Questions and answers about HTML5 and ArcGIS

We recently presented a live training seminar titled Using HTML5 with ArcGIS. In the seminar we provided an overview of HTML5 and looked at a number of common examples of how to use HTML5 in your GIS applications. We also showed a bunch of tips and tricks to get you started. If you missed the seminar, the recording is available on the Esri Training site.

The seminar included three question and answer sessions. We thought it would be worthwhile to post the five most frequently asked questions along with answers.

1. What is the best way to learn HTML5?

Learn by doing. Dive in (pun intended) and start building sites that use HTML5 features. Start using the new doctype. Use semantic tags. Experiment with things like session storage and the file API. When you get stuck or have questions, reference the any number of great HTML5-centric sites like HTML5 ROCKS and HTML5 Please. Watching the seminar video linked above is also a good start.

2. Is Esri developing a JavaScript viewer similar to the Flex and Silverlight viewers?

No, Esri is not building a stand-alone JavaScript viewer or application builder.  However, we recommend using the map viewer and downloadable templates. Esri does offer a template named Basic Viewer that provides commonly-requested web app functionality but it is designed specifically for use with and not meant to be a standalone JavaScript API framework.

3. Is feature x supported in browser y?

The best place to find information for feature support by the various browsers is

4. Has Esri published any application templates built using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript that are tailored to mobile devices?

We have not published any mobile specific application templates but the ArcGIS API for JavaScript documentation includes several mobile-specific samples.

5. How can I get automatic code completion when working with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript?

We have published a code assist plug-in for Aptana 2 but have not updated it for Aptana 3. With Aptana 3, the plug-in format changed and we have not yet been successful in updating to the version 3 format. We are looking into publishing a vsdoc for the API that could be used with Visual Studio (and potentially Aptana).

If you had any other lessons learned, thoughts, or resources you want to share, please post a comment.

Contributed by Andy Gup who is a technical lead with the Esri Developer Network and Derek Swingley of the ArcGIS API for JavaScript team.

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Leave a Reply


  1. cwilcomb says:

    “We are looking into publishing a vsdoc for the API that could be used with Visual Studio (and potentially Aptana).”

    Please make this a priority, it would make my life (and many others’) so much easier!

  2. mmoyles says:

    How about some emacs love?

  3. newtonpage says:

    How about some documentation or a reference to integration with increasingly standardized HTML5 tools like modernizr? There seem to be some (in-my-opinion) somewhat vague references to a few built-in checkers (such as css transforms) but for those of us using the API in the context of HTML5/CSS3 enabled apps, some guidance here would be helpful.



    • Derek Swingley says:

      Thanks. We’ll get this post updated. We released the vsdoc with version 3.0 of the API which came out after this post was originally published.

  4. carolynwhite says:

    Is there a VSDOC for the js api 3.2 or 3.3 for VS 2010 or 2012?

    And the link
    no longer seems to exists and instead you are referred to
    with no idea where to go to find info specific to this thread.

  5. carrierkh says:

    In response to item #2, why? This seems counter productive. Many of us do not have time to sit down and learn languages and the tools/widget integration into are way behind when compared to Flex and Silverlight. AGOL is nice but it simply does not have enough functionality yet. Having a javascript GUI interface for building apps would make life much easier. So again I ask why not?