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Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan
Matt holds an MSc in Geography and GIS. He has been working with clients solving problems with GIS for over 17 years. Matt founded WebMapSolutions whose mission is to put innovative, intuitive GIS driven applications into the hands of new and existing users.

Web versus Installed Mobile Apps in ArcGIS Online

January 17th, 2013 by Matt Sheehan

Wanted to follow up on a recent post we wrote on hosted Web apps for ArcGIS Online.

As we pointed out in the article these new Javascript web app templates are terrific. They are integrated into ArcGIS Online, and allow for the building of targeted Web apps, for multiple use (GIS and non-GIS). Further, once built, these apps can be configured by ArcGIS Online admins without the need for a developer. Mobile templates are also in the works. Now these are web apps, so online browser based applications. What if we need an installed mobile application?

The first question one might ask is why would you need an installed mobile application?

Chatting with some Esri folks a few weeks ago, I learned that one of the most often asked questions of Jack Dangermond is offline mobile ArcGIS. We have also found many of our mobile ArcGIS Online application development discussions centre around offline or disconnected data access and editing. Our engineers have been busy in this area. We anticipate Esri rolling out mobile offline capabilities next year, integrated with ArcGIS. Our work here compliments what Esri are planning. Here is a demo:

Anyway we are off topic slightly. It is possible to include offline capabilities in a browser based mobile application. Some experimental work has been done by the Esri Javascript team in this area here:

But, as the discussion in the above article points out, browser impose restrictions. This limits what can be done. Installed mobile apps do not have the same restrictions. This is one reason why sometimes installed apps are a required, or at least preferred solution to web apps. The next question is should you convert your web app using PhoneGap or develop the app with Mobile Flex (the latter is our preferred option). Alternatively build a native mobile app? These we will save for a future post.

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Category: ArcGIS Online

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