Configure not custom is the mantra of today in many GIS circles. Select a pre-built GIS application (COTS). Add your data and some styling and take a bow as you share it with your users. No coding needed. Configure and go.
I’m a COTS app fan I’ll admit. They have empowered those who do not know how to build GIS applications. Shortened the time for users to get GIS applications which help them with their day to day tasks.
So does that mean GIS developers should pack their bags and move on?
Are Custom GIS Apps Going the Way of the Dodo?
I know. Its a silly question.
We really see COTS GIS apps are a powerful starting point. Getting organizations up and running quickly. By their very nature, COTS GIS apps are highly focused, and generic; data collection, navigation, basic inspections. Very useful.
But what happens when you have particular needs not covered by a COTS app. Or maybe workflows which are unique to your organization?
You’ll need a custom GIS application. As GIS becomes more popular we are seeing an increasing need for custom apps. But not the behemoths we used to build. I remember (back in the day), working on web apps which were big, and expensive; loaded with tools. Those days are long gone (thank goodness). Today much focus is still on web apps due to their flexibility: they work in the office or on a mobile device in the field and can be built in a modular way.
What do we mean by modular?
That is a very powerful concept. Modularity makes a web app feel and act like a swiss army knife. One knife (app) with multiple blades (widgets) and thus uses. Today I’m a custom offline data collection GIS app, tomorrow used for asset management.
Today increasingly more of our company time is focused on developing custom apps built using the same base. No more need to build a complete new app for every request (the old model). Now its about building light-weight custom widgets. That might be for commercial real estate:
Simple low cost asset management/work order apps:
GIS apps to help retailers analyse competition:
Unlike the poor old Dodo, custom GIS apps are not going away. Quite the opposite.
Need a custom GIS app? Contact us on 801-733-0723.
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Author: Matt Sheehan
Matt Sheehan is a Principal at WebMapSolutions. Matt evangelizes GIS and location intelligence around the world through keynotes, articles, tweets and his books. Follow him on Twitter: