The article was originally published here.
As Web GIS starts taking a central role in the GIS workflow influencing the way we collect, analyze and publish the spatial data; a website presence with mapping capabilities is now very common for organizations. This also means that incorporating new state of the art technology in rendering, querying and sharing online maps has become more of a need than a luxury. This article provides a straightforward high level overview on available web client viewer options in the ESRI ecosystem, and suggest the best one for a novice GIS architect (of course!).
ESRI avails us with three easy-to-use solutions for creating custom web mapping applications:
- ArcGIS Online application templates: Application templates are the simplest and easiest configurable client viewer option but not as comprehensive in functionality as other two options.
- ArcGIS Viewer for Flex: In the summer of 2010, ESRI made ArcGIS Flex Viewer as an official product. It is ready-to-deploy configurable, robust, rich internet application with one weakness – it requires Adobe Flash Player plug-in on the web browser.
- ArcGIS Viewer for Silverlight: Similarly, ArcGIS Viewer for Silverlight was released on 2012. It also provides intuitive browser-based application builder with WYSISYG user experience but a similar caveat- it requires Microsoft Silverlight browser plug-in.
So where does Web AppBuilder (WAB) come into picture?
- ESRI is making a shift to web app builder from Flex/Silverlight technology. There will be no future releases for the latter technologies.
- WAB based map viewer does not require plugins like flex/Silverlight based technologies do.
- WAB based map viewer can be used cross-platform i.e.in windows, ios and android devices as well as in smartphones and tablets
- WAB based map viewer has a better zooming capability than flex map viewer. The user interface is more interactive, robust and user friendly.
-ESRI avails us with Web Appbuilder developer edition. The user community is ever rising and this will help us customize or use already customized tools to add to our map viewer.
If you have a better reasons as why one should switch (or not switch) to WAB, please let everyone know in the comments below.