and ArcGIS API

In 2012 I ran into Joseph Kerski in San Marcos at the 2012 National Council for Geographic Education conference. received an excellence in media from the organization that year and I have distinct memory of a small hotel hall room conversation with Joseph where he asked something along the lines of why I do not I use ESRI’s services. Truth is, I am a user, and teach, with multiple GIS platforms including QGIS, ArcGIS Online, Earth Engine, Earth, Google Maps, Google My Maps, Google Maps API. After several years of delay, I have finally started looking at ArcGIS’ JavaScript API.

First Draft

What I like..

Please know that I have only spent a couple of weekends creating this new draft site. However, I do have some positive first impressions. First, ever since the lose of the Earth API I have dreamed to bring a globe back into a website. The bonus with ArcGIS API is that users can toggle between both 2D and 3D.

First Draft

I have mixed feelings about all widgets, no matter the service. Widgets are, and have always been, nice and easy to work with, but there is always something that I would like to change. These compromises are minimal with the ArcGIS API, but they are there. From the documentation, it looks like a real developer, one who knew what they were doing, could modify and/or create their own. However, ain’t no high school teacher have time for that. For this project there are several widgets, including search, elevation, and measurements. These widgets are easy to implement in the code. The only issue is being aware of how to start, stop, clear, and reset for a 2D environment and a 3D world… MapView vs  SceneView.

First Draft

The basemap options are fantastic. Eventually, once I figure it out, I will add the raster pyramid tiles and geoJson vector data I use in Loading the data does not look to be difficult. Like all the version of, the menu system is going to take some time. Mashing together an API with a home grown UX takes more time than a couple of weekends for me. The basic UI framework is there. In addition, I have another former function that I would like to bring back to layers that will add some time to my development. Therefore, currently the only exploration of maps are ESRI’s basemaps….which are fantastic! Really enjoy the outline map next to a reference map!

First Draft

What I miss…

Urgh! Street View. Street View is the primary reason I have not already experimented with the ArcGIS API. I do not believe there is one time when my class is using that at least one student is not using Street View. Even if there is nothing in the activity having to do with Street View, someone has dropped PegMan into North Korea.

First Draft

Similar to Street View, when it comes to populated areas, Google’s imagery is far better than the available basemaps; at least the ones I have seen. Cultural landscape is a huge component to my human geography high school coarse. There seems to be more complex 3D scenes available with ESRI’s services. However, this is not a a default option.

Google Maps API Left | ArcGIS Imagery Basemap Right

Using an API key is not straight forward. I am not sure how long this draft site will work because I do not have a ‘pay as you go’ setup as a developer. One of the reasons I am branching out to this API is because I had to take the search location out of One month, I received a $300 bill from Google’s Map Platform due to their Places API, the service for map search. I got out of the bill by disabling the feature. And this is where most of my uncertainty lies. I have no idea how much this API will cost if I keep developing it. I do not even know how long it will work without a key.  

As always, the primary purpose of is to bring a free site to help teachers educate and engage students using Google Geo Tools. Ad and sign in free. I see as a gift to the curious educators and students that find value in these sites. As mentioned earlier, I am a high school teacher, so sorry it cannot be more.

Follow me on twitter @geteach if you are interested in project updates.