ESRI Podcast – 2008 Developer Summit — Building .NET Applications Using the ArcGIS Server Web ADF and ASP .NET AJAX

I think most of those who have been involved with ArcGIS Server, the Developer Summit is really were we get detailed discussions. The podcast talks about what the session will be which is pretty much what Art has been saying for the past few years. More Microsoft AJAX, .NET and other MS web technology. You can listen to the podcast here. I have to laugh at how geeked up Art and Rex get when talking about the Web ADF, I can see them smiling as they talk about it.

Sexy Podcast
Dude, I’m rocking to the latest ESRI podcast!

BUT, where is the REST API info? I think many of us on the “Microsoft Platform” are interested in using our own solutions we’ve created in the past and the REST API should be the key to getting ArcGIS Server into our products. We’ll have to see what happens at 9.3, but after trying to develop using the Web ADF task framework I’m so turned off by it. Give me a simple REST API and I’ll be happy.


Rooms available at Hilton for ESRI Developer Summit

It appears that there are now rooms available at the Hilton for the $185 rate. If you missed out earlier and now want to stay closer to the Dev Summit take advantage of this opportunity. Quite a few of us are staying at Hotel Zoso just down the street from the convention center (and closer to the bars) so you can also feel free to join us there.


FME Worldwide User Conference 2008 early bird registration ends January 24

Don’t forget, those who are planning to attend the FME Worldwide User Conference in March need to get their registration by January 24th. Alas I’m not going (believe me not by choice), but looking at the Agenda and Breakout sessions it will be quite the learning experience for any who go.

Jason Birch’s favorite transformer post on the FME user group sums up perfectly how powerful and helpful FME is to so many people. FME is flying under the radar for most folks I talk to and it shouldn’t be. It is such a critical piece of any geospatial work flow that ignoring FME (OK, to be fair ignoring Spatial ETL) puts you at great risk for future employment. I see myself using FME as my primary method of getting spatial data into SQL Server 2008 Katmai going forward.

Damn I wish I was going, now I’m all depressed….


ESRI ready to release ArcGIS Explorer build 450

ESRI is about to release an update to ArcGIS Explorer. Build 450 will add no new features, but will resolve a number of graphics card related issues that we inadvertently picked up at 440 (via ArcGlobe apparently). There has been some discussion in the ESRI forums about this issue:

This problem was introduced by OpenGL call changes in ArcGIS Explorer 440. Some have found that ArcGIS Explorer 410 worked, while version 440 does not. In general the problem does not occur with newer graphics cards and new drivers.

a. Potential resolution. Install the latest driver for your graphics card from your graphics card or hardware vendor.

b. Here are some specific observations in regards to graphics cards.

i. ATI FireGL V3100 ‘ 8650 will work with the latest driver from AMD. Driver Packaging Version 8.44

ii. ATI Mobility FireGL Latest drivers from vendor do not appear to fix issue. We are working on an ArcGIS Explorer update to address this.Keep an eye out on the ArcGIS Explorer blog for the release.


So what did I learn at the Western United States Manifold Users Conference?

I had a great time at the WUSMUC and meeting lots of Manifold users. It was interesting to learn that the user conference is not sponsored by Manifold (well technically Manifold is a sponsor but of the user created conference), but a user driven event. Users of Manifold came from all over the United States and Canada to attend the conference and learn about what folks are doing with GIS and Manifold.

The day started off with everyones favorite Dimitri Rotow talking about the Manifold roadmap. I’m under a NDA for the roadmap, but you can pretty much guess they are focused on a most of the things that other technology companies are focused on with one or two “twists” that may interest some folks. Honestly I’m not sure the NDA is needed but if it helps them sleep at night what the heck.

The first presentation was by John Norman of The Taurean Group on how they use Manifold to analyze data for real estate analysis and land use planning. There isn’t anything revolutionary John showed, just how easy it was for him to use Manifold data with TIGER files and create drive time zones, heat zones and detailed community comparison analysis. I guess the point here is you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on software to get results (a common theme over the day). John has a nice tight workflow and scripts most of his work using just VBScript. Nothing fancy at all but it works very well for him and helps his company respond to his clients needs.

The second presentation was by Rob Wood of ScanControl, Inc. Rob’s company works with large wine producers (such as Kendall-Jackson) to help them manage their assets (in this case grapes). They combine smartphone collection tools with SQL Server CE in the field and SQL Server and back in “the office”. Because of the harsh conditions and the users of the smartphones not being computer literate, the PDAs have to be simple to use. The detailed data collected by the field hands gets entered into the SQL database and then Kendall-Jackson can make strategic decisions based on the results inside IMS. The simple presentation with IMS allows KJ to focus on the data and make strategic decisions about their grapes and wines. Rob says that other global wine brands are using the same system as well as race the horse racing industry. Rob hit again on the cost of Manifold and its ability to interop with Microsoft SQL Server as key reasons for his decision to use it.

After lunch Danielle Cullen of Digital Mapping Services show how to use the Manifold Map control in applications. Danielle’s application started as a MapObjects application and probably would have been one today if ESRI hasn’t abandoned it. She looked at ArcGIS Engine as many of us have and came to the same conclusion as we have, the licensing just doesn’t work with many clients. (i’m going to stop ranting about MO right now) Anyway after looking at many solutions out there she found and took at look at their Map control. She was able to develop a modern parcel viewer application with Manifold that meets her clients needs. Her demo showed how to use Visual Basic Express, drop the Manifold map control on it and link it to a map document.

The last presentation of the day was by Charles McLane and Joe Luchette of showing how they can host Manifold IMS applications easily for users. I have always been somewhat dubious of how Manifold loads the data into the map file rather than link to it on the server. But in this case the benefit is that you can author your Manifold map, save the map file and then upload it to very easily. Sure it is easy to create a Manifold IMS application, but hosting IMS apps yourself is hard to do (this isn’t just a Manifold thing). Hardware costs are usually much more than software costs (especially in Manifold’s case). How do you plan for growth or spikes in traffic? Truth is smaller shops cannot really deal with such realities and performance is usually disappointing. Thus hosting these IMS applications is critical so that your users/clients will always have timely access to the maps. But the problem I’ve noticed especially with ESRI IMS hosting companies is that they charge way too much money. I had a company email me with prices they wanted me to blog about. $1,499 set up fee and $495 a month shared hosting for an ArcIMS application? Are you kidding me? The folks that really need to take advantage of this service can’t afford that price. I liked the price point has found and at least for users they have a great option.

So what did I learn? I saw a bunch of folks using to accomplish the same tasks that ESRI, MapInfo, FOSS software users are. They don’t drink as much kool-aid as you might thing in regards to Manifold and are very realistic about its pro and cons. They all had different reasons for ending up on and are very happy with their choice. I love hearing about how folks are using GIS software in their daily work and I had a great time meeting everyone at th WUSMUC. If there is one thing GIS users like doing it is talking shop and we all had a great time. I’d recommend anyone interested in Manifold go to the Eastern United States Manifold User Conference in May 2008.


At the Western U.S. Manifold User Conference

I’m sitting down right now at the Manifold User Conference. I’m under a NDA so I can’t really report much on the future of Manifold, but I’ll let you know some examples of what people are doing with Manifold.


Zillow releases their neighborhood boundary layer – over 7,000 neighborhoods available to download

Zillow LogoHow about this news? Zillow has released their neighborhood boundaries in ESRI Shapefile format for everyone to use.

Determining boundary data was quite a feat, as currently this information isn’t readily available through a single public source. Thus, we determined these on our own through various tactics, including calling individual chambers of commerce, tourism and convention boards, speaking with real estate agents and community members in these areas, as well as using available online local sources.

Plus they are asking your help in updating the ones they created or add new ones where they didn’t exist before.

If your city is not one of the 150 cities covered currently, and you know enough GIS (or have access to someone who does), you can draw your own boundaries for your city and notify us by posting a thread in Zillow Discussions. We’ll add them to the database of neighborhoods available for download and will work to eventually integrate them into Zillow.

Giving data back to the community at the same time asking for help is a wonderful way to get people involved with creating their neighborhood boundaries. Plus you can use their Zillow API in your own applications. I’ve been involved with a couple projects in the last 6 months where neighborhood boundaries are very important and had nothing to do with real estate.


ArcGIS Server services in Virtual Earth

Dave Bouwman just wrote up his findings on bringing ArcGIS Server web service (using the WMS service and SOAP API) into Virtual Earth. Another great example of using a hosted web service with your existing GIS projects.

I’m pretty sure the ESRI Developer Summit will be full of folks wanting to know about using Virtual Earth in their ESRI web applications and doing it outside of the Web ADF. The REST API cannot come soon enough IMO for those who develop using the ESRI platform.


ArcCow for ArcGIS 9.x

If you are lucky enough to be running ArcGIS 9.x, you’ll be able to use the latest extension for ArcGIS Desktop ArcCow from ArcScripts from here. The source code is included so if I were you I’d port the thing to to the ArcGIS Server Task Framework and enjoy the $15,000 grand prize.

Bored? Try ArcCow.

Author assumes no liability for loss or damages that might be incurred when using or attempting to use ArcCow, such as but not limited to, hysteria, uncontrollable laughter, falling out of your chair from laughing, etc…

I can confirm that it works on 9.2 and had a great time dropping cow pies on the I-10 in Redlands.


Click to view ArcCow in all its glory

Actually all it does is put cow pies where you click with a “moooo” sound. So you might get board of it very quick, I sure did.


Create ArcGIS Server code and win $15,000

I’m frankly astounded at that prize. Last year had some nice ones, but this is quite a step up from a GPS unit or an Xbox 360. Better get coding because it will take more than a Flickr task to get that money.

  1. First Place – $15,000
  2. Second Place – $7,500
  3. Third Place – $5,000