Building Offline ArcGIS Apps with a Mobile Framework

Blog Post created by webmapsolutions on Sep 12, 2014

When you read a blog entitled ‘Building Offline ArcGIS apps with a Mobile Framework’, I’m thinking the first question which comes to mind is:

What is a mobile framework?

In the crudest terms a mobile framework provides the nuts and bolts to build custom mobile applications. No need to reinvent the wheel each time you need a mobile app. We’ve been building a framework which makes generating offline mobile ArcGIS apps easy. And not just offline, it makes producing any mobile ArcGIS app fast and easy.

Another question:

What is this framework and why did we build it?

Mobile Offline ArcGIS and Client Needs

We have been asked by many of our clients for flexibility from their mobile ArcGIS apps. By flexibility they mean:

1) Custom functionality
2) Configurable
3) Styling and branding

Imagine a large company which wishes to provide a set of mobile ArcGIS apps to its field staff. They want a standard look and feel to the apps: colour, logo, style. Each app serves a different purpose. One might be for offline editing, another provides custom forms, yet another online and offline map annotation. Different teams may use the same app, but need to work with different data. Maybe one group is inspecting valves while another is focused on easements. By providing a configuration mechanism, the same application can load different data: layers direct from ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Online; public and private.

Another key client requirement has been ease of use. So intuitive mobile ArcGIS apps. We have moved away from a world where all mobile users know GIS. Today many mobile ArcGIS users are maintenance staff, real estate agents and insurance assessors. Mobile ArcGIS provides new tools for these folks to get their work done more accurately and efficiently. But this new tool need be super easy for them to understand and use. Throw complexity or traditional GIS workflows their way, and that new tool will remain unused.

A mobile framework like ours provides flexibility, configurability and mobile ArcGIS apps which can be designed for any and all mobile users.

Web ArcGIS Technology – Write Once Run Everywhere

One of the nice things about the framework, is that it is built using Web technology. So write once run everywhere. No more discussions around native and the need to write multiple versions of the same mobile ArcGIS app for different platforms. Mobile ArcGIS apps built with the framework will run across all popular mobile platforms: iOS, Android and Windows, and devices: smartphone, phablet and tablets.

Oh, and yes the framework provides offline capabilities in a browser: with a little help from indexdb!

Integration with Existing ArcGIS Web Applications

Imagine one other scenario. You have in place a Web application which you would like to extend to provide offline GIS capabilities, for example. Can you extend your application to take advantage of what the framework provides. Absolutely. That is the beauty of a framework, you can integrate the capabilities provided by the framework into your existing application.

Now you know why we were crazy enough to spend so much time building this framework. Have questions ….. contact us.