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The ESRI Blogger Meetup Was Great

I had a great time at the blogger meetup tonight at Dick’s Last Resort. We had a great turnout with just about all the ESRI developer bloggers and many ESRI Developer Network people. Even Scott Morehouse was there! I ended up spending most of the night talking Art, J, Steve and sitting down with so many great ESRI developers was a blast. Rob Elkins handed out some nice looking EDN t-shirts which I’ll make sure I update my photo on this blog with me wearing it later. I think a big thanks to Steve, Rob, Art and Brian Goldin for getting this meetup organized!

Personally these two (the .NET SIG and the blogger meetup) have been of more value to me than all the sessions put together. Not to say that the sessions aren’t valuable, but they mostly go over concepts that we work with every day. I can safely say that I have never felt better about developing with ESRI tools than I do right now (even more than when I used to write all those sexy Avenue scripts). We all get jazzed up after these user conferences, but I’m hopeful this new support we are receiving from ESRI will continue to grow.

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The Road Ahead — ArcIMS and the ArcGIS Server

I was really interesting in learning about the changes and improvements to ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS with 9.2. Personally I’ve been a huge user of ArcIMS, but with the improvements to ArcGIS Server I’m looking at migrating our applications to it. Some plans for Server GIS ESRI is going to have free client apps such as ArcExplorer, improved developer tools (integrated tools for .NET and Java), integration of ArcIMS and ArcGIS with a common Application Development Framework (ADF), improved administration tools and support for standards.

With 9.2 ArcExplorer returns and many people I’ve talked to during the conference are excited about it. ArcExplorer is both a lightweight windows app and a browser based web app. No development is needed and they will support ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS and OGC. It supports both Map and Globe visualization so you’ll be able to publish your maps easily and to many desperate people. ArcReader has worked really well with publishing maps, but you need to have a PMF document. With ArcExplorer you can just connect to your GIS server (even embedded in your websites). The GUI for ArcExplorer is very simple and I think users will enjoy using it to view your maps. Novice users will be able to navigate your maps, but there is tons of functionality that more advanced users can take advantage of. The ArcExplorer web client takes advantage of some nice DHTML including seamless AJAX panning and some really slick map tips. The panning is so slick that you don’t have to wait for your map tiles to appear like you see with the Google Maps interface.

ArcIMS 9.2 is going to be a huge update from 9.1. ArcIMS 9.2 can publish to ArcExplorer web as well integration into standard IDE (Visual Studio.NET or Eclipse). As I said above, ArcExplorer Web is a huge leap from previous ESRI interfaces and even novice ArcIMS users can create maps that have really nice features such as map tips with ease. Yesterday I talked about the IDE integration so I won’t go over it here. The ArcIMS Designer is much improved with a .NET application that gives you a very simple interface to create your ArcExplorer Web applications. As with all 9.2 applications improved documentation should help all users get more out of their Arc applications. Art Haddad’s demo of the Web Application Designer has a Microsoft Office look and feel to it so you’ll feel very comfortable (drop down lists and wizards are everywhere). You can forget about those old Java designer, author and administrator apps! Programmers can also take these web applications you create in designer right into your IDE. ArcIMS continues to support Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Mapping Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS) and Catalog Service for Web (CSW). ESRI will also start supporting Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD).

The great new news with ArcGIS Server (and ArcIMS also) is the ADF. This should allow programmers to move between the two servers quickly and easily. As was said yesterday and above, integration in to the IDEs will make all programmers happy because it will simplify our workflows. Server now supports GeoProcessing and Globe Publishing. The demo on publishing an ArcGlobe service showed how easy it was to publish a Globe service. With Google Earth grabbing everyone’s attention creating this simple 3D views is going to be important to may users. The ability to serve 3D services on the internet will enable users to share some really powerful maps with many users and the speed at which ArcGIS Server serves them up will make their experience of these 3D views an enjoyable experience.

The ArcGIS map service allows you to publish very high quality maps with support for identify, find, select, query and other tools. These are pre-rendered and cached at multiple resolutions. Support for serving both static and dynamic data is also included. The demo showing panning around the world was so smooth that you’d never think that you were in a web application (thanks to some really impressive AJAX). Geocoding performace has improved by a factor of 4 over 9.1. They support both batch and single geocoding as well as reverse geocoding. You can use either shapefiles or Geodatabases.

The new Geodata Publishing allows you to browse, query, extract and replicate data. Support data exchange using XML, Geodatabase and other formats. The demo of checking out data from an ArcGIS Server app showed checking out data from a map view into a Personal Geodatabase. Then they added it to ArcMap and edited the downloaded data layers. Then they stopped editing and saved and the changes. With ArcMap you can then save only change changes into a Geodatabase. This database was then uploaded via that same web application and the changes were then reflected on the web. The process was very simple and I could this being very useful for enterprise users.

GeoProcessing is now available in ArcGIS Server so you can take your models that you’ve build in ArcMap/Catalog and allow your web users run these models. The demo showed a web application that allowed you to select an area, choose what layer you want to download, save a file (shapefile/geodatabase/other) and then pick the projection. This application ran a model that took the input parameters that were selected on the web page and hen passed them to the pre-built mode. Interoperability with ArcGIS now supports WMS Services, SML, KML (so you can serve to Google Earth) and others.

The ArcGIS Server for .NET ADF changes allows you to create some really nice looking is web controls. You can point at multiple services and put them in your map control. Better navication, find, and map tips as well as some web templates for ArcExplorer Web and Network Analysis. There are some new Javascript, Table of Contents and AJAX. There is a new optimized object model in Javascript (no longer trying to figure out those scripts) and AJAX web controls. The new designer in Visual Studio.NET gives you some really nice visual tools for customizing your web applications. Rather than creating many of the same tools (such as TOC, identify) yourself, you can almost drag an drop them into your web form.

The new features in ArcGIS Server for Java include many of the new changes that were outlined for .NET developers and better UNIX install and security. ArcExplorer Web Java Edition includes all the functions of ArcExplorer Web. You now have a pure Java API (ArcObjects are now Java), out of the box spatial Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs), support for all standard IDE’s and tight integration with Eclipse and SunCreator. The IDE integration is as slick as the .NET IDE integration. The Java tools are all cross platform compatible so you’ll be able to administer on any operating system.

The changes in ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS will really enable developers to push the envelope on their web applications. Many of the complaints developers have had in the past have been addressed and many of the new tools will greatly simplify our workflows.

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Lunch with Brian and J

I had a nice lunch with Brian Goldin and Jithen Singh after the .NET SIG. I owe J a couple beers tonight for picking up lunch for me (not even a dollar in my wallet). A vendor for a company called OQO came by with their handheld computer. I had seen it on the Internet, but I had never held on in my hands until today. The specs are a little light, but the compared to a Windows Mobile handheld running ArcPad, this thing really changes how you view a PDA. It runs Windows XP and has an 800×480 resolution screen. It is a compromise as it only has 20 gigs of HD space an 256 megs of ram, but these kinds of devices that push the envelope really get you excited. Now I just have to figure out how to get one as blogging would be really easy from it.

See all you guys at Dick’s Last Resort tonight at 6pm!

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ArcGIS Road Ahead — What’s Coming for GIS Developers at 9.2

I decided to change up my schedule and head over to a “developer” technical workshop. I tried to first go to ArcGIS Server: Developing Applications with .NET but that was overflowing. I then peaked into ArcGIS Developer: ArcGIS for Java Developers, but I’m just so far removed from Java that I didn’t stay (sorry Steve). I ended up sitting at the “Road Ahead” for developers. Brian Goldin was talking about the new changes with 9.2 so I sat down.

ESRI has really changed how they treat developers over the past view years. The big news for my GIS shop is the new Developer Kit for Visual Studio.NET and for our Java IDEs. The new ESRI Developer Network hasn’t really been pushed during this conference and I can’t understand why. I would have figured that during the plenary they would have shown the EDN, but other than just a one line blurb in the PowerPoint presentation. Brian did go over some of the enhancements planned for EDN including RSS feeds and better search, videos and code.

VBA will continue to be supported (meh) but they are going to try and move it toward customization in ArcGIS Desktop rather than extending the Desktop. I was surprised how many people are still developing with VB6, but it does appear that people are moving to .NET and with integration to IDE that will probably happen sooner.

The demo on the integrated toolset in Visual Studio.net was really nice with templates for ArcEngine, ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Desktop (with a wizard interface). This should really help with programmers workflows (there is the word again) simplifying the creation of a project. I’ve always hated setting up projects to extend ArcGIS Desktop because of having to add all those classes, but now it is pretty much automated. ArcGIS 9.2 will include the .NET 2.0 Framework so we won’t have to make sure that .NET framework is installed on clients. I’m sure they don’t want this announced, but there might be a release of ArcGIS 9.1 IDE integration on the EDN website this fall.

The next demo was of the quick start templates for ArcEngine. The wizard allows you to choose the license and extensions that you want in your project with all the ESRI references added. What is nice is that the map control and toolbar is also created with this wizard and in fact you can run the application without writing one line of code. There is nice documentation of the quick-start templates so you can modify them to better fit your workflow.

There are new GeoProcessor functions in 9.2 which is going to be welcomed. Developers can now add any GeoProcessor toolbox in their Engine applications. The ArcEngine runtime will run all toolboxes available to ArcView and with an extension to Engine you can have access to ArcEditor toolboxes. If you want ArcInfo GeoProcessor tools, you’ll need to use ArcGIS Server.

Some of the new Engine controls include, symbology, add data, cross platform widgets (GTK and QT on Solaris/Linux and Windows). There are over 80 new commands and tools (such as identify, find) as well cartography enhancements. The toolbar control now supports XP themes as well as many new “MS Office like” toolbar features giving your applications a really nice professional look. The new TOC control gives you much of the same functionality of ArcMap (drag and drop) and the new symbology gives you control of symbology to your applications. The demo Engine applications that ESRI shows really looked nice and after the demo was done people applauded.

There are tons of new Java enhancements in 9.2. The changes to the Java API have focused upon fixing many of the current issues. There is also IDE integration for Java IDEs (Eclipse is preferred) an there will be some really nice Visual Java Beans as well as some very nice JToolbar framework. ESRI has moved toward supporting common frameworks and away from custom frameworks. Java will support JRE 5.0 (and 6.0 if it is out) and support for Windows, Solaris and Linux. The SDK for Eclipse is wonderful and I’m going to have to get my Java programmer on it. Geoprocessing is also available with Java as it was with .NET. Keyur showed the Java IDE integration and the generators for toolbars. The automation is going to save programmers much time eliminating repetitive tasks, very nice. 9.2 is going to be a great release for Java programmers.

Some new features for .NET Server Developer are ArcExplorer Web, Web site designer, AJAX support, Server object extensions and .NET 2.0 framework and some new ADFs. There will be another session that will go into more detail on .NET Server Developer. New Enterprise Java Beans will help Java programmers simplify calls to the server. There is a new API for Geoprocessing, Globe, etc and AJAX support. Again ESRI seems to be supporting Eclipse, but there will support for Sun Java Studio will also have some integrated support.

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ArcGIS .NET Developer Special Interest Group Meeting

I attended the first ever ArcGIS .NET Developer Special Interest Group Meeting (SIG) today and was happy to see so many ESRI developers who are really interested in GIS programming. I also got to meet fact to face many of the bloggers who will be at our blogger meetup later today at Dick’s Last Resort (6pm). Art Haddad lead the discussion and programmers such as Brian Flood and Jithen Singh talked about some of the development they are doing (J will be presenting his project tomorrow at 3pm). Art then opened up discussion with Brian Golden about what us developers would like to see with the new ESRI Developer Network (EDN). Many liked the idea of a “gotdotnet” where we can all share our code as well as a ESRI Developer Summit where deeper level discussion of developing using ESRI tools could happen. Many also said RSS feeds as well as email alerts to updates and changes in the EDN site.

Rob Elkins let us know that EDN subscribers would be allowed in the 9.2 BETA program so we will be able to test our products against changes that are being made with ArcGIS 9.2. One concern brought up was developers who don’t have EDN because they already have all the software contained in it but don’t want to be left out of the EDN community. It sounds like that even though EDN is currently open to all, Rob and Brian will make sure that these developers will be included in any EDN or Developer SIG or Summits.

I thought the turnout was great given that the SIG was during lunch and I think everyone there was enthusiastic about getting together again at a Dev Summit in the future. Even Microsoft stopped by and let us know if there was anyway they could help out.

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ESRI UC Blog

Don’t forget to continue to check out the ESRI UC Blog. They are continuing to post announcements through the week so if you are looking for something to do, make sure you stop by. I’m sure they would also appreciate comments so make sure you leave them in their comments.

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GISUser.com on the 2005 ESRI UC Plenary

Link – ESRI UC Report

GISUser.com has their ESRI UC Report from the first day. It is a pretty detailed writeup of the proceedings, but they missed a huge announcement much like everyone else. I’m wondering what can be done to get ArcWeb more visible to users. Do people not understand what it can do or does the average ESRI user not care about web-based GIS?

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13,264 GIS Professionals at 2005 ESRI UC

The ESRI UC Blog is reporting that as of this afternoon 13,264 people were registered for the user conference. Thinking back to my first one back in Palm Springs I don’t think I could have imagined this many people. With Google Maps, Google Earth and other consumer GIS tools one can only think the conference will be getting even bigger next year (not to mention we’ll all have those great new ArcGIS 9.2 products in our hands).

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ESRI is Blogging the User Conference

I just heard that ESRI is blogging the User Conference. Check them out.

http://esriuc.blogspot.com/

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On MSN Instant Messenger at the Plenary Session

I’m on MSN Instant Messenger so if you want to say hi, just add “cageyjames@hotmail.com” to your contact list.