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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.

Is your GIS your Flexible Friend?

June 29th, 2016 by Matt Sheehan

I’ve always hated how adverts get stuck in your head. Songs, tag lines, slogans. One ad which I still have trouble shaking off is the Access credit card, described in the advert as:

Your flexible friend. Take it anywhere, and use it for anything.

But there is no doubt that term ‘flexible friend’ is very catchy.

Is your GIS your Flexible Friend? I should probably rephrase this question to “GIS should be your flexible friend”. In this post I will be talking about GIS applications. That they should be flexible, intuitive friends! And just like that advert which repeats itself (for regular readers of this blog) I’m about to sing the praises of Web GIS applications. Let’s cover 5 reason why web based GIS applications are so flexible:

1. Web GIS application run on any device

PC, smartphone, tablet, Android, Apple, Windows; web applications truly run on anywhere, anytime on any device. Build an application once and run it anywhere might be the motto here. Let me provide an example. We were approached by a large utility who needed a mobile application. They were debating which mobile device to target an iPad or Surface Pro. What we built … a mobile web app which ran on both devices (and more).

2. Web GIS widgets mean one GIS application becomes many

Widgets are wonderful. They are small pieces of Javascript code which can be literally be dropped into a web app. They extend the functionality of an app without the need to rewrite the app. As an example an insurance company were using our Universal Map Viewer widget based app, and needed a heatmap widget. We built and released the widget in the same day. Web GIS widget based apps can be configured for different groups in your organization to provide quite different functionality based on the widgets included.

3. Web GIS applications can be used offline

Don’t think its only install-able mobile apps which can be used offline. Advances in web technology means now mobile web apps can allow users to interact with maps, edit features all fully offline. This is an area of particular focus for our developers. We’ve been developing GIS web apps which are widget based, allowing users to work without a wireless connection.

4. Web GIS applications are easy to build, configure and extend

Web GIS applications are built using JavaScript and CSS. No heavy, complex Java, Objective-C, .NET programming. Web GIS applications are easier to write. Involve no complex installation. And are easy to style, configure and extend. An application which was built for today is easy to alter tomorrow as your needs change.

5. Web GIS applications work against any GIS server or platform

We were approached by a manufacturing company who had an ArcGIS Server license, but for business reasons could not at that time move to ArcGIS Online or Portal. They wanted a mobile app like Collector for ArcGIS, but were stuck since Collector does not work directly against ArcGIS Server. Could we help they asked. Our response was to build an offline enabled mobile web editing app which worked directly against Server. The beauty of the approach was when they do move to Online or Portal the app will continue to work perfectly.

Okay just to finish, its hard to resist not sharing one of my favourite adverts from my childhood:

Contact us on 801-733-0723.

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

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