Microsoft Live Maps and Virtual Earth 3D 6.1 Released

Steve Lombardi and Chris Pendleton have both blogged about the new release of Microsoft Virtual Earth (and Live Maps). Steve sums it up:

This ended up being a much bigger release than originally planned including three full sprints of development. As always the changes visible in the user interface only scratch the surface of the dozens of improvements across the application tiers including Geocoding enhancements, browser compatibility (Safari and IE8), parsing improvements, reverse geocoding, printing improvements and tons more. We are also releasing an upgrade of our Map Control to version 6.1 for developers.

For developers there are some enhancements that will be very welcomed. Johannes Kebeck looks at more detail at some of the new API features. I’m very interested in Safari support and better printing. We had a project use Google Maps because of poor Safari browser support (which was a key requirement).

I still can’t understand why Microsoft continues to put Virtual Earth under the “Live” banner. Live Search is the worst search product out there and having that stigma attached to what might very well be the best web mapping application around only limits its potential.


Now if they could only get the players to animate, I could watch a baseball game in VE3D.


Microsoft’s MapCruncher graduates from Microsoft Research but does it really?

Microsoft Virtual Earth – MapCruncher has its own webpage and a commercial license so commercial users can now use the product. You can download the MapCruncher beta here.

t is weird is that I’ve got both the MSR MapCruncher and the new Virtual Earth MapCruncher installed now and they both seem to be the same version (called MapCruncher Beta for Virtual Earth) but they have different version numbers: For the “new” Microsoft Virtual Earth -MapCruncher this is the about dialog:

The “older” MSR MapCruncher that I didn’t uninstall has the same interface with the same program title as the one above, but a different about dialog:

I’m sure Microsoft will get more into the difference and what this means for the MSR MapCruncher vs the new Virtual Earth MapCruncher but from the user perspective it is confusing. I get the commercial vs. research licensing, but is that it and why do you need two versions?


Leveraging Google App Engine in your GIS Applications

I’ve blogged about Amazon Web Services and how one can leverage those services to develop scaleable applications, but now Google has gotten into the act. Google App Engine will let you to develop scaleable web applications using the same Google technology that powers their own web applications such as Google Maps and Gmail. Taking a quick look at the Google App Engine Docs really shows how this can be a great toolkit for GIS developers. A Python Runtime, Datastore API (Bigtable) and a URL Fetch API all line up very well with where GIS web applications are going.


ST_Geometry Issues With Oracle

Dave Smith has been blogging about the issues with ST_Geometry on Oracle 10g.

Recently two ESRI customers have reported problems to ESRI Technical Support after upgrading to Oracle The Oracle upgrade appears to be deleting some schema elements we require for the spatial type (ST_GEOMETRY). Uninstalling the upgrade to restore the prior version of Oracle does not work. ESRI is in contact with Oracle and we are working together to understand and quickly resolve the problem in this Oracle patch upgrade.

It is a weird issue that came up and a problem on Oracle’s end. What is even more bizzare is that it really hasn’t gotten much play on ESRI’s Support Forums.

There is a thread in the support forums, but it really isn’t that clear to what the problem is and how to fix it (well we know there needs to be a patch, but that isn’t really spelled out on the forums).

I can only speculate that either that there aren’t many Oracle users rushing to upgrade to or there aren’t many Oracle SDE users dealing with ST_Geometry. This is a really weird situation if you ask me if it trickles down from a regional office.

Jedi Mind Trick

“This isn’t the support you are looking for”


SpaceNavigator for Notebooks

I’m sure you’ve all seen news that 3Dconnexion released their new SpaceNavigator for Notebooks today and I’m not going to waste your time with another review of how “life changing” it is to find crap in Google Earth. I did receive a review unit from 3Dconnexion with the idea that I would look at how it works with ArcGIS Desktop and other professional applications that I use. I’ve already reviewed the “full size” SpaceNavigator and come to the conclusion that it does improve productivity with ArcGIS (enough so that we’ve bought units for our GIS Analyst staff) in both 2D and 3D. So what does SpaceNavigator for Notebooks bring to the table?

Space Navigator

First, it is smaller. Many of you have seen the graphics that show how much smaller the unit is. Usually when things get smaller I have trouble using them. Small mice make my hands cramp up so I was somewhat worried that the new unit would fall into the same trap. Thankfully that wasn’t the case, the SpaceNavigator for Notebooks works well enough in my hand to be used every day with ArcGIS Desktop. The control seems even better. I’m not sure how to describe it other than the tilt function works better than the standard SpaceNavigator. I’m not sure if this is the case because the SpaceNavigator for Notebooks has a new mechanism inside or my existing SpaceNavigator has become worn with use. 3D control of ArcGlobe and ArcScene is as good as ever and of course you still have that great 2D control in ArcMap. As I’ve said before using the SpaceNavigator in your left hand and using the mouse with the right hand is much easier than trying to use the mousewheel to navigate ArcMap.

The SpaceNavigator for Notebooks comes with a leather case for travel, but I lost that at the Developer Summit last month so I’ve just been throwing it in my notebook bag. The case was nice, but isn’t really needed as there are no loose parts. The smaller size works well while on the airplane, fitting next to my smaller travel notebook on the seat tray, but if you’ve got a larger notebook you’ll still run into trouble. The USB cable is just about the right size, short enough to not be a hassle while traveling, but long enough to use when you are back in the office.

Now what I did have a problem with was the lighter weight. At first I found myself lifting the unit off the table and sliding it around. I’ve gotten much better at the lighter unit as I’ve used it over the last few weeks, but be warned that if you are rough with the existing SpaceNaviagator, you’ll have some teething problems with the new one. Other than that, it works just like its larger brother.

The full list of supported applications is here. One thing that needs to get addressed soon is “certified driver” for ESRI products. Now it isn’t that the driver for ArcGIS Desktop doesn’t work, because it works very well, but I just would rather have ESRI and 3Dconnexion work at getting an “officially supported” driver out soon.

Now is the SpaceNavigator for Notebooks worth the extra money ($129)? I’ve seen some reviews say the price twice the SpaceNavigator PE ($59). Now while that is true, the SpaceNavigator PE can only be used in “education or personal use” situations. The SpaceNavigator SE is $99 and has a “professional” license so that is the unit that needs to be compared to the SpaceNavigator for Notebooks as it also has a “professional” license. I think most professionals won’t balk at an extra $30 for portability and if you are a road warrior, weight savings can be critical. If space and weight have been a problem with your SpaceNavigator, you might want to take a look at the SpaceNavigator for Notebooks.

DISCLOSURE – 3Dconnexion provided me with a SpaceNavigator for Notebooks for evaluation.


Hobu on OGR ArcSDE Write Support

Of course most everyone knows that OGR supports reading ArcSDE features, but writing wasn’t available. Well Hobu has the great news that he is looking for testers of OGR write for ArcSDE. This is great news for anyone who has ArcSDE and wants to use it with the many software applications/servers that user OGR.

Might be time to revisit this little project.


A look at ArcGIS Explorer Build 600

For those of you who didn’t get to see Build 600 in person at the Business Partner or Developer Summit this March, the ArcGIS Explorer team has posted a screenshot with the new “ribbon” interface. It does look really nice and the usability is much improved.


Overselling ArcGIS Server

Dave Bouwman has written up a follow-up to his question at the Dev Summit closing session about ESRI overselling ArcGIS Server.

One issue I seem to run into a lot is the gap between client expectations of ArcGIS Server, and the reality. Although I did bring this up at the closing session of the Developer Summit, and we were told this would be addressed, I think it’s worth pointing out some specifics.

This is a HUGE issue to many of us in the consulting business as the realities of developing with ArcGIS Server sometimes doesn’t match up with expectations.

Esri Salesman

ESRI Salesman out the door to push ArcGIS Server capabilities to the masses.