The one COTS tool you need to create simple, focused apps fast.
Demand from consumers is high for mobile-first apps. We have come to expect to find all the information we need at our fingertips, wherever we are and whatever device we’re using. Demand has never been higher from organizations under pressure to meet this need – including GIS professionals tasked with making location data accessible and valuable to users.
Web AppBuilder uses the Esri ArcGIS Online platform to create simple, focused apps, allowing owners of GIS data to efficiently distribute it to users inside and outside the organization. It follows a mobile-first format, creating a well designed interface and an intuitive user interface for end users accessing the app and data on their smart phones or tablets. After selecting from the available mobile themes, styling can be configured for consistency with branding or to simply create the desired look.
What do I need to get started? Is there a cost?
To start using Web AppBuilder, you will need an ArcGIS Online subscription and a named user license.
Why Web AppBuilder?
Many off-the-shelf templates exist for building mobile apps, and choosing can be overwhelming. A major point in favor of Web AppBuilder is the control it offers over the deployment strategy and types of widgets/functions available. In addition, the wealth of configuration options available allows the user to create solutions tailored directly to specific business needs. Where customization is needed to fill gaps in Web AppBuilder’s out-of-the-box functionalities, widgets can be built to integrate directly into the Web AppBuilder/ArcGIS Online framework to create a complete set of capabilities.
Web AppBuilder can also be used to create custom templates, which offer a consistent user experience across a wide variety of configured applications. This improves the user experience and allows for coherent branding.
Web AppBuilder: Cloud or On-Premise?
A common point of confusion for users starting out with Web AppBuilder is the two available versions. A version of Web AppBuilder is hosted within the ArcGIS Online cloud. This version is updated by Esri and receives the latest updates first. It’s also very convenient; since the application is hosted in the cloud on your behalf, no deployment on your own server is necessary to share your configured applications.
The second version of Web AppBuilder is “Web AppBuilder Developer Edition” and is available from Esri’s site. This is a version of the application that can be downloaded and run on your own computer. An ArcGIS Online or Portal for ArcGIS Named User account is still needed, but all content remains on-premise. The most significant feature of the Developer Edition of Web AppBuilder is the ability to create custom themes and widgets. As we discussed above, widgets allow specific functionality to be provided to meet organizational needs, and custom themes can offer an enhanced look and feel, as well as deep branding of applications you create.
Additionally, having all resources on-premise provides control over how and when updates are made to your applications. This can represent a major advantage for organizations that have well-planned update cycles.
How does Web AppBuilder work?
After completing installation and start-up, the interface for creating a Web AppBuilder app will look familiar to any ArcGIS Online user. To create a mobile-friendly app, users step through the components of Web AppBuilder, selecting their preferred theme, the web map they want to distribute, the widgets they want to use based on the desired functionality of the apps, and styling options for attributes such as logo and title. At no stage of the process does code need to be entered or edited.
How does Pro-West use Web AppBuilder?
Pro-West has helped many of its local government clients get started with Web AppBuilder so that they can become self-sufficient in creating their own mobile apps when they need them. Pro-West’s LINK Mobile product is built using Web AppBuilder (view an example from Clay County, MN). However, we ensure organizations know how to do more than just create apps, but also how to distribute and use them so that they get the best value possible having invested in the technology.
Pro-West also creates widgets that are designed to work within Web AppBuilder. The Mailing Label Widget, for example, allows users to generate mailing labels for householders within a specified area in just a few clicks – ensuring a task that should be simple is simple.
We maintain an in-depth knowledge of Esri technologies and how our local government clients can best make us of their capabilities, and are happy to answer questions about Web AppBuilder. Just email, call, or tweet us and we’ll make sure you have the answers you need.
Are you using Web AppBuilder? We’d love to hear what you have to say – send us your comments.
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