According to ESRI:
- Display an interactive map of your own data
- Execute a GIS model on the server and display the results
- Display your data on an ArcGIS Online base map
- Search for features or attributes in your GIS data and display the results
- Search for addresses and display the results
With the release of this API, ESRI has ventured forth to make the integration of GIS web services much more accessible to the general public. There is one catch, however. Unless you or your organization have implemented ArcGIS Server 9.3, you will need to rely on other implementations of ArcGIS Server that have been exposed as RESTful web services. This means that to truly integrate GIS functionality customized for your own needs, you will need to have access to your own ArcGIS Server instance.
ESRI does provide some sample servers that can be used as testbeds for learning the API, and the ArcGIS Online services (a suite of different geospatial web services) can also be consumed via the API.
Mapping APIs continue to be popular, and this new API is a welcome addition to the 60+ mapping APIs already listed in our directory.