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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 ArcGIS Apps are Amazing

November 24th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

An odd title for a blog post: Web ArcGIS apps are amazing. Why would we make such a profound statement?

We still see mobile and web apps treated separately. “Mobile enable your web page” we hear. Have clever ‘native’ developers build your iPad, Android or Surface Pro app is another.

In Praise of Web Technology

Web technology is wonderful. Anybody with a browser can use a web application. That means access from any device: office PC, smartphone, tablet. But what we can do in an ArcGIS web application is limited right?


Web technology has come a long way. HTML5 and Javascript are open technologies allowing a world wide development community to push the technology forward.

There are two huge reasons why a web based ArcGIS application is worth serious consideration over native mobile apps: cross platform, cross device and disconnected capabilities.

Cross Platform, Cross Device

Web applications run on all platforms and devices. That is one application, not multiple applications as is the case with native. Today using responsive design, a web application can be built with device ‘intelligence’. Meaning the same application is styled and usable on an iPhone as it is on the largest Android tablet. The image below shows the same application on a tablet and smartphone respectively:


The GIS community have been waiting some time for disconnected capabilities from Esri. Now we have offline support in Collector and full disconnected capabilities built into the native sdk. That is wonderful. But given the availability and flexibility of ArcGIS web applications can the same be done with HTML5/Javascript?


Mobile databases can now be leveraged directly from a web application. That means no inherent size limit, as is the case with the browser cache. So we can download offline base map tiles, and feature layers directly to the mobile device.

In fact any data can be downloaded to the local database for visualization and editing. Imagine you wish to visualize or edit data on an Esri map from a business platform like SAP. Easy. Drop the data into the mobile database and access and overlay the data on the map from there.

Web ArcGIS apps are amazing

We think ArcGIS web technology is amazing. Most of our GIS work is focused here. The beauty of Javascript is that libraries can be built and easily included in any web app to extend functionality. In our case we have built a disconnected framework, which makes it easy to integrate offline capabilities into your ArcGIS application.

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Categories: ArcGIS Online, cloud GIS, Mobile GIS, Web and mobile GIS

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