Lucas Scharenbroich, Technology Manager
Lucas Scharenbroich, Technology Manager

<hr />Sometimes it takes a while to digest the tsunami of information from the annual Esri Developer Summit in Palm Springs, CA, and 2015’s Dev Summit was no exception. Pro-West & Associates sent two of its developers – myself (@ljscharen), and Adam Skoog (@adam_skoog) – to the week-long conference to see, hear and do. And boy, did we do a lot! Exactly a month later, here are our headlines…

The Platform

The big theme of this year’s summit was The Platform, which is how Esri is positioning the plethora of new apps and technologies that are being rolled out. The Platform is an extension of last year’s focus on the Map as the most important mode of communication and builds off of the push for the Web Map to be a supported concept across the entire Esri product line. It’s always great to see a strategy that was previously announced come to fruition, and Esri had executed this strategy well.

Major additions to The Platform that are coming down the pipe in the next year are things like Collector for Windows, which Esri demonstrated live and which was running in the showcase area. We had a chance to play with it on a Windows Surface, and it worked very well. Once this comes out of Beta, the Collector app will be available on iOS, Android and Windows, which should make it an easy choice to use regardless of your platform choice. There are numerous great enhancements coming to Collector as well, which we learned about at the Collector for ArcGIS session on Thursday morning of the Dev Summit.

Also, Portal for ArcGIS is included with the ArcGIS for Server license as of 10.3. Portal is being positioned a bit differently than it was during the 10.2 product cycle. Rather than an either/or choice between ArcGIS Online and an on-premise Portal, it’s now a both/and proposition. Organizations have the opportunity to critically evaluate how to take advantage of the strengths of both Portal and ArcGIS Online. With support for open standards like SAML, integrating Portal and ArcGIS Online into existing GIS infrastructure is becoming easier.

App Studio

One very exciting announcement was the new App Studio for ArcGIS. This application can be used somewhat like an app builder for creating native mobile application, but that just scratches the surface. It’s built on top of QML and Qt Quick which allows for extremely rapid creation of simple applications. Also, there is the full power of Qt under the hood, so developers can always fall back to writing native C++ code for special use cases.

And, although the simplicity of App Studio is nice, I was most impressed by the build features of the application. App Studio is integrated with a cloud-based build server hosted within the ArcGIS Online infrastructure and, with just one click, will take your App Studio project, build it for all of your target platforms, and store the finished mobile application packages right in your ArcGIS Online account. At that point, the application can be run directly in a simulator or deployed to an app store. It significantly reduces the friction for supporting multiple mobile platforms and will be a great tool for certain development scenarios.

JavaScript

Since, at Pro-West & Associates, we are focused on web development for both desktop and mobile, the numerous JavaScript sessions at Dev Summit were the ones we were looking forward to the most. And they did not disappoint! A preview of the upcoming JavaScript API 4.0 displayed some truly revolutionary features including support for 3D scene services, a client-side geometry engine that will enable extremely fast and sophisticated web app functionality, and the new Smart Mapping modules that can greatly enhance the efficacy of web maps will all add significant value to our web-based solutions.

Continuing on the topic of web application development, it has never been clearer that the tide of front-end web development has shifted. Node.js was everywhere at the conference, and Esri has been embracing the Node ecosystem wholeheartedly. Examples of using node that we saw included a yeoman scaffolding plugin for creating custom Web App Builder widgets, a deep-dive into the Esri OpenData website (which is built using node.js tools), and running fast, on-demand, automated test suites with karma and PhantomJS. Node.js is where modern web development is happening and PWA is embracing it as well.

An Added Bonus…

As a bonus, we were able to addend a CMV meet-up on Wednesday and were treated to a presentation on the future of Dojo by SitePen’s own Dylan Schiemann. There are some very exciting things happening around the Dojo 2.0 release. Many of the technologies pioneered by Dojo in modularity and deployment packaging have gone mainstream, and Dojo is poised to embrace the new generation of web development tools and provide a solid foundation for building large web apps for years to come.

All in all, the 2015 Dev Summit was a spectacular conference, and we brought back a wealth of knowledge that we will be putting to work immediately for the benefit of our customers and to provide solid solutions that solve our clients’ needs.

See you all again next year!


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See how the Dev Summit unfolded on Twitter:

@EsriDevSummit

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