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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.

GIS Widgets = Super Flexible Apps

June 14th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I have always been a big fan of flexible GIS applications which are easy to extend. Remember the very popular Flex Viewer for ArcGIS? Though Flex has largely gone away, the widget based approach to configuring and building GIS applications is still here. In fact we feel for many, widget based GIS apps should be leveraged across the organization. GIS applications built for one purpose, and big bloated web applications loaded up with tools are things of the past. I used the analogy of a cruise ship versus a speedboat in a past blog post.

GIS Widgets = Super Flexible Apps

So what is a widget? It is a tool which can be dropped into a framework providing focused functionality (I’ll explain this a little more in a moment). Examples of widgets include measure, redline, editing, print, bookmarks, Google Street View etc. Widget frameworks contain simple configuration files or equivalent which allow a Web application to be published which contains a mix of tools required by a specific user group. As an example, below is a web app used by maintenance staff on their tablets for asset management. You will notice work order, draw and measure widgets:

With a different configuration, the application can be used by insurance staff to assess hail risk. In this case notice a drag-and-drop widget (for CSV files), print and Google Street View widgets:

What is a Widget Framework?

A widget framework is in simple terms a configurable GIS web application which load widgets. In the ArcGIS world there are two good examples:

Universal Map Viewer (UMV) for ArcGIS

WebMapSolutions have been extending an existing open source widget based framework and adding advanced widgets and functionality. Web apps configured and published from UMV work directly against ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS. These are Web apps which work on any device (PC, tablet, smartphone) and platform (Apple, Android, Windows). In the latest release we have offline enabled the framework meaning users can do inspections, for example, with or without a wireless connection. Contact us for more information.

Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS

This an Esri solution. The base version of Web AppBuilder is integrated into ArcGIS Online. It provides a nice way to produce Web applications containing your web map and a mix of existing pre-built widgets. If you need to extend these widgets or build custom widgets you will need Portal for ArcGIS.

Anybody looking to get started with GIS or make better use of their existing GIS we point very quickly towards widget based GIS frameworks. They are super flexible and can be extended to help solve many of your business problems.

Contact us on 801-733-0723 to learn more about GIS frameworks.

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

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