ArcGIS Blog

Some thoughts on the direction of the ArcGIS web mapping APIs (JavaScript, Flex, and Silverlight)

With Adobe’s announcement of discontinuing support for Flash on mobile device browsers, industry rumors on the lifespan of Silverlight, and the growing future of HTML5, many users have asked for Esri’s perspective on this news.

Esri continues to fully support four distinct patterns of application development:

  1. JavaScript / HTML5
  2. Silverlight
  3. Flex
  4. Native device applications

We’re committed to providing the best technology for GIS developers and giving choices from the most widely used developer platforms in the market. By offering many options, we enable developers to address different customer needs and expectations. Our commitment is not based on a specific technology, but based on supporting the GIS developer regardless of the platform chosen. Each of these areas: JavaScript/HTML 5, Flex, Silverlight, and native application code, gain significant improvements in the upcoming ArcGIS 10.1 release.

We have been supporting HTML5 developers through the ArcGIS API for JavaScript for some time. HTML5 is leveraged internally by the API when supported by the browser. The ArcGIS API for JavaScript documentation includes a broad variety of developer examples using HTML5. Our agenda for supporting HTML5 developers will continue to be aggressive.

Adobe recently announced the discontinuation of support for Flash Player in mobile device browsers, however there is continuing commitment and development for Flash Player for browsers on desktops. In addition, Adobe is directing mobile developers to write native applications using authoring tools such as Flash Builder and AIR, and replace Flash-based web mobile browser applications with HTML5-based applications. Adobe is evolving its developer offerings to match this vision, and Esri’s ArcGIS API for Flex will continue to closely match them with upcoming releases. Outside the mobile space, Adobe continues playing a major role. We’re committed to supporting Flash/Flex for the foreseeable future as many of our customers have successful deployments using it.

EDIT: Adobe has released more information to clarify their recent announcement:

Some have asked about Silverlight support as well, given the various industry rumors on its lifespan. We work closely with Microsoft and will continue to support and advance this platform as demanded by our users. Several product updates and new releases based on Silverlight are scheduled for the upcoming months, including our ArcGIS API for Silverlight, ArcGIS Viewer for Silverlight, ArcGIS for Windows Phone, and ArcGIS for SharePoint. We’re committed to providing the Microsoft developer with the best GIS tools, and our offerings will closely match the latest trends promoted by Microsoft.

In addition, we are aggressively adding to our native application support by providing the new ArcGIS Runtime on multiple platforms. This technology will enable developers to leverage the native capabilities of various platforms and devices, and is supported across desktops (Windows and Linux), and mobile and tablet devices (Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows Mobile).

Esri has always focused on computing and development platforms that are viable and demanded by our customers, and that focus has not changed. We have strong strategic alliances with organizations like Microsoft, Adobe, W3C, and others to ensure we are technically aligned and participating in the future directions of technology. This keeps our GIS offerings relevant in the fast-paced world of platforms, devices, and technologies.

Contributed by the Esri Product Management team

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