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. 🙂

Leave a Reply