Book Image

Building Web Applications with ArcGIS

By : Hussein Nasser
Book Image

Building Web Applications with ArcGIS

By: Hussein Nasser

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (13 chapters)

Chapter 1. The Bestaurants Project

The Web has proved to be the most resilient technology ever since its invention. New technologies have risen and died down against the rapid pace of technology advancement and the user adaptation. However, the Web remains the most used technology due to its open standard and accessibility. The idea of having a thin browser that can consume content over a network from a remote server seems to be the most intelligent and intuitive design ever created. The client is completely isolated from the gimmicks of the server: what version, references, dependencies of the software, operating system, and so on. All the browser has to support is HTTP. Not only that, the web applications can also reflect on business budget, as it eliminates expensive hardware budget, software licenses, and it can even extend the number of users.


Hypertext Transfer Protocol (HTTP) is a standard protocol for transferring structured text information between client and server.

Seeing its formidability, companies looking to reach a wider client base with the least cost started adopting the Web into their enterprises. Desktop applications started moving to the Web. I can still remember the days when I used to search for applications to convert an image to an icon file so that I can use it in my projects. I had to make sure that I had the right operating system to install the software and install any dependencies if needed. Now, with the ICO converter website, I simply upload my image, and the website returns the icon file. Similarly, to create a ringtone for my phone, I can edit and cut my favorite part of the mp3 music file by uploading it to, then specifying where to cut, and then download the new mp3 file.

Among the companies that started to adopt the Web is Esri, the top geographic information system software provider with its ArcGIS flagship software. Esri's main successful software is ArcGIS for Desktop, hereafter known as Desktop (uppercase). This rich software was built for Microsoft Windows and it has had a lot of success. However, to view the geographic data created by ArcGIS for Desktop, one should have this software installed on his or her PC. This takes resources, time, and more licenses, making users frown upon using it, especially those who don't use Windows as their primary operating system. Also, companies adopting the ArcGIS technology have to pay extra for licensing for each user on the desktop.

  • ArcGIS: This is the proprietary technology, from Esri, that helps author, edit, publish, and view geographic content.

  • ArcGIS for Desktop: This is a 32-bit desktop application running on Microsoft Windows that allows for creating, editing, viewing, and analyzing of geographic content.

That is why Esri designed a new solution which enables users to consume geographic and mapping data from a browser. This software is called ArcGIS for Server. It allows the user to publish geographic content as a web service that can be used from different terminals. It also enables mobile devices to consume GIS data, something that traditionally was limited to desktop application only. The Online Audio Cutter website, for instance, has a web service that is being called from the main page to execute the file cutting process and returns the new modified file.

ArcGIS for Server is an integrated solution, which is becoming the backbone for the ArcGIS technology. The solution is scalable, meaning that you can add more machines to increase the performance. The installation of ArcGIS for Server is outside the scope of this book. You can learn how to install, configure, tune, and administer ArcGIS for Server from my other book, Administering ArcGIS for Server, published by Packt Publishing.


ArcGIS for Server: This is a solution that allows users to publish geographic content as a web service and use it from any client that supports HTTP. You can read more about ArcGIS for Server here:

Web service: This is a method that can be called by a client to perform a particular task and return some results.

In this book, you will work on a fictional business project named Bestaurants, where you will learn how to design and develop a completely functional ArcGIS web application that allows you to view Bestaurants's database of restaurants. This chapter will focus on setting up the basics and the fundamentals that will help you get started. We will read and understand the project mission requirements, design an interface and architecture, set up the Web server, and develop the template for our web application.