ArcWatch: Your e-Magazine for GIS News, Views, and Insights

February 2009

Meet the Developers of the Products You Work With, Learn about Future Software Releases, and Network with Peers

Dive Deep into Geospatial Application Development at the 2009 Esri Developer Summit

  photo of Dev Summit 2008
The technical sessions serve as the bread and butter of the DevSummit, where attendees learn about Esri software and best practices.

For mapping and spatial application developers, technical sessions like these only come around once a year: Creating a 3D Virtual City Using ArcGIS; Building Your First Rich Internet Applications with ArcGIS API for Flex; Best Practices for Designing Web Maps; Building Advanced Applications with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript; and Implementing ArcGIS Mobile Applications for the Enterprise.

That time of year is almost here. These and more than 50 other presentations that revolve around Esri's ArcGIS software platform and other technologies developers use to build geospatial applications will be the focus of the 2009 Esri Developer Summit (DevSummit), being held from March 23 to 26, 2009. The DevSummit venue will again be in Palm Springs, California.

To get the inside story of what attendees can expect once they get to the DevSummit, ArcWatch editor Carla Wheeler spoke with Rob Elkins, a DevSummit organizer and product manager for ArcGIS developer products, and Chrissy Tveten, the DevSummit conference coordinator.

Wheeler: Why does Esri host this event?

Elkins: Over the last few years, we noticed that an increasing number of our software users were programmers-software developers who were building geospatial solutions based on Esri's ArcGIS platform. While other Esri events were great, it wasn't giving them the in-depth, developer-focused technical sessions, demos, and presentations they were looking for. So we started the DevSummit to dive deep into the developer aspect of ArcGIS.

Wheeler: What type of education in building geospatial solutions will attendees receive at the summit?

Elkins: Beginners will learn core skills, while seasoned developers will gain knowledge to build on their previous experience. If you are a beginner, we have sessions to help you get started. If you work as a programmer but are unfamiliar with Esri or geospatial technologies, we will have content and presentations for you. If you have been doing this for years and are one of the pros-the gurus-out there, we've got sessions for you, plus the opportunities for you to meet the Esri software developers who wrote the system. While a few sessions were designed for beginners, the summit mainly focuses on intermediate and advanced content.

Wheeler: This year's DevSummit will begin with four free preconference seminars on Monday, March 23. What are the names of the seminars?

Elkins: Introduction to ArcGIS Explorer 900, Introduction to Esri's Developer Technologies, Designing and Developing Geoprocessing Tools with ArcGIS, and Developer's Guide to the Geodatabase.

Wheeler: Will presenters talk about Esri's next software release, ArcGIS 9.3.1?

Elkins: Yes, they will get the whole story about ArcGIS 9.3.1, and we will give attendees a sneak peek of ArcGIS 9.4 at a session called ArcGIS 9.4—The Road Ahead. ArcGIS 9.3.1 is scheduled for release during the second quarter of 2009, so it will be the version of ArcGIS that will be used for demos at the conference.

  photo of David Chappel
David Chappell will deliver the keynote at the DevSummit.

Wheeler: Who will give the keynote speech?

Elkins: Continuing our tradition of bringing in distinguished speakers from outside Esri, David Chappell, principal of Chappell & Associates in San Francisco, will present the keynote. He's a well-known speaker and author in the technology industry, having written books such as Understanding ActiveX and OLE, Understanding .NET, and A Visual Introduction to SQL. He's also one of the foremost thought leaders regarding SOA and REST technologies. It will be a great opportunity for attendees to hear what he has to say about where technology is going in the future. There's a lot of interest in cloud computing and distributed systems and taking advantage of modern computing platforms.

Wheeler: I see you have more than 50 technical sessions scheduled, with many presentations repeated. Please give me an overview.

Elkins: We tried to tailor the agenda to what interests the attendees. There will be a track devoted to the products—diving deep into the technology; applications: what you can build with the software; and migration. Many people told us they come to this conference because they want to learn about the new versions of Esri's software so they can do some migration projects to update their systems. We will also focus on Web development and leveraging ArcGIS Server. We will host sessions about the product itself and configuring it, tuning it, making it scalable, and building a wide range of rich Internet applications with it. That's when we will talk about JavaScript, Flex from Adobe, and Microsoft Silverlight.

Wheeler: Are there any sessions you would like to point out that may be of special interest to developers?

Elkins: The ArcGIS Server sessions will explore how to create great client applications for ArcGIS Server by leveraging JavaScript, developing a "mashup," and using the new Microsoft Silverlight technology. Related to that is a group of sessions designed to help people succeed using ArcGIS Server: Setting it up, configuring it, and making it as fast as possible. That is what ArcGIS 9.3.1 is all about—creating great maps that are fast and have good-looking client applications. We will also have a series of sessions for the core ArcObjects developer, whether they are developing for server, desktop, or mobile devices. We also will host presentations about the geodatabase. Often, we do not think about the geodatabase in terms of developer technology from Esri, but those are sessions where the room's full. There's always a great interest in learning more about the geodatabase at Esri. We see that as a foundation—a pillar of the system that people want to learn about—so we've added several sessions about effective programming and best practices when using the geodatabase.

  photo of Dev Summit 2008
Bounce ideas off of Esri's team of experts during informal Tech Talks.

Wheeler: Tell me a bit more about what ArcGIS 9.3.1 will offer.

Elkins: The focus of the 9.3.1 release will be creating great maps with ArcMap that are fast on the Web. Another significant project involves Java. You will be able to extend ArcGIS using the Java programming language. Before this, you could use Java and consume ArcGIS and do some things, but with the release of 9.3.1, Java will be a first-class development language and environment of ArcGIS.

Wheeler: What will you and Esri's Ismael Chivite talk about when you copresent the session ArcGIS 9.4-The Road Ahead?

Elkins: The focus of the DevSummit will be about the version of ArcGIS you can use right now to get your job done but we do want to introduce some of the themes and projects for ArcGIS 9.4. I'll talk about some of the new and exciting work related to ArcGIS Desktop with an emphasis on making the software faster and simpler to use. Ismael will talk about the evolving vision for server-based GIS systems including a look at some of the research and development projects with Mobile GIS. We want to give attendees an early look at ArcGIS 9.4 and get their feedback as we move closer to the beta release this summer.

Wheeler: I know Esri's Showcase area will return, along with the Community Center and informal Tech Talks, following the technical sessions. What else will be interesting to see and do?

Elkins: A new facet of the DevSummit will be the User Presentations in the Showcase area. In a small, theater-style setting, attendees will demonstrate how they developed software applications using the ArcGIS platform. I think of it as a show and tell-we've got great developers out there doing great things, and I think a lot of other attendees could learn from their work. We see this as an opportunity to build peer-to-peer networking.

Tveten: The presentations, which will last about 30 minutes, were selected by a review committee at Esri.

Wheeler: Do only software application developers attend the summit? Who else would you encourage to attend?

Elkins: In addition to application developers, we see project managers, consultants, system integrators, and managers at the DevSummit because this is the premier event to get the inside information on the direction of ArcGIS. Also, the DevSummit is right on the heels of the Esri Worldwide Business Partner Conference in Palm Springs, so many of our business partners stick around to attend. These are business partners who build geospatial solutions or offer consulting services based on Esri technology. Both the Esri Showcase and the GIS Solutions EXPO will be open from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Monday, March 23.

Tveten: During the GIS Solutions EXPO, attendees will get the opportunity to speak with Esri business partners about the products and services they offer.

Wheeler: How can people register for the DevSummit?

Tveten: They can visit The deadline to register online is March 13, but registration also is available on-site at the Palm Springs Convention Center. Get a full list of sessions.

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