Demystifying Web GIS

what is webgis

GIS is evolving. That is a fact, but equally true is how quickly this is happening. Sometimes just keeping up with it all seems overwhelming. So how can we simplify some of these new concepts such as “Web GIS” and the “Web AppBuilder”? And once you know the potential of modern Web GIS, how can you be successful in leveraging that within your organisation? Esri South Africa hosted a seminar on 28 July to unpack these topics and show some examples of how Portal for ArcGIS can be used and configured to suit the way your company operates.

In summary, Web GIS is very much the GIS we already know and love. It is now just much more accessible using web technologies and is greatly simplified/configurable to suit the wider audience it now caters to. Look through a copy of the presentation from the seminar to get an idea of what was discussed and feel free to leave a note, comment, thought or problem in the comments below.

Demysitfying Web GIS – Esri South Africa Seminar – July 28

Happy web gis’ing!

– Richard

Adding a Custom Widget to the Web App Builder

Note that the functionality to deploy custom widgets in the Portal-hosted Web AppBuilder is now supported at 10.5.1. See this Esri blog for more details: https://blogs.esri.com/esri/arcgis/2017/06/30/web-appbuilder-for-arcgis-now-supports-custom-widgets-in-arcgis-enterprise-10-5-1/

The Web AppBuilder from Esri has already proven to be a powerful tool for creating new web mapping apps incredibly quickly – for us and many of our users. One challenge we keep coming across is that ‘it provides us with 80% of what the users actually need’. So, how do we go about giving them the last 20%, without building a new app from scratch with the SDKs? Well, the answer is to create your own custom widgets – this is fairly well documented by Esri (see link). But what if you have Portal for ArcGIS in your organisation and want to embed the widget in there? Well, let’s walk through the steps on how to go about doing this.

For detailed instructions and screenshots of every step, please click on the link below to view the pdf documentation:
Portal Widget Install Guide rev02

P.S. Please remember to make a backup of all the files we will be editing in these steps.

Step 1:

First copy your custom widget with all its files into the following widgets directories:

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappbuilder\stemapp\widgets\”

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappviewer\widgets\”

 Widget_Picture01

If you are uncertain about the structure in which your widget should be, have a look at some of the other widgets in these directories.

Step 2:

Next you will want to add your widget to the config.json files:

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappbuilder\stemapp\”

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappviewer\”

 Widget_Picture02

  • Set “widgetManifestsMerged”: true

  • Add custom widget to the “WidgetPool”\”widgets” section

Step 3:

Add your widget’s manifest to the widget manifest file “widgets-manifest-builder.json” to the following locations:

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappbuilder\stemapp\widgets\”

“<install_location>\ArcGIS\Portal\apps\webappviewer\widgets\”

To save time you can copy one of the existing widget’s manifests and change the details accordingly.

Step 4:

Congratulation, you are all done!

Now all that is left is to restart Portal for ArcGIS or JavaScript Application Builder and you will be able to use your custom widget in your app builder.

Widget_Picture03