GIS practitioners as doing work surveyors should be doing

sigh

I can’t figure out what I’m more disappointed in, surveyors thinking they should be doing work GIS professionals should be doing or a magazine previewing articles to government agencies for them to censor them.

Inconceivable

Inconceivable!

Update: It appears that the author withdrew the article, not the publisher. The idea that a state board would even worry about such things shows that they obviously don’t have enough to do.

ArcGIS Explorer 480 Released

The ArcGIS Explorer Blog announced that AGX 480 was released last night. I was wondering when build 480 was going to arrive given the May timeframe announced at the DevSummit. You’ll want to check out the “What’s New in ArcGIS Explorer 480” for all the improvements, but I’ll list some of the ones that I think are important:

  • ArcSDE Support – FINALLY!
  • GPX File Import – If you want to work with shapefiles and GPS, you don’t have to buy Google Earth Pro anymore
  • Graticules and Reference Grids (OK, maybe not that important, but I like it)
  • Raster Background Transparency – Get rid of the black borders on imagery
  • Web Browser Support – AGX will run inside browser windows
  • KML improvements – every little bit helps
  • Increase performance – multi-threaded
  • GeoRSS Support

How AGX handles point symbols is interesting and I’m anxious to give it a try. We’ve been working on a project in Google Earth for Trip Reduction but we might deploy it on AGX if build 480 is as good as it appears.

Microsoft would like to publish your city’s aerial imagery and Google wants your map edits for free

Microsoft is smartly asking governmental agencies to publish their satellite and aerial imagery though Virtual Earth.

GoVE supports the data sharing goals of many public sector organizations by providing a free publishing service. Through GoVE, your taxpayer-funded information will be provided on a free, open access web site that benefits taxpayers, government officials, your corporate tax base, state and local governments, etc.

I think the definition of “free, open access” is a little different than most of us would assume it to be. That said, I really don’t have any problem with cities pushing their data into Virtual Earth, Google Earth or any other commercial API.

If there is any problem with it though, it is in the restrictions the API puts on developers and how they can use the data. I would recommend that any government that wants to put their imagery up on the web and be available for everyone to use, take advantage of Google and Microsoft, but also use services such as OpenAerialMap which have licenses that everyone can use and probably more beneficial to the taxpayers as they aren’t paying Microsoft for access to their data. Letting Microsoft and Google have the imagery is nice, but letting the community freely use it as well is just as nice.

Oz Gatekeeper
Less gatekeepers of aerial imagery is a good thing for the community

Update: Andres writes about Google’s new MapMaker and wonders the same thing about community getting to use such services freely. I mean what is the point about putting effort into these initiatives if you can’t get the data back out. There are organizations that I would freely donate my time to, but Microsoft and Google aren’t them. I’m starting to sound like SteveC

Update 2: Umibot over at Off the Map (Urban Mapping’s Blog) hits on the point that many are making about the Google:

It isn’t that Google can do neighborhoods ‘better’ than UMI (or anybody else), it’s the idea that Google doesn’t need anybody else to do it for them. In fact, they don’t need to do it themselves’throw it over to a fanatical user base, and watch them diligently work away

At least they could do it though Amazon Mechanical Turk and reward users for taking the effort clean up Google’s maps. Given how much money the Google is making off of these services, at least they could toss everyone a bone or some Google Goo.

Google Goo

LibLAS 1.0 Beta 1, GeoNetwork graduates, OSGeo4W looks for testers and ESRI looks at SEO

libLAS has moved forward and has been released as 1.0.0b1 in the hopes of attracting more testers. For those who haven’t been following, “libLAS is a BSD library for reading and writing ASPRS LAS version 1.0 and 1.1 data. LAS-formatted data is heavily used in LiDAR processing operations, and the LAS format is a sequential binary format used to store data from sensors and as intermediate processing storage by some applications.” If you deal with LiDAR on a regular basis, you might want to take a look at libLAS due to its integration with GDAL (see Hobu’s comment below). While I haven’t taken this release out for a spin yet (not dealing with LiDAR in the new job), I’m sure it goes without saying that it is a beta product so be prepared for “issues”. Yet if the goal is to get better LiDAR tools, a little pain now could result in good things for all.

In more OSGeo news, I saw that GeoNetwork graduated incubation last week. GeoNetwork has really flown under the radar and I’m pretty sure it will start to get more notice as time goes on and the need for geospatial/metadata catalogs increases.

Heck, why not one more OSGeo note? The great Frank Warmerdam posted that OSGeo4W is looking for testers and contributors. OSGeo4W can somewhat be thought of as superseding MS4W and FWTools, but it isn’t that simple. Basically it is an installer for OSGeo windows packages that allows users to easily install different OSGeo projects. Windows users wanting to get into the open source GIS world should sit up and take note.

Lastly I find it very interesting that ESRI is apparently looking for a [SEO](http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Search_engine_optimization) specialist (HT APB). I find that using the Google to search the ESRI forums, knowlege base articles and help is virtually impossible. I can only hope that they plan to get their support and help indexed by the world’s search engines. Of course we’ve been waiting for improved EDN search for years so I won’t be holding my breath.

Tell me again what GeoPDF does…

Ever since the news that Adobe Acrobat 9 would support “mapping”, I’ve been getting emails from people asking what this does to GeoPDF. I’m sure the GeoPDF team has been fielding the same questions and has blogged about what they think are the important points of GeoPDF.

GeoPDF is a geospatial extension to the Adobe PDF file format, from TerraGo Technologies. It is used to present GIS and mapping data in a standard Adobe Systems PDF. This extension adds a coordinate transformation matrix and other metadata to allow transformation of PDF coordinates to a projected Cartesian coordinate system. GeoPDFs often include other advanced PDF features such as layers and object data which can add significant GIS functionality to the file, particularly when used with the TerraGo Technologies plugin to Adobe Reader.

Unfortunately, that description doesn’t do enough to convince me that GeoPDF is a viable format moving forward. I’ve barely run into GeoPDF over the years so believe me when I say I’m a GeoPDF novice and I could be missing the boat here. I’m sure there are very good reasons to use GeoPDF and I know some people who seem to believe in the format. GeoPDF of course requires an extra step to create and take advantage of the format, thus TerraGo really needs do a better job of getting out “the why” to use GeoPDF.

Otherwise it will just become a niche format.

Update: Commentator Kevin has some points as to why GeoPDF is powerful.

Get to know ArcPad AXF

ArcPadThe excellent ArcPad Team Blog has info on the new storage format for ArcPad 7.1.

Prior to ArcPad 7.1, shapefiles were ArcPad’s most common spatial file format for features. Shapefiles are great for many applications, but shapefiles lack the capabilities to support more sophisticated relational database requirments that exist in the ArcGIS Geodatabase. So ArcPad 7.1 introduced the AXF format, which we like to refer to as a “lightweight geodatabase”.

As a user of ArcPad at my old job, I really hated storing information in the shapefile format. Actually I hate shapefiles, period. Any format that requires you to maintain at least 3 separate files to ensure they work is a bad idea in my book. I liked that the ArcPad team build upon the Microsoft’s SQL Server Compact Edition platform.

Time to bury the shapefile format!

Kill Shape