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

April 2009

2009 Esri Developer Summit Highlights New Technology and Real-World Applications of GIS

By Matthew DeMeritt, Esri Writer

  photo ot David Chappell
David Chappell, principal of the IT consulting firm Chappell & Associates, explored the REST versus SOAP debate.

More than 1,100 developers eager to learn more about GIS and share their experiences building software applications recently converged in Palm Springs, California, for the 2009 Esri Developer Summit (DevSummit).

This year's event at the Palm Springs Convention Center connected GIS beginners and pros in a collaborative atmosphere. The summit featured technology presentations by Microsoft, IBM, and Adobe; previews of new technology; and user presentations. A new feature at the DevSummit, the user presentations showcased developers' work using the latest GIS software. These presentations served as an ideal platform for discourse among developers of all skill levels.

Plenary Session Takeaways

Esri president Jack Dangermond began the Plenary Session by acknowledging the importance of developers, calling them "the glue that makes everything really work." ArcGIS program manager Jim McKinney remarked on the impressive turnout in these tough economic times—further proof that GIS isn't an extravagance but a necessity. Esri director of software development Scott Morehouse emphasized the key role that developers play in extending the GIS framework for more strategic solutions.

Then the highly anticipated previews and unveilings began. Users learned about the latest tools in ArcGIS 9.3.1, Esri's next release, optimizes and automates performance for fast map creation. Esri's continued support for ArcGIS APIs such as Flex and JavaScript was detailed, to the delight of many of the attendees who use these APIs in their daily work. Esri software development lead Jay Theodore talked about how users can extend and develop Java extensions for ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Engine, and ArcGIS Server in 9.3.1. Developers were pleased to hear that they will be able to create custom geoprocessing tools, renderers, and server object extensions in pure Java in ArcGIS 9.3.1.

The user presentations at the DevSummit were a big draw, with developers detailing how they built their applications.

The new ribbon user interface in the upcoming release of ArcGIS Explorer 900 was unveiled next. Product manager Bern Szukalski demonstrated the new version's ability to leverage all the cartographic capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop from within ArcGIS Explorer. The new version also fully integrates Microsoft Virtual Earth. In addition, there is a new integrated 2D and 3D display capability that allows users to switch between 2D to 3D views. Szukalski demonstrated a new set of presentation tools that will give users the ability to create a slide show presentation using data and maps they have created with ArcGIS Explorer, with the capabilities to zoom, pan, and interact with maps and data.

ArcGIS Server development lead Art Haddad talked about the beta release of ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight, treating the crowd to an impressive demonstration of the API's attractive simplicity. The ArcGIS API for Microsoft Silverlight will allow developers to use any Microsoft .NET Framework-supported language to add GIS capabilities and consume services from ArcGIS Server, ArcGIS Online, and Microsoft Virtual Earth. Many of these new software features were added based on feedback from users who attended the 2008 DevSummit.

Code Challenge Winners Announced

The winners of Esri's Mobile and Server code challenges were announced during the DevSummit. Lisa Tunnel of Digital Cartographic Services won the US$4,000 first prize in the Mobile Code Challenge for her Environmental Compliance Field Navigation utility. Chad Yoder of GeoCove won the $2,000 second prize for his ArcGIS Mobile Backup and Restore Utility. The Server Code Challenge first prize of $7,000 went to Alper Dincer of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry, Ankara, Turkey, for his Summit ExtMap Mashup Framework application, and Matthew Petre of Petris Technologies won the $3,000 second prize for his Flex Viewer Dice Job Searcher Widget.

The keynote focused on Web services. David Chappell, principal of Chappell & Associates in San Francisco, California, gave a rousing address on REST versus SOAP. Initially an advocate and supporter of SOAP for delivering and disseminating Web services, Chappell explained how his views changed as he learned more about the RESTful approach. Using diagrams showing how Esri uses the protocols in its services and software, Chappell demonstrated the applicability of SOAP and REST in Web service delivery.

"The road that Esri has traveled with these services reflects the path taken by our industry as a whole," said Chappell. "Esri clearly understands that both SOAP and REST have value, so they're using each one where it makes sense."

  photo of the crowd
The crowd listens raptly as speakers talk about upcoming advances in GIS technology.

Following the keynote, users presented successful applications of Esri software. User presentation topics ranged from enterprise GIS implementations to simple utility creations for streamlining tasks. Overflow crowds were a signature of each presentation, which showed that developers at all experience levels are eager to learn from tried-and-true applications of GIS software.

When the presentations ended, many developers made a beeline for the demo theater, where Esri's technical staff was on hand to answer their questions. Staff also presented demonstrations of Esri software. Whiteboards were used to help developers visualize how spatial technology can be integrated into existing infrastructures to speed services and simplify workflows.

Many of the user presentations at the 2009 DevSummit showed how last year's technological strides were incorporated into real-world solutions. Judging by the crowd's keenness to put these new geospatial capabilities into practice, the 2010 DevSummit is sure to produce even more user success stories.

If you missed the conference and would like to watch the plenary and keynote speeches, visit

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