ArcGIS for Server from an Esri Rookie

As part of an ongoing graduate program development pathway I was privileged to recently attend the ArcGIS for Server: Sharing GIS Content on the Web training course offered by Esri Australia. While I’m now comfortable in the ArcGIS Desktop environment after a few months, the thought of attending an ArcGIS Server course was a daunting prospect. Like many Esri users in Australia I have become familiar with the latest functionality of ArcGIS Desktop at version 10.2, as well as publishing hosted services to the cloud based solution known as ArcGIS Online – but what about the ArcGIS platform more broadly? ArcGIS for Server: Sharing GIS Content on the Web builds on foundation knowledge from ArcGIS Desktop and new found workflows used to publish content to ArcGIS Online, utilising server infrastructure within your organisation. This training course provides GIS administrators and publishers with an understanding of how to share content to users over the web. ArcGIS Server ensures more control to provide secure, reliable GIS services to every web, mobile and desktop application within your organisation. The useful tips and tricks from experienced Esri Australia trainers were invaluable throughout the course and an overview of how ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server and the ArcGIS APIs integrate across the ArcGIS platform provided an important foundation for the remainder of the course. Whether you are a GIS Rookie (like myself), a GIS Pro or you’re wanting to refresh your knowledge in this space, check out the Esri Australia training schedule for when ArcGIS for Server: Sharing GIS Content on the Web and other training offerings are coming up in your state. For a sneak peek of what to expect during this course, be sure to a read the summary… the surprises however will have to wait until you attend yourself … Day One We learned the meaning of registering data with the server and how registering your data store with ArcGIS Server ensures data is not copied to the server but read from the source. In the afternoon we learned how to create a customised web mapping application using the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex and Silverlight APIs and services published from ArcGIS Server. The importance of optimising your map documents and data in ArcGIS Desktop before publishing a diverse range of services using ArcGIS Server reiterated the need to understand how your maps and data will be deployed to clients, whether it is ArcGIS Desktop, web browsers or mobile devices. A useful tip for this workflow is to use the Analyse function of the Service editor window when publishing a service and you can check the performance of your service using the Preview window which allows you to check the time ArcGIS Server needs to render your web service. With this in mind, increased demand for optimised performance from users via smart devices for example, requires important design considerations such as scale dependent display when publishing and sharing services on the web. The last chapter on day one covered how to build a test cache and use additional tools such as the new ArcGIS Performance Calibration tool to assess the performance of a cache before publishing a tiled service using ArcGIS Server.

An overview of the ArcGIS and OGC compliant web services.

An overview of the ArcGIS and OGC compliant web services.

Day Two Many Esri users in Australia use web maps on a daily basis and often imagery is used as a basemap to enrich our operational layers. The start of day two provided a useful workflow on how to create image services from rasters and mosaic datasets using the Image Extension for ArcGIS for Server. Mosaic datasets are a powerful method of seamlessly referencing raster files for aerial imagery for example that might be stored in another location such as a network drive. We also saw how to deliver sub-products of the mosaic dataset by applying functions such as creating a hillshade or a shaded relief and how to integrate these functions in a web mapping application. In this way, one image service can be used to deliver several products without the need of creating several images services. It was a useful tip I took away early on the second day. These lessons reiterated the importance of determining when you might need to provide a map or data as a map service, a cached service or as an image service if you need users to view, download and analyse data.

Web services published from ArcGIS for Server in web mapping applications using one of the Esri APIs.

This course also built upon foundation knowledge from other Esri Australia training courses that introduced geoprocessing tools in ArcGIS II: Essential Workflows, creating models in ModelBuilder during Geoprocessing Workflows as well as scripting tools using Python covered in Introduction to Geoprocessing Scripts using Python. We learned how to create and publish geoprocessing services from models that allow users to perform analysis which can easily be integrated into web applications using one of the three Esri APIs. The exercises provided a broader understanding of the lessons such as whether to publish geoprocessing services as either asynchronous or synchronous services given considerations about process duration and the number of users performing a geoprocessing request at any given time. The last service addressed in the course was feature service which will be familiar to users who have published hosted feature services to ArcGIS Online using the Service Editor window. Enabling Feature Access when publishing a service to ArcGIS Server allows publisher and administrators to decide whether users can update, query, delete and add new features to a feature service. With this in mind, a useful tip from one of the Esri Australia trainers is to enable editor tracking on your feature service to see who last edited the feature service in a multiuser geodatabase environment. ArcGIS for Server: Sharing GIS Content on the Web concludes with a scenario exercise that weaves together all of the lessons learned throughout the course with students publishing and sharing their own web GIS solution leveraging the power of ArcGIS Server across the ArcGIS platform. Seth G.

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