having never used ArcIMS I am not able to answer the following question. "Why don´t we use ArcIMS anymore?" I have recently taken over a position which used to administer ArcIMS clients but now use ArcGIS Server architecture. Colleagues who have been here a while still ask why ArcIMS needs to be replaced and the only answer I can give is that the software is not supported or developed by ESRI anymore. But regarding stability, functionality,supported formats etc I can´t say much.

Could anyone give me a concise little list of reasons why ArcIMS is "old" and should be replaced by ArcGIS Server? It would also help me to understand how Server GIS in ESRI has developed.

Thanks for any comments,


  • This link seems to provide an independent comparison. – PolyGeo Jul 2 '13 at 8:34

Last version 4.0 was in 2002 and that is "old" now. As time moves on, the risk increases that updating any piece of software (java, OS update etc.) on your server, makes ArcIMS fail. That should be a good enough reason to replace it, unless you make sure not to change anything and your needs do not change.

I used to administer an ArcIMS installation around 2002 or so, but have not used ArcGIS Server at all, so I can't tell about feature-wise changes.


ArcIMS remains a 32-bit application, so as OSes become (finally!) more 64-bit capable, this can become a limiting factor, particularly when your map could potentially be made of multiple gigabytes worth of data. ArcGIS Server is a 64-bit java application and will not have these limits.

Authoring a map in ArcIMS required that you edit a text file (an AXL file). It was possible to publish an MXD map document to ArcIMS, but that ability was removed at ArcGIS 10.0. With ArcGIS Server, you can publish your map document to the server straight from ArcMap, so there's a lot less time fiddling in a text editor to make your map look right.

Regarding stability: at ArcGIS 9.3.1 / 10, ArcIMS finally did get pretty stable. But, the management of ArcIMS is still fairly rigid and does not lend itself well to a distributed or cloud based system. Any sort of map load / reloads will bring all your services down momentarily while the configuration is submitted to the ArcIMS Application Server. ArcGIS Server doesn't do that - service reloads do not affect other services.

Furthermore, when there are problems loading a map, ArcIMS may delete the map, which can cause frustration when a map that should be running is just gone. ArcGIS Server will keep the map configuration, and just leave the service stopped.


that's a better question than meets the eye... arcgis server is only now (at 10.1) getting to do stuff arcims did back in 2000, like dynamic symbology, dynamic queries, on-the-fly layers, and so on. Performance wise, arcims beats the crap out of ags. also, arcims managed resources better than ags does: it shared connections to databases so you could control the number of connections. With ags you grab 2 connections for each and every mapservice - no way to manage that.

So your question could take a different tone: "why do we HAVE to use ags?".

But seriously, arcims is so old now that is does not support some stuff. For instance you cannot view rasters that use the st_raster type. Going forward you won't even be able to connect to your esri spatial database (I think at 10.2 this will happen). Also the web APIs will eventually drop arcims support so you'll be shut off from the web defeating the whole purpose of having arcims. as much as i love arcims you should really migrate your apps to the new products, esri or otherwise.


If I have time ill come back to beef this answer up, but the two big ones for me:

  • Geoprocessing Services
  • Cached Map Services

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