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Native consumer grade GPS support for all Arc products

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  • All ESRI products should be able to connect, using USB, to a GPS and upload or download to a shapefile or feature class.
    This should be core functionality, it's a basic requirement in this day and age to be able to use waypoints and tracks in your environment of choice.
    In our case this should not mean 3rd party extensions or other vendors product.

    Looking forward to speedy acceptance and implementation
    Tags :
     GPS, core functionality
    Posted by   sferriss  to ArcGIS DesktopArcGIS ExplorerArcGIS OnlineMining Aug 5, 2010

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Comments (36)

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Jun 3, 2014
This would save us so much time and effort.

Jan 24, 2014
Just received an email from support... it's still not planned...
GPSUtility (a 60$ product) can read almost any GPS (USB or serial) !!!
Esri has no excuse.

Oct 9, 2013
Can anyone with 10.2 confirm that this hasn't been added?

ESRI users have been waiting for 10 years....maybe if we are lucky ESRI will allow USB connections for common GPS units before the next 10 years is up? Maybe.

Jul 31, 2013
Yes, once again ESRI is wasting our time, and money, and trying our patience.  This is expensive software!  Why doesn't it have key GPS functionality out of the box?  It's the old ESRI opium pipe business model:  The base program (the opium pipe) is relatively cheap, but for real functionality you have to keep purchasing expensive extensions (the opium).  They need a real competitor.

Jul 23, 2013
Searching the old forums, this functionality has been requested since 2004.
9 years ago.


What is ESRI thinking?!

Jul 12, 2013
I was advised by ESRI Technical Support to list on the ideas forum (regarding a different issue). These are his words:

 I would suggest using the Ideas portal as your sounding board. Developers use this as a tool to find out what the user community truly wants in a product, so I would suggest posting the idea there ( and have people promote it. It works great- many of the ideas get considered for the product and a lot end up getting implemented. As the old saying goes- nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd...

Its great to see ESRI listening to user feedback (NOT)

Mar 28, 2013
I'm surprised so many people commented on this. It's not a real GIS software without advanced GPS processing functions. I cannot understand ESRI now hasn't considered this.

Jan 31, 2013
This is an idea that is way past due to be implemented.
My agency has hundreds of Garmin receivers and many of them need to be connected to ArcGIS and other Esri products.  We may not be at the cutting edge of everything, but we definitely are not living in the 1990's.  For Esri to blame the lack of an interface on doesn't help us as consumers of Esri software.
The third party tools make the connection work, I don't see why Esri development can't do the same thing so we can get on with using the ArcGIS to get our jobs done.

Emmor Nile
Oregon Department of Forestry

Oct 28, 2012
After being forced to use 3rd party programs in previous versions of ArcGIS (and all that entails- Making copies of data around the place, sometimes loss of context to other data if using DNRGarmin without a map view etc), I thought that the new Arc 10.1 GPS toolbar would have finally solved this simple problem.


The new toolbar STILL only allows communication trhough COM's like ESRI just caught up to 1995 with their toolbar. It would be laughable it wasn't such a drain on productivity.

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE ESRI, sort it out. USB has been a standard for many years and it makes sending/retrieving data on a GPS unit far harder than it need be, especially when I have to support users in remote locations (i.e. over the phone)

Sep 12, 2012
Well, two years have gone by and ESRI have done sod all to get this simple fix working. We are wasting huge amounts of time on third party apps getting a basic GPS waypoint and tracklog output into ArcMap. Google could do this for free. It would be good to get some real feedback from ESRI as to why this is really such a problem to implement.

Jan 23, 2012
Even if you can't record/save GPS tracks this would be extremly helpful.  Being able to see your current location on a published map is a plus.  We currently use a script to add a gps layer (viewer) onto the published arcreader map.  The maps are published out to responders to use when locating addresses.  Being able to see their current location has been a big part of being able to locate addresses.  Thanks!

Nov 22, 2011
agree, it is ridiculous not to have this feature in GIS software

Aug 25, 2011
It is completely rediculous that this has not been implemented yet.

Aug 19, 2011
Geotagged images are "under consideration", but this is still going nowhere...!?

Aug 13, 2011
I think it's wise idea and it would be great if ESRI implements this feature. Currenlty most users are connected with the 3rd party software often from the GPS manufacturers then it need to be converted to ArcGIS . This is often rediculus. I have seen circumstances that the Gram GPS way points are first copies to Excel then futher processed to make Lattitude and Longitude in separate column. Then they are processed with X-tools to make the polygon. That setp is very lengthy indeed. 

May 15, 2011
Amazing that this funcionality is not already implemented. Duh! As it is now I actually have to bring a second GPS to the field to record data points. And the GPS memory leak needs to be fixed too!

Mar 3, 2011
Think how much easier it would be to support the not-quite-gis users if ArcGIS Explorer and ArcGIS Reader were gps enabled!

Joel Cusick 
Feb 18, 2011

I would guess that the National Park Service in Alaska has over 150 Garmin devices and at least 10 - 15 aircraft mapping applications each year that would be greatly simplified if ArcGIS allowed USB support and direct streaming of active track positions.  Natural resource activity from aerial observations of animals, to veg plot aerial verification to fire perimeter mapping would all benefit.  USB offers the throughput speeds that are necessary for covering map space at 100mph.  Our laptops have the horsepower to refresh screens, to run ArcGIS, 4 USB ports and accept data at rates higher than 4800baud.  Aircrafts are crowded places to work, and we need data feeds that are reliable and stable.  USB has earned the respect of the GPS crowds for years and were spilling data into other programs at astonishing rates.  Just wish ArcGIS could catch up. 

Jan 24, 2011
Would be nice to avoid 3rd party installation.
We carry laptops on sea operations and would be nice to plug and play.

Jan 11, 2011

It makes no sense to me why a USB GPS unit cannot be used directly with ArcMap, without some third party software.  Others can do it, why not ESRI with all their recourses?  I guess the more important question is, when are they going to fix this?  It doesn’t even seem like a concern because they have let this problem exist for years without addressing it.  Step up to the plate and hit the ball ESRI, we are not going to let you walk on this one. 

Dec 17, 2010
I was blown away when I started up my new ArcEditor 10 for which I paid big $$$! and it couldn't communicate with a standard, "off-the-shelf" Garmin GPS!   What? 
Recreation grade GPS should not be dismissed (my Garmin 60Cx gets better coverage than some expensive Trimble units), nor should USB - both of which work perfectly in Google Earth.  Try to find Audio/Visual hardware with serial port connectivity -you'd be laughed out of the store!

2-way communication with USB-connected GPS should be core functionality in any mapping application.

to ESRI:  We don't have time for this!

Oct 27, 2010
totally agree, GPS functionally should be core. I don't see why a cut down version (ArcPad) works better than the full desktop version.

Why not modify and imporve the GPS code from ArcPad?

Oct 14, 2010

FalconView is another great FREE program that allows the user to use a USB interface to connect to a GPS. This program will let you make a shapefile of the output which could then be transferred into ArcGIS but I think like most of the other post's say here its something that should be included with the software.

Oct 12, 2010
I accidentally created a new idea about this as I could not find this one. I agree with the original poster 100%!!

I am actually quite surprised that this is not a priority for ESRI. It's the same as MS Word not having a spellchecker.

Please put in your next Service Pack.
Google Earth could do it 6 months after their release. It is quite embarasing for ESRI not to have this.

Oct 10, 2010
Is ESRI's final word on this "we cant really implement this until the indutry at large (NMEA, GPS vendors, OS vendors etc) come up with a standard "?

GPSBabel, an open source product, supports 167 different formats from a range of vendors, but ESRI is just going to sit on its hands until a single standard is agreed?


Oct 7, 2010
Come on ESRI you need your get your sh!t together on this one - it is a no-brainer!!!
GIS and GPS go hand in hand

Oct 6, 2010

This is basic functionality that would seem to fall into the no brainer category as it would make such a dramatic improvement to workflows and productivity



Sep 16, 2010
I guess it's just a matter of time until google creates a free full GIS application with built in GPS functionality. looks like  ESRI is going to lose a lot of business when that happens

Aug 31, 2010
that works for if it could do that

Aug 24, 2010
I think even if they implemented this with a couple brands (Garmin, Magellan, Trimble, etc) it would be good. It's kind of ridiculous that a massively expensive GIS software can't process data from a $300 GPS, while DNR Garmin can (or Google Earth, which isn't even really a GIS, for crying out loud.)

Aug 11, 2010
Well sean_jones, Google can do it, why can't ESRI?
We the users aren't interested in excuses for why not, we just wanna see some long overdue action.


Aug 11, 2010
While this is a great idea, we cant really implement this until the indutry at large (NMEA, GPS vendors, OS vendors etc) come up with a standard on how USB GPS units connect and communicate with the world.

Aug 11, 2010
Second on the basic software end (ArcReader/ArcGIS Explorer).  Would promote GIS among non-editors, particularly in the field.  In the end, would promote data stewardship.

Aug 8, 2010
This is basic functionality thats been a long time coming

Aug 8, 2010
Yes, this is especially important at the more basic end of the spectrum of ESRI products, eg ArcReader, ArcGIS Explorer. Otherwise people will go to a product that is more of a one stop shop, such as Google Earth!

Aug 5, 2010
Would be so useful for our day to day work.



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