I’m sure most of you got the news yesterday that MapServer 5.0.0 has been released. I love the look that folks are getting with the AGG graphics library which just makes the rendered maps look very impressive. The change log is available here for those who want to see what has been fixed/added in this release. This could be a milestone release in web mapping, we’ll just have to see what happens.
Of course you don’t want to lose the announcement that MapGuide Open Source 1.2 was released late last week as well. You have two great options for open source map servers available for use, opening up great options for developers/users.
Open Source GIS, Kumbaya!
**UPDATE: **MS4W has been updated to include MapServer 5.0.0. Windows users might want to go ahead and give that a try.
We’ve all been speculating how this day would come. The EPA has licensed Virtual Earth for “mission critical” applications including customer applications on the internet as well as internal intranet applications. Many folks have been saying that it was only a matter of time before Google and Microsoft enter the domain of ESRI, Intergraph and Autodesk and it would appear on the surface this is a huge new shift for the GIS world. But underneath the news, we read that ESRI was critical to Microsoft getting this contract.
So what does this all mean. I think we are seeing that both public and private sector organizations want to give the best product to their customers (internal/external). That means using tools that folks are used to using. Virtual Earth and Google Maps/Earth are what these customers know how to use and are comfortable using them to get data and search for information. But on the back end, these organizations just don’t feel comfortable abandoning ESRI (or other geospatial companies) as they’ve got a huge relationship with them as well a their technical teams are used to using these “legacy” applications. The news of this relationship between Microsoft and the EPA, as well as ESRI’s tacit involvement might mean there could be huge new implementations of Virtual Earth in the near future. ESRI and Microsoft could be a great combination going forward in this Where 2.0 world.
Don’t forget thought that “ordinary” users don’t need Microsoft or ESRI to help them get their web based GIS applications on Virtual Earth. There are two good choices (here, here) to go, depending on what you want to get out of Virtual Earth.
Kevin Martin emailed me telling me that his great Export to KML has been updated:
WHAT’S NEW IN VERSION 2.4:
- implements KML version 2.2
- attributes from the GIS database stored in the output KML as “schema” items
- labels and information points can now be vertically offset</li;
- layer and features descriptions can be saved as and imported from files
- a horizontal ‘shift’ (in X/Y coordinates) can now be applied
- bunch of other bug fixes, minor tweaks and improvements
He also dropped a hint that he will be supporting raster data and even a basic KML importer in the near future.
Export to KML dialog
Export to KML options dialog
Great news yesterday out of the GIS in the Rockies Conference. I was planning on going to the conference this year, but just got so busy I could tear myself away from work. Remember what Jack says about being successful at GIS:
“Now is the time to be the last one out of the parking lot”
The Colorado Geographic Information Portal is now available for users to get access to publicly available GIS data. My company does quite a bit of work in Colorado these days and getting data was always a PITA as many different organizations had to be contacted to get datasets. So I was very excited to see what Colorado put up for their portal, especially since it launches after big changes in the Geospatial world. Alas, I was very disappointed in what I saw as it is just another GIS portal powered ESRI’s GIS Portal Toolkit. The biggest problem is that the ArcIMS front end is so dated and slow. If this was built on the WebADF or even better ArcGIS Server, there would be so much more functionality. In the end this is the same, cluncky interface that we’ve been used to for years on the Geospatial On Stop.
Vladimir Lenin rails against holding geographic data hostage to proprietary formats
The second disappointment is that the data is still really only available as standard shapefiles and saved jpg format. There is no real OGC support let along KML/KMZ support that would enable more users access to this data. I’m fine with no WMS/WFS services as that is an strain on resources for most public entities, but all this data should be available in shp, gml, kml/kmz, tiff, jpg, pdf, and ecw. I’d take shapefiles over anything, believe me, but the lack of KML support is very surprising.
OK, lets not get too negative here. Metadata is great for finding datasets and the Colorado Geographic Information Portal is loaded up with great metadata. If you are looking for data from Colorado, you’ll be able to find it easily with the search. Actually this is the one area the ESRI GIS Portal Toolkit gets right. It took me no time to track down data that I will be needing for a project near Colorado Springs using the metadata search.
So what do we have here? A great new resource for folks looking for data from the “Centennial State”. It is as clunky as any GIS portal out there so I guess this is expected, but there needs to be more focus on data formats beyond shapefiles and an improved mapping front end that should be viable inside Google Earth (and probably powered by ESRI’s WebADF). It is a good start, but most of these GIS portals start well and end up getting stagnant over the months/years. Maybe Jon Gottsegen’s new powers as GIO will enable him to be more nimble and able to make improvements to the portal to make it the first “Where 2.0” data portal out there.
I guess why not, GIS news has been slow lately.
Angry Kirk reacts badly to the news that ESRI is dying
I haven’t seen any books canceled by ESRI and sales would appear strong as Roger Tomlinson’s “Thinking About GIS” is now in its third edition. I’m a DoD consultant and at least in my little corner of the military world, ESRI is as strong as I’ve ever seen.
I’ve had my head down working hard on some projects this week so I haven’t had an opportunity to really keep my eye out for important news, but Nate Irwin has caught my eye with news about MapDotNet Server 2007 6.1.2 being released by ISC. One new improvement that caught my eye:
Substantially improved rendering speeds with ArcSDE. This is especially the case in large multi-processor web garden deployments where the MDNS services are less likely to be processor-bound. Substantially improved SDE connection pooling resulted in upwards of 10 times the rendering performance in our tests. This was especially noticeable when ArcSDE is installed on a separate server from the MDNS web services.
Anything that makes talking to ArcSDE faster is good news in my book.
As I mentioned we’ve been working with MapDotNet Server 2007 and I plan to blog about the experience when I’ve got more time. It has been a nice learning experience for us (though under tremendous pressure due to a very tight timeline). We put ourselves in a bad position, but ISC really helped us out when we needed it. MapDotNet Server is very different from ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS so if you are used to the “ESRI way” of doing things you get frustrated. But once you understand how MapDotNet Server works and all the possibilities it opens up, it all starts to click and make complete sense. We’ll have to see how the prototype works for our client and then move forward with what they want to do. I’ll try and blog about the experience next week when my workload lightens up.
The news broke this week that Google has updated the Google Earth EULA to allow “internal use” for commercial users. Now what does this mean? I’m thinking that you can now use Google Earth at work for for personal and work related use as long as you aren’t reselling that work. For example, I can now load Google Earth “Free” on my work laptop and research a camping trip I might make this winter. Before this was precluded by the EULA. I also believe that I can use Google Earth for admin purposes within my company. But since I’m a consultant, I still can’t use Google Earth Free/Plus to produce or work with any project for my clients. That still requires Google Earth Pro.
_ Snidely Whiplash no longer has commercial KML users tied up_
So now when you see a KML while browsing the internet, you can safely view it at work (assuming your IT staff allows it). I believe you can also use KML created by you or your company, or view KML created by others for your work (if you are an end user). But if you are in the consulting business, you’ll still need to buy Google Earth Pro to produce products for clients.
Thus those who create KML with GE for clients will still have to buy Google Earth Pro, BUT their clients will be able to view the KML we give them with Google Earth without having to buy copies of Google Earth Pro. Huge shift in my opinion here.
(Note: I am not a lawyer here so listen to me at your peril.)
Update: Let me just clarify here. I’m saying that I think this makes Google Earth the geospatial viewer we’ve all been asking for. I think anyone in a commercial setting can view KML with Google Earth no matter who the KML is for. I think the only limitation anymore is that you can’t create KML with GE without Pro and you can’t perform any analysis with GE without Pro. That is such a small part of what GE is that this will almost never come up for most users. As I said above: HUGE SHIFT in the Digital Globe product sector.
I have to admit, I’m somewhat shocked by Pitney Bowes abandoning the MapInfo name and going with Pitney Bowes Software. Why anyone would dump one of the most recognized names in GIS for a company that at least for me has more to do with postage meters and fax machines seems idiotic. When I joined my current company, they were a MapInfo partner (or something like that as I’m not really a MapInfo guru). I wonder if we can become a Pitney Bowes partner?
“With Pitney Bowes GIS we’d have worldwide service with thousands of reps.”
Update: Reid Hislop, Vice President of Marketing for Pitney Bowes, responds to the All Points Blog’s post:
Please be assured that the last thing we intend to do is walk away from the MapInfo brand and our location intelligence position. If anything, you will see us more aggressively carve out this category and clearly establish ourselves as the leader.
Our name, Pitney Bowes MapInfo, will continue for the
foreseeable future. We have no immediate plans to drop the brand name from our product portfolio or external communication efforts.
Please be assured that the “marketing icon” will live, until the equity is properly transitioned.
Well there you go. MapInfo is going no where for the near future. Start getting used to Pitney Bowes Software though.