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'Going Spatial' is my personal blog, the views on this site are entirely my own and should in no way be attributed to anyone else or as the opinion of any organisation.

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Friday, 22 November 2013

Esri European Developer Summit 2013 - my thoughts...

The presenters did not have to dress like this.....

Introduction

The last week has been a very crazy and busy one: with the Esri European Developer Summit venue confirmed to be London, it meant that I could catch up with latest in Esri software development. I did not get a chance to attend the 'main' developer summit in Palm Springs early this year so was very happy to have had this opportunity. Of course, like all good things - the Developer Summit this time round was a clash with the start of the Velocity 2013 European conference and the start of the Amazon Re:Invent conference.

Here are my highlights and observations. These points (like this blog) are entirely my own points and if you disagree, or want clarification - then please contact me. Also, follow me on @wai_ming_lee to get random updates via twitter. 

I was also asked to present at the summit, something that I was not expecting but what the hell! My subject was 'ArcGIS Server for Amazon Web Services', an area that I was comfortable with and should be able to deliver with some enthusiasm. Two days prior to the start of the event, I decided to dive in deep and attended a two-day course on Python, also organised by Esri Inc and part of their pre-summit hands-on training. How did I find it? Brilliant and after a near brain melt-down, I was ready for the first day of the main developer summit. This is the second European Developer Summit that I have attended and it is always a smaller scale than the International Developer Summit held in Palm Springs. I have attended the international one at least twice in the last four years. However, having the Dev Summit on home turf once again was a good thing for all those based in the UK!

Don't break the glass unless you absolutely have to! Think of the kittens!
The first day started off with a fire alarm kicking off - so all the summit delegates, presenters, hotel guests and hotel staff all bundled out into the (light) rain. Not a good start. A colleague did say she could smell burnt toast as we walked towards the plenary, I wonder if this caused it?

The plenary, once resumed, was typical of the previous developer summits: punchy, to the point with little in the way of a sales pitch (come on, it's the developer summit) all MC'ed with some style by Esri Inc's Jim McKinney and Jim Barry.

Stuff I found interesting

Highlights for me? Plenty but here's a few that I wanted to put some words to:

Who has a smart phone? I have.....
  • ArcGIS Collector (Offline and January 2014...) This got a cheer for sure. Having a mobile application remain stable when it was disconnected from the network (WiFi, 3G, 4G) is a wonderful thing. Not everyone can maintain a high quality signal at all times and one should be able to continue to edit, pan and zoom (within a reasonable area) and use the application in it's new disconnected state, seamlessly. Once connected back to the network, everything should seamlessly re-integrate. Looks like Esri Inc has made some firm steps in the right direction. 
Let me do another fly by......
  • 3D Web GIS / CityEngine. This workshop had a high wow-factor for me, I love the CityEngine addition to ArcGIS and incorporating the third dimension into GIS is a natural evolution. What CityEngine has given Esri Inc is a much easier and seamless way to create 3D City content complete with parametric editing, dynamic editing and procedural editing. Great job Esri !
http://marketplace.arcgis.com/
  • ArcGIS Marketplace. This is an update to the ArcGIS marketplace as this went 'live' this year but am expecting a lot of changes as this area of business starts to mature and evolve. I can't fault the idea of a self-service marketplace where applications, data (and services perhaps?) are advertised. Esri and non-Esri organisations can advertise and place their wares on the market place. As far as I know, Esri Inc acts as the shop window / portal only and does not make any money off the successful sale of any non-Esri product; which is a very nice thing to do! 
JARVIS - find me the nearest bad guy to pummel.....
  • Amber Cases' Calm Technology. The keynote speaker, Amber Case (@caseorganic - http://caseorganic.com/) was a very engaging and interesting speaker. Her keynote was subtle and nuanced but I was actually quite blown away by it. Her term for 'calm technology' was an excellent term for an all-pervasive, spatially-aware, wearable, GIS application/tool that can interact with you when you want it in the way you want it. While we're not quite up to the ease of use and familiarity we saw with 'J.A.R.V.I.S.' in Iron Man (see above picture) - her vision of what we can do is very compelling. Still, Paul Bettany rocks. 
  • Just like the Esri Inc Developer Summit Speedgeeking session - without the wine of course...
  • Speedgeeking. Heck yes, while I didn't attend this I loved the idea. We all know what speed-dating is right? Yes, you have 3-5 minutes 'blind date' with someone (who is also there for the same reason, not some random person yanked off the street!!)  and then, at the ring of the bell, you move onto the next 'date' and so on until after an hour or so, you have about 8-10 'dates' and those that catch your fancy, you can go reconnect at a later date. It should really be called 'speed introductions' but anyway, the speedgeeking is similar in concept: you rotate round a number of tables, each with a speaker/geek who will regale you for 3-5 minutes on his pet project, application, cool tool or his iTunes's music collection and then, at the sound of the bell, you move on.  
Ahh - when graphic cards only had 2k of RAM... 
  • Vintage! Jim McKinney (@jmckgis) going back in time with some vintage Arc/Info. This was a bonus talk (it was one of the lightning talks on the first day) and I included it as a highlight because 1) he talked about Arc/Info and 2) there was a screen shot of ArcPlot, 3) there was some AML there and finally 4) because it was Arc/Info. Old school for sure and it got a big cheer from the crowd. Super stuff. 
    Because ninja-cat like things are cool....
  • Esri Inc chucking stuff onto GitHub and this is a great thing for the Esri community specifically and the GIS world at large. Okay, we're not going to see the code-base for ArcGIS Server suddenly appearing but you know, it would be nice if Esri Inc OpenSourced the old ArcView 3.2a! Right? Let's get a campaign going for it. We need a #hashtag for it.....#freeArcView3 Anyway, check out the link for some Esri GitHub goodness. 
It would be nice to get some free pizza with it? No?
  • SDKs are now free. All runtime SDKs are now free! No need for EDN. To start off use, there's a developer's subscription with initial free credit. Woot!

Low-lights (only minor)
  • No dodge-ball :-( - I think this is more of a Palm Springs thing. The European Dev Summit needs something as well as an organised party! 
  • Having the lightning talks AT THE SAME TIME AS FREE BEER BEING SERVED! Bad idea. Talk about conflicting options and at the end of the day as well. 
  • Not enough seating for lunch. At least have some tables for the Geeks to stand around.
  • European Developer Summit clashing with the European Velocity 2013 conference and Amazon's Re:Invent conference in Las Vegas. Sad panda. 

My summary

A super event in my view and rivalling the Esri UK's own user conference earlier this year (and ours was FREE! ;-) )  - clearly the Esri developers have been listening and putting in a lot of new (and improved) goodies into the mix; I especially like the adoption of GitHub and an increased official acceptance of FOSS. ArcGIS Online continues to mature and evolve and with the new disconnected editing with collector and dashboard; there are some truly ground-breaking technologies right here, right now. Then we have the 3D stuff as well - can't forget that as it is looming on the near horizon. Personally, I found the ability to freely mix with other developers, users and staff the main benefit. Putting a face to a name, and in some cases, a name to a face, is the main and lasting benefit. Time to review all the other presentations that I missed and hope that I can get over to the International developer summit in Palm Springs next year.

Links to the presentations will be edited here: