Arc2Earth now supports map tiles from Virtual Earth, Yahoo and Ask

Yep you read that right. The latest Arc2Earth version has a new toolbar called Map Tile Layer which allows you to download into ArcMap Microsoft Virtual Earth, Yahoo Maps and Ask Map tiles. So you can now choose Aerial/Hybrid/Streets for each of these services (NASA World Wind and Terraserver will be added at a later date). I’ve been testing it over the past couple days I’m I’m impressed. You can even cache the tiles locally and use them when you are “off the grid”. I’m looking forward for Google support so when I export my KMLs I can make sure they line up with the Google aerials in Google Earth. I’ve posted some screen shots of the ESRI campus in Redlands below from inside ArcMap.


Microsoft Virtual Earth Streets layer


Microsoft Virtual Earth Aerial layer


Microsoft Virtual Earth Hybrid layer


ESRI’s Hurricane Disaster Viewer stuck in the past

I’ve got family in Charleston, SC so I figured I’d fire up the ESRI Hurricane Disaster Viewer and see what is going on. I’m shocked (well I guess I kinda expected this) that ESRI hasn’t updated this viewer with the new ArcWeb 2006 stuff. It is still stuck behind that retro HTML viewer. I’ve looked at [ArcWeb Explorer]( 32.2118748144926&sf=2460777&ds=ArcWeb:GlobeXplorer.Deluxe_Tiles.World ArcWeb:TA.Streets_VectorsForHybrid.US&glt=rasterTileGroupLayer vectorGroupLayer) and I don’t see any “Hurricane Widget”.



Open Source GIS is about the users

Steve noticed a post by Asa Dotzler about Paul Ramsey assertion that open source GIS is about developers, not users.

You may have failed (or decided not to even try) to build a product for users and to attract users to that product, but that hardly qualifies you to hand down edicts about what open source is or isn’t about.

Read the whole post here.

Paul responds:

It is just straightforward observation that if you aren’t adding code, documentation, bug reports, or user support to a project, if you are just downloading and using the software, you are not adding any value to the project.

Actually, very true. See Gary Sherman’s post on diminished expectations. Just downloading uDig or QGIS and complaining that it isn’t ArcGIS helps no one. Open source GIS needs users to be involved by providing feedback to help grow the software. That said, you don’t have to do anything if you don’t wish, but complaining about the software without helping the developers doesn’t help anyone.


The DRGs are free

Talk about everyone stepping up!

At 6:49 pm the $1600 ransom was met! The Maps have been liberated! All 56,000 of them are squeezing their way through my slow broadband connection right now to the safety and comfort of the Internet Archive. Thanks to the amazing and generous people at the Internet Archive, they will soon be available for download for free forever!

I’m happy to see that Jared was able to get enough people to pay the ransom. Now the community has a great resource for DRGs, free of any political or capitalistic shackles.


Set my DRGs free!

ransom_note_269.jpgvia Jo Walsh at Mapping Hacks

One of the things that has pissed me off over the years is how one has to pay for what should be free data. Those wonderful DRGs. Sure some states have wonderful GIS portals where they give this stuff away. But most don’t or make it very difficult to download. Plus people run off to these resellers like GISDataDepot and give money for free data. Well hopefully no more. Jared Benedict, the force behind the Libre Map Project flipped out and bought the whole DRG catalog from a reseller. Now he’s holding it RANSOM until the community pays up to set that data free. I just ponied up some cash to help and anyone who has ever used a DRG in the life should do too. Think of the children learning about GIS only to find that they can’t get free data that their parents and grandparents paid for with their tax dollars (feel free to hum “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”). Heck even if you want to buy DRGs in the mean time, he’s selling them on DVDs for much cheaper than any reseller out there. Great work Jared!

Maybe an important GIS software company, like Manifold, which is making billions off of GIS might be willing to give a couple dollars also.


So what did we learn?

Given that I’ve let everyone let off a little steam in my comments in regards to Manifold vs Open Source vs ArcGIS, what can we glean from what transpired?

Plain and simple, all software sucks (and I say this as a software developer). On top of that, life is too short to get worked up about software (because it sucks remember) even if you get paid to push it or develop it.

Its all irrelevant!


All Manifold, All the time

What the hell, lets continue posting about Manifold. I know both the NASA World Wind team and others have been wondering how they heck Manifold can be allowed to use the Google when they aren’t. Well that has changed (via Bull’s rambles):

Just prior to the release of 7x, Google lawyers contacted to complain that Google requires access to Google web offerings to be licensed in accordance with Google’s API. Because does not create ISI drivers for Google we cannot say that such ISI drivers are or are not licensed under Google’s API, and we will not cooperate in any efforts to limit the rights of third party developers who are writing ISI drivers.

Although all ISI drivers for Google are created by third parties unrelated to, we are concerned that our unwillingness to help Google stomp on such developers will expose 7x as a target. Therefore, to avoid legal complications that could delay the release of 7x, has removed discussion of third party ISI drivers for Google from the Help documentation committed to the 7x DVD. It could be that if Google’s lawyers come to their senses this topic will be restored in future updates available by download as part of the automatic update notification system in 7x.

OK, so there you have it. But in true Manifold tradition, they can’t but not push their holier than thou attitude.

Even though this is not our fight, we therefore cannot in good faith any longer recommend use of ISI drivers for Google, even if such ISI drivers are duly licensed and approved by Google. If Google insists on total control, we cannot recommend them. Instead, we will encourage developers and users to move to the more open world of Microsoft’s Virtual Earth.

Of course, a cynic might say it is easy for Manifold to delete discussion of Google image servers since in any event the Microsoft Virtual Earth image servers work so much better that nobody uses ISI drivers for Google anyway. That may be true, but nonetheless we feel that ethics and fair competition continue to be important and that moral support for third party developers is our duty.

Ah, feels so good to be better than everyone else. Of course they do point out what everyone else has noted, Virtual Earth is available and Microsoft seems to be more open than Google to sharing their data (of course we have no idea if there are contractual reasons Google can’t allow this). Those at the ESRI .NET SIG also saw ESRI combining ArcGIS Server and Virtual Earth in their new .NET API (which is to be included as a demo so everyone can see how to use Virtual Earth with ESRI server products).



Manifold? Never heard of it.

OK, well I have heard of it. Still I’ve never run across it in my professional experience. Guess that makes me less than serious about GIS. shrug

Actually I have one more confession to make. I’ve never used it or installed it in my life.


Selling open source GIS to the users

Gotta pay someoneSteve Citron-Pousty wonders if there are too many barriers to using open source GIS for the average user, especially those already knee deep in the ESRI suite. Steve’s got some good points that I’ve heard from some of our clients when we’ve proposed open source solutions (well some, I’ve gotten a couple hooked on FWTools).

I’ll play devils advocate here and say that if someone really wanted to go open source, they could just take their ESRI maintenance costs and apply that to a consultant who could help them deploy open source correctly. Technically that is the same as paying ESRI for maintenance/support. Rather than calling up Redlands, you’d just call up Canada.

**Update – **Steve wrote up a response to some of the discussion


AutoDesk/Google Bundle for Government Users

adsk_logo.gifBoth Adena and Jason hit the big points about this bundle release, but I thought I’d chime in. From the press release:

“Incorporating Google Earth Pro into our Autodesk Government Geospatial Solution creates a complete workflow for government agencies,” said Dave Rhodes, vice president of Autodesk Government. “The powerful combination enables professional GIS staff to more easily share complex, precision data with a wide audience of non-technical colleagues and partners that need to leverage that data in a variety of geospatially-enabled business projects.”

Kinda sounds like Autodesk is answering ArcGIS 9.2 (specifically ArcGIS Server and ArcGIS Explorer) and at a cheaper price. I wonder how long until this bundle is available for non-governmental organizations.

Oh and check out that press release, Autodesk has been working on the Web 2.0 lingo.