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GIS Servers and services

User, author, administrator, and developer roles

Release 9.2
Last modified March 10, 2008
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As GIS professionals who plan to use ArcGIS Server to share your collective knowledge and information with others, you will likely be taking on, or delegating, any of several roles.

Here is some useful information to help you get started in each of these roles.

ArcGIS Server User

If you're a user, these links provide fundamental information about using ArcGIS web services:
Servers and the services they provide
Using GIS Services in ArcGIS Desktop

Analyst who builds content to be served using ArcGIS Server

If you're an analyst (often referred to in our documentation as a GIS professional), you author services using ArcGIS Desktop, but you won't necessarily have to know about configuring a service (things like pooling, timeouts—the kinds of properties you would see on the service properties context menu in ArcCatalog). In this role, you can rely on the server administrator to help you configure and manage service properties.
What you do need to know is what client application(s) will use the services that you will create. For example, will your users be accessing ArcGIS services using a browser-based web application? A mobile GIS application? ArcGIS Explorer? Google Earth? A custom application? Or an open client using WMS?
As a GIS analyst, you also need to know about data access and the basics of publishing a resource as an ArcGIS service using ArcCatalog or publishing an ArcIMS service using ArcIMS. In most cases, you publish your GIS resource (your ArcMap document, your geoprocessing tool, your address locator and so on), and then work with the server administrator to properly configure the service.
All the topics here are of interest to you, but in particular:

Using GIS Service in ArcGIS Desktop
Thinking about maps in web-enabled GIS applications
Understanding map caches in ArcGIS
Managing server connections in the GIS Servers folder
An overview of authoring and publishing services
Data access considerations for ArcGIS Server
Publishing resources

ArcGIS Server Administrator

If you're a server administrator, understanding the user as well as the analyst's perspective will be important. You will work with analysts to determine how to best serve each GIS resource. You can count on the analyst to design and author the resources to be served. However, you certainly will need to help the analyst with data access issues and to help the analyst publish a viable service with appropriate levels of security and access.
As the server administrator, you will use ArcCatalog and the browser-based Server Manager application to administer the server. You have access to the ArcGIS Server help that is installed with ArcGIS Server. Some of contents of the ArcGIS Server help are duplicated here (the ArcGIS Desktop help).
Topics of interest to you are:
Overview of ArcGIS Server administration in ArcCatalog
Managing server connections in the GIS Servers folder
An overview of authoring and publishing services
Data access considerations for ArcGIS Server
Publishing resources

ArcGIS Server developer

If you're a web developer, you use the application development framework (ADF) that comes with ArcGIS Server. You need to understand the types of GIS services and their capabilities.

As a developer, you'll have to know about the application frameworks you can use for building custom web applications and custom GIS services. There are a number of development frameworks for working with ArcGIS Server:

To get an idea of how to get started working with these developer frameworks, see "Developing with ArcGIS Server: An overview" in the ArcGIS Server Help, available on-line at
ArcGIS Server also includes a separate, more detailed, Developer Help system, which is included when you install the ADF.

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