RIP ArcView! Long Live ArcGIS for Desktop Basic!

In 1995, Esri released ArcView, a Windows software product for “non-traditional GIS users.” Over the next 16 years, the product became popular and had a major impact on the GIS industry by opening up the potential of GIS to more users.

This summer, Esri announced that ArcView was to be no more—that the technology would be renamed to emphasize the way it has evolved into a system of desktop, server, mobile, and online components. It seems the perfect time to explain the name change and review what surveyors can actually do with ArcGIS for Desktop Basic (formerly ArcView) and ArcGIS for Desktop Standard (formerly ArcEditor).

Why the Change?

The new naming convention takes its lead from Esri’s server line of products, which is licensed at basic, standard, and advanced levels. The idea is that the basic functionality is available at the entry level, and as you go up each level you get more and more features. Because ArcView was the entry-level desktop product, it becomes ArcGIS for Desktop Basic.

The new names will be in effect at the release of ArcGIS 10.1 and are summarized in the table below.

What Can Each Product Do?

If you have ever wondered what kind of functionality is in ArcGIS for Desktop that can help surveyors, read on. Based on my observations and feedback from surveyors over the last 10 years, I’m listing the most popular features of the software and will help you understand which level might be right for you.

Right off the bat, I don’t see any justification for a surveyor to choose ArcGIS for Desktop Advanced, so I’m going to concentrate on the features of Desktop Basic and Desktop Standard. Both have comprehensive data-management, mapping, and analysis capabilities. I’ve concentrated on just the differences surveyors are likely to be interested in: preparing, creating, and using CAD data, as well as GIS feature editing.

Most additional functionality is the same (at least for surveyors). I hope that helps you understand what you can do with ArcGIS for Desktop and which level might be right for you.
More Information

Visit for a full list of features and more help choosing a level. Don’t tell anyone I told you, but Esri has a great deal for surveyors (while it lasts) at Remember, if you have anything you’d like to ask me about this article, or anything else related to GIS technology for CAD users, I can be reached at
Ray Carnes stumbled across GIS in 1992 and has used it ever since for managing data, modeling and analyzing geographic features and helping users understand how it helps them make better decisions. He has spent nearly 20 years (10 with Esri) providing GIS and IT technical support, training, implementation, and development services.

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