- Author: Robert Johnson
ESRI's Developer Summit in Palm Springs is taking place this week. It is a much smaller, more tightly focused event than the User Conference which takes place later in the summer. While the UC covers everything ESRI has to offer, the Dev Summit is all about developing applications within the ArcGIS environment.
I am fortunate enough to be attending this year; here are some highlights from Day One:
The opening plenary session was jam-packed with updates to the ArcGIS platform, some recently implemented and others still in development. One of the most interesting from my point of view is the new Smart Mapping feature built into ArcGIS Online. Smart Mapping is a simple, yet powerful data symbolization tool which presents the user with a set of "smart" defaults driven by analysis of the data loaded into the map. Users with little to no experience in cartographic design can load a dataset into the map and then easily apply styling to that data to tell the story that they want. Heat maps, attribute based transparencies and continuous color ramps with variable range sliders are all available with just a click of the mouse. This is another step in the devlopment of ArcGIS Online to make it painless for anyone to create rich, meaningful maps.
Another great new technology showcased today are vector tile maps. Unlike tradition raster-based map tiles, vector tiles are subdivided based on data density rather than a fixed grid overlay. This allows for much smaller tile sets with near instantaneous draw speeds. Watching one of the ESRI devs pan and zoom around a vector tile based webmap and seeing almost no lag in data refresh was really incredible. ESRI plans on relaseing this technology progressively over the course of 2015.
One of the more interesting aspects of the conference so far was the way ESRI seem to be pushing ArcGIS Pro. They're still maintaining that it's not going to replace the traditional ArcGIS Desktop environment (which is scheduled for a new release at the end of the year) but the fact that they're pushing it so hard and that certain features (such as the aforementioned vector tile maps) are only available through Pro lead me to believe the traditional desktop environment is going to be slowly phased out.
All in all, this was a great start to the conference. I can't wait to see what else is in store for the next couple of days. Stay tuned!