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A New Flex Web Map API is Coming

Posted by Charles | March 20, 2008 .

At ESRI’s Developer Summit, Mansour Raad revealed the new Flex API for ArcGIS server. ESRI had a Flex API for the ArcWeb Service, which is in ActionScript 2 for Flex 2. We posted the mashup series awhile ago, which used that Flex API. Now the new Flex is totally revised in ActionScript 3, which I’m sure many assets developed for ArcWeb Services are reused too. Yesterday Moxie’s post regarding the GeoWeb made a point why these new APIs from ESRI are significant to GeoWeb. Besides GeoWeb, the coming new Flex API will add nice dosage of “Geo” into the RIA space too.

As you know, Yahoo has ActionScript 3 Map API, so does MapQuest (AS3 API). So why this additional AS3 map API is a big deal?

The answer comes down again to the “Geo” part of GeoWeb. I think it’s about time we pass the put-markers-on-map phase of GeoWeb. What ESRI’s JavaScript Map API and coming Flex Map API will do for digital map are what the CGI (or server side scripting) did for HTML in many years ago. It’s about going beyond location visualization on a simple cached giant digital map. Both ESRI’s JavaScript Map API and Flex Map API pushes the mystery and scientific flavored GIS to the common mainstream web space, just like what Google did to digital map for the web.

So, what’s the coming ESRI Flex Map API looks like? Here are some highlights:

  • The Flex API is modeled as close as possible to the new ESRI JavaScript API. That includes, the object class names, property names, method name, the workflow to construct and customize the map, how symbols and layers added to the map, how the geo processes are accessed, etc. That means if you have learned how the JavaScript API work, which is as simple as Google Map API, you can very quickly do the same thing in Flex. Very clever.
  • It might be available in the summer. It’ll be in beta before the release.
  • A community site will be developed to have anything you need to jump start Flex GeoWeb development.

The demos Mansour showed are very promising and exciting. By the way, according to ESRI, depends on the demands, a Silverlight MAP API might be developed too. That’ll make ESRI a very complete (or not) RIA GeoWeb platform.

Before the Flex API, you might want to check out the JavaScript one here. You need register as beta tester though.

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