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Insights for ArcGIS – Get connected to any data source e.g. Google Sheets

The Insights team has been kicking the tires on an ambitious project to enable Insights to connect to any data source.  That’s right, I said any data source.

With several patterns under consideration, we want your feedback and encourage you to try the data provider pattern.  Since Insights for ArcGIS already works natively with Excel files, I’ve included step-by-step instructions showing how to connect to Google Sheets using the provider pattern.  As you might expect, data continues to live in Google Sheets, so you can continue taking advantage of Google’s capabilities, while gaining the ability to analyze and examine spatial and non-spatial data within Insights.

What makes this pattern special is that we are flipping the way we think about extensibility.  Instead of developers preparing a binary to drop into Insights (which is something we’re exploring), we want you to try an open project that we’ve been testing and is already in use by the ArcGIS Open Data team and based on an Esri maintained project called Koop. We really like this pattern because with just a little bit of JavaScript an organization can create a simple web service and connect to any data source.

Getting a load of new forms of data in interactive charts, maps, and models is truly a great experience.  All data provider developers need to know are how to:

  1. Fetch data from an API
  2. Format data as GeoJSON

The rest of the heavy lifting is taken care of by the provider framework.  While this pattern and project is still evolving, please feel free to use it with Insights for ArcGIS and give us your feedback.

Create a provider that connects to Google Sheets

This provider will connect you to environmental volunteer information contained in Google Sheets and then make that data available in Insights for ArcGIS.  The data can be reviewed here.

All of the step-by-step instructions with code and notes can be found in this GitHub project.  Additional information about creating a provider can be found here.  Once you’ve completed, you’ll see a complete transformation.

You’ll have started with this:

Google Sheets

The final product will be something like this:

Insights with Google Sheets

Now that you’ve seen one provider in action, with Google Sheets, let us know what other connections you’d like to see e.g. Microsoft Office 365, Salesforce etc.  We’d like to hear from you.

About the author

I am a developer on the Insights for ArcGIS team and have a passion for helping partners integrate GIS into their core business. When not working at Esri to make spatial insights actionable, my family and I run an online retail business which started in downtown Los Angeles. My degree is from the Department of Human Ecology at Rutgers University.

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