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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.

Do widgets provide the ultimate ArcGIS COTS solution?

July 1st, 2015 by Matt Sheehan

Its funny how we all have those ‘light bulb’ moments from time to time. I was in conversation, by email, with a GIS colleague last week. He wrote:

“I support Esri’s point on COTS, especially once you start deploying stuff cross-platform, our vertical has far too much custom development & legacy….”

In this post I thought it worth discussing in more depth my colleagues statement above. To consider commercial-off-the-shelf-software or COTS, in relation to Web based GIS applications which leverage widgets.

Do widgets provide the ultimate ArcGIS COTS solution?

Let’s set back for a moment. Commercial-off-the-shelf-software (COTS) are existing applications. From Wikipedia:

“COTS are alternatives to custom developments or one-off .. developments. COTS typically require configuration that is tailored for specific uses”

We work in both the utilities and petroleum verticals. Clients in these sectors are commonly overloaded with custom applications. One off, single use, expensive, inflexible GIS applications. Esri are increasingly promoting the idea of “don’t build it, configure it”. They have released a slew of pre-built applications which simply need configuring. Their local government team have released a huge number of configurable apps, which provide focused functionality. Take for example the Water Access app shown below.

The app helps users discover local water recreation areas: boating, fishing etc. Any city, county or state can download the app for free, configure it with their data and publish it for the public’s use. The app is designed for all devices and platforms, with Esri providing maintenance and updates. For ArcGIS subscribers these COTS solutions make much sense.

Widgets take COTS flexibility to a new Level

Imagine a GIS COTS application which you configure for different users or groups in your organization. So not a single use application, but multi-use. We’ve just released Universal Map Viewer for ArcGIS (UMV), a widget based application. This extends the excellent Configurable Map Viewer (CMV) built by David Spriggs and his team. Widgets are small pieces of Javascript code which provide specific tools. These include Draw, Find, Measure, Identify, Edit, Directions widgets and much more. Mobile Web GIS applications which are built leveraging widgets can be configured to provide specific functionality to different user groups. Senior staff may be using a laptop with a UMV app containing management widgets. In contrast maintenance staff may be using tablets with a UMV app containing work order widgets.

Widgets are simple to build. UMV for ArcGIS is super easy to configure.

One regular frustration shared by many mobile GIS users is poor or no wireless connectivity. For this reason we made UMV for ArcGIS offline enabled. Download and view basemaps and feature layers while disconnected. The edit widget works online or offline, as do other tools included with the app. UMV leverages DisconnectedJS for ArcGIS.

Universal is what we call the map viewer. Why? Not only can it be configured to provide those tools needed by specific user groups. It is a cross-platform, cross-device app which works in both offline and online modes.

Our thoughts on the question: Do widgets provide the ultimate ArcGIS COTS solution?”.

A resounding yes.

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

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