With the release of ArcGIS Server 9.3, you'll have the following APIs available for building web applications with ESRI software:

  • Web ADF (.NET and Java)
  • REST (.NET and Java)
  • JavaScript
  • Google Maps Extender
  • Virtual Earth Extender

In addition to these APIs, ESRI is also working on a Flex API and Silverlight API that will be released post 9.3. No matter what the technical requirements are for your project, at least one of these APIs should help you get the job done. But which one? With choice comes confusion. There's obvious strengths and weaknesses of choosing one over the other, as well as overlap in the functionalities they offer. Sometimes the choice is clear based on the technology stack and features you're targeting. For example, if you require a secure solution and are standardized on .NET Framework then the .NET Web ADF is likely the best choice. Over the next few weeks I'll discuss and compare these APIs in hopes of making your decision a little bit clearer, as well as share our experiences with them to date.