The final day of the Dev Summit has come and gone. Some highlights:
Later, I had a look at JS optimization; in particular, ESRI's Web Optimizer. This is a really neat tool that's actually been around for a while, but which I had completely forgotten about. In a nutshell, it allows users to create a custom build of the API containing only the modules which are called in the code of their application. This drastically improves loading times and performance.
I finished out the day with two "road ahead" sessions outlining future development. Keeping with the theme of the day, one covered plans for the JS API, particularly the 4.0 release which should be entering beta in the coming months. Things to look forward to: 3D support, improved 2D performance, new classes, and script simplification.
The other "road ahead" session was billed as "ArcGIS Desktop and Pro" but only covered ArcGIS Pro. There are some pretty cool features like vector tile map and web scene authoring, lots of 3D functionality and range sliders for exploring multi-dimensional data. Overall, Pro looks like a really powerful application. However, at the end of the session, the first audience question was, "What about ArcGIS Desktop?" The answer: "ArcGIS Pro is part of the desktop environment." This was followed by a second question: "Is there a road ahead for Desktop?" After some hemming and hawing by the ESRI devs, we were told, "We'll cover that at the User Conference." Sounds like yet another hint at the inevitable demise of the traditional ArcGIS Desktop.
Overall, this was a great conference and an invaluable learning experience. I look forward to putting what I learned to good use and I hope to attend the Dev Summit again in the future.
It was another great day at the Dev Summit. The morning started off with a keynote address from John Tomizuka, Co-founder and CTO of Taqtile, a mobile app development company based in Seattle. John shared some of his successes and missteps in the world of app development and emphasized that two of the most important things to keep in mind when developing any app are a focus on the user and their needs as well as an in-depth understanding of the data you are working with.
I followed this with a session on UX/UI design for web apps. Good app design is something that many developers, myself included, don't always think about. I picked up some great tips like considering an app in the "empty state" rather than just going to a preconfigured template which may not really suit the task at hand and using task-focused workflows and UI patterns to really create clean, useful apps.
The afternoon was spent on sessions dealing with working with raster and feature data in Python as well as a more in-depth look at the Smart Mapping Initiative that was covered in yesterday's plenary. What I hadn't realized before is that the Smart Mapping interface has completely replaced the standard symbology tab in ArcGIS Online. All the full functionality is still there for users who are comfortable customizing all the options, but the default options are much more simple and driven by the data so that novice user can create great maps out of the box.
One more day to go. I'm looking forward to seeing more of ESRI's future devfelopment plans tomorrow.
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!