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 Mobile GIS & LBS
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.

Take an ArcGIS Javascript Widgets Based approach to Field Asset Management

March 17th, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

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.

Think about field staff working with organizational assets. Senior field staff may be using a laptop with an ArcGIS web app containing management widgets. Maintenance staff may be using tablets and an ArcGIS web app with work order widgets. Each could be using the same base ArcGIS web app, the only difference being the widgets available. Simple.

ArcGIS Javascript Widget Frameworks

Widgets are at the core of the Dojo framework. This has been adopted by esri for their ArcGIS JavaScript api. Widgets can be added in an ad-hoc manner to any Javascript web app. A better approach is to use a mapping framework which allows widgets to be simply dropped in. Widgets are discrete chunks of Javascript code. ArcGIS examples include overview map, measure tool, directions, identify, edit etc.

In terms of underlying technology, there are two scenarios when it comes to asset management and work orders. And two widget framework solutions. Let’s examine each separately.

Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS

The first scenario are those organizations with their data hosted exclusively through ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS. Those with an ArcGIS identity (log in or subscription) and published web map can take advantage of the new Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS.

Just like its popular predecessor the Flex Viewer for ArcGIS, the Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS is easy to configure and comes with many free widgets. These widgets are easy to drop into any web app generated with the builder, developers can also create custom widgets of their own. If you need help, see our Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS Package

ArcGIS Widget Framework

For those who do not have access to ArcGIS Online or Portal, or have data which resides in a non-GIS system which cannot be directly integrated with ArcGIS, there is an alternate approach. This involves using or developing a more generic framework not coupled to Online or Portal.

Again this approach resembles in many ways Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. Dojo widgets can be added to these frameworks to provide custom functionality.

Offline ArcGIS Apps and Widgets

One of WebMapSolutions areas of focus is offline. We take the view that any web application which is used in the field on laptop or mobile device should be simple and offline enabled. We have built an offline Javascript library – called DisconnectedJS – which provides this capability. We are currently providing a configurable mapping base viewer which is offline enabled using this library. To that we are adding offline enabled widgets. So offline viewing and editing of assets and work orders, offline custom forms and more.

This will provide a modular approach to field asset management. It is aimed at those who do not want or cannot use ArcGIS Online or Portal. And for those using asset management and work order systems which need to integrate with ArcGIS and provide offline capabilities.

One of the beauties of a widget based approach is that customers can pick and choose the widgets, and thus web applications they provide to their mobile workforce. No more one size fits all; the cruise ship type approach.

With configurable web map viewers and widgets, organisations can provide nimble, lightweight, focused web apps to field based staff to get their jobs done.

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

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