I am mid level GIS Analyst\GPS Coordinator who would like to become a GIS mobile developer at some point. At my workplace we work in the ESRI Platform,ArcGIS Server etc Being a GIS Analyst without any programming experience under my belt.I have started taking java programming classes.At some point in time i would like to create native apps.

However,right now I am not sure how to get there. Should I start off by creating apps using ArcGIS server and then branch off in to native apps etc?

So I guess my question is where do I start? Formal training, languages etc.There is so much information but i am having a hard time figuring out where to go.

Hopefully some of you can shed some light from the prospects of someone who is experienced professional in the field. Thank you for your time and my apologies for the vagueness of my question.

  • 8
    If you're serious about becoming a developer, mobile or not, you're going to need to learn some serious programming and computer science fundamentals. Don't even worry about GIS development until you have a good base of programming to start with. Also, it's probably important to have a good idea of why you want to take the mobile developer route - courses can help with with. – Radar Apr 26 '13 at 22:55
  • 2
    My advice: install PostGRESql with the PostGIS extension, and relearn GIS from the data layer up. Once you learn how to use SQL to run spatial queries on some real data, you'll gain confidence. Next, I suggest dropping the "mobile" emphasis and learn JavaScript via OpenLayers. I say this, because word on the street is the future of mobile mapping is probably not native apps, but HTML5 and JavaScript. – elrobis Apr 27 '13 at 0:22

To answer this question in a definitive manner I think you need to focus on exactly what field of mobile GIS development you are interested in pursuing. Based on your current job title, are you interested in developing applications that are primarily geared towards implementing GIS in the field, i.e. data collection, GPS tracking, etc? Or a different field, such as implementing geospatial capability in non-GIS specific applications, or extending existing web-based GIS applications to the mobile realm? To reiterate the previous comments, developing native applications is not trivial with no previous programming experience; there will be a considerable learning curve but nothing insurmountable if this is what interests you. Furthermore, having a basic understanding of ArcGIS Server and the manner in which geoprocessing operations are exposed via the REST API will be crucial for developing applications; native and non-native apps based on the ArcGIS platform consume these services in a similar manner. Be aware that ArcGIS is not the only platform available, but it is a good place to start if you are already familiar with the technology. Provide an answer to these questions, and I can point you in the appropriate direction. I will edit this answer accordingly (too long for a comment).


Since you're already taking java classes, I'd look at the ArcGIS Runtime SDK for Android, which borrows heavily from java and provides packages that support easy consumption of ArcGIS Server.

Still, as others have mentioned, it is worth reviewing the native vs HTML5 debate.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.