...and I would have never uttered that subject line several years ago, because I was an ESRI devotee. From the beginning of my GIS career, to about 2008, I would defend the company and their software against all detractors.
Then it came: The last functioning and solid version of ArcGIS, in my long experience of using the software since the very first pre-release, was Version 8.3. Ever since then, the entire ArcGIS software package has been a slow decline. That decline was at its worst when version 10 surfaced, with 10.1 barely fixing anything. At times the software was barely useable, and that continues to this day. The new features could not justify all the problems.
What are the problems? The constant, continual crashing and errors, which happen at every step and for no clear explanation. These are problems that did not occur during the ArcINFO, ArcView, and ArcGIS pre-8.3 years. As a result, this current state of the software is making scores of potentially new GIS users into people who simply hate GIS. I am experiencing this right now as a graduate student in a course that uses GIS for site suitability analysis. I am very familiar with how terrible ArcGIS has been over the last several years, but the other students are not. Therfore, they simply think GIS, as a practice, is complete and utter crap.
Speaking of graduate school: One of several reasons I am back to graduate school was because of how terrible ArcGIS has become. I was a senior-level GIS specialist when I decided I've had enough. I was tired of my work taking way too long, or having to do messy workarounds just so I could get something out the door for someone who has no idea what I'm going through. For that and other personal reasons, I needed a change.
So I want to start a discussion by asking ESRI a question:
Did ESRI hire an entirely new development team before version 10? Did ESRI completely redesign the program's architecture? Why is it so difficult to execute geoprocessing and basic functions without receiving some kind of error. Not the kind of error that is due to something a user has overlooked, but an error which has no clear explanation.
Please don't ask me to list examples of the problems--there is more than I care to recount and I'm too busy trying to create workarounds for my class.