User-Friendly Maps, No Coding Required

Apr 13, 2016 · 3 min read

A Conversation with Annie Cahill from the City of Winchester

By Jessica Wyland, Esri

Without writing a single line of code, Annie Cahill recently deployed eight interactive mapping web apps for Winchester, Virginia.

As Winchester’s GIS coordinator, Cahill needed to make maps for the city that are user friendly and accessible on smartphones and tablets. If the work could be accomplished “in house,” the city would save time and expense.

To reach these goals, Cahill used Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS, included as part of ArcGIS Online and Portal for ArcGIS. Although she used the developer edition, most users get everything they need from the version available in ArcGIS Online, Esri’s cloud-based mapping platform.

Within a few days Cahill was able to create a general mapping site of city parks and services as well as maps for tax parcel data, zoning, utilities, floodplain, school and voting districts.

Here, Cahill shares her experience.

Q: What prompted you to update your city’s mapping sites?

A: We have an increased demand for mobile-friendly sites with improved functionality. In my experience, providing individual mapping sites for specific uses is more effective than putting all GIS data in one site.

Q: Why did you use Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS?

A: I needed a solution that would be compatible with my skill level and goals for the sites. My programming skills are limited and I did not want to invest a lot of time or money into training or paying a consultant. I met with an Esri solutions engineer who explained that I could create new mapping sites using the software we already have. The only thing I needed was Web AppBuilder which was easy to download and install.

Q: What was it like using Web AppBuilder?

A: I was new to both ArcGIS Online and Web AppBuilder, but after working with both programs for a while I developed a good workflow. Web AppBuilder has been amazing and really fun to use. There are so many options for app styles and widgets. You can create something aesthetically pleasing and functional. There is even a built-in mobile device viewer where you can preview your app.

Q: Do you have a favorite widget?

A: My favorite part of Web AppBuilder is probably the query widget because it begins populating results as you type. This is especially helpful when someone is searching a street name with a difficult spelling or entering a more complicated string such as a tax map ID number. It’s easier for the user.

Q: How are people reacting?

A: I have heard from both staff members and external users such as realtors, engineers, consultants, and even citizens about how much they like the new sites. The maps are on Winchester’s main city website so they are accessed by internal users and the general public. People love the ‘facelift’ the sites have gotten, but I hear compliments especially about the searching capability. People have also told me they love how user friendly the new sites are and how much better they perform on smartphones and tablets.

Q: What’s changed for you?

A: I am so comfortable with the workflow that I am now helping other localities with their mapping. Web AppBuilder has provided relief for a lot of people who are responsible for web mapping when they have minimal to no programming experience.

Check out the City of Winchester’s interactive maps.

See what you can do with Web AppBuilder for ArcGIS.


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Esri pursues mapping and spatial analysis with visionary products and services that define the science of GIS.

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