Brian Flood releases Arc2Earth V2

Brian is obviously capping off a busy week by releasing A2EV2 (I like saying that) today. I’ve still not been able to find time to update my copy, but a quick look at the updated features on his blog really gets me excited. All the new export formats are very welcomed and I’m really anxious to test out the importer tool. Better get my upgrade sorted out.

GIS Analysis for the masses

I’ve been playing with Christopher Schmidt’s WPServer demonstration and I have to say it really makes me think about where GIS is going. Simply put, you can perform GIS analysis simply by clicking button on a simple web interface using all open source software. Jason Birch has a nice writeup on what you can do with the demo and I think most GIS analysts will be able to work though the tools without any instruction. But deep down we need to think about how this is changing GIS analysis.

WPServer Demo

This demo really can’t do much just yet, but the framework is there. I can imagine users using tools such as this WebProcessingServer and OpenLayers demo, rather than ArcView, Manifold or even QGIS to perform simple geoprocessing. Now this of course won’t replace the complex analysis that ArcGIS Desktop or even ArcGIS Server can accomplish, but why not use such lightweight tools for lightweight needs? I can’t stress enough the underlying message here.

Not only can you perform GIS analysis on the web, you can do it using freely available open source tools, you can do it with very simple websites, and it is very fast. This is definitely an area we all need to pay close attention to and I suspect BIG things are going to be happening here.

I had a talk with the Arizona State University MAS-GIS class last night and I wanted to demo this to them but unfortunately the demo was down. Hopefully some of them will be able to take a look at it today and see why this is so important to their future.

Simple design can help users solve problems

Somewhat of a follow on to my previous post about the WPServer Demo.

Ask 37signals: Is it really the number of features that matter?

Good software is about balancing value and screen real estate and understanding and outcome. If it takes 20 good features to get there, then great. If it only takes eight, even better. It’s not the number that counts, it’s the balance.

That is what I’m talking about here. The kitchen sink is wonderful, but too many times it is thrown at users who have to fight though all the tools to use just basic tasks. That is what really catches my eye about the WPServer Demo.

Also I’m not saying get rid of the kitchen sink either, it just isn’t needed by everyone.

_Update: _fixed title

More Google Street View Coverage

Looks like the Google Van was driving around the Valley of the Sun taking pictures because Phoenix/Tempe now has Google Street View images.

Google SteetView Tempe

Google took plenty of pictures of my sons pre-school which somewhat freaked my wife out, but they didn’t make it into our neighborhood. We’ll see how the Phoenix press reacts to the city being displayed this way.

Update: Looks like today’s Arizona Republic is covering the news.

Phoenix is added to Google Street View today

Street-scene photos raise privacy concern

“People do expect a certain amount of anonymity in their everyday lives, and that’s something that they should be able to have,” said Rebecca Jeschke, spokeswoman for the San Francisco-based Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has been a vocal critic of Street View.

“It’s not a question of legality, it’s a question of rudeness, really,” she said._

Don’t be rude Google!

End of a short week

Tropical Drink

I had a blast with some local GIS users here in Honolulu. Thanks for inviting me out tonight guys, Alan Wong’s was incredible. By far the best meal I’ve eaten in quite some time. We spent a long time talking about issues they have here in Honolulu with data sharing governmental agencies (or specifically getting public data from the City and County of Honolulu). Some of the projects they are working on are really impressive (lots of oceanographic stuff) and it seems like raster analysis is big here in the islands as it seemed everyone was talking about ASCII GRIDs. As I said above, thanks for dinner and if you are ever in Tempe, look me up.

When I got back to the hotel, I stopped at the bar for one last drink before I get on the airplane tomorrow morning. As I was sitting there I noticed someone in the corner georeferencing their photos that they took during their vacation in Panoramio. As a Geographer, I’m always happy to see taking advantage of maps, but these days I can’t but help notice that folks aren’t even thinking about how they use these tools anymore. They just entered the mainstream and that just makes me feel good about Geography. Kids aren’t just learning about identifying the state capitols by reading them on a map these days but are creating KML files for Google Earth with text and pictures to tell a better story than a point on a map. I love that my son is working with Google Earth in his Pre-K class (without me pushing for it) and the teacher says everyone there just loves making maps. (side note: The only thing I can remember from my preschool days was taking naps).

Just today in the hotel lobby I noticed the concierge using Google Transit to help a couple find the best route to a local doctor using Oahu transit system. They were amazed at what was printed out for them and how simple it made everything vs. using a timetable (I can’t wait until we get this Google Transit for Valley Metro in Phoenix). I just smiled and felt good to be in profession where the best is still yet to come.

Anyway, enough rambling as I have to get to bed for my early flight tomorrow back to Phoenix. To everyone I met in Honolulu, Mahalo.

Open Source on the beach at Waikiki

I’m “stuck” in Waikiki this week at our Honolulu office helping them get back on track with their GIS after our GIS coordinator resigned to join her husband in the peace corps on Tonga. The new GIS person is really excited about GIS and that is always nice to be around. Sometimes even I need my GIS Kool-aid recharged.

Anyway I was hanging out at Duke’s Waikiki and randomly started talking to the group next to me at the bar. Turns out that they are all readers of my blog and have been migrating their GIS from an ESRI only shop to a combination ESRI/open source shop. It was interesting to hear how they were picking and choosing the best products from ESRI and open source to help them better get their work done. What was also interesting is that they didn’t decrease their maintenance costs, but reallocated. They’ve replaced most of their ArcView seats with QGIS, replaced all but one license of ArcSDE with PostGIS and in turn used those savings to buy more licenses of ArcInfo and extensions. They’ve been able to give their high end GIS analysts the tools they feel that they need to get their work done, but still increased their GIS production. Every person at their company has either an ArcInfo or QGIS license on their desk that they can connect to WMS services hosted by MapServer and PostGIS.

I wish I could have spent more time with them talking about this, but they were heading to China in the morning so they needed to get to bed. I liked how they were able to give better tools to everyone by prioritizing what they needed and picked the best tools for the job.