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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.

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

March 9th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

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.

That is 3 or 4 times I’ve used the word change. Let me use that complex word again. It is truly hard to keep up with what is new at this years conferences. Templates, Web AppBuilder, map packages, App Studio, vertical immersion, webscenes. This list goes on. Esri’s messaging has been good: platform, identity, webmap, authoritative data/system of record. The internal restructuring though confusing makes sense. Long term both partners and developers will benefit. Which can only be a good thing for our customers.

For me maybe the standout from the conference so far has been esri’s efforts to get the technology out of the way. The new App Studio is a good example. In the past any native mobile ArcGIS app conversation inevitably came round to the cross platform challenge: the need to build 3 versions of the same app for each popular mobile platform: iOS, Android, Windows. The pain Dr Smith. App Studio (like PhoneGap in the web world) provides the ability to write once and build for each mobile platform. That keeps conversation focused on the problem and solution without a deep dive into technology. The notion of the platform is another. Treating it as a holistic location technology solution which is made of of complementary pieces, helps frame client conversations again around problem:solution and away from the core technology.

Having the ability to understand clients problems, and have at hand a platform which is made up of a complementary set of tools to provide answers is wonderful. Given recent public announcements, maybe that ArcGIS solution mix will one day include Google elements.

Who knows 🙂

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

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