ArcGIS Explorer 9.2 build 450 released

The ArcGIS Explorer team has released the update to build 440 that addresses some of the issues that cropped up:

  • Fixes problems on startup that have occurred with certain graphics cards and drivers.
  • Fixes symbol display issues that have occurred with certain graphics cards and drivers.
  • Resolves a problem with vector lines flickering when the globe is tilted.

The ArcGIS Explorer team has really been working hard and it shows. If you can do this with ArcGIS Explorer, why can’t you do it with ArcGIS Desktop? I think everyone would like smaller incremental releases.

Fracking Legacy GIS

What they heck is legacy anyway? Look if it ain’t running on VMS, it isn’t legacy in my opinion. Most people use “legacy GIS” when referring to ESRI, I get that because it is just another buzz word. Rather than tell me why I should use their product they just focus on the problems with ESRI ArcGIS, Oracle Spatial, Intergraph and not why their product is better.

Legacy!

Mapping the Poles

Flat Earth

So how the heck are you guys doing it? Google Maps and Virtual Earth have so much distortion up there (or down there as the case may be) that mapping is very difficult. Plus what happens when they navigate off the edge of the map? Anyway the closest thing I’ve found with decent polar projections is the ArcWeb SVG Map Viewer which allows you to dynamically change the projection, but I haven’t heard too much from ESRI on the SVG viewer so it might have been abandoned (I don’t see it anywhere on the ArcWeb Labs site).

ArcWeb Poles

What are people doing for mapping on the poles if you want to create a web based map product for a client who is working in the Arctic and Antarctic?

Update: I should say I’m looking for hosted web maps services. Using my own IMS server or relying on one that isn’t hosted in a good environment isn’t an option.

On another note, I like where the ArcWeb team has taken ArcWeb Explorer. The new (well new to me) ArcWeb Explorer 4.0 is slick. Might have to stop by the ArcWeb teams island at the DevSummit and see where they are taking this thing.

Problems with mapping around the poles

OK, so I’m going to use my own IMS server to handle the pole projection issue but that brings up a couple issues that I’ve got to figure out.

  1. How to handle data that was not created in polar projections. Martin linked to a paper by Waldo Tobler that hits on some of the issues. Right now I’m only thinking points, but you know that the client will want polygons eventually.
  2. What do I do with global datasets? Sure the Bipolar Oblique Conic Conformal works well for the poles, but what about the equator? Folks are used to Mercator so there has to be some sort of change between the two which adds complexity. I guess one could use a 3D globe such as VE3D, but I’d rather focus on the simplicity of a 2D map.

I’m paying my penance for making fun of polar projections all these years.

Head Scratch

Freaking polar projections are making me bald

Aerials Express now available in WeoGeo

WeoGeo LogoI have to congratulate both Paul and Aerials Express on this news.

How do you make a geospatial exchange a reality? You find great content providers to bring their wares to the market. Aerials Express (AEX) is one of those great content providers. With 420,000 square miles of high resolution aerial imagery over major metropolitan areas in the US (see map below), AEX brings base map content to ‘prime-the-pump’ in the derivative product marketplace.

One of the hardest things to do is host your own data. Letting companies such as WeoGeo do that for you frees you up to do what you are good at rather than trying to wear multiple hats. WeoGeo has the whole S3/EC2 thing figured out so scaling isn’t an issue. Just publish and forget about it works for both the seller of data and the buyer of data. Slow ArcIMS sites are no place to be searching for geodata.

Typing in geospatial searches in Google just doesn’t work (well I do get lucky sometimes). WeoGeo allows for these spatial searches and folks looking for aerial imagery in San Francisco (or anywhere else) will look for other data sets. This is more democratic than Google’s searches because it is spatial and not based on how many links there are to a dataset. Every dataset is available to everyone searching in an area (of course you can limit your search to types) so you won’t miss out on any available data just because the EPA or NOAA doesn’t link to it. For WeoGeo to grow they need these “premium” services such as Aerials Express, maybe they are on the cusp of something big.

Now if WeoGeo would only drop the Flash interface so it will work on my iPhone.

ESRI’s Web ADF is one horrific development platform

Doron Yaacoby writes that he’s absolutely frustrated with ESRI’s Web ADF.

As I’ve said before, this is one horrific development platform. I’ve started to seriously think about coding a replacement that will work against ArcObjects (at least something that will satisfy my team’s needs), but it would take a lot of time which we currently do not posses. One day, though, one day.

I think most of us have felt this way. He had earlier said this about the ADF:

…the API is riddled with bad design choices and bugs. Weird exceptions get thrown. You find out that there are 5 different classes that are called Converter in this API, in 5 different namespaces, which in some situations can definitely be used together. Documentation for most methods is something like: Map.GetFunctionalities – “Returns the functionalities of the map.” Oh really? Now I couldn’t guess that on my own. I should mention that since the initial release the documentation has improved a lot, but it is still no paradise. Recent documentation for this method (added since Service Pack 2, if I am not mistaken), explains that it returns a collection of IMapFunctionality. So why, why oh why, does this method has a return value of IEnumerable? This is a .net 2.0 only library, for pit’s sake, they can use generics. And they do, in many other places. Here, they don’t. This kind of API inconsistency can drive a man insane, I tell you.

The WebADF which was supposed to help ArcGIS Server developers ends up being more of a hindrance to them. We looked at the ADF early on for our products but my lead developer threw up his hands and said no more and I spent a whole week trying to write a WebTask and it was virtually impossible to figure out. Sure it works great for ESRI’s example but when you try and extend beyond what they’ve documented you might as well be coding with your eyes closed.

Homer Bucker

I haven’t tried coding with the WebADF with a bucket on my head yet

This brings up a bigger issue with ESRI products lately. With long lead times between versions, we get so much more added functionality in each release. So rather than small jumps where feedback can help grow the product we are left with frameworks being dumped on us and we have to figure it out because of poor documentation. Sure 9.3 is supposed to fix all this, but 9.2 has been out since November 2006 and if 9.3 is released to beta right before the Dev Summit how much do you want to bet that the final comes out near November 2008, almost 2 years later. So in the mean time, developers such as me get so damn frustrated working with ArcGIS Server WebADF that we toss it aside. And don’t get me started on ArcGIS Server 64bit.

As Doron says:

For the amount of money an ArcGIS Server license costs, a .NET developer like me could very well expect a decent .NET API to work with. The Web ADF is a .NET API, but it is hardly as powerful as ArcObjects are, nor is it any kind of decent.

Could all this be why so many ArcGIS Server developers I know are looking at SharpMap?

Spatial Networking comes to Facebook

Peter Batty says he’ll be demoing the social networking application that Spatial Networking has been building over the last few months/weeks at the Boulder Denver New Technology Meetup Group next week. I’m interested in seeing what his group has come up with as I have yet to see a good spatial social networking application on Facebook (in fact most applications on Facebook annoy me). Maybe the point of view his team has on mapping and spatial location might result in a usable application.