We mentioned in a previous blog post that we have started work on building a version of Esri’s Water Utility Mobile Map but targeting iOS and Android. We thought it might be interesting to share where we are in the development process. The video below shows the first phase of the work.
Let us just point out, we are not using Esri’s Water Utility Mobile Map layers at the moment. We are building a mobile app against the requirements we listed in our original functional spec article, using layers and services we have available. These we will switch when we have the core application completed.
Mobile ArcGIS Online App
Our goal is to make the mobile ArcGIS Online app clean looking and simple to use. It loads on startup a configuration file which sets UI elements. This is a file users can edit themselves. We’ve tried to avoid a cluttered interface, so maximum real estate is devoted to the map. Workflows we will make intuitive. The video shows how we have incorporated online and offline modes. So maps and layers are loaded either from the web, or from sources stored on the devices itself.
Mobile App for ArcGIS Online Next Phase
We will keep moving forward with the mobile app. Next we will be adding online and offline editing capabilities. That will form the centre piece of the next demo.
ArcGIS Online offers many possibilities for building mobile and Web based mapping applications. Applications targeted at GIS professionals and non-GIS users. As a GIS development company, we have focused much of our energy on building this next generation of applications targeted at, and integrated, with ArcGIS Online.
GIS has been a niche. From desktop to Web, it has been a technology and acronym that few understand. We have long hoped the use of the technology would broaden and that the acronym would be less used. Many GIS-focused organisations, including ESRI, have begun to change the language their externally facing folk now speak. This is in part due to ArcGIS Online. Web maps, which are the raw material of ArcGIS Online, have a very broad appeal. We can talk, and will in later posts, about intelligent maps, story maps. Maps and geo-data targeted at non-GIS users.
We have been developing mobile ArcGIS online maps for some time. Editing has been at the forefront of our recent work. Many of our clients are looking for tools which allow mobile workers to edit features (add, edit, delete) while in the field. Disconnected mode, where the mobile user has no wi-fi connectivity, is an additional area of interest. To date there are no robust offline solutions in place. ESRI have plans for native targeted releases next year. Our key interest is in cross platform, or a single code base which runs on multiple devices – iOS, Android etc. We turned to the much maligned Mobile Flex for a solution. Actually I should say, the now less appreciated Mobile Flex – but we still love it!
The next two sections are a very rough starter for developers trying to do what we show in the video; online offline editing in ArcGIS online. More hints than a step by step guide. But hey, it would be less fun if we gave the game away. Actually you would not understand it as well if we held your hand completely. For those just wondering about online offline editing in ArcGIS online jump to the video.
In early 2011 we began to turn our attention seriously from development for the PC Web to mobile. Blackberry released their excellent, but not well received, Playbook. As a first step into mobile GIS development we built and launched a mobile ArcGIS viewer to the Blackberry App World. Accompanying this release we wrote a paper for ESRI’s ArcUser publication on the development process, available at this link.
So we’ve been spending quite some time with the very cool editing capabilities of the ArcGIS FeatureLayer. We are most interested in services published to ArcGIS Online. Editing will be a key advantage mobile brings to the world of ArcGIS. Avoiding the details (maybe in a future post), but not all ArcGIS FeatureLayers are the same. We wanted to put together a demo of the editing of a Featurelayer which contains a featureCollection, from the ESRI docs:
“The featureCollection is used when you want to initialize the FeatureLayer with features from outside of ArcGIS Server.”
This lends itself well to offline editing.
ArcGIS Mobile Editing
In the demo below we are online and accessing the app via a mobile browser (note, this demo needs Flash and thus wont run on an iOS device):
We live in changing times in the geo-space. Our work with location data as a company, began in the 90’s. Its been an interesting ride; from desktop to Internet, to now the cloud and mobile. New conferences appeared like Where 2.0; too many so called experts and innovators were thrust at us. Much of this left us cold; GIS for the masses with venture capitalists lurking in the background. We became a little cynical.
But truly exciting things are now happening. As the term GIS fades; location data and the integration of other business systems (SAP etc) with geospatial services moves our work from its historic niche, to solving real business problems. With mobile, new location data is becoming available. Mobile apps now provide access to location services, for both the consumer and the Enterprise. ArcGIS Online we see as huge. Its a pleasure to hear guys like Sean Gorman talk about our geospatial future. In fact talking about Sean, here is an excellent recent James Fee interview with the man:
We noted in the original post that without knowing who the list of experts who contributed to the paper were, we were a little hesitant. We do know that Peter Batty added his thoughts. A good guy, but somebody who still talks about, the rather controversial, neoGeography or “new geography”.
Anyway, we digress. After reading the paper a number of times, we felt a little. Well. Deflated. We regard the new world of location technology as very exciting. The paper made for some dry reading; ok it was for the UN and not meant to have us all jumping for joy. But we hoped for a realistic, useful reflection on where the geospatial world is moving. Too much felt like wild guesses, repetition of the obvious, and the unimportant. Ok, we are being harsh, but this is a panel of experts. We expected some expert insight.
We saw reference recently to a paper produced by the United Nations Programme on Global Geospatial Information Management (GGIM) entitled “Future trends in geospatial information management:the five to ten year vision”. Often interesting to read, I sometimes hesitate to point at these papers from this blog. Particularly since the contributors, or ‘leaders in the geospatial world’ as the paper calls them, are not listed. Still here is a link to the paper:
Our previous blog entry showed the initial steps in working with mobile ArcGIS when offline. We ended the post with “whats next? Offline Feature layers and Offline editing”. And that is the topic of this blog post.
As we have mentioned before as a company our focus is mobile location technology. GIS, and specifically ArcGIS, is an important part of this work. We are also advocates of open source software. Now the so called ‘elephant in the room’ of mobile GIS is offline. Everybody wants it, but there remains no practical solution. Both ESRI and Google have discussed rolling out offline solutions. But nothing is yet in place, at least in published API’s.
We are regularly approached about disconnected mobile maps and offline GIS. Its an itch we started to scratch a while ago. Our goal was initially to put in place a solution in the ArcGIS world, upon which we could also base an open source solution. ESRI, and in particular Mansour Raad, have been a big help in moving this work forward. We now have an end to end solution for working with mobile ArcGIS while offline.
Before we describe the work, here is a video which shows an ArcGIS Online webmap being takes offline; that is basemap, feature layers and editing.