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Posts Tagged ‘arcgis’

The New Future of ArcGIS Web Applications

Sunday, November 30th, 2014

 

The New Future of ArcGIS Web Applications is all about Javascript

Javascript is an open standard scripting language. With a truly global developer base, it is today arguably the most popular language on the planet. In combination with HTML5 advanced functionality is now possibe. The largest Esri software team is the Javascript team. Some of the ArcGIS Javascript API advances this team are about to roll out, including 3D, will make heads spin.

Javascript Disconnected Functionality and more

It is now possible to do things in a browser, using Javascript, we could only have dreamed about just a few years ago. One of our companies areas of focus has been disconnected ArcGIS.

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Web ArcGIS Apps are Amazing

Monday, November 24th, 2014

An odd title for a blog post: Web ArcGIS apps are amazing. Why would we make such a profound statement?

We still see mobile and web apps treated separately. “Mobile enable your web page” we hear. Have clever ‘native’ developers build your iPad, Android or Surface Pro app is another.

In Praise of Web Technology

Web technology is wonderful. Anybody with a browser can use a web application. That means access from any device: office PC, smartphone, tablet. But what we can do in an ArcGIS web application is limited right?

Wrong!

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Splitting, Expanding, Maturing, Polarizing …. GIS is Changing

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

Splitting, bifurcating, expanding, maturing, polarizing …. GIS is changing.

We are living through a time of transformation in our industry. The advent of cloud and mobile technology has put much focus on location, and technology which is location focused. That’s our technology. Demand is growing from outside our industry for the output from a GIS: mapping, analysis, discovery and more.

But the question has to be asked: are these winds of change internally driven or fueled by this new demand?

Splitting, Expanding, Maturing, Polarizing …. GIS is Changing

The recent blog post I wrote asking the question “Is GIS Splitting?” was met with a large response. Splitting suggests two or more disparate parts. Joe Francica at Directions Magazine in a podcast discussing the question suggested maturing or expanding (note, the term “splitting” was used in the original post to start the conversation. I agree with Joe and most of those who responded, that GIS is actually expanding).

Brian Haslam provided some interesting feedback on this question:

“My viewpoint comes from nearly 25 years of Esri GIS experience with local government. I prefer to put the focus on GIS expanding to meet unique workflow needs where it has not been traditionally used or the use has been marginal. As organizations see their GIS as their most up-to-date authoritative data, which can be rendered as a map (reports, tables, charts, etc.), and can provide spatial analytically tools for decisions support, use of the GIS explodes throughout for specialized and other uses.”

Terminology aside, there is a strong suggestion that two clear-cut communities are evolving: “old and new” (note, though i will use these terms in this post I actually prefer “traditional” and “emerging”). And that the marketplace is driving this divide. The “old” serves predominantly the current user community. While the “new” is focused on the newly emerging user base.

Joe Berry commented as follows:

“My minor contribution to the discussion is two-fold:

1) The root source of the divergence is the level of understanding of the full potential of geotechnology (both in the developer and user communities); and,

2) Geotechnology advances are effectively driven by the marketplace (users, not developers).”

Finding a Common Language

Geospatial, geotechnology, geomatics, Géomatique, mapping ….

We have developed our own language. The language of geospatial. Discussions continue on our somewhat insular vernacular. See this discussion started by Joe Berry on this topic. One respondent I think sums things up nicely:

“All the names and acronyms we use among industry-insiders really don’t work well at all for outsiders. All seem to leave puzzled looks and beg the need for more explanation.”

I’ve never hidden my dislike for the term geospatial. It is off-putting, confusing and to some degree intimidating to those outside the industry. Maybe most importantly it poorly communicates what we do. As the conversation Joe started suggests, old GIS is happy with our current vernacular, while new GIS sees change (additions/updates) as essential to help communicate with, and provide solutions to the new user base.

A new Breed of Geographer

GeoSpatial practitioner, geospatial developer… location specialist

Any GIS client solution is a combination of input from trained geospatial experts, often geographers, and geospatial developers. As Clark Beattie puts it:

“I’ve been in this business for 45 years and seen many changes over that time, most of them for the good. I view GIS as a spectrum which starts with the G part and ends with the IS part. The percentage of spectrum used in a given situation depends on how the geospatial science needs to be applied and the knowledge/capabilities/skills of the practitioner. Some solutions need more G and others more IS. In any given solution one [G nor IS] can’t exist without the other and their appropriate combination makes the GIS work.”

I agree with Clark, this status-quo serves old GIS well. But for new GIS, are we missing a third expert or at least skillset? Those who can understand the challenges faced by the “new” user base. Who can talk a common language and present appropriate understandable approaches and solutions.

Again Joseph Berry:

“The ‘old and new’ paradigm gaps for both the developers and users are at least partially the result of geospatial education’s focus on ‘Specialist’ training with commercial software; and to some degree a movement away from the development of “flagship” software to “business case” solutions”

There is little doubt that GIS practitioners are worried about their future. They see their value as eroding, and wonder if they should become more certified (GISP) or learn programming. Publishing a map is one thing, understanding the data and concepts is quite another. Ever more computer scientists are learning GIS concepts, and applying their IT skills within our industry.

But this proposed third group (I’ll call them location specialists) is rare. There is no training or even widespread recognition of their need. But for new GIS to flourish we need ‘translators’. We need individuals, who understand the challenges faced by the wider ‘non-GIS’ community. Who can bridge the divide, and communicate spatial solutions to a new set of problems, targeted at a new diverse group of users.

One can speculate on the source of these ‘translators’. Maybe from two directions — analytically thinking GIS’ers and spatially thinking domain experts. Since GIS education has not made its way across campus, the latter group remains small. The widespread adoption of SpatialSTEM at the college level, is potentially very important.

Conclusion

There seems little doubt there is a shift underway in our industry. A new very large potential user base has emerged, which is driving change. As an industry we are in the recognition and defining phase. And there is plenty of resistance.

To quote Joseph Berry again:

“Regardless, folks both outside and inside the field need to recognize that digital maps have taken us well “beyond mapping” to entirely new ways to collect, process, analyze and display mapped data and spatial information.”

My opinion is that we will over time see greater recognition of this divergence, and an increasing effort on the part of our industry to bridge the emerging divide. Old GIS continues business as usual. Those focused on new GIS are entering new uncharted territory. Opportunities and challenges abound.

As the saying goes change is good. At the minute two communities have emerged inside our industry: the “old” and “new”. Will they coalesce or remain separate? Only time will tell.

Agree. Disagree. Thoughts?

Let me know matt.sheehan@webmapsolutions.com

Building Offline ArcGIS Apps with a Mobile Framework

Friday, September 12th, 2014

 

When you read a blog entitled ‘Building Offline ArcGIS apps with a Mobile Framework’, I’m thinking the first question which comes to mind is:

What is a mobile framework?

In the crudest terms a mobile framework provides the nuts and bolts to build custom mobile applications. No need to reinvent the wheel each time you need a mobile app. We’ve been building a framework which makes generating offline mobile ArcGIS apps easy. And not just offline, it makes producing any mobile ArcGIS app fast and easy.

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Custom Offline Mobile Editing for ArcGIS

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2014

Continuing our series of videos showing custom offline mobile editing for ArcGIS. We have developed a framework which allows us to build very flexible mobile apps for clients providing offline GIS editing. In the demo below we show how users can download and use base maps when offline.

Offline Mobile Editing for ArcGIS

As shown in the video, the workflows have been designed to be simple and intuitive.

Contact us for more information.

Should you build a mobile GIS app for Apple devices only?

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

We often have clients come to us and request we build a mobile app for iPad and/or iPhone. Our first question, before touching on functionality is: should you build a mobile GIS app for Apple devices only?

There are many reasons why building a mobile GIS app for just one platform (Apple iOS in this case) makes sense. Maybe your staff all have, and love, iPads and iPhones. They are comfortable with Apple products, and your IT department is set up to support iOS devices alone. I know many iOS fans who would cringe at the suggestion of switching to Android, for example. Apps which run on Apple devices are usually (and we will come back to this) written in a programming language called Objective-C. A language unique, or native, to Apple.

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Has Collector helped to put mobile GIS on the map?

Friday, July 25th, 2014


Excuse the pun, but the question need be asked: has Collector helped to put mobile GIS on the map?

We are just back from the Esri user conference in San Diego. A horrible place to go for a conference! As ever a terrific event. And the most popular sessions were ….. anything mobile. The Collector demos were standing room only extending into the corridor. Everybody seems to have mobile and Collector fever. Having been preaching the gospel of mobile GIS and mapping for so many years, this fills our hearts with joy.

From our perspective, this surge in mobile interest has created new client needs. Most notably:

Collector Set up and Training

We’ve been inundated with requests from clients to help set up and train staff on the use of Collector. The app is popular with GIS and non GIS trained staff alike This has necessitated familiarizing these field based workers with the online and offline Collector workflows. Data set up and publishing in ArcGIS Online has also been required. Collector is replacing older pen and paper based methods once used to collect data. Using a smartphone or tablets built-in GPS, users location and the location of features can be automatically set. Feature attributes are stored on the device if offline, locally stored edits or additions are pushed to ArcGIS Online when back online. Images can be attached to features using the mobiles built in camera.
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Esri UC is over .. now what are you going to do?

Monday, July 21st, 2014

 

This years Esri UC in San Diego was the best yet. So much cool new technology. The GIS revolution is in full swing. But now it is all over, as you sip your coffee on your first day back at the office. Now what are you going to do?

Floods on new information, ideas, products. Its your job to organize your thoughts, and take action on implementation within your organization. Inertia is your biggest enemy.

What’s your mobile strategy?

Mobile is everywhere. Quite literally. We have become so dependent on our mobile devices. At this years UC it was hard to avoid discussions around mobile. More than any other advance, mobile is having a profound affect on GIS. Esri are pushing forward with new mobile technology. There is no doubt that Collector has raised the profile of mobile ArcGIS. Mobile data collection integrated with ArcGIS is hot at the moment. Old methods of using paper and pen are rapidly being replaced. Collector took a while coming, but it was well worth the wait. We are working with ever more clients helping set up Collector, and train staff.

Mobile presents new opportunities to apply GIS in new ways To replace outmoded methods. To use GIS technology in a seamless manner both in and out of the office. Data collection is but one application of mobile GIS technology. As was demonstrated at this years UC, there are a plethora of new applications of mobile GIS.

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Flexible Tablet and Smartphone ArcGIS Web Offline Editing Apps

Friday, May 30th, 2014

 

Just to advance the discussion on the work we have been doing with offline editing in the Web browser. We have extended the demo app shown in a previous post to be responsive. In other words to run well on all mobile devices: smartphones, tablets and smablets. The short video shows the same offline ArcGIS editing application running in a browser on a tablet and smartphone.

ArcGIS Web Offline Editing

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Lowering Data Collection Costs for Pipeline Companies

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

 

What are the biggest challenges today faced by pipeline companies when it comes to data collection and management?

Cost is maybe number one. Many of the current PODS systems are very expensive. Inefficiency and inaccuracy is a close second. Still paper and pen are an important part of how data is collected in the field. This then has to be collated and input into the central company system when back in the office. Often this can take weeks or even months.

Today using cloud and mobile technology, there are far better and cheaper ways to collect and manage field data. Imagine a real scenario faced by pipeline companies; tracking encroachments. The video below shows an iPad application which dramatically improves on old methods:

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