How can I learn .NET and C# for desktop applications having only a desktop license? I want to upgrade myself in the development side so I'm trying to learn this stuff and I'm searching all the documentation on the Esri sites; everything is there to learn but I can't test in my machine.

Is there any way to learn without licenses as a beginner to get the concepts of programming in GIS? I know that I should have Visual Studio in my computer but I couldn't find 2008 Express edition on the Microsoft website. Even if I have VS 2008 Express edition will it work for me in this case? I'm using Arcmap 10.

Please treat me as a complete beginner in this topic and guide in that way.

  • 2
    You can get a 60 day trial here: esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgis-for-desktop/free-trial or for $100 use the full application for non-commercial purposes: esri.com/software/arcgis/arcgis-for-home. Finally, you can use VS 2008 express though it has some limitations around debugging, you can use this link to download VS 2008 again if needed: stackoverflow.com/questions/15318560/…. If you're just looking to become more proficient in programming GIS, perhaps start with arcpy on the Esri side, or FOSS tools like Shapely and GDAL.
    – scw
    Commented Jun 4, 2013 at 23:47
  • @scw Thanks for your reply, I have Arcmap 10 for desktop and i want to learn from here and i downloaded VS2008 and installed but when i open it i couldn't see ARCGIS in the left pane side. so how to link this VS to ARCGIS.??? any suggestions..?? and For 60 day trail can i make desktop applications using SDK..?? Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 2:18

1 Answer 1


You need to get back to your install CD and install the SDK for Visual Studio. I assume because you've downloaded it that it would be Visual Studio Express (2008) and from memory that particular version wasn't recognized by ArcGIS as being a valid prerequisite product for the SDK. Consider using Visual Studio Express 2010 instead.

As for your license level, that will make very little difference in writing your code. You do not need a license to write the code - only to debug it. It makes life much easier if ArcGIS and the SDK are installed but they do not need to be running. Debugging can usually be done with a basic (ArcView) level of license provided you're not using extensions.

Some tips that may assist you in your endeavours:

ArcGIS is a 32 bit application, to write code for such it must be x86!

Implement a base class if you want the tool to work in ArcMap: BaseCommand (button) BaseTool (tool) - using ESRI.ArcGis.ADF.BaseClasses. This gives you the ability to put a button on the frame, then if you need to insert a form for your controls.

The ArcGIS developer help is very good and should be used; there are so many interfaces it can be confusing to find the right one. Google is your best friend in finding snippets that show how the objects relate.

It seems I've made a slight mistake. For ArcGis 10.0 Visual Studio 2008 is supported:

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Visual Basic Express

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 Visual C# Express

Microsoft Visual Studio 2008 SP1 (C#, VB.NET) Standard, Professional, Team Edition

Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 (C#, VB.NET) Professional, Premium, Ultimate Edition

Check here ArcGis 10.0 SDK System Requirements

For other versions:

ArcGis 10.1 SDK System Requirements - VS 2008 dropped, VS2010 only

ArcGis 10.2 SDK System Requirements - VS 2012 added

ArcGis 10.3 SDK System Requirements - VS 1010 dropped, VS2013 added

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