Esri’s new developer platform, improved business reporting, latest network utility API and more

Information from Esri

Esri has made several announcements and released many updates this last month, the highlights of which are covered below. Notably are the new ArcGIS platform as a service release, updates to the API sets, the availability of ArcGIS for Power BI on Power BI Report Server for Enterprise users, and updates to StoryMaps. Note also that the Portal for ArcGIS 10.8.1 Home Application Patch is now live on the company’s support site, which includes fixes for two moderate priority security issues (more info here).

ArcGIS Platform provides developers with location services, data, and mapping tools

Esri launched the ArcGIS Platform, a geospatial platform as a service (PaaS) for developers that need to integrate location capabilities into their apps, business systems, and products.

The platform gives developers direct access to the company’s location services using the APIs and web frameworks of their choice – including open-source APIs. They can also create apps using ArcGIS APIs, SDKs, and app builders. This allows developers to build their own products or integrate Esri services into existing software. The platform charges developer only for what they use, providing them with scalability.

A free account provides access to generous allowances of location services transactions at no cost, and can switch to pay as you go for additional service usage. Developers can also deploy an unlimited number of apps at no extra cost. A new pricing calculator will help determine future costs based on anticipated usage.

The platform offers cloud data hosting and storage which lets developers maintain ownership and control. Devs can publish their data as hosted feature services, vector tile sets, and image tile sets that provide efficient caching and load times. The app users can query these data sets, visualize them on maps, and use feature services in analytics.

Updated API set brings new functionality

Esri announced the availability of ArcGIS Runtime 100.10 (a.k.a Update 10) – the company’s software development kit (SDK) for developers, which will benefit utility network users in particular.

The APIs feature access to ArcGIS Platform, support online utility network workflows, provide access to high accuracy GNSS devices, add feature tiles and labelling in 3D, and improve offline styles and map tiles.

The update introduces a new enumeration that references a new set of Esri basemaps, which are secured and optimised for high performance. The location API’s support for high accuracy GNSS devices lets developers build solutions that take advantage of professional/survey grade location information.

Update 10 now support most trace types and configuration parameters for utility networks, and has added support for filter barriers which can stop trace results without stopping traversability to the source.

In addition to enabling offline 2D web styles, other offline enhancements improve map and layer workflows. Features tiles are now supported in a map and in a scene, with the added ability to enable/disable use of feature tiling. Labelling in a scene can now be done the same way as in a map. 

OGC API Features support brings the ability to define a spatial reference used by the server for reprojection, enabling queries with time and custom CQL JSON, and supporting feature collections without a spatial column.

Several other system improvements and updates were made, in addition to issue fixes, performance improvements, and enriched integration within the ArcGIS system.

The ArcGIS 2021 releases, (including ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9 and 10.9.1) will be the last to contain both the ArcMap and ArcGIS Pro-based runtimes. Starting with the ArcGIS 2022 releases, only the ArcGIS Pro-based runtime will be included. ArcGIS Enterprise 10.9 will include migration tooling to help prepare users for these changes. ArcGIS Runtime 100.11, due to be released in April 2021, will be the last release to support classic geocode locators.

ArcGIS for Microsoft Power BI

ArcGIS for Power BI is a custom data visualisation tool built within Microsoft Power BI software to bring mapping capabilities to reports and dashboards. Esri has recently introduced support for Power BI Embedded, Publish to web and Report Server, along with other improvements for report designers and authors.

Esri Enterprise users will be glad to know that ArcGIS for Power BI is now available on Power BI Report Server. These users can now share reports with Esri maps on a public website or application outside Power BI (or in their organisation), since the tool now supports Embedded and Publish to web. Only those ArcGIS layers that are publicly available will appear in a report that is published to web. Furthermore, Power BI report viewers can select different basemaps that they would like to see on a Power BI report.

The new “Layer Join” features lets users to combine and visualise non-spatial data in Power BI with spatial data in ArcGIS. Following the discontinuation of the ArcGIS for Power BI premium app license in January 2021, ArcGIS Creator or GIS Professional users can create maps in Power BI at no extra cost.

StoryMaps receives a major update

ArcGIS StoryMaps added several new features, including to themes, map actions, and explorer tours that were in beta.

Several font families (via Google Fonts), additional separator styles, and a new colour picker has been added to theme builder. Theme builder also has new hyperlink styles to further customise the look of stories. Approved themes, controlled via the new Organization settings page, can now be shared with a group to create a standard, branded look for an organisation’s stories.

There are two map tour options: guided tour (for smaller sets of places) and explorer tour (useful for presenting larger sets of places). Users can now create a guided map tour from ArcGIS data by connecting to an ArcGIS feature service, allowing them to share information collected through ArcGIS apps like Survey123, Quick Capture, Field Maps, or the GeoForm template. Explorer tours introduce two new, wider panel width options for users to devote more space to tour place media and descriptions.

The story builder’s image gallery block let users upload up to 12 photos in a gallery. It arranges the images in a collage and offers two layouts: jigsaw and dynamic squares. Galleries bring cohesion to a set of photos, even if they have different sizes and aspect ratios.

Geodatabase tweaks in ArcGIS Pro 2.7 improve workflows

The ArcGIS Pro 2.7 release introduces Geodatabase Enhancements based on user feedback.

This includes the addition of New Field and Save commands to the right-click context menu in Fields View. Checkbox toggling in the Fields View has also been improved, allowing users to highlight multiple rows and change all the checkboxes with one double click.

New shortcut commands and a context menu for common clipboard operations speed up the creation of subtypes. When copy/pasting codes and values, the Code value is automatically incremented while the Description is duplicated from the copied row. The Create Feature Class wizard now allows users to opt in or out of adding the newly created dataset to the current map.

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