Looking Back at Q4, 2018 Updates to ArcGIS & ArcGIS Online

Well, here we are, 2019. December came and went in a flash (it seemed), and here we are in a new year, likely thinking about FedUC, DevSummit, UC, summer vacation plan,s etc… So, what happened in December with ArcGIS technology updates, and what did you miss out while you had your head down to finish up your projects in 2018? One word – plenty!

There was lots of ArcGIS technology related news, announcements, and product updates during the wrap up of Q4. These included a pretty hefty update to ArcGIS Online, some changes to security settings, ArcGIS Earth for Android and iOS (Beta) was announced, there were improvements to Collector, and a wealth of new data was released in the Living Atlas. Let’s explore some of the latest technology announced for the ArcGIS professional.

ArcGIS Online

As expected, the ArcGIS Online team rolled out a pretty hefty update to AGOL in December. This was no secret, particularly as there was significant buzz surrounding the addition of new user types. Recall, ArcGIS Online is Esri’s cloud solution that enables pretty much anyone to view and create maps and web maps and leverage a massive amount of data, particularly via the Living Atlas. This update boasted several major additions including new user types (and licensing changes), additional 3D capabilities, and new configurable apps.

Other noteworthy updates include:

  • Dismiss all notifications with one click
  • Reduced credit cost per routing call
  • Ability to render tens of thousands of 3D point symbols
  • and more!

Esri’s Bern Szukalski share a deep dive into all the new functionality and capabilities HERE

User Types

With the December 2018 update to ArcGIS Online, we saw the introduction of 5 new user types. These user types are best described as follows: “User types are a combination of identity, capabilities, and apps that align with the needs of typical members in an organization” (Esri). User types are named logically with a more descriptive label. Additionally, with 5 access levels, the administrator has even greater flexibility to ensure users are provided with the access and capabilities that they need to do their job. We dove into the 5 new user types in detail in this blog.

ArcGIS User Types (image: Esri)
ArcGIS User Types (image: Esri)

More Data

Users have access to even more data thanks to this update. Something new is a resource called Maps for Public Policy, a free resource designed for policymakers. The idea here is for policymakers to have access to pre-authored maps from curated datasets that can be used to learn more about social equity and health, economic opportunity, transportation, infrastructure, and more. If this wasn’t enough, the Living Atlas also received a huge update. Do you plan on mapping Antarctica? If so you’re in luck!  This update saw the addition of an 8-meter resolution elevation model covering the continent of Antarctica. ArcticDEM was also updated to include a new, 2-meter resolution elevation data for the entire region. A new Oceans vector basemap (beta) is also available and will be included soon in the Esri default vector basemaps group.

American Community Survey (ACS) data

Access a wealth of data from the Living Atlas via the American Community Survey (ACS) data. Now, users of ArcGIS / ArcGIS Online can make amazing maps based on data analysis such as education levels, population variables, transportation (eg. modes of commuting), youth school and work activity, race, language, immigration and citizenship, internet connectivity, occupational data, and much more! By combining data and variables, the possibilities for making maps and performing research and analysis are endless! About the ACS data… these ready-to-use layers allow instant access to publicly available, fully documented, and ready-to-analyze data sourced directly from the US Census. ACS data is produced every year based on information collected by surveying more than 3.5 million individuals. Best of all, for those interested in learning more about these data, a webinar was presented on Jan 9. Find the archive

2018 ACS data

ArcGIS Earth for Android

Something new for mobile enthusiasts as the ArcGIS Earth team has migrated the solution to Android and iOS. These mobile apps were released in Beta and Android users can now get the app from the Google Play store. Users of the app can view KML data from their organization (or portal) while also connecting to their enterprise account. Learn more HERE

A new ArcGIS Companion!

Companion is a mobile solution that gives you even more access to your ArcGIS content and your org’s data. Using this mobile solution designed for iOS or Android, you can search your organization’s content (with improved filters), view and manage your groups and users, set user types, and also keep tabs on notifications. Simply put, this app is indeed a “companion” designed to help users manage their content and stay informed with what’s happening within the organization. For some ideas about how to use Companion have a look at this article for 10 things you can try with Companion.

Esri Vector Basemaps

Vector basemaps received a lot of attention in 2018, with a number of updates throughout the year. Users working behind a firewall received a nice treat in December when Vector Tiles were made available through Data Appliance 7.0 for ArcGIS. Esri vector tiles are detailed, feature-rich basemaps created by leading third-party data providers and are an ideal, high-performance basemap solution. Recall, vector basemaps are available as both web maps, which can be used as a basemap for adding other layers, and as tile layers, which can be added to existing maps either as a basemap or overlay layer.

Updates to AppStudio

Developers were treated to an update to AppStudio at version 3.2 in December. Recall, AppStudio is Esri’s solution that enables developers with relatively little experience to build awesome, cross-platform native apps and then easily publish them to the app store of choice. A reminder, the AppStudio player (iOS and Android) is the mobile app you can use to share your apps with colleagues, clients and friends, and best of all, there’s no sign-in required! Be sure to always share and test your apps with others before you roll them out!

There’s a new document dialog component enabling even better sharing of attachments (documents)  from inside your apps. Developers who prefer a darker environment for their apps will appreciate the new dark theme template that can be enabled from your app’s settings. The AppStudio templates (Map Viewer, Map Tour, and Quick Report) have all received enhancements that will result in more functionality and better performance for your apps. Finally, you may be wondering if the new User Types will affect you. AppStudio Player is available to all user types, however, users are required to be of type creator or professional in order to use the AppStudio desktop edition to build and upload apps. Enjoy building your apps! Learn more about AppStudio

AppStudio – Build great apps with no coding!

More JavaScript!

A treat for Developers here. December also saw the release of V4.1 of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. Andy Gup (@agup) , Julie Powell, and the team from Esri Colorado shared an announcement describing a host of new functionality for developers including a new FeatureTemplates widget (think better editing environment), the addition of several new 2D measuring widgets, a better 3D experience thanks to the addition of new WebStyle Symbols (think realistic trees, cars, and more), and a new building layer type that supports a much improved visualization experience. Finally, developers will notice superior drawing performance, particularly in the mobile environment, thanks to the addition of WebGL being used in your 2D map views. Oh, and for a little bit of “wow factor” you need to check out the BuildingSceneLayer with the Slice widget for an awesome way to experience visualizing inside building interiors!

ArcGIS API for JavaScript

For more details, see the JavaScript release notes. Those of you interested in jump-starting your new year with even more JavaScript, be sure to browse this handy guide created by our Jr Application Developer (and JavaScript enthusiast), Courtney Kirkham.

More ways to Learn ArcGIS

Learn ArcGIS is an impressive online education resource that continues to grow. This is a valuable tool for all your employees, and, best of all, most of the materials are free (for licensed users). Users can identify lessons and learning resources, following the lesson plans (complete with sample data and detailed instructions) and stay current with the latest technologies from Esri. The December update was pretty hefty and saw the addition of 14 new lessons – the perfect complement to your New Year professional development plan! Of particular interest – a lesson to assist in making the switch to ArcGIS Pro. Work at your own pace to perform some analysis and create your first map using Pro. Note: you may require access to ArcGIS Pro or other products in order to complete the lessons.

Bonus Tip! Are you wanting to learn more about ArcGIS Pro? Be sure to check out this excellent youtube playlist from @jarlathond – he shares some 30 video tutorials!

So, there was plenty of new technology announced for the ArcGIS user community in December. What got your attention? Any wishes for future enhancements? A reminder, if you need assistance creating a custom app or web service, or have the need for assistance with your enterprise installation, be sure to reach out to us regarding our Professional Services and our team of experienced professionals! GEO Jobe is pleased to share that we are Release Ready!

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GEOspatial Evangelist & CMO

Geographer, GIS professional, writer, and fan of all things mobile.