Driving Directions using Virtual Earth

Link – Driving Directions using Virtual Earth

I just saw this very cool Virtual Earth application appear in my PubSub Virtual Earth feed. According to the programmers blog:

This demo demonstrates how to leverage the MapPoint Web Service (MWS) in order to do driving directions using the current version of VE. The upcoming version of VE will have driving directions built in but meanwhile you can use this application to get routes using the current version

Pretty cool way to fix a problem with Virtual Earth using another Microsoft product. He uses an asp.NET page talks to the MWS that returns XML that is then parsed by the JavaScript using XMLHttpRequest. That my friends is classic AJAX. It works pretty well and beyond the GUI problems that I think Virtual Earth has, this is a cool mashup.

Virtual earth directions


ET GeoWizards LT Released

Link – ET GeoWizards LT on ArcScripts

ET GeoWizards LT is a set of data processing functions for ArcGIS presented in a user-friendly, wizard type interface.

ET GeoWizards LT was created as a subset of the free functions of ET GeoWizards (available from and complies with the requirements for posting on ArcScripts:

  • It is 100% free.
  • It is not a sample or a demo. All 28 functions included are fully functional with no restrictions whatsoever.

How about that!?! Talk about being responsive. Ianko went ahead and changed his extension to be completely free. Frankly I’m very impressed with his responsiveness and it shows how he listens to the GIS community as a whole. No other company has responded in my little blog other than him and it would have been so easy (I wouldn’t have blamed him) to say I’ll remove it when others do.

So go download the updated extension and make sure you check out his website to see what the difference between this LT version and the full version is. Heck why not buy the software anyway and show him that you appreciate his work and his responsiveness.



Favorite Extensions and Scripts for ArcGIS

I haven’t posted too much on Desktop GIS, but I was thinking today I’d look at what extensions and scripts I use every day that are not ESRI products. The biggest one lately has been the TerraServer Download for ArcGIS 9.0 which has been a big help to getting up to date imagery on sites around the country. We have quite a good collection of DOQQs over the past few years, but they aren’t as up to date as the TerraServer imagery is. The other utility for ArcGIS I’ve been using is the Geodatabase Diagrammer. If you have Microsoft Visio, there is no easier way to diagram the elements of a Geodatabase. Lastly I have been using the Batch Define Projection Python script practically every day. I wish one could just highlight all the layers in ArcCatalog and just right click and define the projection, but you can’t. This script is the next best thing.


Tracking Hurricane Wilma

Link – ESRI Hurricane Viewer

A nice feature about ArcWeb is these services are ready to go. No need to mashup something for the next hurricane. Anyway, as with Katrina and Rita, you can use the ESRI Hurricane Tracker to check up on the progress of Wilma. Unfortunately it is looking like it will be hitting the US, but hopefully it won’t be as large as Katrina or Rita. As with before, select “Current Hurricanes” from the Map Type in the upper right and navigate to the area off the coast of Honduras..

Esri wilma 1

Also, don’t forget about the Geospatial One Stop Hurricane page where you can get all the latest data and information about the 2005 hurricane season.


Life After WGS84

Link – WGS84 and the Web

With the influx of new programmers dabbling in GIS applications, we are beginning to see people start looking at geodetic datums. For those who aren’t familiar with datums, this old ArcUser article has a good overview. Because GPS uses WGS84, it has become the standard around the world, but as teutonic tectonic plates shift, the datum will become obsolete over time. Allan Doyle sums it up well:

Perhaps we should think about the implications a little more. If we use “raw”, i.e. “current” WGS84, we’re really ignoring the drift and other issues. If we use any of the derived, named datums, pegged to an epoch, we lose universality.

Sean Gillies chimes in with his own proposal which is a great way to get around the problem given how computer systems are so connected these days. I like simple solutions to problems.



A couple short takes on a rainy Monday morning in Arizona

Yea it rains here in the desert southwest even in the fall. Anyway I’m enjoying the cool 80 degree weather and trying to get a couple lose ends tied up on some jobs. A couple of quick links to two interesting posts, first Jeff Thurston continues his Comparing Spatial Information Software series and Dave Bouwman responds to a comment on my blog about his post on the Long Tail of GIS. Both good reading on a “cold” rainy day.



More on Commercial Software in ESRI’s ArcScripts

As with most blogging tools have spam catching built into them to stop comment spam and this one is no exception. I try and look though the “junk comments” every once and a while just to make sure that nothing got labeled as junk by mistake. Well last night I found one by Ianko who makes the very popular ET GeoWizards tools for ArcGIS. I’m not sure why his IP is labeled SPAM, but SpamLookup thinks it is. Anyway, here is his comment on my post Stop Putting Commercial Software in ESRI ArcScripts


Since you mention ET GeoWizards I think that I have to post a comment on this.

It is true that ET GeoWizards is a commercial product (I would rather qualify it as semi-commercial), but I think that it has got more free functionality than 50% of the rest of the submissions to ArcScripts that deal with data processing put together. You can check this here if you want:

Do you think that it will be better if the ArcGIS users do not know about those free functions that they need in their everyday work?

What about questions on ESRI forums like: “How do I remove the excess vertices from my polylines” and answers like “Get an ArcEditor license and use Generalize!” when the users can just use the free function of ET GeoWizards and their ArcView license.

What do you think the ArcGIS users will gain if ET GeoWizards is removed from the ArcScripts site?

If you give me valid reasons, I’ll remove the ET GeoWizards entry from ArcScripts.



I will agree that ET Geowizards is a great tool that helps users accomplish tasks that ArcView normally can’t do on its own, but as you say it is a commercial product. I guess one persons demo is another persons “semi-commercial”. I will give you that Ianko’s product isn’t as bad as most commercial scripts in ArcScripts, but the fact that there is registration required to get all the functionality of ET Geowizards shows me that is is a demo for their full product (without a timeout period) and as the upload screen for ArcScripts plainly says.

I would say that if the ArcScripts version of ET Geowizards only had the free tools and had an “ad” only in the about screen, it would be fine for ArcScripts, but in its current form it is a demo and in turn using ESRI’s bandwidth to sell your product. Because you sell ET Geowizards, it shouldn’t be in ArcScripts.

The big problem with these smaller GIS developer companies is that they have no easy way for their product to get noticed by the masses of GIS professionals. ESRI should create a section where these companies can upload their tools. There is a huge difference between XTools and XTools Pro. The spirit of ArcScripts has been violated by commercial software and many GIS pros have told me that they don’t upload their scripts and extensions to ArcScripts because it is such a mess with commercial software.


ESRI Podcasts

Link – ESRI Podcasts

I just got a note from an ESRI employee that there is now an ESRI Podcast page. They all appear to have come out of the 2005 User Conference and the 2005 Homeland Security GIS Summit. I’d like to see an RSS feed with enclosures to allow people to add this to their RSS readers, but it is a step in the right direction. Don’t forget to also check out the videos that the EDN team is starting to post as well.


Google Earth Mac OS Alternatives

Link – Google Earth for Mac, alternatives

It seems a lot of Mac owners, like me, are anticipating the arrival of the Google Earth client for Mac. Alas, it is nowhere in sight. But do not despair. Actually, there are alternatives available, here’s three I can think of. “Virtual PC for Mac”, “Remote Desktop Client for Mac” and “Google Maps”.

My choice has been Virtual PC, but it really lags compared to my PC. Hopefully when Intel based Powerbooks are available, I’ll be able to triple boot Mac OS X, Windows XP and Red Hat on the same laptop. One thing for all us Mac users to remember, Google is more “Windows centric” than even Microsoft is. Not exactly a “Web 2.0” company if you ask me.


Jeff Thurston continues his look at Spatial Information Software – Visualisation for Geographic Information Users

Link – Comparing Spatial Information Software 3

I’m glad Jeff took a look at Autodesk Map 3D. I’ve seen it in action and for those who need more of a CAD focus than ESRI can provide, it works really well. Actually it got me thinking of another Autodesk product that doesn’t get much play these days, Autodesk MapGuide. In the early days of web mapping, the web client interfaces were so horrible (I may tell you one day about our first MapObjects IMS application with all those nested tables), but Autodesk make a smart choice to release a browser plugin. These days the plugin is holding back Mapguide, but it was really a godsend to web mapping. I haven’t worked on a Mapguide site in many years, but our county assessor has their parcel maps online using it. Check it out if you want to see another “web mapping” application (if you don’t use Internet Explorer you’ll want to go to the download page and make sure you have the Java edition.