OSGeo Journal Volume 2 Available

Tyler Mitchell (Editor in Chief, OSGeo Journal) has announced in the OSGeo Discuss email list that the OSGeo Journal Volume 2 is now available for reading/download. I really enjoyed reading Volume 1 and while I don’t have time right now to read Volume 2, I see that there is an article on MapWindow which I’ve been trying to learn more about lately. I highly recommend that everyone interested in geospatial technology read the latest OSGeo Journal.

Fair Use and Google Earth Imagery

The Free Geography Tools blog has been posting about saving out Google Earth imagery and georectifying them in your GIS applications. When pressed on the post by a couple users and bloggers (here, here), he’s posted up a clarification of “Fair Use”.

I still don’t believe one can use Google Earth imagery the way he is proposing and not be in violation of the EULA, but maybe I’m wrong. What do you guys think? Is this “fair use” of GE imagery or as some bloggers say, “stealing” Google’s product? As I said above, I’m of the opinion this is at best a very bad idea. Use NASA World Wind for this and you’ll be fine.

Gordon Gecko

Gordon Gecko would use GE imagery in his GIS applications

MapServer 5.0.0 Released

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.

Hippies

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.

Microsoft Virtual Earth and Web-based GIS

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.

Export to KML for ArcGIS updated to 2.4.1

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.

Screenshots:

Export KML Dialog 1

Export to KML dialog

Export KML Dialog 2

Export to KML options dialog

State of Colorado GIS Portal Launch

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.

Lenin Speech

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.

Colorado Seal

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.