I have been trying to develop solutions with ArcPad 10 Studio for a while now and finding it restrictive. I would like to use the Visual Studio environment to develop ArcPad 10 solutions (form development and coding).

Does anyone know if this is possible?

3 Answers 3


No, as far as I know you have to use the ArcPad Studio and are forced to deveop with VBScript or JScript.

  • I fear this may be the case. I don't have any support agreement with ESRI so they won't reply to emails. Their forums seems a bit dead too. I'll post here if I confirm either way.
    – Sivakanesh
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 8:48
  • If you can use the ArcPad as it is with small customizations, then it's the best product to choose. Otherwise you might be better of with another mobile product that are more focused on developers developing a handheld application: resources.arcgis.com/content/mobilegis/about Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 12:20
  • The reason I was looking for an alternate IDE for creating ArcPad solutions is because of the rigid nature of ArcPad Studio. May be I have been spoiled by Visual Studio over the years, but I feel sorry for people who have to use ArcPad Studio to generate complex form on a daily basis as I had to. I got a response back from ESRI and you have to use ArcPad with VBScript or JScript as you said, unless creating your own device app in Visual Studio and communicate with ArcPad.
    – Sivakanesh
    Commented Oct 1, 2010 at 11:35

I like to think of ArcPad customizers and ArcPad developers as two types of people with different workflows in ArcPad.

ArcPad customizers are GIS integrators. They use ArcPad as an out of the box product and use the provided Quick Forms and ArcPad Studio to perform customization such as control placement of forms and perform rudimentary business rules such as input validation. At this level, customization is available by manipulating the layer form definition (i.e. APL / APX files) and encapsulating the business rules in your scripting language of choice (VBScript / JScript). The environment is rich so a lot of GIS projects can be delivered at this level of customization alone.

ArcPad developers are developers who like to leverage their skills to extend ArcPad out of the box functionality. The development options fall into broad categories:

  • Developing ArcPad Extensions
  • Developing ActiveX / COM objects

To build an ArcPad Extension, the developer is required to build a DLL with some expected entry points and placed them in a specific folder. How, where and why is covered in the documentation. Doing this will allow you to extend ArcPad's out of the box capabilities to make it support your prioprietory file format, GPS, Laser Range Finder, Projection method, Datum Transformation algorithm or leverage capabilities of your device's hardware or operating system. Traditionally, one would expect to do such customizations in native code C++ and you have the added benefit of leveraging from some UI elements from ArcPad in your extension such as ArcPad's Font Chooser and Symbology Chooser.

Alternative, one can consider building an ActiveX / COM object. There are well known techniques on this. i.e. you can develop them in C++ using the ATL Project template, or you can develop them in .NET (can be C#, VB, ...) using the ComVisible setting. Either way, once registered, you can access these objects from ArcPad scripting in VBScript / JScript. This approach is quite a common approach in other scripting disciplines so it's not exclusive to ArcPad. i.e. you'll be able to use the same ActiveX / COM objects in other solutions, such as HTML, ASP, Windows Script Host, VBA and other ActiveX technologies.

Both developing ArcPad Extensions or ActiveX / COM object allows developers to utilized their skills in their own environments for ArcPad. I'd say this approach is atypical for target ArcPad customizer end user. ArcPad Developers are more like consultants or 3rd party integrators who build such things either as a product of their core business or to support their core business.


It is possible to interact with ArcPad via a .NET application. Take a look at this developer sample from ESRI. I believe this is targeting ArcPad 8 but I would imagine the functionality still exists in ArcPad 10.


You can also find a .NET integration sample under the ArcPad install directory.

  • This about communicating with ArcPad from your own application. Nothing to do with developing ArcPad solutions using the Visual Studio IDE.
    – Sivakanesh
    Commented Sep 30, 2010 at 8:45

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