January 29, 2006

A quick look at ESRI's ArcWeb Explorer Beta

From ESRI...  ArcWeb Explorer is a Web-based map viewing application based on Macromedia Flash 8. The ArcWeb Explorer uses vector mapping technology to render maps quickly in the browser instead of having the server render them.  See http://www2.arcwebservices.com/v2006/solutions/awx.jsp for details

You can check it out for yourself at http://redlandsarcweb.esri.com/explorer/index.jsp. Running a "sporadic" wireless connection from my laptop, I managed to connect but my speed wasn't too great.. either that or this app is a bit of a pig.. I'm not quite sure yet! At first glance the biggest turn off is the lack of panning which I've become totally accustomed to when using AJAX map servers (i.e.. think of Google, local.live, etc...). Out of habit I keep trying to pan but this forces a zoom rectangle... totally annoying!
Option menus available to users include Navigate, Find, Directions, and Map styles. The find works ok and is fast, quickly taking me to a location. Searching for Seattle, WA obviously returns a quick "hit" although if you want to locate a place like "Starbucks", Seattle, WA there's no POI DB like that at the time. The street maps look pretty nice and major features and landmarks are provided (e.g.. Greyhound bus station etc...), so far though the pan and zoom using the nav tool is pretty slow.. maybe there's simply too many users testing it.

Testing the Navigation tools... cached zoom levels obviously come up fast, however, clicking the - key to zoom out caused about a 3 second delay for me and place names seemed pretty cluttered on the display. Panning... clicking the ""W" or "E" nav option to pan resulted in about a 3 second delay in regenerating the new display... it didn't seem very transparent or seamless either as I waiting for black areas to fill in with detail. The left and right arrows didn't seem to accomplish anything for me at times so that left me a bit confused. After moving around a bit it turns out the arrows function as a "page forward" page back" option... I find this a bit confusing as they really do look like they would be meant for navigation like functionality like panning - Mouse-over tips would be really nice as an additional feature and would have clarified this a bit, however, a bit a customization can easily fix this, after all this is a beta test. For now I'm still messing around... what are you finding??


Anonymous said...

Check out OrbitGIS (Orbit Geospatial Technologies - www.orbitgis.com)- they have a webserver product that does the same thing. European.

Anonymous said...

I was very disappointed by the ArcWebexplorer. Mainly by the terrible, terrible performance (come on, ESRI, you're a big company and you can't build a fast web mapping server???) and the quirky usage.

Why create a "Flash"-based web mapping interface if it shows absolutely no advantage compared to AJAX-based interfaces? Or am I missing something?