Portable GIS Version 1.2 Posted

I am excited to read on Jo Cook’s blog that version 1.2 of Portable GIS has been released. The concept of being able to either try out or even use software without having to install it, is how we’ll get GIS applications in the hands of everyone. Plus who doesn’t want to carry GIS on your key chain? That isn’t geeky, it is being prepared!

Note: there have been some problems with the download server, but all seems well as of this moment.

USB Drive

Putting Open Source GIS software in your pocket

Yahoo!’s Geo Technologies Group Blog

The Yahoo/Microsoft/Google quagmire hasn’t stopped Google from separating out their geospatial blog from their search blog. The Y! Geo blog has started up today and possibly points to Yahoo! pushing more of the geospatial technology out. In addition they’ve announced their Yahoo! Internet Location is now called Yahoo! GeoPlanet.

The Y! Geo blog seems to be written in marketing speak, but hopefully that will change as time goes on.

Jerry Yang

Jerry Yang is ecstatic at the idea of GeoYahoo!

GeoWeb and Autodesk

OK, well the title might be sexier than the content, but I thought I’d finally get around to linking to Sean Gorman’s blog post about a conversation we had about the GeoWeb. I was just listening to his interview on the VerySpatial podcast and it really is amazing how far we’ve come in a year. To say I had little faith in these projects/companies (WeoGeo, [FortiusOne, Pleiades, OpenStreetMap among others), is an understatement, but they are really proving that if you give people a platform to collaborate and share data, they’ll do really amazing things. I’m so excited to see where we end up in the next year. Good thing for the disclaimer at the bottom of my blog sidebar!

And the Autodesk reference? This afternoon Shaan Hurley from Autodesk stopped by the RSP Architects studio space in Tempe. Shaan and I have emailed each other for the past few years and it was great to finally meet him in person and show him around the studio space. It was a shame we weren’t able to spend more time, but since he makes it down to Arizona often, I’m sure I’ll be seeing him again really soon.

That looks like a GIS map

I was talking about web cartography with a client today and he was saying how he can tell any map made with GIS in a couple seconds. While he did admit that he has been fooled quite a bit, he was still disappointed that there really hasn’t been mainstream improvements to quality of maps. I think he’s a little blinded by the average ArcMap document produced as most of them look alike because many GIS professionals seem to just be happy with the default symbology (or just don’t know how to take advantage of Cartographic Representations). Now this is somewhat unfair to ESRI as most desktop GIS clients seem to fall into these faults.

OK, but why is this a problem? Tonight, while watching ASU fall apart against Fresno State in College Baseball, a couple of us came up with some ideas:

  • We all graduated 1995 and earlier and we all had many cartography classes in college. Do today’s GIS students not get traditional cartographic education?
  • The ease of desktop GIS clients has made “hacking” cartography elements unnecessary. The default symbology is good enough and there is no need to spend time tweaking lines, points, or polygons.
  • Users of the maps (be it clients, project managers, creators) don’t value cartography. The savings of quickly producing a map outweighs excellent cartography.
  • The phrase, “Good enough for government work” is used way too frequently in GIS shops.

What do you think? We all see amazing cartography and some of it is very easy to produce. Why can’t we be blowing people’s minds anymore? There are tons of great books out there to help.

Bad Maps

Just being better than a Disney map shouldn’t be enough

BIM and GIS

My hat is off to everyone who had to work within the BIM (Building Information Modeling) space on a daily basis. Talk about using tools that aren’t refined enough (and this is coming from someone who has worked with GIS applications for 15+ years). It was painful hearing about how many hoops folks have to jump through with BIM and how it affects their workflows (not in a good way).

It has been clear to me with all the emails I’ve received from folks wanting to know more about how I’m approaching BIM and GIS, that there is great interest in the subject. Just about everyone of my clients I’ve talked to about the move to the new company has mentioned BIM as something they want to or are being required to get involved with. I’ll make it my goal in the next year or so to keep everyone informed about how things are going and what I’ve learned about working with BIM and GIS.

I’ve just gotten Revit installed on my desktop and as soon as we can square the ArcGIS Desktop licenses we’ll start working on workflows and interoperability.

Gatekeeper

We don’t need gatekeepers between BIM and GIS

Acrobat Maps, Email and GeoWeb 2008 Conference

I guess the “big” news today was the Acrobat 9 “maps” feature. All Points Blog and Fantom Planet both cover the news in their own unique style. Since ArcGIS 9.3 will support the new PDF maps (with a patch of course) I suspect that this will be very popular, at least in our circles. Just last week I was watching someone take a ruler and put it up to their computer screen to measure distance. Hopefully with Acrobat 9 we won’t have to see this anymore. The bonus part of Adobe putting this in is that the free Adobe Reader supports the mapping features and will hopefully mean that it will be adopted quicker than GeoPDF has.

Now I wonder if this goes with the rumor that I’ve heard that ArcGIS Desktop will support reading of PDF files in the near future.

Also, as many of you know my first day at RSP Architects was today. The best way to get a hold of me via email moving forward will be at this email address.

james.fee@rsparch.com

Lastly, I’m going to be going to the GeoWeb 2008 Conference in July and be on a Spark Panel Session moderated by Geoff Zeiss called “National Critical Infrastructure Data Models: Implications for Local Government and Utilities”. Now if that title doesn’t get you excited, I’m not sure you are alive. Seriously though, I’m looking forward to GeoWeb 2008 as the CAD-BIM papers are right up my alley these days.