At Latitude Geographics, we enjoy the rituals of preparing for the biggest annual event we attend: The Esri User Conference. One of these rituals I particularly enjoy is poring over Esri's meticulously prepared, pre-conference publication, called the Esri UC Q&A.

Each year it provides meaningful insights into Esri’s themes, message, strategy, and concrete development plans, and its coverage is extremely broad.

The 2016 edition emphasizes a key theme that is increasingly relevant to partners like us, and all organizations that use ArcGIS: the Web GIS pattern.

Rather than paraphrasing, I’ve captured some of the key questions that thoroughly describe Web GIS:

  • Can you explain what a Web GIS is?
    This is a great starting point for learning about Web GIS: Esri’s definitive explanation of the term.
  • What is the big idea with Web GIS?
    Esri’s response to this question describes an ambitious, global vision with comparisons to the Internet itself. This certainly is a ‘big idea’!
  • What is the Geoinformation Model, and why is it important?
    Most of the information in this answer is provided via the ArcGIS Online Help link provided. All software systems start with some sort of ‘model’. It’s great to see the formalization of the term Geoinformation Model to describe the building blocks of portals and Web GIS.
  • What is a web map and why is that important?
    I think that web maps form the central currency of ArcGIS Online, Portal for ArcGIS... and therefore a Web GIS. While Geocortex currently consumes web maps, we’re also doing a lot of engineering work right now to make web maps even more integral to our software.

At Latitude, we’re laser focused on building software that complements Web GIS implementation approaches. Geocortex integrates with ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS, it consumes web maps and other aspects of the Geoinformation Model, and leverages ArcGIS identities to personalize app experiences and provide the right content to the right users. We spent a considerable amount of time discussing Web GIS at our own user conference in May, and are committed to helping our customers understand it as it continues to influence technology changes.

Another interesting takeaway from the Q&A is how Esri’s position of ArcGIS Server is evolving. No, I’m not referring to this (I have no comment on that), there’s a far more interesting question worth a read, and a re-read: How would you describe ArcGIS for Server today? Succinctly, we’re seeing ArcGIS for Server positioned as all aspects of the Web GIS that might run on premise, including the traditionally independently positioned Portal for ArcGIS, and server extension products. ArcGIS Server is far more than just the GIS server in its classic form, and it's empowering to think of it as a the on-premises component of a broad-reaching Web GIS.

We’re excited about heading down to San Diego next week to and talk about all things Web GIS with Esri and our customers! Come visit us in Booth 311, and visit our event page to sign up for some of the presentations, demonstrations, and get togethers we have planned.