Wednesday, June 12, 2013

ArcFM Server, Do You Need it?





Lots of people requested me to write about this technology, so here it goes.

Good thing about this blog is it doesn't take sides, if I didn't like a product I simply say so. So when you hear something from me (good or bad) its probably coming from my sole experience with a product.

What is ArcFM Server? 
Let us start with what is ArcFM. ArcFM (Facility Management) has been created on top of ArcGIS platform by Miner and Miner as desktop application for utility users. Since ESRI was not focusing on Utility users, M&M has found a niche and tackled it with a solid product. Made a good money out of it.  Schneider Electric found this gem and bought it.

ArcFM Server is an extension for ArcGIS Server (now 10.2), allows you to support ArcFM functionalities on your GIS Services. They probably didn't say this in the brochures and flyers but ArcFM Server is won't work without ArcFM Desktop Editor. You need the desktop version to configure your geodatabase, upgrade it to support ArcFM etc.

Here is a live demo of ArcFM Server, it is on 2.4 at the time of writing this article.

Good thing about ArcFM Server?
At my company, we have implemented ArcFM Server for one reason. We didn't want to customize anything. We want a product that we can install, configure and voila!. We have ArcFM desktop fully configured with feeder manager, we implemented ArcFM Server and bang! we have all our electric traces right on ArcFM server page with some basic nice features with no single line of code.

Disadvantages
Lack of Support and Training
If you got error in the installation or configuration ArcFM server (and yes you will) good luck with that, you are on your own. The forum is filled with unanswered questions. No training yet offered for ArcFM server.

Silverlight
I said this to the guys at schneider electric and I'm gonna say it again. There is an elephant in the room and it is called silverlight. Why are you still supporting this? The only reason we are going Web 2.0 so that we can consume our services from multiple sources. Silverlight is not supported on any of the tablets or phones. HTML5 however is supported. Either build us native applications on mobile to consume these services or support HTML5.

Trace Tools are so slow
ArcFM Server Tracing tools take on average 40 seconds to execute. That is not acceptable in our business so we end up creating our own from scratch. My custom trace achieves the same result with only 0.5 seconds to run. 98% Less!

So I'll give this product a year or two to mature, and until ArcFM have a vivid strategy for this product.