ROK Blog

Web-App Development from Scratch

Emma Paz - Friday, June 20, 2014
After our recent submission to Esri’s Climate Resilience App Challenge, I wanted to follow up further with details on RainHarvest, addressing that which many of you might have asked--what does it take to develop a web-app from scratch? If that’s the case, here’s our ROK recipe:

1. Find a Problem that Needs a Solution: Before developing RainHarvest, ROK took on the goals proposed by Esri’s Challenge and thought about the resources at risk as a matter of climate change. With that said, keep in mind that most projects, whether for non-profit or for-profit, begin by “solving a problem” or streamlining a process.
2. Define the Scope of the Project: While looking to our surrounding area, we narrowed our focus to water and the challenges it poses among our community. We also decided we would query and analyze/calculate data for Charleston (with the potential of expanding nationwide). Word of caution: the larger the scope, the harder the data acquisition and overall project.
3. Research and Acquire the Data: Finding data can often start through government agency websites (like NOAA and USGS), or colleges and universities (like Oregon State University’s PRISM Group, from where we downloaded RainHarvest’s national monthly rainfall polygons) or Esri basemaps and ArcGIS Online data, among others.
4. Publish your data/map services: Here at ROK, we processed the data we acquired and published through our own ArcGIS Server, ready to be displayed and queried from our Rest Services.
5. Plan & Write the Web Application: Before diving into any code, take your project’s scope (from step 2) and flesh it out as a diagram of related functions and variables. With that plan, focus on the bare bones functionality of your app. As mentioned previously, RainHarvest was developed by building onto a Bootstrap template downloaded from GitHub, some of the latest framework that uses HTML5 and JS to automatically synchronize your work into a seamless web and mobile-ready interface. Here at ROK we also recommend sifting through the code samples available through the ArcGIS API for JS. This is where you will find many of the components essential to the functionality of your app, available as JQuery and Dojo library plug-ins, among others. Lastly, never hesitate to search for additional “effects” and animated thunder .gifs (that’s a shout-out to our own app) through Google.
6. Seek Evaluation: Even after running the numbers (triple-checking your outputs) and collaborating with colleagues and peers, never hesitate to seek feedback from some of your non-expert family and friends. In fact, they will almost always be the ideal app-testers--novice users who will “break” what you thought was perfect. That’s the kind of quality assurance you need before an app release.
7. Walk Away: Chances are you could always continue to improve a project, even after reaching its defined scope. Regardless, try walking away for a few days; see how you really feel about those changes you made at midnight before committing any more time. With a clear head, you may just realize your app is great.

And, just in case you haven’t seen it yet, please check out ROK’s Environmental App,

Happy mapping,


Client Spotlight: City of Pensacola

Yvonne Jones - Wednesday, October 02, 2013

Client Spotlight:

We are pleased to welcome the City of Pensacola as an ArcGISSM Server Hosting client. Pensacola is currently using CityView, Pensacola's private label of ROK’s GOMaps, to view, analyze, and serve all its GIS data.  Pensacola has limited open space for new construction and the city needed access to organized information for business and occupation licenses, code enforcement violations, and other documents managed by the city. ROK built a custom solution for the city based on ArcGIS.

“We focused heavily on reporting and analysis from a parcel based perspective,” says  Paul Kelly, GIS Manager for Pensacola City .  “Currently there are 5 separate reports that can be run which inform the user of a parcel’s Council District, Zoning, Future Land Use, Garbage and Recycling pick up days, as well as dozens of special districts such as the Airport Noise Zone, Historic District, Enterprise Zone, and so on.” 

To get Pensacola started quickly, we coordinated with Escambia County, Florida, with whom we had recently created an Address tool.  Having experienced success with that application, the county allowed Pensacola  the use of the tool for customization.  Implementing an address tool that can be used without a map interface leveraged Pensacola’s investment in GIS while providing users quick access to GIS data through reporting. 

“The GOMaps platform is future proof to accommodate the growing needs of Pensacola,” says Kelly.  “It allows for growth with the addition of new data and analysis. ”

Visit the Pensacola City website to see the parcel search tool in action. Or, feel free to Contact Us  with any questions you may have regarding Geographic Information Systems.

Client Spotlight: Escambia County, FL

Yvonne Jones - Friday, September 21, 2012


Client Spotlight: We are pleased to welcome Escambia County, FL as an ArcGIS Server Hosting Client. Escambia County, Florida is presently working on launching ROK GoMaps in the future and is currently utilizing ROK’s address search tool. Residents of Escambia County can utilize the address tool to find information about a property such as County Commission District, water franchise jurisdictions, school zones, voting precinct, emergency management hurricane evacuation zones and more. Residents with questions on how to use this great tool can view a video tutorial here (http://www.myescambia.com/lookup.html ). Don’t forget to check back soon. Once Escambia has launched ROK GoMaps, the public will have access to more searchable data.

“Escambia County Government and Citizens have benefited in many ways as a result [of] ROK Technologies' services.  We have provided GIS web map services to the public for several years and the tools and templates provided through GoMaps and other "ROK" services have pleased internal staff and outside citizen users. The staff at ROK Technologies has introduced several new ideas such as an address reporting tool and a video tutorial to assist users by demonstration.  Their quick delivery on development following our requests has offered a chance to test concepts and enhance the successfulness to our GIS users.  We are looking forward to future advancement through an ongoing partnership with ROK Tech.”

Charlie Gonzalez, GISP, GIS Manager, Escambia County, Florida

Visit the Escambia County, Fl website to see the address search tool in action. Or, feel free to Contact Us  with any questions you may have regarding Geographic Information Systems.

GOMaps Mobile - iOS and Android Applications

Carey Jenkins - Friday, September 07, 2012

ROK Mobile is pleased to announce the latest regarding GOMaps Mobile.  You can now preview GOMaps Mobile in the Google Play Store and the iTunes Store. This example is for Henderson County, NC. 

Give your citizens/employees on-the-go access to county maps and information via their mobile device with our new GOMaps Mobile Application.    Powered by ArcGIS Server, GOMaps Mobile utilizes the state-of the-art in mobile GIS technology.

Features include:

  • Allows access to your GIS maps for any mobile platform
  • Custom Searches like Owner Name or PIN
  • Bookmarks i.e zoom to a specific town
  • Drill Down Identify
  • Map Themes, such as Zoning, Aerials, Basemaps, Schools, etc

Benefits of GOMaps for Mobile

  • Reduces foot traffic in county offices
  • Alleviates phone support to realtors, banks, attorneys, and surveyors.
  • Access your GIS maps anytime anywhere
  • Potential Revenue Source
  • ROK offers deep GIS expertise and  support that extends your ability to leverage Esri technology

Interested in learning more?  Contact us

Franklin County, AL

Carey Jenkins - Saturday, July 28, 2012
Client Spotlight: We are pleased to welcome Franklin County, AL as a ArcGIS Server Hosting Client. Franklin County, Alabama is working toward becoming more transparent to the community by launching a Facebook and Twitter account in the coming days. More importantly, they are looking to effectively utilize Geographic Information Systems by launching Virtual Franklin County, a GIS Mapping site, this past February.

Virtual Franklin County was built for the purpose of communicating with the public. By capitalizing on Geographic Information Systems, and coming onto our ArcGIS Server Hosting, we will now be able to show the public property information, voting poll locations, bridges with school bus weight restrictions, road closings, and capital improvements, such as utility enhancements and road resurfacing, among many others. In addition to the “need to know” information, we are including many other helpful resources as a part of our GIS data. These include recreational facilities and events, historical documents and photos, and demographic information, just to name a few of the map layers. We have added widgets, available at the ESRI ArcGIS Viewer for Flex Resource Center, in order to add functionality to the GIS application and allow the user more interaction with the information. This is a very dynamic GIS application, as we will be adding and updating information on a regular basis, to ensure that the citizens of Franklin County are able to receive current, updated GIS data. Click here to see the ArcGIS viewer.

"Our goal at Franklin County was to configure an ArcGIS Viewer for Flex application, design a GIS map for the application, and to have it all published and hosted on a tight deadline. With the help of ROK, we managed to meet the deadline with ease. Their customer service is phenomenal. Always helpful and friendly, and pulled me out of a jam on more than one occasion. They were even there to help late into the evening after normal business hours. Not to mention the fact that we are thoroughly impressed by their technical capabilities in the realm of Geographic Information Systems. We have been told by many users of our GIS application, including seasoned GIS professionals, how impressed they are at the drawing speed of our image cache and map service. For these reasons, we will look to ROK for any additional support needed for our GIS efforts."  Michael Hughes, GIS Manager, Franklin County, AL GIS Consortium

Onslow County, NC

Carey Jenkins - Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Client Spotlight:  We are pleased to announce that our long time client, Onslow County, NC has upgraded from ArcIMS to ArcGIS Server, allowing them a more broad and effective use of Geographic Information Systems. When visiting the Onslow County, NC website, users now have access to the ROK GoMaps applications, thus giving them the ability to perform powerful GIS analysis, including complex queries, export excel files, and create spatial buffers. It is an exciting time for Geographic Information Systems altogether, and we're very happy that our friends from Onslow County, NC are taking the opportunity to utilize the full potential of ArcGIS. The application utilizes Esri basemap map services along with their own dynamic and cached map services, allowing for all new GIS capabilities. The cached map services utilize ROK Technologies' cloud-based tile hosting service to ensure rapid delivery to the end users. GoMaps is an application developed and hosted by ROK.

Recently, ROK Technologies updated our website to the ArcGIS server, and implemented the GIS application GoMaps. We have received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. I had dreaded changing the website, because normally the public is resistant to change. However, with this change to a more effective Geographic Information System, I have been pleasantly surprised with the numerous compliments we have received. Over the past 14 years, we have worked on several projects with ROK, and they always go the extra mile to support us and aid us with all of our GIS needs. The entire ROK staff is knowledgeable, helpful, and easy to work with. It has been a pleasure working with them through the years on various GIS issues, and I look forward to working with them on future projects as well."

Patricia Pike, GIS Manager  

Visit the Onslow County, NC web site to see the GIS application GoMaps in action. Or, feel free to Contact Us with any questions you may have regarding Geographic Information Systems.




Davie County, NC

Carey Jenkins - Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Client Spotlight:  After months of testing, design, and preparation, Davie County GIS is pleased to announce that the new GoMaps site is now available.  The new GoMaps has plenty of new features to  display Davie County’s GIS data.  Users will also find more tools for searching and displaying property information, so that you get the most out of your GIS operation.  The site now  includes Google Street View, layer transparency for aerial imagery, enhanced property reports, and much more.  Users can also place graphics on the map for printing.  Bookmarks allow the user  to return to a saved location at a later time.  Instructional videos are available under the help section to assist in learning these fantastic new GIS features.

We recently completed the transition from our old GoMaps ArcIMS-based site to the new GoMaps Advanced site built on ArcGIS Server with the Flex API.  A tremendous improvement in the user experience!  ROK did a great job helping us upgrade the site and move to hosted and cached map services.  The performance and new features of GoMaps Advanced have made the change well worth the investment and the transition has been nearly effortless.  Feedback has been very positive and our users have readily made the switch to the new site.  Davie County has been a customer of ROK since 1998 and we have been very pleased with the service ROK provides.  Many thanks to Jason, Cotter, Jay and the whole team at ROK.”  John Gallimore, GIS Manager, Davie County, NC

For more information about GIS and ArcGIS Cloud Hosting, Contact Us today. We look forward to helping you improve the way you use GIS.

ROK Mobile - ArcGIS Server Javascript API

Hazel Digital Media Admin - Tuesday, April 10, 2012

In the GIS industry, mobile applications are becoming more of a need than a wish list item.  Here are a few interesting facts about Mobile:

90% of phones today can browse the web
  • By 2014, Mobile Internet Usage will overtake Desktop Usage
  • Half of all searches are done from a mobile device

Check out this application designed specifically for iPad/iPhone.  You can search for parcels by either entering an Owner Name or Parcel ID. This will result in highlighted properties on the map and a list of results that displays information about that particular property.  It also gives you a link to either zoom to the parcel or go directly to a more detailed tax information page. If you choose the zoom in option, an information window will pop up with more information about that property and also a link to the more detailed tax site. Users are also able to click on any parcel to retrieve the information window. The application also includes a geo location function, which displays your current location on the map.  iPad Version and iPhone Version (You will need an iPad or an iPhone in order to view these links correctly)

Interested in developing a mobile application?  Contact us today to get started. 

Geoworld - Resource Of The Month

Jason Harris - Thursday, August 13, 2009
Our recent HivAtlas application (ArcGIS Server Javascript API site) was just highlighted in the latest issue of GeoWorld. Its on page 9 - "Resource Of The Month". I always find it strange when the folks who publish these articles never give you a heads up. Anyway, its nice to be recognized. Lots and lots of work went into that application. And - its one of the many ArcGIS Server sites that are hosted here at ROK...If you would like any information on our ArcGIS Server hosting services, drop us a line

Jason Harris

New Site Using Remote Cache Hosting Service - ArcGIS Server in The Cloud

Jason Harris - Friday, June 19, 2009
Hey folks...Just wanted to share a site that is now using our remote cache hosting service to serve cached tiles.

I previously showed several Javascript API sites uing this service, but this one is using Flex api for ArcGIS Server.

This really frees up bandwidth to let the dynamic layers be served quickly. Those aerial images can be very bandwidth intensive, so hosting these remotely them makes a lot of sense when bandwidth is limited, or you have a high volume site.

Here is is: Santa Rosa Planning and Zoning Viewer. The layer that is being served remotely is the 'Aerial Photos' layer. If you are a developer geek like me, check out the site with firebug enabled so that you can see the Aerial imagery being served remotely - meaning a different location that the ArcGIS server itself. Cool stuff.

Jason Harris

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