We have a web mapping app built in Flex (soon to lose its support) and so are wondering to what extent we can replicate the functionality within the existing app in Esri's Web App Builder without having to get too much into custom code? To view the existing web application built in Flex go here: MSB Web Tool
There are many custom widgets built for the Web Appbullder developer edition (many by Robert Scheitlin, GISP that did many of the Flex widgets.) start by looking at Web AppBuilder Developer Edition - Customization Resource List
for or help installing the dev edition, check out Tips and Observations for getting Web AppBuilder - Developer Edition Installed And Installing Robert’s Enhanced Search Widget for the Web AppBuilder
Your Flex site is highly customized for a flex site so it is very improbable that you would not have to do the same level of customization in Web AppBuilder.
Intermediate level knowledge of the JS API, CSS and Dojo would be needed as well as basic knowledge of HTML. The Web AppBuilder is a great starting point for web app development, just like the Viewer for Flex was but the level of customization that you have in Flex is not something that comes without a skilled Flex Developer and the same goes for WAB you will need personnel skilled in JS API development.
This is what I suspected.
So is this the kind of development that Esri can offer through its Professional Services and if so would it make better economic sense to do this - as opposed to spending money on training in-house staff with some existing JS knowledge? As I understand it JS training is not cheap. I know we are getting a little off-topic, but its all part of the same picture.
I'm an old Flex guy. I've made the jump to JS and it was not terribly difficult. Your team will have the advantage of using an existing "framework" in the Web App Builder. There is a Tone of sample and professional widgets to look at and copy the patterns there. All of the concepts they are similar and exist with in the JS and Web App builder tools, ie Repeaters, Tables, Popups ect. All the Mapping functions are similar or identical. I would recommend getting a www.pluralsight.com account and turning them loose on that before getting specific map or JS training. Getting them up to speed in JS and the Esri JS SDK I think you can do on your own, then, if needed, do more specific training on the areas you need to be experts in. Odds are, if your team did it in flex, they can do it in JS. I do miss my compiler though ; )
If you believe this to be your one stop website and you will not need any others or further customization of widgets then that is exactly what esri professional services is for. I agree with Jordan if your team did those customizations in Flex then they should have minimal trouble picking up JS development and MANY of the concepts used in Flex Viewer are similar in WAB.
The problem is.....
My team did not build that website in Flex - we paid an external to develop it, something that we have been doing not just for mapping viewers, but also online database products. My team have solid desktop skills and use Postgres and other bits a pieces to publish web maps, but I am looking to up-skill them so that we can make web mappers in house that fulfill our needs without having to pay expensive contractors to do the work for us. AGOL and Web App Builder looks like it might be worth investing the time and effort in to train my guys to do this kind of thing and not just dabble in it. My problem has been that we have a small GIS team and little in the way of training budget, but there still seems to be money to pay developers when something needs to be built.....go figure.