ArcGIS desktop is a collection of software products that runs on standard desktop computers. It is used to create, import, edit, query, map, analyze, and publish geographic information. There are four products in the ArcGIS desktop collection- ArcReader, ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo- each adds a higher level of functionality.
- ArcReader is a free viewer for maps authored using the other ArcGIS desktop products. ArcReader can view and print all maps and data types. It also has some simple tools to explore and query maps.
- ArcView provides extensive mapping, data use, and analysis along with simple editing and geoprocessing capabilities.
- ArcEditor includes advanced editing for shapefiles and geodatabases in addition to the full functionality of ArcView.
- ArcInfo is the full function, flagship GIS desktop. It extends the functionality of both ArcView and ArcEditor with advanced geoprocessing. It also includes the legacy applications for ArcInfo Workstation.
All ArcGIS desktop products share a common architecture, so users working with any of these GIS desktops can share their work with others. Maps, data, symbology, map layers, geoprocessing models, custom tools and interfaces, reports, metadata, and so on, can be accessed interchangeably. This means that all GIS users in an organization can benefit from using a single, consistent user interface and set of functionality and data formats, thus minimizing the need to learn and deploy several different products.
In addition, maps, data, and metadata created with ArcGIS can be shared with many users through the use of custom ArcGIS Engine applications and advanced GIS Web services using ArcGIS Server.