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ArcView GIS showing data for the Chesapeake Bay.
|Initial release||October 5, 1995|
|Stable release||3.3 / May 22, 2002|
|Operating system||Mac OS, DG/UX|
ArcView GIS was a geographic information system software product produced by ESRI. It was replaced by new product line, ArcGIS, in 2000. Regardless of it being discontinued and replaced, some users still find the software useful and hold the opinion it is a superior product for some tasks.
ArcView started as a graphical program for spatial data and maps made using ESRI's other software products. In subsequent versions, more functionality was added to ArcView and it became a true GIS program capable of complex analysis and data management. The simple GUI was preferred by many over the less user friendly, more powerful ARC/INFO that was primarily used from a Command-line interface.
ArcView 1.0 was released in 1991  to provide access to GIS for non-traditional users of the technology. ESRI's flagship professional GIS at the time, Arc/INFO, was based on a command line interface and was not accessible to users that only needed view and query capability. The release did not support Shapefiles at the time.
ArcView 1 was very popular, and ESRI promised a more functional 2.x version of the product. This product was developed using a multi-platform windowing environment called Neuron Data, which allowed the product to be supported on the increasingly popular Windows 95 and Windows 2000, UNIX, and Mac OS 9 platforms. This product, when finally released (18 months after its initial release date) was very successful for ESRI and brought GIS technology to many people who had not used it before.
ArcView GIS 3.x
ArcView 3.x included even more full-featured GIS functionality, including a geoprocessing wizard and full support of extensions for raster and 3d processing. It was eventually renamed "ArcView GIS" by ESRI.
In 1997, ESRI released its final version supporting Mac OS9 (3.0a). It is still available, although it only runs on older (PowerPC-based) Mac systems, under Mac OS9.
The last release of ArcView GIS was version 3.3 (May 22, 2002), and was offered for both Unix and Windows variants. The release cannot be installed on Windows Vista or later versions. It can be installed/copied from an Windows XP machine to Vista and Windows 7 (search Esri Forums for Instructions).
Reasons Some Users Prefer ArcView 3.x
Many GIS professionals and users still use ArcView 3 even though it has been discontinued and replaced by a new product line. Some users with access to ArcGIS 9.x or 10.x may still install and use ArcView 3.x.
ArcView 3.x offers various advantages over ArcGIS including faster start up, faster functions such as dissolve, spatial joins and summary functions executed on the tabular data. Some users also strongly prefer having the ability to promote selected records in the tables instead of simply hiding un-selected records as ArcGIS offers. Small scale overlays and spatial joins with basic map/layout creation that tends to be the only tasks done by students are done quicker. Independent consultants, small businesses and organizations may not be able to justify the expense of moving to ArcGIS and the need to maintain annual licenses. Availability of free open source scripts and extensions created by users using the built-in object oriented scripting language Avenue is another reason.
- "Why ArcView 3.x is Still in Use". Caitlin Dempsey. July 20, 2008.
- "ESRI Company History". ESRI. Retrieved 2014-04-05.
- Why no 'Promote Selected Records' feature in 9.0!!!???. ESRI Forum. (Archived by WebCite® at http://www.webcitation.org/66e2CSAAc)