Web and Mobile App Development Track
Thousands of developers will gather in the California desert for Esri Developer Summit (DevSummit). If you want to make location-aware apps, this event is for you.
Come for a first look at the latest APIs and software development kits (SDKs), ready-to-use content, and geospatial web services. Learn how to build location-aware apps for your organization or the community at large and sell them in ArcGIS Marketplace. You can also launch prebuilt apps to "fork" them on GitHub.
This is your chance to see the latest in native and web apps, get going with Esri's Geotrigger Service, and connect with user experience experts. Plus discover new ways to cut development time while you increase app performance and lower development costs.
Collaborate with Our Mobile and Web Development Thought Leaders
Check Out the Agenda
There are sessions designed specifically for web and mobile app developers. Search the agenda.
Program around the clock in Ruby, Python, Perl, or another of your favorite languages and make the next great geoenabled app.
A whole area will be staffed with Esri mobile and web developers ready to answer your questions. No, you're not dreaming. This is the DevSummit.
Too much going on and can't sit still? This might be your event–five-minute talks that will get you thinking, even when you are on your toes.
Watch some fun and engaging idea exchanges when Esri developers hit the stage and share their next big idea in a series of fast presentations–SpeedGeeking at its finest.
Let out some steam and get to know your fellow developers in a whole new light. Game on!
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Neogeographer and CTO of Esri R&D Center, DC
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You studied aerospace engineering – what led you to geography?
I was working for the European Space Agency and living in southern Germany, which is close to the geographic center of Western Europe. From that locale I could take quick trips and would wake up from an evening train to find myself in a bustling and historic city. The buildings emoted their history and I wanted to be able to speak with them - learn their storied past, hear the tales of the inhabitants and then layer my own experience on top to share with my friends and family back home. I wanted to utilize the satellites I was building to enrich my personal understanding.
Geography provides context and then meaning. I became fascinated with the potential to enable access to this information and tools to anyone, to ask and learn, to drape the cultural topography on top of the real landscape. I believe that geography also enables us to work together on some of the most meaningful problems that challenge our civilization.
What is a neogeographer?
Neogeographer is a person who utilizes the tools and techniques of geography for personal use. They are more interested in the story of place, the context through inferred nearness, and the ability to convey their own unique perspective through narrative and media. Neogeographers are our place-tellers and location-listeners.
Why do you personally relate to neogeography?
It is my desire to know as much as I can about the world I live in. I want to understand why the trees outside my window are there (which it turns out is due to controversial but effective governor of DC that within one year of 1873 was responsible for 60,000 tree plantings, the first horse-drawn streetcars, street-lights and shaping the national capitol), how old they are, when they bloom, and who they have seen live in my house for the past hundred years. I want to see the vector lines of people as they weave through our shared spaces, each on their own trajectory yet through our common place shape it at the same time.
Why do you think geography is important in helping people and organizations find solutions to challenges?
Everything has a time and place—and it is these characteristics through which we can correlate information across disparate domains, organizations, and perspectives. By providing better access to data, tools, and shared insights, we can learn from one another’s expertise, collaborate on solutions, and achieve consensus. Then through geography we can monitor the many impacts of our actions and correct them to continue towards the solutions to these challenges. I believe that only through using geography can we appropriately understand these complex systems.
As I’ve mentioned, geography also provides a lens for us to understand more deeply, and personally, these challenges. Typically issues are presented at a macro scale: Sea level rise that affects an entire seaboard, temperature changes across a continent. This makes it a distant and conceptually challenging problem for anyone person to comprehend and subsequently to prioritize and respond. Through geography we can drill into the localized impact of these issues and how they affect our personal lives. If climate changes what will be the affect to my local park and the birds that currently live there? Will I be able to get the same foods that I know and love? Will my house be underwater? Geography forces a visceral exposure to these challenges that make it difficult to ignore.
What do you mean when you talk about the democratization of cartography?
Historically cartography considered the long production cycle and therefore designed for the most prominent and long-term uses of their maps. The result were maps designed for a primary purpose that offered minimal introspection or personalization based on the map user. Now through dynamic, digital displays, on-demand services, and broadening cultural understanding, everyone now has ready access to tools that allow them view, customize, and create their own maps. If you want a map that prioritizes bike routes, marks highways as hazards, and includes your own house and favorite spots - you can. If that map needs to accommodate color perception, be visible outdoors, and display your previous history, it can.
As a community, cartographers will shift from being the primary map producers to instead being mapping mentors. Their expertise is valuable to create the tools and collaborate to improve the conceptual understanding and generation of maps. Subsequently people will grow to appreciate the and participate in the shared map making process. It is this collaboration that we can address and understand these meaningful solutions to challenges.
Why should developers start using location as a part of their service?
The internet and mobile devices make it possible to instantly deploy your application to millions of users around the world at an instant. This is a fascinating capability. By leveraging location, developers can provide a context for their applications that make for a highly engaging and sticky experience for users. Mobile devices in particular become a ‘tricorder' through which your applications can provide this constant and meaningful access to information. And best of all, it’s gotten so much easier to include that it is difficult to consider why you wouldn’t include it as a core capability of your service.
What would you recommend developers new to location-based services seek out at the Esri DevSummit?
Foremost, meet other developers. The best experience of everyone coming to one location is that you are all at that one location. Use this unique opportunity to find experts that you follow online to meet them in person; share your ideas and listen to everyone you meet; build relationships here that you can take home with you and grow over time. Some of my best friendships and business partners have been people that I randomly met at conferences and brainstormed some new concepts.
More generally, make sure to learn the core concepts and capabilities of the many services available to you. Look at the GeoServices REST API as the common access to the entire location platform that is accessible through whatever language, device, and application that you can conceive.
Is this your first DevSummit?
Last year was my first DevSummit. I didn’t know what to expect and was amazed by the size and vibrancy of the community that comes to the DevSummit every year. The talks range the entire gamut of technologies and everyone is so friendly and willing to talk and share. It’s also a great place to meet people that I’ve only known virtually and finally meet and chat face to face.
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Amber Case is the director of Esri's R&D Center in Portland, Oregon. Before that she was the CEO and cofounder of Geoloqi, a start-up working on technology to make it easier for developers to add location to their mobile apps with minimal battery drain. Her company was acquired by Esri in 2012 and is now a growing Esri R&D Center focusing on Esri's new Geotrigger service, the developers.arcgis.com website, and the future of mobile mapping technology.
She has spoken at Technology/Entertainment/Design (TED) and many technology conferences around the world, was named one of National Geographic's Emerging Explorers, and was in Inc Magazine's 30 under 30 with Aaron Parecki, her Geoloqi cofounder and chief technology officer (CTO) of Esri's R&D Center in Portland.
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What will you be talking about at the DevSummit?
I'll be talking about the newly released Geotrigger service for iPhone and Android, and this allows you to send location-based messages to your mobile applications.
I'll also be talking about the scavenger hunt app we're releasing during the DevSummit that you'll be able to download and use while you're there. It will give you information about Palm Springs and some Easter eggs too! We first released the app for DevSummit Europe, with lots of special hidden places in London.
Other people in the Portland office will be talking about developers.arcgis.com, iPhone and Android development, and Esri open-source projects.
What is the Geotrigger service?
The Geotrigger service is a building block for your mobile applications. It allows you to get accurate location onto your phone without significant battery drain. This opens up a whole world of use cases, from your organization wanting to get alerts about people walking around town, or if you're a city and you want to release an app to allow citizens to get civic alerts, local event information, tourism info. . . . Pretty much any kind of data you can associate with a place, you can bring to life with the Geotrigger service. The idea behind the Geotrigger service is you make an invisible button on a map, and when your phone gets within that button—that invisible region—something will happen. You can have your phone when you get home turn the lights on in your home, and when you leave, they turn off.
What are you most excited to see/hear at the DevSummit?
I love the DevSummit. It's one of the best conferences that I've ever been to. I love the location in Palm Springs. I love that we get to see everything else being worked on and meet old friends and new people. I love meeting the people who use our products, hearing their feedback, and seeing how we can improve them. I like seeing the inventiveness that people have.
I love to watch dodgeball, the party, and the whole event. It's also nice to get out of rainy Portland to go to Palm Springs. It's also amazing to see how many people use our software and how many uses our platform has for people.
Why should a non-mobile developer care about location-based mobile apps?
It's great that a lot of non-mobile devs will be there, but almost all of us have a mobile phone today. A mobile phone and an app are not necessarily your entire business, but think of a mobile phone app as a doorway into what you can do—what things would be better in your organization if they would be mobile. You don't have to be a mobile developer to build great applications—you can always work with a mobile development team; you can always license something that's already been built and make it your own. It's always good—even if you're not a mobile developer yet—to learn about what other people are doing with mobile development and prepare yourself to work on mobile development. It's always great to learn about something outside your expertise—you never know when you're going to need it.
What advice would you give a developer who's never made a mobile app but wants to?
The way I learned to make a mobile app was to go online and look at sample code, and a friend helped me set up my development environment—that was the hardest part. After that, I registered for an Apple developer account and found the sample code for a fully built app that was really simple. You just make something really, really simple. Your "hello, world" shouldn't show "hello, world" on the screen of your iPhone or Android app. Make your "hello, world" a button that makes a sound. That's your entrance into learning how to do mobile development. The next part is really simple—you make multiple buttons on the screen that do different things, and then you start working with views so you have multiple views in the app, then you work with lists, then you work with external datasets.
Remember how you learned to program when you were a kid? A lot of it was fun and play. You want to do the same thing. Don't take on a huge project—if you do, you'll just get frustrated. And give yourself three months to learn.
Will you be participating in the hackathon before the DevSummit? (6:40)
What technical session are you most interested to see?
Do you have any advice for someone who's never been to the DevSummit before?
Meet people! Hang out by the pool, do the evening events. The number-one thing—make sure you never eat alone. The easiest way to meet somebody is to go up to them and say, "Hi, I'm X. Who are you?" and start asking them where they're from and where they work, and just listen to their stories—because their stories are great, and you will find so many people from all over the place.
Remember being at the DevSummit for the first time is to let yourself be inspired and that everyone is friendly. This is probably one of the friendliest industries you'll ever be in. Last year was my first time, and it was such a great experience—such a diverse world where people are really passionate about what they do. Also, If you want to take a break, I recommend the GeoLounge.
If someone is on the fence about attending the DevSummit, what would you say to them?
This is one of the most unique events you can go to in your life, and if you don't go, then you're going to miss out. It's a great opportunity to see what you can do with the platform and how flexible it is. The DevSummit is no ordinary technology conference. It's also a really quick way to do business with people—meet potential partners, get your problem solved—and it's also a nice break, especially if you're in a snowy place.
Do you have any location- or mobile-related predictions for 2014?
I believe that simple is better. I really like the idea of calm technology where the technology gets out of the way and lets you live your life or augments how you do your work by empowering you with just-in-time information. I like the idea that data and technology can empower you instead of getting in your way. To quote Mark Weiser from PARC Research, "the best interface is no interface." So sometimes the map is invisible, and sometimes getting these alerts is really helpful. I also think that things like Operations Dashboard for ArcGIS and Collector for ArcGIS are really important to organizations—really easily being able to add data and see what's happened with that data . . . making sense of the world through mobile and location.
How did you decide to start a company focused on location for mobile devices?
Really the question I wanted to answer was, What if your phone knew where you were? There are nouns and adjectives out there, there are all sorts of objects and buildings and everything, and there are ways to describe those, but it's really hard to describe something in motion. There's this infinite volume of information that has a location attached to it, but all that location data is stuck on the web. If you can take out that location data and bring it to life, then you unlock the power of location. When I found out that battery life was one of the big issues in the way, I decided it would be a really important thing to work on. I found that location was limited to physical hardware devices. When we started Geoloqi, GPS was just getting into smartphones. And we thought that if GPS completely gets into smartphones, things that work on dedicated GPS will also work on smartphones, so there's an opportunity there. . . . It would get cheaper, better, faster, and more accurate.
Why did you pick Esri?
We felt that Esri had the nouns and adjectives (geodata and how to describe it) and our company had the verbs (actions). Fundamentally, I really respect what Jack, Laura, and everyone at Esri have built. My cofounder Aaron and I really respect and value what they believe in. It's like they built the exact company we wanted to build—they're just way farther along in building it! I think all of us saw a tremendous opportunity to complement what they were doing and how much we could both learn and grow together. We originally discussed a partnership—it just went farther quicker. I think it's really important to work for a company that you can grow at and that you really respect and that there's a lot of work to do. Because if you don't, you're not going to last very long.
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A Bull in a Software Shop
As the Program Manager for ArcGIS software development, Jim McKinney shepherds over the world’s most popular GIS platform. He is tasked with running project planning, project management, process assurance, and daily accountability for the location technology.
Jim has been involved with software development and solution building at Esri for more than 20 years. Under his management direction, Esri has released ArcGIS 9.2, 9.3 and 10.0. Jim transitioned to Esri’s software development group during the ArcGIS 9.1 release where he was responsible for the Network Analyst extension and part of the ArcGIS 9.1 release team. Prior to this, he was the Department Manager for the ESRI Professional Services Transportation Logistics team designing and implementing enterprise GIS systems in the transportation and logistics domains.
Jim is a native of New York and a graduate of the State University of New York at Buffalo (Go Bulls!) with an M.A. and B.A. in geography with an emphasis in GIS.
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How many DevSummits have you presented at?
All of ‘em! This is number nine if I’m not mistaken? I still have the first DevSummit green shirt in my desk, folded and in pristine condition.
What will you be discussing this year at the DevSummit?
We’ll be talking about all aspects of the ArcGIS Platform and diving deep into Web, native language programming and professional GIS development for the enterprise. People who attend will leave really understanding what we mean when we say ArcGIS is the professional platform for developers. We’ve got exciting things to talk about in regards to the latest release of ArcGIS and we’ll be unveiling some of our research and development efforts that are happening in Redlands and our global development labs.
What’s the most exciting bit of information you think will come out of the DevSummit?
I think each year Esri invests more and more in ways to make developers more successful, faster as we update our SDKs. We know how important and unique developers are both for enterprise efforts that can integrate across an entire organization, as well as building the next cool app that does a couple of things really well.
The exciting thing is at the DevSummit, we really try to cover it all, and have attendees talk about their accomplishment, not just ours. You have so many choices across so much technology to pick and choose for your own needs and workflows.
Why is location important to software developers?
Location is important because it provides essential information to make better spatial decisions. How far am I? How long will it take to get here? What is the closest gas station or coffee shop? What will it cost to ship that? How long do you drive each day? These are all pretty common questions, even at the consumer level. Now take it to the commercial level… Where are my customers? How many potential (new) customers are close to this new store location? The questions are endless, the common important bit information is location. Almost every piece of tech used by humans is able to measure and report location – we are mobile sensors, by what we use and or carry, or drive, or log into a Web site, for example. Location is being collected all the time, all around us, and developers who develop spatial apps simply need to understand how to leverage it to make better decisions for everything they are doing.
You’ve worked on lots of different projects, which one stands out significantly in your mind?
There are a few, but rather than just pick one, I think a better point to make is that they were all different. It was so interesting to see the innovative use of location and GIS in in different domains, industries and companies – especially ones that just did not think “spatially” first, or at all. Helping them improve their processes and with that, often their profitably, creating workflows that really mattered to them, these are all things that have had an impact with me. And when I walk away from the projects after they are in production and still see these customers benefit and push the limits of GIS in their domain each year, that’s pretty satisfying.
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From software bugs to the photo bug
How did you first find out about Esri?
I first taught a software design class for an Esri subcontractor for a transportation project back in December 2001, outside of New York City. I'll never forget flying into La Guardia airport over a big hole where the World Trade Center used to be, or the soldier with a rifle standing at the security screening checkpoint, or the sinus infection I got during that week in winter weather. The next year, I taught my first class in Redlands and have since been fortunate enough to train several dozen Esri developers in Redlands and Toronto.
Why do you think location is important?
Well, obviously location is where it's at! In all seriousness, I think location-based computing is a happening-now revolution in software that will change everything, much like when Apple popularized the mouse and GUI in the mid-'80s.
What apps have you created with Esri technology?
I actually worked with staff at Esri including Dave Lewis to create the very first ArcGIS Server application, a hotel mapping system we called "mapplet" that was built with ArcGIS. Mapplet was the example for my book Agile Development with ICONIX Process. A few years later, I worked with Wolfgang Hall and Prakash Darbhamulla of Esri to create the second generation of mapplet, which was built in Flex. Mapplet2 was the example for my book Design Driven Testing. We completed it just around the time Steve Jobs banned Flash from Apple devices—stellar timing on our part. After that, my coauthor, Matt Stephens, and I created the VResorts MagicCarpet, a hotel-mapping system built for Android. Since then I've been publishing travel maps using ArcGIS Online and embedding them into the travel books that I'm writing.
What are you working on now?
We're building what we intend to be the killer app for geofencing/geotriggering. It works in conjunction with the maps in my travel books to cause discount coupons to show up on your phone when you arrive at a store or restaurant. The idea is, you'll plan your vacation using my interactive travel books and when you show up, discounts will follow you for the places you've decided to visit.
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