Google Earth Now In Google Maps

So the new sexy option in Google Maps is to bring up a embedded Google Earth? Hmm, maybe this needs more work. Like I’m going to install a plugin for an application I already have installed on my computer.

Yo!

Really? Plugins should never be required in the internet. OK so whatever then, Google is Google and I’m just a little blogger. Lets try this thing out then….

As far as I can tell, all it does is display what normally would be on Google Maps on a 3D globe. Nothing of value is added here, just tilt the globe do see where pizza joints are in Tempe.

Pizza Time!

Wow, I can’t wait to test this out on finding a coffee shop! Wait, no I’m not…

Frack!

So there you go, shame on me for installing a plugin.

Open Source Friday!

Basically I have no idea where the week went. As you can probably tell I’ve been very busy and thus there isn’t much time for blogging about how much I love the shapefile format. In the meantime there is some good open source news you probably need to be aware of.

  • OpenLayer 2.9 Released – Follow that link for the full details, but the take-away from the ESRI DevSummit was if you are doing cool stuff with the ESRI REST API, you are probably doing it in OpenLayers. Why code with something else?
  • zigGIS 3.0 – The defacto tool to access PostGIS from ArcGIS is now open source again. Well it is more complicated than that, but Abe Gillespie has the details on his blog. Basically the project is going to be moving forward with some very cool stuff planned. I’m excited as it makes zero sense to buy ArcSDE to access PostGIS.
  • The R Project – now this isn’t a specific news item, just a reminder that there is a kick ass statistical open source project screaming for you to use it. At the URISA conferences I was at the last two weeks, it appears many don’t know about all the cool stuff you can do with it. My favorite book on learning R (and other open source analytical tools) is Baseball Hacks. ESRI has been showcasing using R with their python tools so you should really want to get into it, just a freaking sweet project. Now if you want to see some geospatial use of R, check out Dylan Beaudette’s blog where he’s been showcasing some cool uses of R.

Anyway, have a great weekend folks. I’ll see some of you next week at GITA 2010. Play me out Joe Morello.

Cloudmade’s OpenStreetMap Project is Successful

I know many readers of my blog are very interested in the OpenStreetMap project so this news will all make you breath a sigh of relief. The great visionary Michael Arrington has the hot scoop:

Many people describe CloudMade?s OpenStreetMap project as Wikipedia for maps,? and they aren?t far off. The project allows anyone to add and edit map data around the globe, and the project is now a viable open and free source of mapping data for third party developers.

CloudMade has allowed entire new classes of applications to be possible. In Germany 150,000 people have paid to download skobbler, which is based on data from OpenStreetMap. Countless other apps also use the data. One notably creative one a gay cities app that shows the gay areas of cities around the world, with points of interest.

I’ve been a huge proponent of CloudMade’s OpenStreetMap project since the Cloudmade guys created it back in the day. Thus being a CloudMade OpenStreetMap participant for years, I’m glad to see that the CloudMade project is finally getting its due.

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Ugh right? The whole “article” sounds like it was planted for CloudMade’s gain because to represent the OpenStreetMap project this way is a huge diservice to those of us who have put countless nights on improving the maps. Toss in one softball comment and we’ve got a hype project working.

Update: In fairness to Cloudmade, they have clearly stated that they are not running the project.

I take two things away from this. Arrington doesn’t understand a thing about location and someone (a VC perhaps) is feeding Arrington bad information. It would appear the management of Cloudmade was unaware of this story so if there is something going on, it is outside of their knowledge.

I’m fairly sure both Steve and Nick wouldn’t represent CM this way so lets just go on the assumption Arrington and some wacko know nothing about anything.

System Design Strategies on wiki.GIS.com

One of the more valuable books/whitepapers to come out of ESRI is Dave Peter’s System Design Strategies. I think it is natural for this whitepaper to evolve into wiki format and ESRI clearly agrees.

One really valuable outcome from this is that the content now has a Creative Commons license that means that you can leverage the work as long as you attribute and share alike. I know planning GIS is a tough nut to crack, but a collaborative effort to improve the design process will improve all implementations no matter if they are ESRI, PBBI or OSGeo.

BatchGeo Improves Access to Geocoding and Creating Your Own Mashups

I’ve blogged quite a bit over the years about Phillip Holmstrand’s BatchGeo project. There are quite a bit of new improvements that Phillip’s announced that I think are worth noting.

  • New branding and look
  • Simplified workflow
  • Edit saved maps
  • Upgraded server back-end
  • Built-in locator function
  • Video tutorials

While you can still use BatchGeo.com to do your geocoding, the new interface will help those who want to create their own Google Maps mashups. Now you are probably thinking that Google already has their My Maps, but at least to me BatchGeo looks like it will be easier to use, plus its free. I have to take my hat off to Phillip, he keeps making BatchGeo better and better and I know tons of people who rely on it to do their batch geocoding.

I can totally see the Super Broker team using this!

Center for Urban Research posts First Weeks Census 2010 Participation Rate Analysis

Curious how the 2010 Census is going? Check out the Center for Urban Research and their analysis of the 2010 Census returns through week 1. Taking a look at their mapping site, my back of the envelope analysis shows that those in the freaking cold upper midwest have nothing better to do than fill out their returns and send them in.

Mapping the Census

I’d love to see a time slider available on this map in the coming weeks so we can see how the returns are coming in from around the country.

Reflections on the ESRI Business Partner Conference and the Developer Summit

2010 ESRI Business Partner Conference

So what is the take away from this conference? First off it is getting smaller every year (NOTE: I was told by ESRI that it was up from last year. I still think the growth of the DevSummit makes it feel small) as I think people are picking the Developer Summit to put their time into. Maybe at this point it can start focusing on business development and leave the technical sessions for the DevSummit. Time will tell I suppose.

The plenary was essentially the same as the FedUC last month, but they did tighten the message a bit. You can view some of the BPC Plenary online. Hitting on VGA/Crowd Sourcing, GeoDesign and da Cloud; the plenary clearly was laying out in detail what to expect from ESRI this year. ESRI again highlighted their partnership with Amazon and how at least for now ELA customers will be able to roll out their web services on the AWS platform, but it was interesting to see them keep pulling back. Private clouds (are we really going to use this term?) are where ESRI still sees much potential for their customers behind their firewalls on their own infrastructure. How is this different from 2008? Not really sure, but at least we have a term for it.

Up on stage, ESRI mentioned that we’d be able to rent ArcGIS Server this year from them at an hourly rate. Sounds great and if ESRI can figure out the pricing, it might be very valuable. You still have a huge problem of getting your data up in the cloud first, so an hour might turn into days as you copy up your large rasters.

Chris Capelli had a weird analogy where he described the world as “cloudy”, “partly cloudy” and “sunny”. I’m sure you can guess how that fits in to the ESRI strategy, but even Chris was trying to explain that “cloudy” isn’t necessarily negative. Agreed, so lets just drop that analogy. Also ESRI seems to be overselling the cloud a bit which I think will translate into unrealistic expectations for ESRI Business Partners. No Windows AMI takes 4 minutes to start up so claiming you can have ArcGIS in the cloud in 4 minutes is just silly.

There was a huge session on ArcGIS.com which if I understand it correctly is this years rebranded ArcGIS Online, ArcGIS Resource Centers and who knows what else. I’d just like to see them focus on one thing and roll with it and ArcGIS.com is as nice a url as anything. ArcGIS.com will have an app store where you’ll be apparently able to list or sell your ESRI apps for others to grab. It was implied that data, services, models and templates would also be able to be shared there. Again, lets see the implementation and then we can figure out if they’ve finally gotten this right. At the BPC, I heard again and again that the business partners were still confused about the ArcGIS.com story. They think it is pretty, seems to work well, but how does it change their business model around it?

We also saw an updated version of the new Flex Viewer and the API. So much nicer than the wacky Flex Viewer that everyone has been using. I might finally be able to stomach ESRI Flex API implementations. Adhering to user interface standards is always a nice thing.

This new concept of add-ins to ArcGIS Desktop 10 was really interesting. No longer will you need Windows Admin rights to install tools/extensions. This could be a huge game changer for many companies (including WeoGeo and our WeoGeo Tools for ArcGIS). I can’t wait to delve deeper into this and see what it will mean for users.

A great new website from ESRI will be released soon at http://ideas.esri.com where users will be able to I guess suggest and vote on new features and where they’d like ArcGIS to be headed. I wonder if ESRI is ready for this. 😉

Lastly ArcGIS 10 “Pre-Release” should be headed out this week to Business Partners, EDN subscribers and of course the beta testers. A big change is that DVDs are now optional at ArcGIS 10 so everything will be via download. No worries about where the heck did you leave the DVD for the ArcGIS install, it is always available. ArcGIS 10 is expected to be a June 2010 release and that date didn’t seem to worry anyone at ESRI so book it that you’ll have ArcGIS 10 on your desktop before the UC.

2010 ESRI Developer Summit

So following the BPC, came the one and only Developer Summit. You can view the Plenary Videos online now if you missed them. I was blown away how much larger this event has gotten over the BPC and just about every other geospatial conference out there. There was standing room only for the plenary session and I was lucky enough to find a couch in the “GeoLounge” to watch the session on the closed circuit TV.

Jim McKinney started off with saying that the ArcGIS 10 Pre-Release would be available for download April 1st. Check you calendar today and see if you can download it. I’m guessing very soon if not already. Scott Morehouse talked for a bit about the shift at ESRI from the traditional client server to a more web services model and pointed to ArcGIS.com as an example of this.

Jeremy Bartley lead things off with a dive into the new ArcGIS.com and showed how you could make a “mashup” by combining layers in ArcGIS Online in a Geocommons Maker! sort of way. The interface looks nice and the UI should be able to be used my much more people. It didn’t look like GIS devs designed it, which for ESRI is saying a ton.

Sud Menon went into some of the neat extensibility features that will be available in ArcGIS 10 for REST and SOAP APIs. The JavaScript API 2.0 was demonstrated with the new editing capabilities. I’m not sold on editing on web clients, but clearly everyone else is so now is you chance to let the community edit your maps. As I said above, the new Flex Viewer is really a nice piece of work and I’m guessing we’ll see an explosion of Flex maps using ESRI webs services in the next year.

The iPhone API was demonstrated and looked nice. There will be a stand-alone app that you can just use to connect to existing web services or you can create your own in Objective-C using the API. I heard from many who attended the technical session that the API looks painful (though much of that might be that no one want’s to learn Objective-C) so I’m assuming web clients built on JavaScript will probably be the default method. While the focus was on iPhone, ArcPad, Android and Windows 7 APIs were mentioned. This all falls under the ArcGIS Mobile umbrella which of course falls under the ArcGIS Server team. Tight integration between ArcGIS Server 10 and these APIs should be expected.

John Calkins did his desktop demo (which was much more interesting than the FedUC for some reason) and highlighted a couple things that I’m sure will get people on desktop excited. First off the UI doesn’t lock up when running geoprocessing tasks. Now don’t get too excited because this isn’t mult-threading, just allowing your processing to run in the background. Not what we all want, but at least a start. ArcCatalog and Python are both now embedded in ArcMap so you don’t have to have additional windows (unless of course you want to) cluttering your desktop. Of course there was deep ArcGIS.com integration and a search window for text searching (looks limited, but integrated search should be interesting to many).

The add-in capability as I described above sounds really great for Desktop developers. Just drop your add-in into a folder and it is available to ArcGIS 10. What a change eh? ArcPy has intellisense (can we code any other way anymore?) but be very afraid of ArcObjects Python devs. It’s a beast! And as we learned last year, you can now automate map production like you could with ArcPlot all those wonderful years ago.

Lastly ESRI mentioned that a 64-bit ArcGIS Server is in the works. No one would give a date, but I have to suspect that this is farther along than I’d expect.

The user presentations were great and a highlight of the conference for me and I think most who attended really enjoyed them. Some had standing room only which will probably be noticed by ESRI. One session I went to with great hope was “Accessing Your Geodatabase Outside of ArcObjects”. It was interesting to hear ESRI describe how you can get into the guts of the Geodatabase via SQL which up until now was something that they’d say you’d never want to do. The File Geodatabase API stuff was interesting, but limiting. First off the API will be C++ (actually this is a good thing), will be supported on only Windows, Solaris, RedHat and SUSE and will have access to only simple features (not annotation, topology, networks, etc). A targeted API was expected, but disappointing. The demo on the FGDB API was very simple so I assume they have much work ahead of them.

ESRI has clearly put a ton of effort into their product in a time where their competitors are shrinking and I think this will be noticed by the marketplace. The speed at which ESRI can devote large resources to solve “problems” really shows the scale of the company. At the end of the DevSummit, attendees were excited to get back home and download the ArcGIS 10 Pre-Release (today?) and get coding against some of the really cool features.