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Talking about Trends and New Technology

Second Esri Developer Summit draws crowds and praise

"We're here to help you learn about new technology, share best practices that solve your problems, and get your feedback," said ArcGIS program manager Jim McKinney during his remarks at the March 20 Plenary Session of the 2007 Esri Developer Summit. "Esri wants to establish relationships with developers at this conference that will continue throughout the coming years."

More than 1,200 developers from 40 countries attended the summit, held March 19–22 at the Palm Springs Convention Center and Wyndham Hotel in Palm Springs, California. This developer-focused event, co-sponsored by IBM and Microsoft, provided a tremendous opportunity for developers to interact with Esri's developer staff as well as network with other developers.

Attendees listened to talks by Esri research and development staff and were addressed by Microsoft and Gartner Research executives. They could also attend many technical sessions. Development and technical support staff stationed in the Esri Showcase demonstrated technology and addressed specific questions. After speaking, summit presenters were available for informal discussions in Tech Talk areas equipped with whiteboards. Crowds often gathered to take advantage of these opportunities or relax in the summit's Community Center, a lounge area equipped with wireless coverage and comfortable furniture.

Technical sessions were divided into server-based applications, mobile applications, desktop applications, ArcWeb Services, geodatabase concepts, and core concepts tracks with four session types—best practices, deep dives, panel discussions, and one road map session. Special Interest Group meetings covered development topics including .NET, Java, mobile, ArcWeb Services, defense, and geodigital rights management.

Lively discussions in the Tech Talk areas and overwhelming positive postconference feedback attested to the conference's success. The summit earned raves from attendees such as Lola Akinmade of Woolpert, Inc., based in Dayton, Ohio. "The session this morning was great because they talked about the new functionality that's being developed for 9.3, and as a developer, I always want to see what's cool and new and cutting edge. I'm looking forward to the deep dive sessions where we actually get to look at the code and get into the nitty gritty—get an opportunity to geek out—so I'm really excited."

"Helping support developers and end users as they work with ArcGIS 9.2 technology will be Esri's top development goal this year," said Scott Morehouse, Esri director of software development, software architect, and visionary, during his Plenary Session address on March 20. "Another goal is to enhance functionality in ArcGIS Server, and, in the long term, overhaul the ArcGIS Desktop user experience," said Morehouse, who provided an overview of the ArcGIS platform and spoke about Esri's focus on building GIS as a platform technology.

"We are also heavily engaged in overhauling core components in the ArcGIS system in areas of geodatabase, mapping, graphics, and geoprocessing," Morehouse continued. "In each of these areas, we are doing significant work to simplify the programming model and improve the performance and internal implementation. Additionally, a team is working on a framework that makes it easier for enterprises to create and deploy mobile applications." Another goal is to enhance ArcGIS Online by adding more content and capabilities.

Mark Driver of Gartner Research and Eddie Amos of Microsoft gave keynote addresses on March 21. A vice president and research director, Driver contrasted the strengths and weaknesses of the Java and .NET development environments. "It's critical to understand that this is not an issue of one or the other," he said. "By now most of you, I think, have come to realize that it really is an issue of how to accurately and optimally manage your investments between the two." Toward the end of his address he noted that between the two, there won't be a winner; they will continue to coexist. Amos, senior director of the Development and Platform Evangelism Group at Microsoft, presented key computing and technology trends affecting the GIS developer community including wireless technology, Web services, and service-oriented architecture.

Developers who were unable to attend can view videos of selected technical sessions in their entirety by visiting the 2007 Highlights area of the Developer Summit Web site at www.esri.com/devsummit.

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