The most common way developers customize ArcGIS Desktop applications is
through Visual Basic for Applications, which is embedded within each
application. The application framework also provides for the creation of
plug-in components to extend the applications.
This chapter discusses the application framework, customization options,
customization of the applications with VBA, and the creation of plug-in
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46 • ArcGIS Desktop Developer Guide
In the beginning of this book, you were introduced to the development possibili-
ties provided by the ArcGIS Desktop applications. This chapter will outline in
greater detail those customization options and introduce you to their develop-
COMMON APPLICATION FRAMEWORK
In Chapter 2, ‘ArcGIS software architecture’, you learned that the ArcGIS prod-
uct family shared a similar architecture based on ArcObjects. The desktop appli-
cations also share a common application framework, which you should under-
stand before undertaking any desktop development.
The ArcGIS Desktop applications are developed using ArcObjects. When you use
an application, such as ArcMap, most of the time you are simply looking at or
working with ArcObjects.
The graphical user interface in each application is also developed using the same
objects, such that in each application you will find the interface contains toolbars,
menus, commands, and tools that have the same look and feel. The interfaces can
also be easily manipulated in terms of adding and removing toolbars, docking
toolbars, adding and removing commands, and so on. This nonprogrammatic
manipulation of the interface is actually the first of the customization options
that will be described later.
It’s important to remember that every command or tool you use, for adding data,
editing, or performing some GIS analysis, is simply running some code that in-
cludes ArcObjects behind the scenes. The application framework of the desktop