When it comes to general-purpose third party ArcGIS Desktop Extensions, two popular products stand out: ET GeoWizards and XTools Pro.
ET GeoWizards is an ArcGIS Desktop extension offering over 100 GIS data analysis and geoprocessing tools primarily aimed at providing advanced tools for ArcGIS Desktop Basic users (previously ArcView). XTools Pro is an ArcGIS Desktop extension offering over 70 analysis, conversion, and table management tools aimed at increasing the functionality and efficiency of ArcGIS Desktop.
Both ET GeoWizards and XTools Pro are cost efficient, especially compared to purchasing an ArcGIS Desktop extension or higher-level license. This article takes a closer look at both extensions by explaining options for free/trial use, ArcGIS compatibility, and software functionality.
To be able to use these extensions without any limitations, a license must be purchased. However, both vendors offer demo or restricted-use downloads through their websites (listed below).
With ET GeoWizards, you can download and install the “Demo” mode, which offers a set of free tools that can be used without limitation, while the remainder of the tools are restricted to utilize with data containing 100 features or less. In addition to ET GeoWizards, the software vendor (ET SpatialTechniques) offers other products such as ET GeoTools (editing tools) and ET Surface (tools for surface-based tasks)
With XTools Pro, you can download the software and use it without restriction for 14 days. Then, you can either register for a free license (which gives you access to a set of free tools without restrictions) or purchase a full license.
In regards to software compatibility, XTools Pro’s website currently states that the latest version supports ArcGIS 10.3.1 (which is the latest ArcGIS Desktop version available from Esri). ET GeoWizard’s website states that the latest version (released in December 2014) is compatible with ArcGIS 10.3. Neither website mentions plans for use with ArcGIS Pro.
Both extensions offer a wide-range of tools from clipping to creating TIN (triangulated irregular network) files. ET GeoWizards primarily offers analysis, conversion, and editing tools that provide the same functionality of popular tools included with ArcGIS Standard and Advanced license levels. An example would be the Near Function Tool, which is an analytical tool for calculating the distance of the closest feature between two datasets. XTools Pro also offers analysis tools (it also includes the Near Tool), but most of its tools are created to extend the functionality of ArcGIS – at any license level. One example would the Identify Pro Tool, which allows you to edit attribute values directly within the identify window. The websites below offer a complete lists of tools for easy comparison.
What makes ET GeoWizards unique is the range of methods to access the tools. As the name suggests, the tools are available via simple step-by-step wizard menus. While some users may appreciate the wizard interface, ET GeoWizards also offers tools via ArcToolbox (which can be used in Model Builder or as Python scripts) or within a .NET application. The .NET option may be especially useful for organizations with exiting custom .NET applications.
With XTools Pro, the tools can be accessed through an easy-to-use ArcGIS toolbar. What makes XTools Pro unique is the inclusion of a few exceptionally useful tools. With the MultiRename Datasets Tool, you can use a calculator-like interface to batch rename files, which is much more efficient that renaming files one-by-one within ArcGIS. Another super useful feature is the Import Edits from MS Excel Tool, which allows you to edit attribute data within Excel. XTools Pro also offers the Multiple Map Layouts Tool, which allows you to save multiple layouts within a single MXD.
In summary, both extensions offer tons of useful features that significantly extend and enhance the functionality of ArcGIS Desktop. If you’re an ArcGIS Desktop Basic user, ET GeoWizards will give you access to several tools only included with a higher-level license at a fraction of the cost. If you’re an ArcGIS Desktop Standard or Advance user looking to increase the efficiency of everyday tasks such as editing attributes and renaming files, XTools Pro is definitely worth a look. It’s easy to download both extensions from the websites below and start using them today.
ET GeoWizards: http://www.ian-ko.com/
XTools Pro: http://www.xtoolspro.com/