ArcGIS for Desktop

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ArcGIS for Desktop
Esri-10GlobeLogo sRGB .png
Developer(s) Esri
Stable release 10.1 / June 2012
Operating system Windows, Android
Type GIS
License Proprietary
Website ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop is part of Esri’s family product which includes complete professional GIS applications to support of various GIS tasks. The tasks include geographic information sharing, image and geodata management, analysis, data compilation, and mapping. Professionals can organize and map data using ArcGIS for Desktop to present tabular data in new ways to assist informed and insightful decision making. The raw data can be turned into productive information as users measure results, develop mapping solutions, analyze business data, allocate resources, and manage assets. The software also enables users to rank results, understand change, make predictions, and identify trends.


ArcGIS for Desktop was previously referred to as ArcGIS Desktop. The ArcGIS suite has three license levels; ArcGIS for Desktop Basic, ArcGIS for Desktop Standard, and ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced. Every license provides a different functionality.

Latest release dates of the ArcGIS product suite:

  1. May 2009 - ArcGIS 9.3.1
  2. January 2010 - ArcGIS 9.4, renamed to ArcGIS 10.0
  3. June 2012 - ArcGIS 10.1, renamed ArcGIS license levels as per the following:
    • ArcView to ArcGIS for Desktop Basic
    • ArcEditor to ArcGIS for Desktop Standard
    • ArcInfo to ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced
  4. July 2013 - ArcGIS 10.2
  5. January 2014 - ArcGIS 10.2.1
  6. April 2014 - ArcGIS 10.2.2

What’s New in ArcGIS for Desktop

ArcGIS for Desktop 10.2 is available for users as of April 2014Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; invalid names, e.g. too many. Users can enjoy several enhancements including :

  • ArcGIS Online as part of ArcGIS for Desktop license. Users can share information within groups or with individuals as well as search for features and data, and import basemaps.
  • Web GIS which facilitates the ArcGIS implementation as a platform in users’ organization.
  • Two new products which can help turn daily mapping applications to become frontline decision applications. The products are an application called Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS for creating operational live data views and a new extension for ArcGIS for Server named GeoEvent Processor.
  • Updates planned for accessing ArcGIS in business systems include Esri Maps for Sharepoint, Esri Maps for IBM Cognos, Esri Maps for Office, and MicroStrategy and Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Users also may be able to enjoy the next generation of Community Analyst and Business Analyst Online.
  • Online organization configuration where users can sign in using existing enterprise logins.
  • New enhancements to Web Mapping APIs and ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, among others.
  • More analysis tools to help users in decision making.

License Levels

ArcGIS for Desktop offers the following license levels to users:

  • ArcGIS for Desktop Standard is the mid-level software for the GIS user to make edits to the database and geodatabase. This software provides tools for map creation and spatial data used in GIS. ArcEditor supports single user editing as well as a collaborative process between many editors.

A set of tools is included for simple data cleanup and input as well as for sophisticated design and versioning.

Product Components

There are different product levels and functionalities in ArcGIS for Desktop.


ArcReader is a free desktop mapping application, ArcReader allows users to print, explore, and view globes and maps. High-quality interactive maps developed using high-level ArcGIS for Desktop product are available for viewing for anyone with ArcReader. Users can do the following with ArcReader:

  • navigate, view, and print published ArcGIS maps using ArcReader
  • share GIS data to both novices and professionals
  • switch, pan, and zoom between page and map layout views
  • graphically mark up maps for better communication
  • print globe documents and published maps including all cartographic and layer symbology map elements
  • embed ArcReader capabilities into existing applications and develop custom ArcReader applications
ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs

ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs [2] can help users to embed and develop interactive web maps. Users are able to do the following with ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs:

  • integrate a huge amount of geospatial information on a map
  • utilize customizable viewers with huge repositories of feature-enhancing widgets
  • analyze, edit, and view raster and vector data dynamically
  • access to user-contributed data and maps from Esri
  • access intuitive data managing and editing workflows

ArcGIS Online is a system for managing and sharing GIS content, maps, and apps. This application supports many different kinds of geographic information through an open information model. This application can be used by anyone, as well as content published by Esri, ArcGIS users, and other authoritative data providers.[3]

Key Features

These are some of the features in ArcGIS for Desktop: [4]

  • Spatial analysis – users can automate GIS tasks and turn data into actionable information using hundreds of tools for performing spatial analysis available in the software
  • Data management – users can find an extensive set of organization, geographic, creation, tabular, and metadata management tools within the application to manage their data. ArcGIS for Desktop can support over 70 data formats
  • Mapping and visualization - users can take advantage of predefined map templates and simple wizards as well as a huge library of symbols to create high-quality maps without having to use complex design software
  • Advanced editing - users can get multiple user editing at one time, which helps data sharing between field staff, organizations, and department
  • Geocoding - users can access simple data analysis, which is for customer and business management, with a range of applications to use geocoding. Using users’ data, the geocoded addresses can spatially recognize patterns and display the address locations
  • Map projections - users can integrate datasets into a common framework. ArcGIS for Desktop performs various analytic operations, merges data, create professional quality, and precise maps
  • Advanced imagery - users can use image data (raster data) as background (basemap) in ArcGIS Desktop as part of an analysis, apply various types of specifications to the image dataset, or analyze other data layers
  • Automate advanced workflows - users can automate the editing workflow using powerful editing tools and manipulate data with a minimum number of clicks. Users can also simplify data cleanup, input, and design using coordinate geometry (COGO) and advanced editing tools
  • Customization - users can customize the user interface by docking toolbars as well as removing or adding buttons


ArcGIS for Desktop offers optional extensions [3] such as ArcGIS 3D Analyst, ArcGIS Publisher, ArcGIS Editor for OpenStreetMap, and ArcGIS for Aviation to enhance users' systems. The extensions can be used to:

  • analyze users’ data in a realistic perspective
  • carry out advanced spatial analysis on users’ data to attain specific answers
  • utilize advanced statistical tools to study users’ data
  • carry out service area, closest facility, and complex routing analysis
  • analyze and reveal time-based trends and patterns
  • understand and represent users’ network

System Requirements

The system requirements for ArcGIS for Desktop are as follow [5]:

  • .NET Framework 3.5 SP1 must be installed prior to installing ArcGIS for Desktop.
Internet Explorer requirement
  • Internet Explorer 7 or 8 (minimum requirement)
  • Internet Explorer 9, 10, and 11 (supported)
Python requirement for Geoprocessing
  • Python 2.7.x
  • Numerical Python 1.6.x

If the ArcGIS for Desktop setup does not find either Python 2.7.x or Numerical Python (NumPy) 1.6.x installed on the target computer, Python 2.7.3 and Numerical Python 1.6.1 will be installed during a complete installation of ArcGIS 10.2. Python 2.7.5 and Numerical Python 1.7.1 will be installed during a complete installation of ArcGIS 10.2.1.

Supported platforms
  • Windows 8.1 Basic, Professional, and Enterprise (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])
  • Windows 7 Ultimate, Enterprise, Professional, Home Premium (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])
  • Windows Vista Ultimate, Enterprise, Business, Home Premium (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])
  • Windows XP Professional Edition, Home Edition (32 bit and 64 bit [EM64T])
  • Windows Server 2012 R2 Standard, and Datacenter (64 bit [EM64T])
  • Windows Server 2012 Standard, and Datacenter (64 bit [EM64T])


  1. "[1]" GIS Software. Esri. Accessed 5 August 2013.
  2. "[]" ArcGIS Web Mapping APIs. Esri. Accessed 12 September 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "[2]" Introducing ArcGIS Online. Esri. Accessed 19 September 2013.
  4. "[3]" Key Features. Esri. Accessed 1 August 2013.
  5. "ArcGIS for Desktop System RequirementsAccessed 12 September 2014

See also