Top 10 Takeaways from the Esri Developer Summit

If you missed this year’s Esri Developer Summit (DevSummit) in Palm Springs, California, have no fear. Esri development team members recently put their heads together and compiled a list of the top technology takeaways from the event.

The Plenary Session and technical sessions were packed with useful information about current projects Esri is working on to help geospatial app developers, whether they want to use off-the-shelf or configurable apps or create native apps.

“We intentionally engineer virtually every aspect of the ArcGIS platform to be accessible to developers,” said Jim McKinney, Esri ArcGIS program manager.

ArcGIS program manager Jim McKinney at DevSummit
ArcGIS program manager Jim McKinney underscored the "For Developers, By Developers" theme of the DevSummit.

Here’s the Esri developer team’s top 10 list:

Takeaway #1: ArcGIS API 4.0 for JavaScript

ArcGIS API 4.0 for JavaScript gives developers a completely new API that helps them create better apps with less effort. It’s a simpler, more consistent API design with tools to create web apps that use modern browser capabilities and provide a great user experience. For example, you will be able to render a map with a 2D or a 3D view (or both), as well as author, manage, and mash up layers using layer items—all with minimal code. To learn more, watch this presentation by Esri’s Euan Cameron and Yann Cabon.

Takeaway #2: Quartz Release of the ArcGIS Runtime SDKs

Esri will soon release the final version of the ArcGIS Runtime SDKs, a version called Quartz. Use ArcGIS Runtime SDKs to add full GIS capabilities to your native apps on whatever platform you need and in your development language of choice. Quartz will give you the ability to author and edit maps and share them with your organization. You can use mobile map packages to bring offline capabilities to your apps by packaging maps, layers, and data. You will find the process of authentication smoother with portals and will be able to more easily retrieve the content and items you are looking for. ArcGIS Runtime SDKs are also providing a number of options for cross-platform development using Xamarin, Java Qt/QML to get your apps to market faster. Watch this presentation by Esri’s Euan Cameron and Will Crick, which auto starts at the 22:32 mark.

Takeaway #3: Vector Tile Maps

The use of vector graphics in basemaps results in excellent displays on high-resolution devices. Since drawing is done on the client, vector tile maps can also be restyled for different appearances for your mapping applications. During the Plenary Session, Esri’s Edie Punt demonstrated some of the main advantages of using vector tiles. Watch her demonstration, which auto starts at the 20:25 mark.

Russell Roberts demonstrated 3D web app map using Web App Builder for ArcGIS
Russell Roberts demonstrated how to create a 3D web app using Web App Builder for ArcGIS.

Takeaway #4: ArcGIS Pro 1.2 SDK for Microsoft .NET

Esri recently released ArcGIS Pro 1.2 and with it an update to the ArcGIS Pro SDK for Microsoft .NET. ArcGIS Pro is a 64-bit application that comes with ArcGIS for Desktop and can be installed and run on the same machine. The ArcGIS Pro SDK for .NET is a new, modern SDK for extending ArcGIS Pro. It uses the add-in extensibility framework, which will be familiar to developers currently working with ArcGIS for Desktop at 10 or later releases. Unlike ArcGIS for Desktop add-ins, the Pro SDK gives developers the ability to write a single add-in that works in both 2D and 3D environments. Also with the Pro SDK, developers can integrate ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS access into their add-ins as well as APIs for geodatabase, editing, maps, layers, animation, layout, content, and geometry.

Watch this presentation by Esri’s Jim McKinney and Charlie Macleod, which auto starts at the 8:24 mark.

Takeaway #5: 3D Mapping—Web, Runtime, and ArcGIS Pro

Esri is continually adding 3D to the platform. Significant qualitative and quantitative improvements have been made in two areas: visualization and analytics. Audience members at the DevSummit Plenary Session saw examples of what can be done in 3D using the ArcGIS Online web scene viewer and ArcGIS Pro 1.2, including building a 3D web mapping app. Coming later this year: full support for 3D mapping in apps built using Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. To learn more, watch this presentation by Esri’s Russell Roberts, which auto starts at the 7:40 mark.

Takeaway #6: Python in ArcGIS

Esri will continue to support Python and the scientific community by adding a number of Python libraries, including the netCDF4 library for using multidimensional data, SciPy to perform scientific computation, and pandas to make it easier to conduct data analysis. Esri plans to also make it easier for Python users to find and use compatible Python libraries within ArcGIS by using Conda, an industry-standard build and distribution framework. This will ensure that Esri’s libraries and the standard scientific libraries are always compatible. Watch this presentation by Esri’s Bill Moreland to learn more.

Suzanne Foss gave the audience a sneak preview of big data analytics capabilities
Suzanne Foss gave the audience a sneak preview of big data analytics capabilities.

Takeaway #7: Create Web and Native Applications Using Builders

Want to get the apps you build into users’ hands more quickly? Esri offers a variety of web and native app builders that will help you meet that goal. Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS is an intuitive what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) application that lets you build responsive web apps that run on any device. You can also use an extensible framework for creating custom widgets and themes. Fully functional, cross-platform native apps can also be built with AppStudio for ArcGIS. You can convert your web maps into beautiful, consumer-friendly mobile apps that are ready for Android, iOS, Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux and then publish them—using your own brand—in all the popular app stores. Esri also announced the release of the source code for Esri’s Survey123 for ArcGIS app, which was built using AppStudio for ArcGIS. Watch this presentation by Euan Cameron, Ismael Chivite, and Sathya Prasad of Esri and Matt Flowerday of GPS-IT to learn more.

Takeaway #8: Big Data Analytics

Analytics will be a major focus in 2016. This year, Esri will release powerful big data analytic capabilities including in Insights for ArcGIS. Insights for ArcGIS is an app based on a new paradigm. It will give users new ways to explore, interact with, and analyze data. Big data analytics is a new generation of analytic engines available in the ArcGIS platform for working with big data. It will have feature and raster analysis capabilities, exposed via tools that can work against big data that might be spatial or spatiotemporal in nature. Big data analytics uses high-performance distributed computing technology and a new spatiotemporal big data store to present results more quickly. Look for improved real-time GIS capabilities such as the ability to ingest large volumes of observation data, perform data stream analytics, visualize observations, and archive spatiotemporal data for further batch analytics. ArcGIS also makes these capabilities available for automation through Python scripting.

Watch this presentation by Esri’s Art Haddad, Linda Beale, Suzanne Foss, Vinay Viswambharan, Rohit Singh, and Jay Theodore.

Jay Theodore introducing the ArcGIS Platform Python API
Jay Theodore introduced the ArcGIS Platform Python API.

Takeaway #9: Esri’s Open Data Initiative

ArcGIS Open Data was launched to easily allow organizations to share their authoritative data and give developers a way to find data to build awesome and useful apps. At the moment, the site contains more than 40,000 datasets related to everything from air quality to water use. New, simplified tools and powerful capabilities are currently being added to ArcGIS Open Data to make it easier for developers to discover content and build apps with that content. Watch this video, which auto starts at the 2:51 mark, to see Esri’s Andrew Turner demonstrate what’s new in ArcGIS Open Data.

Takeaway #10: A New ArcGIS Subscription for Developers

Esri will soon provide a new way to obtain developer tools for the ArcGIS platform. A restructured subscription will simplify and—at the same time—increase the flexibility of how developers use ArcGIS to build apps and extend the platform. Currently, developers have to choose between two separate subscriptions: the Esri Developer Network, an annual subscription for developer licenses of ArcGIS for Server, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS for Desktop; and the ArcGIS for Developers subscription, for use with ArcGIS Online. A new, single developer subscription model will replace those two, merging them into one. This model offers different plans so that you can tailor your subscription to the technologies that you use rather than consist of a one-size-fits all approach that charges for what you don’t need. Details about this subscription model will be shared later this year. Watch this video, which auto starts at the 6:25 mark, to hear Esri’s David Cardella introduce the upcoming subscription

David Cardella spoke about a new ArcGIS subscription for developers that is in the works
David Cardella spoke about a new ArcGIS subscription for developers that is in the works.