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Making the Next Move - Strategies for Migrating from ArcGIS Web AppBuilder

I am answering your questions from our “Making the Next Move: Strategies for Migrating from ArcGIS Web AppBuilder” webinar. In this blog post, I will cover the best ways to transition your applications from ArcGIS Web App Builder.  

The transition out of ArcGIS Web AppBuilder may be a situation that seems daunting to a lot of us. I am here to show you that this can be done using simple methods and to answer some of the most frequently asked questions. This will help to ensure a smooth and easy transition and help you to be aware of what is coming with this announced retirement. 

For a recap of what we covered in our recent webinar on this topic, take a look at our webinar recording.  

ArcGIS Web AppBuilder Retirement: 

ArcGIS Web AppBuilder was originally introduced in 2014, initially leveraging the ArcGIS API for Javascript (3.x). Since then, the next generation of the Javascript API has been released – the ArcGIS Maps SDK for JavaScript. ArcGIS Experience Builder leveraged on the new ArcGIS Maps SDK which is why you must transition your current Web AppBuilder applications to other solutions within the suite of ArcGIS products. 

There are various options that may choose to transition your applications. They are as follows: 

  1. ArcGIS Dashboards 

  1. ArcGIS Instant Apps  

  1. ArcGIS StoryMaps 

  1. ArcGIS Experience Builder 

I highly encourage that you spend time to evaluate what your needs are in your applications and assess which options serve as the most suitable transition method for you or your organization. ArcGIS Experience Builder will be the application that contains most of the widget functionality from ArcGIS Web AppBuilder. Although if there are any missing widgets in Experience Builder as well as some other functionality that is needed within your application, other applications may be able to support this.  

When it comes to the retirement timeline, there are a few more things worth mentioning to avoid any type of problems with your applications in the future. There are various different timelines for the retirements of ArcGIS Web AppBuilder. As of this time, these are currently the planned dates for each corresponding retirement.  

This image outlines the planned Retirement Roadmap for Web AppBuilder occurring at various different times in the upcoming years

Planned Retirement Roadmap for Web AppBuilder

As you can see, the Developer Edition will retire in July 2024 which coincides with the retirement of the Javascript 3.x API. This will be followed by the ArcGIS Enterprise version of the app which will retire in the first half of 2025. 

It is important to remember that since the ArcGIS Enterprise version of Web AppBuilder is currently deprecated as of this time (although, it will continue to be supported in correspondence to the ArcGIS Enterprise product life cycle), I like to promote building new applications in Experience Builder rather than Web AppBuilder to avoid some application transitions in the future. If you would like to prevent users from creating new applications in Web AppBuilder, there is a possibility to disable access to Web AppBuilder in your Portal to help discourage people from using it. 

Finally, we have ArcGIS Online which will retire in the fourth quarter of 2025. After this time, you will still be able to open old applications created using Web AppBuilder, but you will not be able to edit them or create new ones. This is why you must transition before these set deadlines to other applications as there will be no future updates and defect fixes for ArcGIS Web AppBuilder. 

The Functionality Matrix: 

The functionality matrix found here offers insights into what to expect from ArcGIS Experience Builder. It is important to analyze this matrix to determine which applications may be the best fit for you. It also identifies which widget functionalities are needed. Have a look at the functionality matrix for the transition from Web AppBuilder to Experience Builder. The matrix shows which widgets from Web AppBuilder are currently in Experience Builder. The two images below give more details on the remaining widgets. 

This image outlines the functionality matrix for the transition from Web AppBuilder to Experience Builder in ArcGIS Online

The Functionality Matrix for ArcGIS Experience Builder in ArcGIS Online as of July 5, 2023

This image outlines the functionality matrix for the transition from Web AppBuilder to Experience Builder in ArcGIS Enterprise

The Functionality Matrix for ArcGIS Experience Builder in ArcGIS Enterprise as of May 24, 2023 

Some of the widgets are either planned to be added in the future, or not planned at this time. Please refer to the Q&A section of this blog post to see what will happen to the widgets which are not planned and what some alternatives may be. If you come across a widget that isn't on our current roadmap, I'd recommend sharing your ideas on the Esri community. This way, the community can provide feedback and comments on your post, facilitating collaboration with developers to address your needs effectively. 

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Here, we will discuss some frequently asked questions regarding the transition from ArcGIS Web AppBuilder to ArcGIS Experience Builder and answer some questions from the webinar. 

Q: What exactly does 'Web AppBuilder as part of ArcGIS Enterprise is considered deprecated as of March 2023' mean, and is ArcGIS Online or Developer Edition impacted? 

A: This means that although Web AppBuilder is available in ArcGIS Enterprise (and supported as part of the ArcGIS Enterprise product lifecycle), Esri is discouraging further use of Web AppBuilder within ArcGIS Enterprise. In other words, this does not mean that you cannot use it, but it is strongly encouraged to start transitioning to ArcGIS Experience Builder or alternative ArcGIS applications that meet your needs. 

ArcGIS Web AppBuilder will continue to be included in ArcGIS Enterprise releases until the first half of 2025 at which point Web AppBuilder will no longer be included in ArcGIS Enterprise releases thereafter.  Web AppBuilder, as part of ArcGIS Enterprise, will be supported according to the ArcGIS Enterprise product lifecycle.   

As of the time of this blog post, it's important to note that ArcGIS Web AppBuilder in ArcGIS Online and Developer Edition is not considered deprecated. 

Q: Will updates to my browser impact my current ArcGIS Web AppBuilder applications? If so, how do I fix them? 

A: As supported browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox and Microsoft Edge are routinely updated, it is difficult to anticipate how Web AppBuilder applications and the underlying ArcGIS API for Javascript (3.x) will be impacted.  While supported, Web AppBuilder and the ArcGIS API for Javascript (3.x) are eligible for updates to account for breaking changes or issues introduced by updates to supported browsers. 

When both Web AppBuilder Developer Edition and the Javascript API (3.x)  retire in July 2024, they will no longer receive updates.  Therefore, any breaking changes or issues introduced by updates to browsers after this point will not be addressed, which may lead to a forced transition to ArcGIS Experience Builder, ArcGIS Dashboards or any other application that may fit your purpose. 

Q: How do I know whether I should upgrade my ArcGIS Enterprise deployment to get the most functionality out of ArcGIS Experience Builder? 

A: The answer to this question will be completely dependent on what your requirements are and your ability to upgrade. As of right now, the lower the version of ArcGIS Enterprise you are currently using, the less widgets will be available to you. Upgrade paths can be complex, with compatibility considerations, integrations with other systems in your business etc., where the need to leverage new ArcGIS Experience builder functionality will be another factor when considering whether to upgrade or not. 

Q: As Web AppBuilder in ArcGIS Enterprise is currently deprecated, is it possible to prevent users from creating new applications to encourage a transition to other ArcGIS applications? 

A: Yes, Administrators can disable access to Web AppBuilder as an application within your ArcGIS Enterprise Organization.  For versions 10.8-10.9.1 this is handled via adjustments to configuration files and for versions 11.0 and later, this is handled via the REST API

You should also consider educating users and staff of the planned retirement and transition timelines and encourage the use of ArcGIS Experience Builder and alternative ArcGIS applications in place of Web AppBuilder.  This method may not prevent people from creating new applications using Web AppBuilder but will serve to educate users of the retirement and transition,while advocating the need to showcase this data using other ArcGIS applications that will be supported. 

Q: What is the timeline for widgets to be available in ArcGIS Experience Builder  

A: The timeline for the widgets to be available in ArcGIS Experience Builder are shown here within the functionality matrix. Some widgets may or may not be available depending on the version you are currently on for ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS Enterprise. As of right now, if you are using ArcGIS Online, you will have all the widgets that have been currently implemented aside from the ones that are planned or not planned. On the other hand, if you are using ArcGIS Enterprise, the availability of them will completely depend on the version of ArcGIS Enterprise that you are currently using.  

In terms of a direct timeline for the planned widgets to be released, these have not been announced yet so stay tuned for more information! 

Q: If I see a widget that is not planned in ArcGIS Experience Builder based on the Functionality Matrix, how can I proceed if I need this functionality? 

A: We understand that there are some widgets on the Functionality Matrix that are currently unplanned and may be needed for your organization. On the previous link regarding the Functionality Matrix, there are alternatives and ways to proceed about using these widgets by using other applications. In some cases, using these other applications may benefit you if you are trying to get a specific functionality. There are apps like ArcGIS Dashboards, ArcGIS StoryMaps and ArcGIS Instant Apps that allow you to have some of these functionalities without having to do everything in Experience Builder. 

If you are confused about what application to use and what the additional functionalities are of each, you can view this resource to decide which application may fit your needs. 

If there are widgets that are not available yet, there are a few solutions that we can provide at this time. We strongly encourage all users to post their ideas on Esri Community. This will be the best place for you to share your ideas and thoughts with other users that may be experiencing the same issues you currently have. This will allow developers to reach out to you with more information. You also have the option to custom develop the widgets yourself if you have access to the ArcGIS Experience Builder Developer Edition. This will allow you to create the widgets and import them into the applications you like. 

This comprehensive article addresses various aspects of ArcGIS Web AppBuilder retirement and answers frequently asked questions about transitioning to ArcGIS Experience Builder. Stay tuned for additional updates! 

About the Author

Justin Brassard is a Technical Solutions Specialist with Esri Canada. He focuses on demonstrating the possibilities available using Esri technology and providing ArcGIS support to organizations. Justin has a Bachelor of Arts in Geography and has also completed the GIS Applications Specialist graduate certificate at Fleming College. He discovered his passion for GIS while taking elective courses on GIS in university and has been using Esri technology ever since. In his free time, he loves to attend sporting events and spend time with his family.

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