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Ah, the good old cruise ship mindset. If you missed our blog post entitled Esri, me and my cats, it is worth a quick read. Not in worship of our feline friends, the article discusses this notion of the cruise ship mindset. As we put it:

“Let’s talk about traditional and emerging GIS applications ……. I see traditional GIS applications as like taking a cruise (stay with me here). Huge ships, filled with everything you could imagine to do (and eat). They move slowly, take an age to turn, are tough to dock. They live in isolation. Something for everybody. I see emerging GIS applications as that slick speedboat we have always wanted. Cool looking, fast, easy to manoeuvre, simple to fix and customize, does one thing really well, can dock anywhere and with anything.”

Do I hear the words ‘big and bloated’? Usable by everybody and nobody. Inflexible, expensive … Am I giving away my feelings about the cruise ship mindset?

Why are we still building web applications which are overloaded with tools?

Applications built for everybody. Instead of light-weight applications which are targeted at SPECIFIC USER GROUPS. Am I shouting?

When I see an ArcGIS application which is built with the cruise ship mindset, it makes me think of the fellows below:

Fashions move on, one hopes improve. So too do GIS applications. I’m old enough to have worn flares. I’ve also built cruise ship GIS applications. Both are thankfully now merely memories.

What are Light-weight, Flexible ArcGIS Web Applications?

At WebMapSolutions we only build light-weight, flexible ArcGIS web applications. Web applications have a URL, they can be loaded in any web browser; on your PC, laptop, tablet or smartphone.They are the most popular and widely used ArcGIS applications.

Let’s expand on our approach.

1. Multiple web applications are better than one – Today we build web applications targeted at specific user groups. Applications which provide only those tools required to get the job done. Since web applications are no longer difficult to build, taking a widget based approach (more on this in a moment) allows a base web application to be published and configured for different groups of users.

2. Look to esri free maps and apps first – For those with ArcGIS subscriptions there are a slew of free maps and apps released by esri. Looking here for solutions first makes much sense in terms of money and time.

3. Configurable web viewers – Configurable web viewers are becoming increasingly more popular. These are modular map applications which provide the ability to drop in pre-built or custom widgets to provide specific focused functionality. See the new Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS. Your maintenance staff will be using a web app with editing, and custom form widgets while your managers might have dashboards and analytics widgets. The same base application, loads different widgets. Simple.

5. All ArcGIS web applications are built to run anywhere, anytime, on any device – Todays web applications should be built to run on all devices (PC, laptop, tablet, smartphone) and platforms (Apple, Android, Windows). The days of web applications being built for office or home use only is now gone. Similarly with advances in HTML5 what is now possible with a web application is very advanced. Web applications are lower in cost to build, easy to maintain and extend, extremely flexible and run anywhere, anytime, on any device. For more information see Developing Mobile Web ArcGIS Applications

6. All ArcGIS web apps should be offline enabled – We believe all mobile ArcGIS web applications should to be offline enabled. Given our goal to build ArcGIS web applications which can be used anywhere, anytime, on any device, that means we build applications which are not limited by wireless or Internet connectivity. Advances in HTML5 mean that web applications can now be used offline. If the browser crashes no problem; we store all data (base maps, editable layers, edits) in a database on the mobile device. Easy. Find out more about our disconnected ArcGIS web apps.

There you have it. We see a big future for ArcGIS web applications. Flexibility is key. We would also argue modularity. Just like the clothes worn by the fellows above, web applications which are bloated with tools should be a part of history. For those who still have ‘cruise ship’ applications in place, we will discuss in our next post, good approaches to move to a widget based model.

Ok, I knew you would ask, this is what those well dressed boys sounded like in the day:

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