ArcGIS API for JavaScript

I was recently involved in some work with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript – one of those Web mapping APIs Esri developed. I have dealt mostly with Silverlight API before, so JavaScript API was quite new for me. The experience is quite positive, though – I enjoyed working with the API. So I have decided to share some of the things I got my hands on lately:

Let’s start with what benefits JavaScript has:

  • it seems to show the highest application performance compared to other APIs;
  • it supports the biggest number of operating systems;
  • since this API uses pure HTML and JavaScript there are no browser plug-ins required;
  • JavaScript developers have access to multiple JavaScript libraries and frameworks like Dojo framework which includes various charting tools and common controls;
  • there are some free web-based development environments like Aptana Studio and any text editor can be used as well;
  • Esri provides access to multiple out-of-the-box ArcGIS.com viewers.

For those who have just decided to learn JavaScript, visit the NetTuts+ web site, which has a great article on how to master JavaScript. Personally, I had a great time working through the courses at codeacademy.com – a terrific Web site where you can learn to programme, whilst having fun at the same time.

You can get started with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript at their home page. JavaScript API is hosted by ESRI on ArcGIS Online and is naturally available for free use. However, you can also download and install the developer kit which includes the API reference, samples, and documentation.

NB: The SDK and the API reference of previous versions are NOT available online yet – it can be downloaded and used locally at the ArcGIS API for JavaScript Download Page.

I have also thought to share some resources which are worth a look. I have organized them in a list with a concise description to give you a general understanding of the purpose.

  • Dojo is a very large JavaScript library with lots of components that one can integrate into your own applications.
  • A great collection of best practices in web development is available on the Mozilla Web site.
  • JS Beautifier is a neat tool that organizes JavaScript/HTML code in a nice layout.
  • JSLint is another good resource for code quality validation and finding typos.
  • JQuery is a very good JavaScript library widely used with the ArcGIS API for JavaScript.

And just one more thing for those who need to check the code coming in multiple files. WinDiff is a very neat, free utility for comparing the contents of the HTML/JS files to figure out in what parts they differ.

Happy coding!

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