ArcGIS Server Javascript API is Out

ESRI has officially released its JavaScript APIs. You can read about them and see code samples here.

Essentially the Javascript API’s are client-side Javascript libraries that connect to ArcGIS Server REST web services. One is stand-alone, and the other two are integration pieces with Google Maps and Microsoft Virtual Eart. Absolutely no ESRI software is required for the developer or the web site host - you’re writing standard HTML and Javascript. ESRI is even hosting the library, so you can simply link to it.

How easy is it to use? They have a lot of code examples on their site, but for a simple map, once you’ve reverenced the Javascript API, it’s as simple as:

dojo.require(“esri.map”);
function init() {
var map = new esri.Map(“map”);
var tiledMapServiceLayer = new esri.layers.ArcGISTiledMapServiceLayer(“http://server.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/ESRI_Imagery_World_2D/MapServer“);
map.addLayer(tiledMapServiceLayer);
}

dojo.addOnLoad(init);

And viola - an interactive map from one of ESRI’s servers is sitting on your web page.

I haven’t exactly been pining for the ArcGIS Server 9.3 release - a lot of these things (Javascript API, REST, image caching, geoprocessing, etc.) I’ve been doing for quite a while with open source software (OpenLayers, GeoServer, GeoWebCache, PostGIS, etc.). In fact, after browsing through the API docs, I’m finding a lot lacking when compared to the kitchen-sink library that is OpenLayers. Still, if I do anything web-related with ArcGIS Server, this is what I will use. The fact that it’s based on the dojo toolkit is also a big plus in my book. I’m more in the jQuery camp myself, but my programming infedelity is legend. But the biggest bonus with AGS, of course, is tight integration with the rest of the ESRI software catalog.

Again, this is essentially free stuff - no high priced IDE’s or ESRI software required. You can build a whole mapping site hitting services from other people’s ArcGIS Servers (hopefully with their permission :). The samples are well put together and easy to follow. Thumbs up to ESRI on this one.