Sunday, August 14, 2005

AJAXizing ArcGIS Server MapViewer Template

Being a great Ajax fan, I am excited to see big companies like Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Sun promoting it big time. ESRI is also planning to implement Ajax in the 9.2 Server ADF. I have developed a few tools myself integrating Ajax with the current ArcGIS Server MapViewer Java template and I think it's really cool and fast.
Let me describe one such tool a little bit more. It is the magnifier tool just like in ArcMap to get the more detailed floating map for a particular location in the main map. Normally with the server applications, you need to submit the form and reload the entire webpage to get the new data. Using the Ajax technique, however, we can request the magnified map behind the scene and thus it will eliminate the need to reload the entire website. Since there is no need to render the entire website, which could be costly timewise, there will be a significant improvement in performance and thus the user experience will be much closer to that of the desktop applications.
Greg Murray, Tor Norbye, Ed Burns have described 3 different techniques to use JSF application like the ArcGIS Server MapViewer with ajax. The first 2 techniques require creating custom components in JSF in such a way that the users of such components need not implement their own javascript code. Tor Norbye has described the design detail for creating an Ajax auto-complete component here.
I have, however, used the third technique because of its simplicity. With this technique, I didn't need to create my own custom JSF components. I had rather created a custom Servlet that would be responsible for generating the response for each request.
In my upcoming blogs, I will describe the code behind this tool.

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