Spatial Database in the Cloud

Ed Katibah has a great post on something that should get geo-developers excited. Microsoft announced that they will be adding support for spatial data in SQL Azure very soon. Says Ed,

I’ve been using SQL Azure with spatial support for a couple of weeks now and it works just like the spatial data support in SQL Server 2008 same spatial data types, spatial methods and spatial indexes. It works in SQL Server Management Studio just like you would expect.

Ed notes two issues with using SQL Azure over SQL Server for your data: 1. You need to have a clustered index on the table you are inserting data into. 2. You may need to break your data loads up into chunks to prevent the connection to SQL Azure from timing out. (welcome to the cloud) The good news is that SQL Azure seems to be a drop in replacement with all our tools. Says Dale Lutz at Safe, “it just works”. I’m looking forward to talking with the Microsoft folks at the DevSummit to see how we can leverage it.

Here comes the spatial database into the cloud. Get your ducks in a row!

ESRI is now Ez-Ree

Apparently ESRI sent out a memo to employees where they are now telling staff to refer to E-S-R-I as ez-ree now. No longer will you have to listen to them struggle to get out the letters, but can say it the way the rest of us do. No word on if the memo also told them how to pronounce GIS.

Play me out Keyboard Cat!

Give me a Map Sandwich

Manage Your Content – Integrate Your Content

I talked a little bit on the WeoGeo blog last week about how we were very focused on content management. Yea, very sexy stuff… But what I think it highlights is the way that we can share our data with each other. Getting your data “into the Cloud”, whatever that means these days, and then using it as much as possible gives you the best return on your investment. One thing that did come up at the FedUC in February was the huge adoption of ESRI’s ArcGIS Online Map Services among users. Using these great free services as backdrops to your mapping content gives you a great starting point. But how you can integrate your geo-content into them is critical. Making it as easy and simple to do is how you’ll be able to leverage your data.

The “Map Sandwich”

ESRI’s cartography blog of all places has the key to showing where data vendors (and just all around geo-Joes) can leverage their datasets in this new ecosystem of free web services. Now the blog post focuses on the cartography aspects of this mashup, but the huge takeaway here is that you can easily integrate your data into these free services in ways that your users/customers can leverage easily. What users want is to quickly integrate your data into their ecosystem. This means they want to consume them on their terms, not yours. Companies that successfully integrate with the Google, the Microsoft and large GIS vendors such as the ESRI, will see great consumption of their data. Those that create their own private data sharing sites or web services will see their fortunes decline, like Paul says.

A Window into the Future

I’ll tell you right now who I see fitting perfectly into this “Map Sandwich” world, Brian Flood’s Arc2Earth. Take a look at his demo app, “Tax Parcel Search – Westfield, NJ”. What is really cool about this demo app is that Brian has a link to the API that makes it happen. He based this API on some draft standards so it should be really easy to integrate into just about any application out there, but the chocolate syrup and cherry on top is his ArcGIS Server REST API Compatibility. Now, he still hasn’t released this publicly (at least that I can see), but it means that any data you create using his Arc2Earth API will be easily consumable in the ESRI ecosystem natively. No wacky WMS or WFS for ESRI users, this stuff will be copy and paste stupid easy.

A2E GMap Example

Customers want this integration and it just isn’t ESRI users. We can sit on our high horse all we want and talk about open standards, but in the trenches people with money don’t have time for the OGC and others to get their act together (and even then they could care less).

“Give me a web service that integrates into my ArcCatalog natively and I’ll buy”

That simple.

“I’m using the ESRI Flex API and want to use your dataset.”

Here is the ESRI REST URL, have at it.

Give Me Some of that Good Data-as-a-Feature

We should be looking at these Data-as-a-Feature services as opportunities to get our data into the hands of those creating applications. A quick look at the ESRI Mashup Challenge shows that there are tons of very useful apps screaming to integrate your data layers into them. You just need to make sure you provide the meat and let ESRI handle the bread and lettuce (maybe a little bacon too).

Map Sandwich / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Bottom Line

So the above example is “ESRI Centric”, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t valid for EVERYONE. If your online geo-content isn’t in formats or services that can easily be integrated into popular mapping APIs and libraries, your data is not going be easily used. For the consultant, if you can’t deliver you data to your clients quickly and easily, they’ll look elsewhere for services (integrating with Drupal, SharePoint, whatever). For data providers, if I can’t grab your data and throw it into my OpenLayers mapping application or Silverlight API app by cutting and pasting lines of code, I’ll probably not use your data at all. You’d better start thinking this way because the landscape has changed, work with web services or be out of work. The writing is clearly on the wall, pay attention.

So There Will Be an ESRI/Microsoft SIG at the DevSummit

It looks like the powers that be at the ESRI Developer Summit have decided a .NET ESRI/Microsoft SIG is a good idea after all. Fears (possibly all mine) that the DevSummit was changing and wouldn’t be able community anymore are tempered somewhat by this announcement. So if you work the ESRI/Microsoft angle to develop GIS applications, you can now share this fact with your brothers and sisters in code. Viva Palm Springs!

GeoDesign Idea Lab at the ESRI Developer Summit

A late edition to the ESRI Developer Summit is the GeoDesign Idea Lab. This is going to be a set of lightning talks by developers showcasing how they’ve been using the concept of GeoDesign in their applications. I’ll be moderating the session with Eric Wittner of ESRI. If you’ve been telling everyone you’ve “been doing GeoDesign for years”, now is you chance to get up and show everyone how your stuff is teh sexay.

Most of what we’ve seen out of this GeoDesign has been with researchers and university types talking about concepts. Now is the time to show how developers have been in the trenches integrating disparate disciplines and bringing the results to the decision makers and the public.

Email your Lightning Talk (10 minutes maximum) abstract to to be considered. I’ll be blogging the session in detail so this could be a great opportunity to get your GeoDesign chops out in the open. Plus since it is going on at the same time as the Business Partner Conference expect some of the marketing geeks to drop by and see what is up.

GeoDesign Idea Lab Part 1
GeoDesign Idea Lab Part 2

T.S. Elliott on GeoDesign

T.S. Elliott was doing GeoDesign before anyone else!