Yet another ESRI DevSummit came and went just like a snowfall here in rainy British Columbia (wish I was back in sunny Palm Springs!). This years conference was a breath of fresh air. ESRI once again was able to provide developers with robust development environments, empowering developers on all platforms (mostly mobile) with tools to deliver geospatial content and applications. Here is a 1100 foot view of the leading edge and bleeding edge developments:
To tell you the truth, the highlight of Day 1 at the ESRI 2011 DevSummit was the Fat Tire Beer dispensed by Dave Bouwman and the crew from DTS Agile. OK, well seriously, I was impressed by the polished release of the ArcGIS Viewer for Microsoft Silverlight. You’re probably thinking, oh great, yet another ESRI web gis viewer. Well, this version is refined, and, unlike previous versions, this viewer comes with a Silverlight based app builder (a web based app to completely author and configure the viewer). The first thing I did when getting back to the office is installed the beta version of this viewer. Within about 15 minutes, I had a great looking, easy to use, Silverlight map consuming my own ArcGIS services (which, by the way was very cool, as all my services are UTM based, and align with ESRI’s Base Maps). Once again though, ESRI will be cutting into their business partners markets by releasing viewers with app builders.
Perhaps the most exciting leading edge developments were announced by the ArcGIS Server Product Manager Ismael Chivite. Ismael states “ArcGIS Server 10.1 is a better 10.0.” Well, I suppose that is a valid statement. ArcGIS Server 10.1 appears to be a complete re and re. New server architecture (native 64bit, all http, no SOM/SOC) boasts 30% performance gains for dynamic map services, not to mention speedy geoprocessing services and queries. ESRI’s good ‘ol web based drive time demo was incredible using ArcGIS Server 10.1. The drive time polygons were rendered in almost real time, as a user moved to different locations on the map. Quite impressive indeed. I am personally looking forward to simplifying our 12 server SOM/SOC/WebADF GIS architecture!
On a fun note (there were definitely a few of these at the conference), ESRI’s Silverlight guru Morten Neilson gave a fantastic minority report type Kinect/ArcGIS demo. Much more polished than his original Kinect hacks.
One other interesting development was the concept of publishing your data (cache/dynamic) to be hosted by ESRI’s ArcGIS Server cloud. Not sure of the costs for this as of yet, however, I am hoping this development will make web GIS hosting affordable for the small guys out there that cannot necessarily afford the architecture needed.
Oh, and for you command line SDE adminstrators out there, you will now be able to execute those wonderfule commands via ArcCatalog (no more -o!).
Day 3 kicked off with an informative Keynote on everything mobile. The Keynote was delivered by Michael King from Gartner Research. In a nutshell, “70% of interaction with family/world/office will be over a mobile device in three years”, and ” by 2013 mobile phones will overtake PC’s”, and “always add this when creating a mobile app – button that takes you home”, and on the HTML5 front “…you will still need thick client apps because the standards boards move too slowly.”
The drag and drop concept was shown by simply dragging a spreadsheet, GeoRSS feed URL, and image file right on to the map canvas. The map then automatically rendered the data. A few cheers were initiated by this demo. !!Update!! Source code now available here
Another session that never promises to disappoint was the Latest innovations from the Esri Applications Prototype Lab. Some great tech was demoed including everything from dynamic downloads of OpenStreetMap data to brilliant emergency evacuation response maps to iPhone Flick and Wave to switch base maps to Augmented reality via a web browser and web camera.
By the way, the user presentations this year were great as well. Sat in on:
The Making Apps that Don’t Suck: UX Basics for GeoNerds was a well delivered session that I would reccomend taking in here.
All in all, ESRI delivered yet another great developer summit. The event was very well managed; everything from the food to the party was top notch. If you haven’t attended one before, I definitely recommend doing so!