2023 Esri Developer Summit Highlights

At Esri’s 18th annual Developer Summit held in Palm Springs, California, the message was clear. With the latest ArcGIS capabilities, developers can save time and mouse clicks while creating location-based apps, web maps, and solutions for myriad uses—including bringing our real and virtual worlds even closer.


Demonstrating the Art of the Possible

With massive amounts of data arriving faster than ever, it’s essential to be able to manage it and use it in ways that will make the information meaningful.


Dynamic Entities API, debuting in April, will bring real-time feeds to native apps. In one example, Esri showed a feed of all live commercial flights on a map of Southern California with constantly updating information about altitude, arrival times, and speed. Each plane bore a flight number and color based on destination. Not limited to the latest observations, the API also made it possible to see past observations such as how speed and altitude changed over time. Zoomed in further, a single virtual representation of a real plane could be seen landing on a 3D runway at the same time.

During a demonstration of ArcGIS Maps SDK for JavaScript capabilities for custom 3D editing, Esri used a ski resort to show how a proposed ski lift and slope could simply be drawn on a 3D representation of the mountain known as a digital twin. The ski resort planner could then see right away if a proposed cable wasn’t far enough off the ground, requiring an additional tower, or how many trees would be displaced depending on each slight adjustment. That proposed design could then be shared through Scene Viewer and included in an ArcGIS StoryMaps story or even a 360-degree VR experience, viewable in any browser, mobile or desktop device, and a virtual reality headset.


Also new in JavaScript Maps SDK

To better visually aggregate data on the web, Esri has added enhancements to “clustering” and “binning” to JavaScript Maps SDK and Map Viewer. Displaying a map of every 311 call made in New York City, for example, does little good due to the sheer volume of data, but clustering can help reveal patterns. A new feature allows users to cluster that information in web apps with even more granularity through pie or donut charts. The new ability for binning also makes it easier to visualize large data sets on the web, such as the type of crashes that occurred in 2020 in New York City, by displaying information on the map in order of value. Symbols for fatality incidents might appear on top while the larger data on crashes involving no deaths or injuries would reside underneath.

For developers looking for a way to overlay images and even videos on their maps so they line up geographically, Esri demonstrated that video URLs can be added to the code and .jpg or .png image files can be uploaded in the latest version of Map Viewer which includes an “add media layer” button. In one example, Esri aligned a drawn aerial map of the Washington, D.C. mall from the Library of Congress atop an aerial satellite image of the current area in the city by positioning a few points over the exact same spots on each image, with options to crop and blend the image into the web map and use it in an application.

Other JavaScript Maps SDK updates include:


New styles, New Places

Esri now offers more than 25 different basemaps including a new Outdoor basemap showing natural areas and terrain by combining new vector hillshade and contours with a world map. Soon, an ArcGIS navigation basemap will allow for easier labeling in different languages (in a demonstration, a map of Japan’s labels switched quickly from English text to Japanese characters), as well as access to geopolitical boundaries. Also new to the basemaps collection is “Blueprint,” resembling the familiar architectural document.

The company demonstrated its new ArcGIS Places service launching in beta this April that allows for point-of-interest searches of area businesses. The service is fed by constantly updated information including opening and closing hours and ratings data beneficial to site selection, as well as economic and market development. ArcGIS GeoEnrinchment Service adds more than 15,000 attributes of location-based context that could be leveraged by industries such as the commercial real estate sector. A demonstration showed how the service could quickly return data on ideal properties within a 10-minute walking distance based on population, data, income, monthly expenditures, and more.


Open Source, Gaming Engines, and ArcGIS Arcade

Acknowledging the breadth of open-source choices available for developers, Euan Cameron, Esri’s chief technology officer for developer technology, noted that the company not only uses open source data but contributes to it, and also supports developers using it.

“At Esri, we’re serious about open source,” he said.

The company has added CesiumJS to its list of open-source mapping libraries for help in creating 3D scenes.

And immersive, 3D experiences are no longer solely the domain of entertainment. ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unity and ArcGIS Maps SDK for Unreal Engine are bringing otherwise static scenes to life, offering the ability to add features such as customized dynamic weather as well as animated people, driving cars, and trees swaying in the breeze to city scenes. The trees can even be positioned in locations based on where they are in the real world and one can choose species specific to the environment where they’re virtually planted. The point of view can shift from street level to inside buildings, making the virtual vantage points ideal for uses such as urban planning and simulations.

As for the essential planning that takes place in the architectural, engineering, and construction industries as well as within utilities, Esri demonstrated how ArcGIS Arcade scripts stored in the geodatabase as attribute rules could help automate the drawing of water connections to houses by simply drawing a line down the street on the map. This year, Esri released developer APIs for Arcade that also provide access to the Arcade editor to write custom expressions.

Other enhancements include new ArcGIS Pro SDK for .NET improvements for land parcel management, managing Python environments and ArcPy updates with more ease, and using ArcGIS Enterprise feature service and geoprocessing service webhooks to integrate and automate workflows with back-office IT systems.

Jay Theodore, Esri’s chief technology officer, told the audience of developers that ArcGIS Enterprise offers a “trifecta of opportunities” to extend, integrate, and automate.

In one case, ArcGIS was extended with ArcGIS Enterprise SDK to get data about retailers who accept SNAP vouchers from Mongo DB and Yelp that can’t normally be connected to natively.  In another example, an automated quality control step was added to a submission form—a resident reporting tool—that could verify if a submitted image was within city limits or a duplicate.


From Data to Analysis: Where the Answers Are Found

Esri has recently introduced hundreds of new tools, including ArcGIS Knowledge, and the new ArcGIS GeoAnalytics Engine, that can take analysis to a developer’s cloud of choice. “Ultimately all this technology, all these algorithms, are helping us solve these deeply connected, complex problems,” said Lauren Bennett, Esri’s program manager of spatial analysis and data science.

The company demonstrated how Map Viewer analysis in the browser could help in storing the steps to determine the proximity of people living with kidney disease to dialysis centers. First, the map showed what was available within a one-hour drive time around dialysis centers in South Dakota, revealing dialysis care deserts in the state Then, the dialysis care deserts in the state could be revealed. Using a histogram, one could highlight the census tracts with the highest propensity for kidney disease. All the while, the Map Viewer was storing the results and workflow steps making it easier to reproduce.

Highlighting the power of Esri’s raster analytics in a browser and using information available to anyone through the company’s ArcGIS Living Atlas of the World, Esri showed how it was possible to analyze the carbon capture impacts and methane emissions affecting specific forests using satellite imagery.

Showcasing its GeoAI capabilities, Esri demonstrated how the normally time-intensive and manual task of physically observing trees encroaching on power lines could be sped up through pre-trained AI models analyzing point cloud data.

Using open-source data that included information on more than 111 million rideshare pickups and the AutoML tool to train multiple AI models, Esri was able to predict rideshare demand in other cities where it isn’t currently available.

To identify where affordable housing is most needed in New York City, Esri demonstrated its new Hot Spot Analysis Comparison tool to quantify the change over time between 2014 and 2022 where people are most burdened by rent on a map. That visualization clearly showed where the rent burden was getting worse.

And using GeoAnalytics Engine, Esri demonstrated how it could take in 1.5 billion data points of simulated spending records to help choose an ideal store location in minutes.

All demonstrations showcased how GIS technology, especially as it enables collaborative sourcing of information at any scale, can translate data into action.

“We are better when we work together,” said David Cardella, Esri’s product manager for developer technologies.


For more from the 2023 Esri Developer Summit, check out videos from the plenary session online.

Next Article

Esri Partners with Microsoft to Provide Spatial Analytics in Microsoft Fabric

Read this article