Using ArcWeb Explorer

A friend of mine has been in Spain, checking out all the sites. Well when I heard there was a Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, I had to learn more. Well Google did get me to their website, but that didn’t help me at all because I had no idea where Bilbao was. My first thought was to put the address in Google Maps, but I got a weird “Sorry we don’t have maps at this zoom level” for Spain (I guess they don’t have as good world coverage as I thought). Anyway, the same problem occurred with Live Local (aka Virtual Earth). I didn’t have Google Earth on this computer so I was getting really frustrated. Then I though, what about ArcWeb Explorer? I took the address, loaded it into an Excel file and then uploaded that into ArcWeb Explorer. Bingo!

Guggenheim Museum Bilbao in ArcWeb Explorer

How cool will this be when the JavaScript API is out or the SVG viewer? I’m lucky that I live in a USA centric world so I usually never see how hard it is to use some of these mapping services. Glad to see at least one has great data for the rest of the world.

Examples of Microsoft Atlas (Microsoft’s ASP.net AJAX framework)

So you might have heard a little about Atlas at the ESRI Dev Summit or just in general in some blogs, but you don’t have a clue about what it is or how it might help you? Scott Guthrie delivered a presentation on Atlas a couple weeks ago in Europe and posted up his slides and some .NET code. What is even better is that this will work with Visual Web Developer Express so if you don’t have access to Visual Studio 2005, you can still get up to speed. I’m personally going to be taking a close look to this as our company transitions from .NET 1.1 to 2.0 and we can begin to take advantage of all the new features in the new .NET framework. The code examples are in C#, but any .NET dev should be able to get used to them.

Will the new .NET Web ADF work with Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition?

Visual Studio 2005 Web Developer Express EditionOn the heals of my Atlas post, I got an IM from a developer asking of the new .NET Web ADF will work with the Visual Web Developer 2005 Express Edition. I believe this question was asked in some sessions (though for the life of me I can’t remember nor did I write it down) and the answer was MAYBE. I’m guessing if it is important to you for this ADF to be available for the “free” versions of Visual Studio, you’d better let the development team know.

All done

OK, its over. The BPC has ended and I’m heading back to Tempe tomorrow. Had a great time meeting up with everyone here and I’m glad we get to do this at least once a year. The Dev Summit was by far the highlight, but seeing all the new stuff planned (the new Web ADF, ArcWeb Explorer JavaScript API and the SVG Viewer) does nothing but get me excited.

Time to sit back and keep an eye out in early April for ArcWeb Labs and ArcGIS 9.2 Beta 2 should be out in the next month or two also. Guess we’ll be seeing blogs.esri.com follow and there has been a threat by the Java team to really start blogging so we might just have to hold them to that.

ArcGIS Server for Workgroups?

I missed it. I guess Jack said ESRI was looking at ArcGIS Server for Workgroups (or some similar named product). The cost would be about half the price with limitations on the license. I really hope to learn more tomorrow. Anything that reduces the cost of AGS is good news to me.

Blogging the Business Partner Conference

2006 Business Partner ConferenceI just got an email asking “WHAT ABOUT THE BPC?” (caps were hers, not mime).

I actually wasn’t planning to blog the Business Partner Conference so you’ll have to read about it in ArcNews. I will post about any new announcements, but given that we just got finished with the Dev Summit, I’m guessing that there isn’t anything going to be announced. Then again how many times has a blogger said they weren’t going to say anything about a subject and then post like a madman?

Day Two at the 2006 Developer Summit

2006 ESRI Developer's SummitDay two was even more crowded than day one. I’m not sure if more people registered or not, but it appeared to me that they did. Anyway, I missed the first part of the Keynote because I was watching Brian Flood and Jithen Singh play around on the 9.2 workstations. By the time I had gotten to the keynote, Microsoft was already up and explaining how their vision of web 2.0 will work. I hate to admit it, but I left after a while as the talk was a little too light on development and focused more on things I already knew. If you want to get a detailed look at the Devloper Summit, check out Cory Eicher’s blog. He has some great bullet points of his experiences at the summit.

I did get to sit down with the ArcWeb Services team and they showed me the new SVG viewer and more great examples of the Flash ArcWeb Explorer. The API is almost out for ArcWeb Explorer and the API help and examples are truly wonderful. Even if you’ve never used ArcWeb (or even Google Maps API), you’ll be able to copy and paste code to make your own mashups using the new ArcWeb Explorer API. The SVG viewer is really great too, but its further behind in development. It sounded like the ArcWeb Explorer API will be released in the next few weeks and then the team will focus on the SVG viewer.

I didn’t attend the ArcGIS Explorer session, but apparently the next revision of Beta 1 will be out really soon and apparently its quite a jump from the current one we are using. I’ve also heard that the imagery will be greatly improved (10 fold improvement), but I haven’t seen it first hand so I can’t really comment on it (well the fact that we can’t talk about the 9.2 beta).

At the closing session, Brian Goldin went over the some of the concerns that attendees had from the 2 day Developer Summit and it sounds like that ESRI is listening and wants feedback on how to change the event for the better next year. Generally people wanted an extra day, more technical talk and less marketing (Q&A sessions should be longer) and keeping the summit separate from both the Business Partner Conference and the User Conference. Quite a few people have said that they won’t attend the UC this year because the Developer Summit was so much more valuable to them. In fact ESRI is looking at allowing ESRI customers with complimentary passes to the User Conference; apply those to the Developer Summit.

So what did I think about the Summit? It was well worth the trip. Sitting down with the develop teams and being able to talk about low level issues is something that I’ve not been able to do at the UC. Also everyone around you is able to speak the same developer language. None of the “When will ArcGIS Desktop be available on Linux” questions were asked because the attendees here understand the realities of the marketplace so one doesn’t have to sit through the silliness that happens on the floor of the ESRI islands at the UC. The ability of developers to sit down and talk with the ESRI developer team and talk about our issues made this event so valuable to us. The ESRI developer team was completely honest about problems they have had in the past year with 9.2 and how some things with supporting existing 9.1 developers haven’t gone as well as anyone would have liked. That is all developers are asking for, honest dialog and access. I think in general people received that at the Dev Summit. Was it perfect? No, but for the first one it at least to me came of better than anyone could have anticipated.

I had a great time meeting everyone and thanks to all that introduced themselves to me. I appreciated knowing people read this blog and get value from it. I started it so help me understand more about the GIS marketplace, ESRI, open source and general geospatial technology; but the fact that others are able to learn from it too makes it worth the effort. I’ll still be around for the Business Partner Conference so I’m always up for a cold beer. 🙂

Five points to take away from the 2006 Developer Summit

I was thinking about what I saw over the past 2 days and figured I’d write up a blog post trying to organize my thoughts. So what should developers and GIS professionals take away from all the Technical Sessions, SIGs and Birds of a Feather sessions.

  1. The Web ADF – Yea, I know its no surprise it is #1, but given the difficulty that users and developers have at deploying professional looking maps at 9.1 this is a godsend. You author a map using a new web based wizard called Sitebuilder, but the power is in your ability to customize that web map. Open up your newly created map in your favorite IDE right away and start making changes. You can create tasks (I wish they called them widgets since that is probably a better descriptor IMO) and use them over and over again in any Web ADF map. I’m guessing smart GIS development companies will sell these tasks to other developers making money off of a great API. In describing how the new web client for ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS looks what comes to mind is “eye candy”. It is really beautiful and it has all the modern controls that products like Virtual Earth and Google maps has (mousewheel support, keyboard modifier keys, etc). I think ESRI should sell this ADF on its own so people can take advantage of it. There isn’t a ADF out there right now that is a complete or has such a good API as ESRI’s and I think many would love to have access to it. Of course there are users who don’t want a .NET or Java ADF for their open source solutions, but for those who do it would be a great solution.

  2. ArcWeb Explorer JavaScript ADF – the demos I saw using this JavaScript ADF were impressive, but what caught my eye was the documentation. You’ll be able to start using ArcWeb services and creating mashups using the Flash front end with the JavaScript back-end. The demo that really impressed me was mashing up video from around the world and displaying it over a map. Oh and those videos would play while you panned and zoomed. Very cool stuff. Some other demos showed streaming live data into a map (you know all those Hurricane demos that we saw late last summer) and something as simple as taking a XML file of IP address and placing their location on a map. If you need a quick and simple solution developed in a couple minutes, this will probably be your choice. Oh and the SVG viewer was very cool, but its not ready yet so we’ll have to wait. Remember that client uses the REST API so it should be just as easy to mashup.

  3. SQL API – I loved this. Basically ESRI is opening up the Geodatabase with a new API available at 9.2. You’ll be able to connect to an SDE geodatabase and access the information from it without using any ArcGIS product. Those who have been looking for an ISO and OGC solution for access to the ESRI geodatabase now have an API to use. The demo was something built in Oracle forms and you could see all the feature datasets from within this form without the use of any ArcObjects.

  4. The Geodatabase – Starting with Scott Morehouse on the first day, we were hit over and over again with how important it is to really start using the geodatabase. With the new file geodatabase, the new geodatabase built on Microsoft SQL Server Desktop Engine (MSDE), a workgroup SDE and finally the big enterprise SDE the tools are there to start leveraging the power of the geodatabase. Plus with all the new functions in 9.2 Desktop (think of the cartographic tools) you’ll need to start taking advantage of this. While talking to another developer, he lamented that he was going to have to upgrade to ArcEditor as ArcView can’t really take advantage of the geodatabase. I don’t think ESRI has been as forthcoming as they should with the fact that ArcView users should be looking at upgrading if they want to take advantage of the new tools in 9.2. Jack had a slide that showed ArcView, ArcEditor and ArcInfo and I can’t remember exactly how it was worded but after each product license name was its function in the big picture. ArcView (Use), ArcEditor (Create/Modify) and ArcInfo (Analysis). I think users should start thinking like this. Professional GIS users really need at least an ArcEditor license to be productive these days and you are just kidding yourself if you are not upgrading. So if you want to take advantage of 9.2, get writing those business cases to convince your company to upgrade you.

  5. Geoprocessing – This was kind of a surprise to me, not from the point of view that it was important, but how much it was emphasised. Every tool from ArcGIS Server, to ArcGIS Engine, to ArcGIS Explorer can consume geoprocessing models built with Model Builder. You’ll be able to then push these out to your clients and they can perform what required a UNIX workstation a couple years ago (and someone with a PhD in AML) from just about any computer. I’m sure the Mobile ADF can work with it also, but I never got a chance to ask anyone.

OK so you probably noticed that I didn’t mention ArcGIS Explorer among my five top points. I do think ArcGIS Explorer is very important, but the points I mentioned above are in my opinion ones that GIS professionals should look at. There is no truth to the rumor I’m not blogging about AGX because I’m bitter about the crackdown on blogging about 9.2. cough

So there you have it. Keep an eye out for the JavaScript API for ArcWeb Explorer which should be due any week. Also those in the 9.2 beta program should look out for a beta refresh for the ArcGIS Explorer. Other than that I’m getting the feeling that 9.2 won’t be out for the 2006 user conference so you’ll have plenty of time to learn more at the user conference about the new technology and features. So until then, get those ArcView licenses upgraded to ArcEditor. 🙂

Dev Summit Day 1

2006 ESRI Developer's SummitSo what did I think of the first day? I was very impressed with the turnout. Rob Elkins posted that it will be close to 800 developers at the summit. Let me just say it is standing room only at practically every session and everyone seems very happy to be among other developers. The keynote for day was was good from the standpoint that we got to hear Scott Morehouse and what he thinks should be important to GIS developers (Geodatabase, Geoprocessing) and some 9.2 product demos. The .NET ADF that Art Haddad demo’d caught me eye especially the tasks (think widgets) that you can create and deploy using the ADF (what a great video idea to show how the new AJAX ArcIMS/ArcGIS Server ADF works). The sessions were good and as I said packed. I’m of the thought that they are a little too long and more Q&A should happen, but if you showed up late for any you’d be standing in the door because of the crowd. Even the Birds of a Feather sessions were much more crowded than anyone anticipated.

I got sidetracked during lunch and showed up at the .NET SIG a little late. I wish we had more time for Q&A with Art and the .NET team because there seemed to be quite a few questions that could be answered due to the next session starting. I think next year it would be nice to have some sessions only devoted to Q&A were users can just “grill” the teams and get community feedback. I did hear one ESRI employee remark that they were surprised no one was at the developer island asking questions during the day. I think that was because so many people were at the individual sessions that there wasn’t anyone mulling around trying to kill time.

I’m not ready to give my final grade to the Developer Summit just yet, but a couple things are clear to me after today. First, the response from ESRI developers is huge. This only validates the need from more real developer sessions and continue this focus on developers. Everyone I talked to seemed to be so happy to be around people that speak the same language as they do. Second, I think they should make it a 3 day affair. There is just so much going on that there were sessions that occurred at the same time limiting my ability to get more out of the summit. 3 days probably would be perfect. Three, there are just so many .NET developers using the ESRI platform. The Java SIG is tomorrow so I’m interested in seeing how many Java programmers there are at the summit, but it sure has a .NET feel to it (and according to the unscientific poll during the .NET SIG 50/50 C# vs VB.NET).

A couple things to keep an eye out. I bumped into Jesse and Sue from Very Spatial and we talked a little bit about the summit. Maybe my conversation will be “podworthy” so you might want to check that out sometime next week. And Art Haddad was video taped for Channel 9 by Microsoft. I’m not sure how long it will take for that to show up, but I’ll post when his video is available.

Tomorrow should be a pretty good day with both Microsoft and IBM being part of the Saturday Keynote. I missed out on the ArcWeb Services session today so I’m bummed about that, but I’ll try and learn more during the Business Partner Conference. There is more .NET Web Application sessions and a Microsoft AJAX session that I’m sure will be standing room only. I’m glad I’ve gotten to meet some many people who read my blog. Everyone needs to make sure they let ESRI know how valuable this summit has been to them and what if anything could be improved. It is hard to believe that we sat in the small .NET SIG at the 2005 User Conference and talked about this Summit happening. Kudos to both Brian Goldin and Rob Elkins (Rob posted some pictures of the summit on his flickr account if you’d like to see what is going on) for getting this thing off the ground.