PostGIS Connectivity to ArcGIS

As anyone who has used PostGIS before knows the big downside was always that there were no good desktop clients that had read/write access. The only available options were open source products such as QGIS or uDig, while these do provide read/write access to PostGIS the other functionality is not up to scratch compared to ArcGIS or MapInfo. We have been testing a 3rd party ArcGIS extension from Obtus Software called zigGIS that provides this functionality. zigGIS has had to use a bit of a back door route to get around a few ArcGIS issues.

Creating a connection to PostGIS using zigGIS is easy, just a matter of creating a config file with the database connection parameters. Editing with zigGIS is also fairly simple and relatively intuitive, a feature is selected from the PostGIS table, then the ‘edit zigLayer’ button from the zigGIS toolbar is selected which creates a temp layer containing the selected features. This temp layer can be edited like any other ArcGIS layer and the changes then comitted back to the database. I didn’t find the extra steps involved with using the temp layer to be too much of an inconvenience and would have no problem using this method in a production environment. The only issue we found is that zigGIS does not support decimal datatypes from PostIGS. We were told by the guys at Obtuse that this is due to issues with ArcGIS handling this datatype. Whether this limitation prevents you from using zigGIS will obviously depend on whether you had a strong requirement to use this datatype, but I would imagine a float would be able to be used under most circumstances.

zigGIS began life as an open source product, but with the extra time needed to move the product from read only to read/write Obtuse are now charging $279 per seat for commercial use. While it is unfortunate the zigGIS is no longer free when you consider the saving you are making by using PostGIS instead of SQL Server or Oracle it more than makes up for the small cost of zigGIS.

For a small organisation that wanted a spatial database without the high costs involved with an ArcSDE implementation then zigGIS makes PostGIS an attractive. For a large organisation however, zigGIS is probably not going to be robust enough to be a viable option.

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