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Archive for March, 2015

GIS anywhere, anytime, on any device

Monday, March 23rd, 2015


Inside of WebMapSolutions we repeat often “GIS anywhere, anytime, on any device”. The phrase is actually included in our mission statement.

But what does this phrase mean to us?

We will jump around a little in this blog post in explaining.

Some while ago we wrote an article entitled The Democratization of GIS. In the post we wondered whether GIS is like the automobile of the early 1900’s, and paraphrasing Henry Ford:

“I’m going to democratize GIS, and when I’m through, everybody will be using the technology.”

The democratization of GIS is about mass market adoption.


Take an ArcGIS Javascript Widgets Based approach to Field Asset Management

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

Short and punchy the title of this blog post is not. But keeping things simple is the focus of this discussion. In place of ‘Take an ArcGIS Javascript Widgets Based approach to Field Asset Management’ we could have simply put ‘Make your ArcGIS field apps modular’. Better.

In this post we will discuss widgets. Dojo widgets (don’t worry we wont be getting technical) to be precise. We have moved past the days when we need to build big bloated web applications loaded up with tools. I used the analogy of a cruise ship versus a speedboat in a recent post: Esri, Me and my Cats.

Today we do not need to spend the time and money building one big web application to serve all needs. We can start with a simple configurable map viewer and add widgets to provide focused functionality.


Esri, Me and my Cats

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

I like writing.

Writing helps me pull my thoughts together. Helps me understand. I write in large part for myself. Over time my 2 cats have joined me. Sitting on my lap, letting me know in their own special way when they disagree with something I have written (they were particularly amused by my reference to the Osmonds in my recent Utah blog post.)

Over time I have realised these blog posts and articles I write have a reach wider than just my cats. It would seem others (you) are reading these regular missives. I find that very interesting and in many ways surprising.

So why title this post “Esri, Me and my Cats”? Regular readers will note I often reference esri.


Simply put I love esri technology, and I think they have arguably the most huggable group of employees on the planet (its ok, i am European we are like that). The thrust of much of my writing is around what I call emerging GIS. Its the move from a niche technology to core. Much of this is being driven by the new recognition and demand for location based information. Now don’t get me wrong i don’t agree with everything esri. But they are helping to forge the path forward for much wider acceptance and adoption of location technology.

Let’s talk about traditional and emerging GIS. And within the same discussion consider how esri are changing the old models. I see traditional GIS like taking a cruise (stay with me here). Huge ships, filled with everything you could imagine to do (and eat). They move slowly, take an age to turn, are tough to dock. They live in isolation. I see emerging GIS as that slick speedboat we have always wanted. Cool looking, fast, easy to manoeuvre, does one thing really well, can dock anywhere and with anything.

I believe esri are now focused on providing ready built tools for us to easily construct these lightweight, highly focused (GIS) speedboats. To me that is what they mean by configure first. Today GIS is all about providing tools which work super well, are simple, and focused. See Web AppBuilder (widgets), see App Studio (templates), see the ArcGIS platform itself: a web map and identity provide access to a plethora of tools and applications.

Its hard to leave those comfy (traditional) cruise ships. But those of us who have embarked on the emerging GIS path (and I spoke to many last week at the esri EPC in Palm Springs) are in for an exciting ride. One which will bring enormous value to our customers.

I wanted to find a good video to finish off this post. The “laughing Gnome” really does not fit well with the discussion, but its the cats favourite ….

Reflections on the Esri Dev Conference: Getting Technology out of the Way

Monday, March 9th, 2015


Palm Springs is an unpleasant place in March. Flowers everywhere, birds singing and 80 degree temperatures. Attendees suffer this unpleasantness to attend the Esri EPC and Dev conferences. This year is proving notable in many different ways. Big changes are taking place. Esri technology, internal structure and messaging are evolving rapidly. Sure we’ve seen change in the past, that is part of growth, but things feel different.

We’ve said it before: GIS is complex. data, spatial platforms, raster, vector, layers on and on. As GIS become more ubiquitous, ever more people will be exposed to this technology. That’s users and technologists. Our role as GIS experts is increasingly to simplify/hide this complexity. This will require us changing our language, our approach and the solutions we build. Like Esri we need to change.


6 ways to Dramatically Improve your ArcGIS Return on Investment

Sunday, March 1st, 2015

1. Look to use GIS to solve business problems. Today GIS talks easily to other business systems. Collaborating directly with a GIS will reduce complexity, provide rich location analytics, reduce costs and much more. See our recent blog post: What is ArcGIS Geo-Enablement?.

2. Still printing or generating pdf maps? Use GIS for more than just maps. GIS answers any and all location focused questions: show me which valves need inspecting? Where are our most profitable stores? Which homes are in areas at greatest risk of flooding?

3. Start thinking about platform. ArcGIS is one product made up of many complementary elements. Integration or geo-enabling has never been easier. See our white paper on our approach to leveraging and integrating with ArcGIS.

4. Consider configuration, before customization. For ArcGIS, Esri have made available over 50 applications or templates which are ready to be used. Simply configure and launch. Check out our ArcGIS Templates package if you need help.

5. Think about your data. Bad data, means a bad GIS – fix your data: the incorrect, incomplete, or old data. Simplify your asset data model: favour simplicity over complexity. Build the cleanest data system with only the core attributes, and remove data duplication.

6. Implement cross-device ArcGIS applications. In the utility sector close to 70% of field staff still use laptops in preference to, or in combination with tablets. The trend is towards greater tablet adoption, particularly as more ruggedized versions are released. But, given this mix of field devices, it make sense to adopt or develop GIS applications which work across devices. That means applications which is usable on laptops, tablets even smartphones. Web technology provides true cross-device access. Great strides have been made with Javascript/HTML5. It is now possible to build a single web app which can be used on any device: laptop or mobile. More than that Javascript/HTML5 provide advanced functionality. We have been building ArcGIS web applications which provide disconnected capabilities. See our white paper on offline ArcGIS

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