The omniscient “They” says that necessity is the mother of invention. I’ve personally found that often times “necessity” closely corresponds to “frustration” and “desperation”, as well.And THAT… that is where I have been lately. Not in life – no – nothing that melodramatic, but with a particular project.

At work, we are an ESRI shop. I believe I’ve mentioned before that I’m a total ESRI fan girl. BUT… I must admit I have experienced the same frustrations that drive people to say less-than-favorable-things about them. I know… I get it. I do.

Their web app templates have been super fun, and I’ve used them for two public-facing apps now and I’ve tinkered with them for internal use apps. However, they’re really ugly… ESRI is all about spatial analysis and everything else is secondary. My background? Art. Then ecology. I like pretty things and I like pretty things that work together.

ESRI doesn’t DO pretty*.

The ESRI web app templates are also super limiting and I’ve known for a long time now that our needs for one project in particular are outside the scope of any of the templates. Lurking deep in my mind is the known fact that if I want to make anything remotely more interesting and as customized as what we need, then I need to dive into the code.

I am NOT a developer. I know nothing of code. I don’t know the difference between html, python, javascript, yadda yadda. I am Jon Snow. I know nothing.

That’s always annoyed the hell out of me. I see gorgeous maps that people make with just some simple tweaks of the code. I salivate over these beautiful presentations of data and I’ve been dying to try for years. I’ve started and stopped a couple times – frustrated by tutorials that assume too much about the reader.

This week was a short week at work, and at least for me it was pretty slow. Thursday was agonizingly slow and then Friday I basically decided that I was going to sit down and dedicate the day to figuring out how to navigate Leaflet. And I did.

The above is my super basic map showing TN State Parks and trails (don’t get too nitpicky on the data itself, I’m using outdated data.) I’m super proud of it. I chose a simple black and white basemap through the leaflet library and then I added in our parks boundaries and trails layer from the ArcGIS Online feature service. They’re given some basic symbology and popups to show names and… and that’s it. That’s where I’m at.

It took me most of Friday and a few hours of my Saturday (plus help from friends who are smarter than I am when I got stuck) and an FA-Cup-watching-session this morning (CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT N. FOREST VS ARSENAL GAME?!)

I’m super psyched, and so – I present it here for funsies. To mark the moment. I have no intentions of stopping here.

*I must admit that I feel like ESRI has realized this and they are trying… really… they are. ArcPro graphics and symbology options seem to cater more to aesthetics than ArcMap, but it also has a long way to go before I start using it full time for daily work flows. So. There’s that.