a dedicated user of AGX.  We want the life of the product to continue as well.


Jeff Anderson, GISP

GIS Program Coordinator

Community Transit

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