Category: Mobile

9.3 Service Pack 1 Released!

 

On Friday November 7th, we shipped the first service pack for the 9.3 release of ArcGIS Server. This is a significant release for ArcGIS Mobile and we recommend that if you are currently using 9.3 that you download and install the patch.

 

The patch includes the following key enhancements and stability improvements that will be interested in:

 

ArcGIS Mobile Application supports Windows Mobile Smartphone devices
At SP1, the ArcGIS Mobile application now fully supports non-touch screen Windows Mobile devices (namely Windows Mobile 5 Pocket PC and Windows Mobile 6 Standard) devices. All menu items are fully accessible using the numeric keypad of your smartphone device and the map navigation controls are optimized for use with the rocker.

 

Mobile Server Performance
We identified and addressed a significant issue with the Mobile SOE of the Map Server during this service pack that will increase the performance of the Server and improve its stability. Some users were reporting that the Mobile Service would fail yet the Map Service remained accessible. Some users also found that they were running out of memory on their server as well. Both of these issues have been addressed in the SP1 release.

 

PostGres SQL Support
At the 9.3 final release, mobile applications did not support the editing of GIS data stored inside of a PostGres SQL database. This has now been addressed and PostGres SQL is a fully supported database for your mobile applications.

 

Much more…
There were a lot of additional targeted fixes that were made to the Server, SDK and Application. A list of all of those fixes can be found here: http://gisupdates.esri.com/93sp1/ArcGIS/ArcGIS-93sp1-issues.htm#Mobile-sp1

 

You can download SP from the following location on support.esri.com:
http://support.esri.com/index.cfm?fa=downloads.patchesServicePacks.viewPatch&PID=66&MetaID=1457#issues

 

Mobile Team

 

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The Mobile Web

A lot of people have asked us when we will add support for the iPhone, Blackberry and what about Android? Imagine the reaction we receive when we the answer is – we already do! Well, sort of. To explain, lets first discuss the target user of ArcGIS Mobile and then discuss how the Mobile Web fits into the picture…

Enterprise Field Worker

ArcGIS Mobile is designed and engineered to fit the needs and workflows of the enterprise field worker. Viewing and navigating to locations, collecting new spatial and tabular data, and locating/updating existing assets in the field are all common tasks for the enterprise field worker. They demand highly focused, workflow driven applications that are fully functional whether you are connected in the field or not. Where do you find the enterprise field worker? He/she inspects their city infrastructure, performs state or county surveys, responds to incidents when something bad happens, and much more. They leverage the corporate investment in GIS to manage their infrastructure in the field.

The Mobile Consumer

Those local and state agencies that are moving to ArcGIS Server and deploying mobile GIS to their field operations using ArcGIS Mobile are not the only field workforce that consumes corporate spatial data – citizens within a local government, tax payers within a county are as well. The mobile consumer wants to discover corporate information that is managed by their state or local government. For example, why can’t I see all of the recycling centers in my city using my iPhone or Blackberry? How about public transportation routes and schedules?

So how can a local government support so many different devices…

ArcGIS Server and Mobile Web Browsers

Mobile browsers come in a variety of flavors. They range from browsers that support basic or partial HTML rendering to those which support full HTML, JavaScript & CSS. Leading the pack right now is the iPhone Safari with support for all the above plus SVG graphics with JavaScript binding and an on device database. Several other mobile device manufacturers also integrate full fledged browsers, including Opera Mobile/Mini, Mobile Explorer, Blackberry Browser, etc. (A comprehensive list can be found at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microbrowser). 

At the 9.3 release, ArcGIS Server includes REST access to mapping and other geospatial services. These services can be easily accessed through simple HTTP calls, which can be made through any server side scripting language such as Php, Perl, Ruby, Python, etc or languages such as Java & C# or within client applications through JavaScript or FLEX/ActionScript.

Simple Web Mapping

With the rest of this blog posting, we will explain how you can use the new ArcGIS Server REST API to add a map into an HTML page and allow basic map navigation using links on the page and serve your consumers with your corporate data. We will use one of the ArcGIS Online map services as the map to display.The following is the PHP code for building this simple mobile web mapping application.

  • Determine the size of the map image to be requested, based on the browser’s USER-AGENT.

$userAgent = $_SERVER["HTTP_USER_AGENT"];if (strstr($userAgent, “iPhone”)) {
  …
}else if (…) {
  …
}

else {
  echo $userAgent;
}

  • Determine whether there is an extent already passed to it in the url query or initialize the map to a pre-defined extent.

$bbox = $ _ GET["bbox"];

if ($bbox == “”) {
  $bbox = “…”;
}

$bbox = explode(“,”, $bbox);
$left = (double) $bbox[0];

  • Create image request to ArcGIS Server REST,  passing size, format and extent information in the image url

 “<img src=”http://server.arcgisonline.com/…/export?f=image&format=jpg&bbox=” . $left . “,” . $bottom . “,” . $right . “,” . $top . “&” . $size . “” width=”" . $imgWidth . “” height=”" . $imgHeight . “” />”;

  • Calculate extents and create links based on navigation operations; zoom in/out and pan north/east/south/west. These links call the page itself and pass the calculated extent.

“<a href=”" . $base . “?” . “bbox=” . expand($left, $bottom, $right, $top, $width, $height, 0.5) . “”>+</a> | “;
“<a …>-</a> || “;

“<a href=”" . $base . “?” . “bbox=” . offset($left, $bottom, $right, $top, $width, $height, 0, $panFactor) . “”>N</a> | “;
“<a …>E</a> | “;
“<a …>S</a> | “;
“<a …>W</a> | “;

The following are screenshots of this simple mapping application running on different device emulators:

iPhone 2.1

Blackberry Curve (8320)

 

Android (v1)

This blog post is the first in a series of blog entries that will be published on how you can leverage the Mobile Web. Thanks go to Jayant Sai (lead developer of the Javascript API) for contributing this article.

Mobile Team

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ArcGIS Mobile Live Training Seminars Today

The first live training seminar for ArcGIS Mobile was at 9:00 PDT and there are only 2 left (11:00am PDT and 3:00pm PDT) so make sure you don’t miss this opportunity!!

We had over 500 connections to the first seminar and a lot of you asked questions. We are going to collate all questions that come in and cover them here on the blog so please make sure you log in and participate!

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ArcGIS Mobile Live Training Seminar Tomorrow!!

Tomorrow you will have the opportunity to hear Myles and Sabine present a free Live Training Seminar that highlights the key features of ArcGIS Mobile at the 9.3 release.

Today Jim Barry from the EDN team had the opportunity to get behind the scenes as they rehearsed for tomorrow. Here is a short interview with Myles and Sabine about ArcGIS Mobile and what you can expect from the LTS. Click on the picture below to see the preview video.

You can find details on the live training seminar here.

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Introduction to ArcGIS Mobile 9.3 Live Training Seminar!

If you are new to ArcGIS Mobile or have used ArcGIS Mobile 9.2 and want to quickly get up to speed with what the mobile team developed for the 9.3 release, you are in luck! We are going to present a no-cost live training seminar on Thursday October 2nd. That’s two days from now!!

Myles Sutherland and Sabine Barrera from the Mobile team will provide an overview of Mobile GIS, introduce you to the new ArcGIS Mobile application and explain how you can use ArcGIS Server to create and manage your mobile projects. You will have the opportunity to ask questions as well.

The seminar will run 3 times on Thursday at 9:00AM, 11:00AM, and 3:00PM (PDT). You might be asking what you need to do to tune into the seminar. Well all you need is a good broadband internet connection and an ESRI Global Account.

You can find details on the live training seminar here: Introduction to ArcGIS Mobile 9.3

Mobile Team

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Leveraging Base Maps in ArcGIS Mobile

At the 9.3 release, we introduced the concept of a “base map” layer into both the ArcGIS Mobile application and the mobile client SDK. Base map layers contain highly compressed vector map data such as street networks or parcel fabrics that provide reference information in the field. This blog entry illustrates how to identify base map content, create a base map, and add a base map layer to your mobile project or custom mobile application.

Identifying Base Map Content 
When building your mobile map, certain layers within the map document can be identified as candidates for a base map layer. Candidates include map content that you need to see in the field but not update, does not change or get updated frequently, and is quite large in size. It is important to note that only vector layers are candidates for inclusion as a base map layer – raster is not supported.

Building a Mobile Base Map
Once you have identified the set of layers that you

Adding a Base Map to your Mobile Project

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Deploying your ArcGIS Mobile solution

An extremely important and challenging step in building an effective mobile solution is the deployment of it. Deployment involves packaging all of the information required to complete operations in the field and getting that information into the hands of your field workers so they can be efficient and productive with the software and data you give them.

I would like to focus this blog entry on deployment of the ArcGIS Mobile application, mobile projects and data to Windows Mobile handheld devices. If you need to deploy a custom mobile solution to laptops or tablets, you should take a look at a code gallery posting we have for building a mobile runtime.  

Overview 

There is no “one solution fits all” when it comes to deploying mobile solutions. Factors such as the size of your field workforce, the devices that they use in the field, the volume of data required for field use, and the frequency you need them to synchronize with the office all influence the choices you will make. Let’s not forget to factor in IT infrastructure either!

It all boils down to 2 methodologies. Either you “push” information to devices or you “pull” information from a server to your device. There are a number of 3rd party deployment systems in the marketplace today that you can use to “push” deployments to devices (Microsoft, SOTI, and Motorola are a few companies that offer solutions). With ArcGIS Mobile, we offer a web-centric solution for the “pull” model out-of-the-box by creating a web site and web service that hosts your mobile projects and the ArcGIS Mobile application. More on that a little later.

Windows Mobile and CAB files

First it is important to understand that Windows Mobile devices use cabinet files (.CAB files) as a compressed installer for applications and CAB files can be used for other information (such as map data). Marcus Perryman wrote an interesting blog article on MSDN explaining cabinet technology so I won’t go into details on the technology here.With ArcGIS Mobile at 9.3, we include a .CAB file for the out-of-the-box application and provide that CAB file as a link on a web page that you can download from your mobile device. Deploying the ArcGIS Mobile application to a mobile device is as simple as clicking on the CAB link from your device.

Note that at 9.3 we also include a CAB for the SDK runtime as well. You can use the SDK runtime in the deployment of your custom Windows Mobile application.We recently posted a code gallery entry on how you can create a .CAB file for your application that includes this SDK runtime CAB using Visual Studio. 

ArcGIS Mobile Web Site 

When you install ArcGIS Server at 9.3, a new web site is created to help you manage your mobile deployments (http://yourWebServer/yourInstance/Mobile). This web site is optimized for mobile browsers as well. It contains a link to the .CAB file for the ArcGIS Mobile application, and links for each of the projects that you create inside of the Server Manager as shown below. Projects are xml files that configure the ArcGIS Mobile application with data and tasks.

From your Windows Mobile device, you can use the web browser and navigate to the web site on your server, download and install the application by clicking on the link, and download the mobile project which configures the mobile application to use appropriate map data and tasks for your work in the field.

Using the ArcGIS Mobile application you can open the project and pull map data from the server using the Synchronize task. Pulling map data from the server to the device can take time if are wireless so be careful…

What would be more efficient is to pre-cache the data, create a .CAB from it, and somehow get this CAB file to the mobile device. But how?

Creating a Data Deployment Cache

Within ArcGIS Desktop, you will find a new toolset in the ArcToolbox window that contains 2 new geoprocessing tools for building mobile datasets:

Ignoring the Create Mobile Basemap tool for a minute, lets discuss the Generate Mobile Service Cache tool. This tool inputs a connection to your mobile service, lets you pick a set of map layers and an extent, and creates an output cache into a defined folder location. For your mobile projects, you can create caches using this tool for deployment to devices.

The Create Mobile Basemap tool can be used to build a highly compressed mobile base map. This tool uses a map document as input and creates a folder of SDC files. Inside of the project you define you can specify a base map when determining the layer source. Please read more about preparing maps and data to understand how you can leverage base maps inside of ArcGIS Mobile.

Building a Data Deployment CAB

Once you have built a mobile service cache, you can then create a data deployment CAB. If you are savy in the ways of Visual Studio, you can use it to create a CAB file from your mobile service cache. But if not, we have put a utility application that you can use to create your own cache on the code gallery called the Data Deployment Utility. Using this tool, you can create a CAB file for your mobile cache.

Tweaking the Mobile Web Site

The ArcGIS Mobile application CAB file and each of the mobile project files are stored on your web server. You can find these files at: \yourServerInetpubwwwrootyourInstanceMobile. Projects are stored in the Project folder, the CAB file is located in the Software folder.

Also at that folder location you will find 2 ASP web pages – Default.aspx and MobileDefault.aspx. As you might expect, MobileDefault.aspx is the web page loaded when you access the site from a mobile web browser and Default.aspx is the web page loaded from a Desktop. You can extend either web page with your own information and/or links to other downloads.

The <body> tag inside of MobileDefault looks like this:
<body>
    <form id=”form1″ runat=”server”>       
        <div>
        </div>
    </form>
</body>

You can extend the page with your own content with something like this (in bold) where the:

<body>
    <mobile:Form id=”mobileForm” runat=”server”>        
            <b>
              <a href=”MobileApplication.ashx?file=ProjectXData.CAB”>
                Project X Data CAB</a>
            </b>

  </mobile:Form>  
</body>

If ProjectXData.CAB is located in the software folder, the end result will be a new link for your data CAB directly below the project list like so:



New CAB Link

From your mobile device you can click on the new link added to the MobileDefault.aspx web page and it will download and install the mobile service cache onto your device.

Summary

Deployment is an important step in building an effective and efficient mobile solution. There are a number of factors to consider when choosing a deployment methodology and there are deployment systems that you can purchase to make the deployment process easier. ArcGIS Mobile provides a very simple, out-of-the-box experience for deployment that you can extend for your needs. Remember that deployment can make or break the success of a mobile solution. Spend time in analyzing how deployment best fits into your field operations before making any decisions.

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New Community Center for ArcGIS Mobile!

The ArcGIS Mobile Resource Center introduced a new Community Center today!

The goal of the Community Center is to grow a vibrant online community centered around Mobile GIS. The community center aggregates all sources of information that change frequently so you have the most recent information. It includes this blog site, forums, knowledge base articles, and a code gallery for developers.

With the launch of the community center, the mobile dev team has uploaded a number of code samples that you can download in the code gallery. All samples uploaded by the dev team are clearly indicated by the “ArcGIS Mobile Development Team” tag on the sample.

During our presentations at UC2008 (both in the technical workshops and at the Mobile Island Demo Theatre), we wrote a lot of code and those of you who attended our presentations have asked for us to share it with you. So the code samples prefixed with “ArcGIS Mobile – ” are exactly those samples. Once you have taken a look, please come back to the code gallery and give these samples a rating!

To post your code to the code gallery, all you need to do is log into the code gallery using your ESRI Global account. If you do not yet have one, you can sign up for one here.

 

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Oakland County Animal Control

At the Mobile and LBS Special Interest Group meeting held Wednesday evening, Mike Dagle and Scott Oppmann from Oakland County Michigan shared their experiences deploying a solution for Oakland County Animal Control using ArcGIS Server and the newly released ArcGIS Mobile application.

Dagle Presentation
Mike Dagle discussing implementation lessons learned 

Background
Oakland County Animal Control was established in 1919 to enforce pet-ownership laws and control stray pet population. Each year Animal Control conducts a dog census. The goal of the census is to both estimate the number of domestic pets and locate/issue citations any unlicensed dogs. Due to the size of county, approximately 10 municipalities are canvassed each year and the County uses summer students to conduct the census.

Prior to implementing ArcGIS Mobile, the process involved geocoding current dog licenses, joining the geocoded location to tax parcels, creating a series of 11×17 paper maps, conducting the census on paper log sheets and then manually entering the logged results into a database in the office. There were several limitations with their current process that by implementing ArcGIS Mobile they hoped to overcome – needless production of many paper maps, redundant entry of information, potential error/loss of data by poorly written/lost/damaged logs, inefficient use of staff with considerable lag time between field logging and data entry.

Solution
Mike Dagle, Scott Oppmann, Dawn Beemer and Brian Ely from the County chose to use ArcGIS Server and deploy the new ArcGIS Mobile application to census takers. They were able to leverage their existing investment in ArcGIS. They replicated their Tax Parcels geodatabase and transformed the parcels feature class to include Animal Census attributes. Then using ArcMap, they symbolized the parcels layer to create a unique list of feature types that would represent the target properties for census takers.

Map Symbolization
Unique value rendering in ArcMap and ArcGIS Mobile

Once the map and geodatabase were in place, the next step was then to simply publish the map as a map service with mobile data access capabilities in ArcCatalog and then use the ArcGIS Server Manager application to author the Animal Control project for field use with the ArcGIS Mobile application. A Windows 2003 Server box running IIS 6 was employed for the census and Oakland County chose to implement a reverse-proxy architecture using ISAPI rewrite so that census takers could wirelessly synchronize census updates from the field yet manage their solution from within the County firewall.


Animal Census System Architecture

Deployment and Field Use 
Oakland County chose to deploy AT&T Tilt devices to their census takers due to their relative low cost, network reliability and coverage, and inclusion of an integrated GPS. They chose to use the web page/web service out of the box methodology to deploy the mobile application, project and data cache to all devices.The census takers were able to pick up and use both the devices and the ArcGIS Mobile application with little to no training. This was in part due to the fact that the census takers were young summer students and very familiar with cell phone technology.

Given that the ArcGIS Mobile application leverages both the intelligence of the map and the geodatabase, yet providing the flexibility in defining a mobile project so that the terminology and tasks match the needs of the field workforce, the census takers were very efficient in their use of the application. They used the GPS capabilities to navigate themselves on the map and the Identify and Search capabilities to locate the parcels they needed to update. The edit form displays the field aliases of the map that can be further refined when defining the edit form for the project and the data entry controls honor the intelligence of the geodatabase.

Geodatabase Domains
The Edit Form honors geodatabase business rules

Conclusions
The deployment of ArcGIS Mobile was a resounding success for the County. They were able to implement and deploy their Animal Control solution without the need of a developer and were able to get the system up and running very quickly. The ArcGIS Mobile application and its inherent task-based workflows proved easy for the census takers to understand and use and required very little training. The ability to wirelessly synchronize information from the field directly into their geodatabase removed the redundant data entry and potential loss of data. And by using a handheld device they eliminated the need to create paper maps. They are now looking at other paper-based field solutions that can be replaced using ArcGIS Mobile and ArcGIS Server technology.

On the ArcGIS Mobile product pages, you can download the Oakland County Case Study documenting the Oakland County experience. There you will find additional case studies illustrating the use of ArcGIS Mobile.

I would like to extend a special thank you to Mike Dagle, Scott Oppmann, Tammi Shepherd, and Dawn Siegel from Oakland County for their willingness to embrace and deploy new technology and share their GIS needs with both ESRI and the GIS community as a whole. You rock.

Mobile Team

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Reflecting on UC 2008

The users conference has come and gone and we are very thankful to all that came to our technical sessions, demo theatre presentations, and engaged us in conversation at the Mobile Island. This year was a big success for ArcGIS Mobile and we are now back into Redlands busy planning our next release. We received a lot of wonderful feedback from you and are integrating that feedback into our planning and future development as I write this.

We will begin a series of posts on this blog site that provide detailed answers to the most frequently asked questions we received at the island and in our sessions. Here is a sample:

What is the difference between ArcPad and ArcGIS Mobile? How do I choose between the two of them?

ArcPad and ArcGIS Mobile are separate technologies designed for mobile GIS. When deciding which is the appropriate solution to deploy, you need to consider what your field GIS project needs are, the number of field workers you need to deploy Mobile GIS to, and how Mobile GIS fits into your existing IT infrastructure.

ArcGIS Mobile extends our ArcGIS Server product and is a platform that enterprise organizations can use to centrally manage their mobile GIS needs. It includes both a configurable application that targets non-GIS professionals who demand a very focused handheld application for their data collection and inspection needs and includes a .NET SDK that you can use to embed GIS functionality into existing business applications. ArcGIS Mobile is IT-friendly – it fits well into an existing SOA and can be fully secured. ArcGIS Mobile applications provide a free flow of information between the field and office and do not require the field workforce understand or use Desktop GIS technology. ArcGIS Mobile applications target medium to large deployments of non-GIS professionals.

ArcPad is a GIS field data collection solution for mobile applications.  It provides a rich set of tools for field mapping, query and editing. ArcPad is ideal for ad-hoc data collection and small number of deployments. It is traditionally used by GIS professionals. It operates in a disconnected environment where users check out part of a Geodatabase via ArcGIS Desktop, take information out into the field, and upon return check in their edits and collected data to the Geodatabase using ArcGIS Desktop. ArcPad can also be customized for specific user and organization requirements using ArcPad Application Builder. ArcPad has a map centric user interface.

Here is a slide that summarizes what is written above:

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