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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.

The New Future of ArcGIS Web Applications

November 30th, 2014 by Matt Sheehan

The New Future of ArcGIS Web Applications is all about Javascript

Javascript is an open standard scripting language. With a truly global developer base, it is today arguably the most popular language on the planet. In combination with HTML5 advanced functionality is now possibe. The largest Esri software team is the Javascript team. Some of the ArcGIS Javascript API advances this team are about to roll out, including 3D, will make heads spin.

Javascript Disconnected Functionality and more

It is now possible to do things in a browser, using Javascript, we could only have dreamed about just a few years ago. One of our companies areas of focus has been disconnected ArcGIS.

So building Web apps with Javascript which provide users the ability to interact with basemaps, and map layers when lacking wi-fi connectivity. Today ArcGIS users can vizualize maps, edit features, add image attachments, complete custom forms and much more in a browser when *disconnected. Other advanced areas include 3D, map drag and drop, animation.

* We have built a Javascript framework which provides disconnected ArcGIS capabilities. It forms the base for new applications or existing ArcGIS applications which need offline functionality. Feel free to contact us if you have questions or would like to learn more about a framework subscription.

Javascript = Flexibility

Configurable, extensible and with a plethora of frameworks and libraries available. No doubt Javascript provides a super flexible approach to developing ArcGIS applications. Styling an application to fit with your organizations branding is easy. Configure an app to change the webmap or layers it loads, maybe tools included, again very simply done with Javascript. Need a rich mapping API; simply turn to the ArcGIS API. Lastly through the use of widgets and other Javascript elements adding functionality to any app is very straightforward.

Javascript provides maximum flexibility and far greater “bang for the buck”

Javascript for Mobile ArcGIS is a better option than native?

We build many mobile ArcGIS apps. None are built using native languages: Objective-C, Java, .NET. Huh?

Using Javascript we can build a single ArcGIS application which works on all major mobile platforms (iOS, Android and Windows) and all devices (smartphones, phablets, tablets). That is a big saving for our customers. Access the ArcGIS app through your mobile browser or, using PhoneGap, convert it to a version (called hybrid) which can be distributed in the various app stores.

For mobile, Javascript provides the best of all worlds.

The End of Flex and Silverlight

We will miss Flex but it is technology which has been superseded by Javascript. Flex became popular because it filled the many gaps there were once in Javascript. The same for Silverlight. That is no longer the case. The one area we could potentially seeing Flex being applied is in building and generating hybrid mobile apps. We still use Flex for this purpose.

Flex developers would be well advised to switch their focus to Javascript. On first glance Javascript is confusing. But like Actionscript, Javascript is standardized in the ECMAScript language specification, making the learning curve less steep. The plethora of libraries and frameworks is astounding. Need help, there are forums a plenty. IDE’s are also plentiful (personally I use notepad++ and Chrome developer tools)

Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS will replace ArcGIS Viewer for Flex

Esri have been busy building a new wizard based builder for generating web applications. Called the Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, the builder generates javascript based applications. Over time this will replace the very popular ArcGIS Viewer for Flex. Developers are already building widgets which are based on those in the Flex viewer.

We are in the process of building widgets which provide advanced Javascript ArccGIS functionality.

ArcGIS web app builder widgets will be a big deal

Esri Javascript Templates are Evolving

Esri have been providing a range of very nice free ArcGIS templates. These template are evolving. Ever more of these will be built using Javascript.

Esri’s Javascript templates form a great base from which to build or extend an ArcGIS application.

There you have it. In Javascript you have a very popular language which provides advanced functionality, is extremely flexible, ideal for all devices and platforms, and supported by a rich ArcGIS API built by the largest team of developers at Esri.

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

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