The ArcPad Team Blog

Unofficial stuff from the team behind the World's leading mobile GIS platform

Friday, March 30, 2007

ArcPad Customization Presentation Available at EDN Web Site

The 2nd annual ESRI Developer Summit was held March 19–22, 2007, at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, California.

Craig Greenwald and Stephen Quan from the ArcPad Team presented the
ArcPad Customization session at the conference. The session covered how to move beyond simple forms and toolbars and build mobile GIS applications using ArcPad and ArcPad Application Builder.

The slide presentation for this session have been posted on the ESRI Developer Network web site. You can download it following this link.

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

11:52 Minutes of Fame - It's Very Spatial

Our friends, Sue and Jesse, over at Very Spatial dropped by the ArcPad stand at the ESRI Developer Summit for a podcast interview on ArcPad and hear a little of its history and its future.

Is this using up part of my 15 minutes of fame? Do I have just 3:08 minutes left?

Find out for yourself ...

or if you listen to podcasts on an iPod its well worth subscribing to the Very Spatial podcasts via iTunes :

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

ESRI Developer Summit

If your in Palm Springs for the ESRI BP/DS come and say hello to the ArcPad team! (from left to right: Shane, Stephen, Elvin, Jian, Craig, and Jeff)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Latest versions of Software / Firmware related to ArcPad as of: MARCH 2007

A few apps have been updated, of particular note are the GPS firmware upgrades for Magellan and Trimble. Active sync has also been upgraded, but there should be no issues with the 4.2 release with ArcPad.

OrganisationSoftware / FirmwareCurrent Version No
ESRIArcPad Application Builder7.0.1
MicrosoftActive Sync4.5
TrimbleGeoExplorer 2005 Series GPS Firmware1.81
TrimbleGeoExplorer 2005 Series OS Firmware5.1.13
TrimbleGeoExplorer 2003 Series OS and GPS Firmware2.00.02
TrimbleGPS Correct2.11
TrimbleGPS Analyst2.0
MagellanMobile Mapper CE OS Firmware2.91
MagellanMobile Mapper CE GPS FirmwareE032

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

ArcPad 7.1 Beta is Open for Applications

ArcPad 7.1 (including ArcPad Application Builder 7.1) Beta is now open for applications.

We will make the software download and more documentation available in the next couple of days.

So what is new in ArcPad 7.1?

The major feature introduced at ArcPad 7.1 is an out-of-the-box solution for supporting ‘related tables’. In previous versions of ArcPad, features in a Geodatabase were exported during the Check Out process and stored in shapefiles. Subtypes and domains were stored in the individual shapefile’s edit form. Relationship classes defined in the Geodatabase were not supported and user specific customizations got overwritten after each check out session.

In ArcPad 7.1 feature classes including relationships defined in the Geodatabase are extracted to a single ArcPad AXF File. Relationship classes as well as the subtypes and domains are maintained and enforced at the database level instead of forms (eliminating the overwrite which happens at the previous Check Out). Each feature can support multiple sets of attributes in separate tables. The user will be able to edit the features as well as the related tables in the field.

The ArcPad tools have also seen significant improvement in the area of data transfer and data sharing between ArcPad and ArcGIS in addition to support of related tables. The ArcPad Data Manager extension for ArcGIS Desktop 9.2 that comes with ArcPad 7.1 will include Get Data For ArcPad and Get Data From ArcPad tools for both ArcToolbox and ArcMap. The ArcPad Data Manager allows the user to get data from the office to the field, deploy to multiple devices, and then update the Geodatabase with the field edits. The ArcPad Geoprocessing tools for ArcToolbox enable power users to automate repeatable Get Data for/from ArcPad sessions for batch geoprocessing.

ArcPad Application Builder 7.1 has been improved to support ArcPad AXF files. The user may also use ArcPad Application Builder to set “read-only” layers so that they will not be editable in the field. The ArcPad 7.1 object model is updated to support data relationship rules.

How does this change the user experience with ArcPad?

With the introduction of ArcPad AXF files in 7.1, the end user’s experience remains mostly un-changed. Shapefiles are supported in the same way as in previous ArcPad versions and most existing functionality will work for both Shapefiles and AXF files. A user can have an ArcPad project which contains both AXF layers and shapefiles and they would appear the same.

The key difference is that if the user would like to view/query/edit related tables in the field, they must use the AXF file generated by ArcPad Data Manager for ArcGIS 9.2.

To find out more you will need to sign up for the beta program :)

Saturday, March 03, 2007

ArcPad on Ultra-Mobile PCs (UMPC)

Last year Microsoft released the Ultra-Mobile PC family (UMPC). For those of you that haven’t already heard of these, they are a range of devices that are smaller and lighter than a notebook PC, have a pen input display and run the Tablet PC version of Windows.

So is an UMPC a good device choice for ArcPad?

Any of you that have been researching potential devices or have experience in deploying ArcPad in the field know that a perfect field device choice is near impossible! On the ArcPad team we have had the opportunity to work with many devices over the years. Although we come across many devices that are very good and near for perfect for some applications, we have yet to encounter a device that is perfect for every ArcPad mobile application.

So the answer is “It depends”... on you

So let’s briefly look at some of the features of the UMPC which might make it a contender for your ArcPad application. We prefer not to promote any specific manufacturer’s devices, preferring you to make choices based on your own criteria. However I thought it useful to describe the UMPC based on my own experience with a specific device, the ASUS R2H.

  • Display: Typically a UMPC has a 7” display at 800x480 resolution. The R2H is no different. I love having a 7” display for maps, especially when making use of ArcPad’s symbology capabilities. Indoors the screen is clear and bright. Outdoors it is useable but not great. A device’s screen quality in the target environment is often a critical factor. I have to suggest you see a UMPC in outdoor conditions to see for yourself what you think.

  • Input: UMPCs have pen operated displays. Like on a Pocket PC you can use the pen just like a mouse, use a popup keyboard or try the handwriting recognition support in Table PC Windows. I’m not the biggest fan of handwriting recognition on Pocket PC’s, but I have to say on the UMPC is not bad and with a bit more patience it can work well for you. UMPCs also support voice input, but I have to say my experience in applying it to ArcPad is limited so far.

  • Performance: You’ll love the speed of ArcPad on a UMPC especially you’re a long time Pocket PC user of ArcPad. Most UMPC’s have a 900+Mhz CPU. This is by no means fast compared to the most PCs these days and would not be your choice to run ArcMap, but for ArcPad it’s great. ArcPad has always been designed to run on slower Pocket PC CPUs with little memory. So when you put ArcPad on an UMPC it really flies. You’ll probably love it if you use large raster layers and vector drawing speed is great.

  • Storage: My model of the R2H has a 60GB hard drive, typical for an UMPC is a 40gb to 60gb drive. After the operating system and ArcPad are installed there is still plenty of space for your data. The R2H also has a SD card slot making it very easy to exchange data with Pocket PC users, just put in the card and access it directly from ArcPad just like on a Pocket PC. You can also use a USB drive for very durable low cost solid state storage.

  • Ruggedness: The R2H is 'reasonably' durable but not rugged in the sense of harsher environments with heat, dust and water. It's small enough to encase and not make it too large however this could have some effect on its cooling. I find the R2H gets quite warm in use, so in ruggedizing it I would have to take care so that the cooling remains effective.

  • Battery life: Not a strong point. It’s more like a notebook getting around 2hours on the standard battery. I have ordered a double capacity battery for mine to extend it to nearly 4hours. The good thing is that the batteries don’t seem too expensive and are easily changed in the field alllowing you can carry multiple and extend the in field time.

  • Peripherals: Like most UMPCs, the R2H has 3 USB ports making it easy to plug in a DVD drive to install software, a keyboard, mouse and other USB peripherals. This makes it easy to setup and work with when at a desk. The R2H also has a built in camera.

  • Connectivity: Built in wireless LAN, Bluetooth and Ethernet port allows easy connections in almost any network environment. As it is a PC you don’t use ActiveSync, so file transfer is just a matter of copying files as you would with any other PC. It can be accessed via a network or you can transfer using SD card or USB drives.

  • GPS: The R2H has a built in GPS, something not yet common on other UMPCs. Connecting up a GPS is often a hassle for users, but devices having a GPS built in makes it a breeze ellimenating cable and battery issues. On the R2H you do have to run a little program to enable the GPS, but this can be made part of your start up to keep it simple. The built in GPS uses the SiRF chip and delivers acceptable performance as compared with other similar consumer style GPS devices. If you want precision you can attach a higher quality GPS via bluetooth or USB.

  • Security: The R2H has a fingerprint reader. This allows you to configure the device so you just swipe your finger to logon. This is great for multiple users with different settings and it adds a level of data protection if used wisely.

Some ArcPad vendors are starting to offer the UMPC, for example ESRI China (Hong Kong) has an ArcPad bundle based on the Samsung Q1 UMPC.

In conclusion there is no substitute in choosing a device than for you to try one out for yourself, in your target ArcPad environment and in the hands of the intended user. The UMPC adds dimension to the range of mobile devices suitable for ArcPad and the ASUS R2H is a worthy unit to evaluate.

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