The Portland R&D Center recently sent some of the team down to Esri's annual User Conference in sunny San Diego, California. Esri's International User Conference has steadily grown from the first 16 attendees at the 1981 UC in Redlands to over 16,000 attendees in 2014!
The main purpose of our visit was to highlight the technology that the Portland R&D Center builds and provide a way for us to interact with our customers, offer assistance, and gain valuable feedback. Discussing with customers how they use our current technology offerings can be an incredibly valuable experience. Hearing the excitement around the ideas presented throughout the conference can be just the thing an engineer needs to stay focused on building the new features that customers need.
"While talking to users of our applications about what they would like to see in the future, it became apparent that our upcoming projects are on the right track. Various discussions about possible ways of using the Geotrigger Service has provided a solid basis for use-cases going forward."
- Kenichi Nakamura
"UC is always a great because we get to see how our tools are being used to solve real world problems. I meet a lot of developers exploring new solutions like Angular JS and Leaflet in addition to ArcGIS Products. I also meet with developers and startups who are building some really impressive applications that leverage our platform. People are really excited about Esri Leaflet and it's starting to see wider adoption as a solution which is exciting."
- Patrick Arlt
Amber Case presented "Designing Calm Technology" in front of an appropriately calm audience in beanbag chairs. She urged mindfulness in designing technology to improve people's lives.
"Calm technology describes a state of technological maturity where a user's primary task is not computing, but being human. The idea behind Calm Technology is to have smarter people, not things."
- Amber Case
One of the favorite parts of the UC for many of the team is always the Map Gallery. Wandering through an enormous room filled with both light and maps is a dream come true for many GIS enthusiasts. The room itself has an amazing tent-like roofline and stays blissfully cool.
The Map Gallery is a place for any Esri UC attendee to showcase their maps. All maps are then eligible for the People's Choice Award. My vote has to go to the 'Where does the cow go' map that once and for all solves this age old question.
One of the other main initiatives that our team is focused on within Esri includes promoting Open Data and solidifying relationships with Code for America and other similar organizations. Nate Goldman has been focused on pushing forward the definition and adoption of the OpenTrails data format.
"I had a great time at the UC. I connected with city and regional government employees and heard their thoughts and ideas on the OpenTrails open data initiative I'm involved in. I met lots of entrepreneurs building startups and was able to answer their questions and hear their ideas about the Geotrigger Service. I also had the pleasure of seeing a lot of great talks and going to events like the GeoDev meetup to see what everyone's working on around the world."
- Nate Goldman
The UC isn't just about work, though. There were plenty of lighter events to allow for socialization with our GIS brethren. From a special UC GeoDev meetup, to the 5K Fun Run/Walk, to the UC Selfie Interactive Story Map, to the closing UC Party, there were plenty of opportunities to reconnect with old friends and meet new friends. The relationships we all build at these events last well beyond the conference itself, and helps keep the GIS community strong.
All in all, it was a great week spent with our fellow Mapsters across the globe.