We have 7 folks attending the Esri Developer Summit this year. We are going to use this forum to post our daily observations as a group in an effort to keep our technical staff informed of what we discover throughout the week.
Many of us had an interesting day of travel getting in Monday. The winds in Palm Springs were significant (you will see comments about air sickness in some of the posts). High enough winds that the airport was closed several times throughout the day. Ben and I saw a tractor trailer blown over by the gusts while our car was being sandblasted on the road from Ontario to Palm Springs (the 10 in California lingo). We all finally made it in safely and nearly all of were able to attend some of the Monday sessions, either Preconference seminars or Demo Theatre.
I attended 5 different sessions on Day 1, 4 of which were useful. A couple of highlights from some of these. First, I went to a session on integrating the Esri JS API into the IBM stack including COGNOS, Maximum, Mashup Portal, WebSphere, etc. The concept is that if you could leverage the Framework and Standards that IBM uses you can easily plug and play Esri based capability into any of these systems. To accomplish this Esri simply wrapped a light version of the JS Viewer with the framework as an iwidget. They are making this available as Open Source through the resource center and as a compiled binary through the IBM portal. What you can do now is in the IBM dev environments; you simply drag and drop map widgets, table grid widgets, chart widgets etc. and wire them together; in minutes you can have the beginning of an enterprise class dashboard. Because you can get the Open Source code, the functionality is only limited to your development skills and imagination. I really like the way Esri continues to use industry standards to integrate with Enterprise class systems. We have several potential clients where this technology may come into play soon.
I also sat in on the Best Practices for Dynamic Display talk. This was by far and away the most cohesive and complete summary of the do’s and don’ts of creating an app that shows objects moving on top of the map. I suspect Steve may have more details about the Map production to enable the dynamic display caching of the base map, but many of the same ideas are used when publishing a high performing web map. What I took away from this session was that no matter what your requirement for moving objects, try the Graphics Tracker method first, it should handle 90% of what you are trying to do. If that fails, then you have to go to the Custom Layers options and “this is not easy” according to Esri. Another cool idea was if your glyph needed to change for some reason as it moved across the map, create a glyph group and then just reference the extent of the version of the glyph you need. This saves a bunch on the graphics processing and memory. There is much more here and again may be quickly of use with several projects on the horizon.
Aside from almost losing my lunch for the first time on any flight, ever, I jumped into the Esri developer summit with the “Hitchhikers guide to Python.” While the instruction itself wasn’t over the top whiz-bang, it’s nice to see Esri return to its roots with a full featured command-line geoprocessing library (ArcInfo Workstation anyone?) with Arcpy. Over 800+ geoprocessing tools supported, along with an active open-source community = great production and automation.
I also had the chance to sit it on a high-level discussion about some of the new features with Add-Ins for Silverlight and Sharepoint. Being a Flex developer, I can’t help but compare their add-in architecture to that of Flex widgets (ala, plug-and-play bits of code). Cool, but the coolest part is the fact that you can write Add-ins once and deploy to both the Esri Silverlight Application Builder (beta Silverlight Viewer), and/or a Sharepoint installation with no fuss or hoops to jump through. Thank you Esri. If I know one thing about developing software, it’s that code re-usability rules the day!
The first thing I noticed in the main room is the increase in Esri techs and help desks from the 2009 Dev Summit. All the Esri reps were very open to questions and even tracked down other reps if they did not know the answer(s) to your questions. Getting to speak directly to the techs over the course of the week will be a valuable resource for current project issues. There is also a huge increase in the mobile demos, with booths dedicated to each of the mobile technologies (Android, iPhone, Windows7, and ArcPad), including devices available to play with. I have a feeling mobile technology is going to be the major focus this year. The Demo Theatres kicked off the sessions with Mobile, Silverlight, and Sharepoint development presentations. The ArcGIS 10 Mobile install had some interesting out-of-the-box application development tools, but as usual, I’m always wondering if it is going to be as easy as they make it look in the ‘Hello World’ demos.
I was most intrigued by the session on Building Extensions for ArcGIS Viewer for MS Silverlight and ArcGIS Mapping for SharePoint. Working for the past 9 months in ArcGIS Mobile WPF and striving to implement a 100% pure MVVM framework, I think I might have found the piece I am conceptually missing while attending this session on the extensible kits for Silverlight Viewer and Sharepoint. The demo on the extensibility kits using MS ICommand and utilizing OnAttached base methods is the piece I am missing to making my WPF framework truly plug and play. Since the only difference between WPF and Silverlight is the UI controls (desktop vs. web), I plan to download the beta Silverlight Viewer and rip it open to see how this piece works so I can 'borrow' for the WPF apps.
More to come from the rest of the team. Stayed tuned….just saw a SUPER COOL Kinect Map app during the Tuesday Plenary, Wow!