Web Server: ArcGIS for Web Application Development

ArcGIS Online offers tools to develop and deploy simple web-based mapping applications in a geoportal type environment.

ArcGIS for Web Application Development

Table of Contents

Web Application Development

A web application (web app for short) is an interactive program that runs on a web server and users can access it through a web browser such as Google Chrome. Examples of popular web applications are the social media platforms billions of users use around the world.

For a web application to work, there may be a number of technology components supporting it. For a simpler web application or traditional, it may just need a web server. For web applications that are not so simple, it may need a database and, in some cases, a web application server.

In mobile app development discussions, web apps are often contrasted with native apps. Native apps are applications developers build specifically for a particular platform. There are also hybrid approaches that combine the two.

Types of Web Applications

Below is a list of the common types of web applications:

  • Static
  • E-Commerce
  • Progressive
  • Business
  • Dynamic
  • Single Page
  • Social Media

Static web applications tend to have the simplest web pages. We generally don’t talk about user interfaces unless we’re talking about the other types of applications. Developing these types of web application involves, among other things, building an intelligent, iterative user interface. This makes the application easier to use and easier to capture data from the user side.

Building a Web Application

Individuals with knowledge of programming languages like JavaScript are very helpful to have on a web application development team. They may be skilled in front-end development, back-end development or both. Individuals skilled in both are often called full stack web developers. This means they are able to do both client-side programming and server-side programming. That means not only HTML, CSS, and JavaScript, but at least one back end language or framework as well. The reason for the split is we typically think about web applications as having a client-server architecture that includes client-side scripting and server-side scripting or front-end and back-end respectively.

The application may be made up of more than one programming language or framework. For example, there could be JavaScript code in the font-end and Ruby on Rails on the back end.

There are other roles that increase the likelihood a web application development project will be a success. There likely will be a project manager and possibly graphic and/or user experience (UX) designers. There may also be a quality assurance manager or tester.

One of the first steps when building a web application is isolating a strong app idea. Once that is in place, you will want to focus on the target market.

At some point you will also want to sketch out the layout of the application. This can be done with just pencil and paper or using something like Google Docs. This is usually after defining the functionality. These are some of the things a team does before beginning the web application development process.

ArcGIS for Developers

For those not familiar with ESRI’s geographic information system (GIS) software offerings, the company has a complete range of offerings under the ArcGIS brand. One of their offerings, ArcGIS Pro, can be described as a desktop spatial analysis tool. There is also ArcGIS Enterprise which is considered to be the evolution of the ArcGIS product ArcGIS Server.

ArcGIS Online is another offering from the same company that partly gains its popularity from having a low entry barrier and high usability. It offers tools to develop and deploy simple web-based mapping applications in a geoportal type environment.

For developers, ArcGIS provides a platform for creating custom tools. An example of one of the components of this ArcGIS platform is the Python site package ArcPy. One of the many benefits of the ArcGIS platform is it allows developers to integrate open-source tools like Leaflet.

Another component of the ArcGIS Platform is the ArcGIS APs. These give a great deal of flexibility for software developers. For example, the API for JavaScript can be used along with data algorithms like the K Means clustering algorithm to cluster elevation and then visualize topological features on an interactive map.

Contact us for more information on ArcGIS.


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