New Case Study on Microsoft Azure and ESRI

It looks like Microsoft has posted a new case study that focuses on the Azure platform and ESRI.

By making the MapIt service available with Windows Azure, ESRI has made it easier for organizations to adopt GIS technology. The underlying technology is easy to work with and familiar, because it uses traditional Microsoft products. Customers spend less time deploying a solution and more time reaping the benefits, without the need to become a GIS expert.

Customers can deploy the MapIt service in Windows Azure without having to configure and deploy new hardware and install software packages, which can take weeks or months and cost tens of thousands of dollars?not to mention the ongoing costs associated with IT maintenance, power, and data storage. By freeing customers from having to make large hardware, software, and staffing investments up front, we?re helping lower the cost of GIS entry and increase the return on investment,? says Haddad.

Or in simple terms, “You don’t need ArcGIS Server and tons of IT admins to have geospatial applications on the web”.

Let us have Simon & Garfunkel take sing us out – Cloudy!


ArcGIS API for Flex 2.0 is Released

One of the more popular ArcGIS Server APIs has gone 2.0. ArcGIS API for Flex 2.0 is now ready for showtime at the ESRI UC later next month. You can read up on the highlights in “what’s new in version 2.0”.


SQL Azure Now Supports Spatial Types

Some good news out of Microsoft last week, SQL Azure now supports spatial types:

Spatial Data Support – SQL Azure now offers support for the Geography and Geometry types as well as spatial query support via T-SQL. This is a significant feature and now opens the Windows Azure Platform to support spatial and location aware applications.

Brilliant if you ask me!


ArcGIS 10 May Be Available To Download

There seems to be a rolling release right now (I finally just got the ability to download), but ArcGIS 10 ISOs may be available for you to grab. Check out to see if you can download.

If you don’t have access just yet, sit back and wait for ESRI to write you a letter er… email.


OpenLayers 3.0 Takes Shape

Mid-Long Term isn’t around the corner, but there is much to like about OpenLayers 3.0.

Amongst the things we did discuss (and agree on) in the meeting are:

  1. Have the map be a central place for triggering events
  2. Streamlining the drag flow
  3. Maps are the leaders of all. They have the projection properties, and you can reproject maps
  4. Layers advertise their ability to render in a projection. If they can’t render in one, they turn off or something
  5. LonLat is a bad name. Location() is the future, and it is smart. Geometry comes from Location, and is also smart. They know about projections.
  6. Baselayers are a bad concept. Mutually exclusive visibility is the way of the future. Layer groups is a potential name for this type of thing
  7. Things which are called many times (which we now know/can examine) should be improved performance wise
  8. Create adapters for things like DOM manipulation but still have OpenLayers keep its own implementation. Just make it easier for people to roll in their favourite, be it jQuery, ext-core etc.
  9. Potentially pull out the geometry operations stuff into a separate library
  10. Keep a set of “widgets” but better separate them, so that people can more easily write their own “widgety things”
  11. Facilitating mobile support

We welcome your feedback.

OpenLayers 3.0 is like my own little Private Idaho!


A Look at Some ESRI Press Gems

If there is one thing that comes to mind with the ESRI Press it is probably that book about VBA and ArcGIS. Yea not exactly stay up late reading material at all. Last year ESRI brought an out of print book back that many GIS professionals had lusted after since they were told of its existence. Cartographic Relief Presentation was on the short list of many folks and a hugely welcome edition to any cartographer.

Well following up on that book, we’ve got a new one out now,?The Look of Maps: An Examination of Cartographic Design. What I like about this book is that it gives focus on techniques, not technology, which is something sorely missed by today’s books and instructions. The “why” of what makes good cartographic design is becoming a lost art.

But that isn’t all, I saw in the ESRI Press Catalog that another book is on its way this fall. Semiology of Graphics is yet another book that teaches concepts, not technology and helps cartographers make great decisions about presenting their data.

So much of computer GIS is devoid of good cartography reference books to give GIS professionals guidance to make timeless maps, not just those with the default ESRI north arrow on them. I highly suggest putting these books on your Amazon wish list as they are valuable as they are timeless.

Mark Twain on Reading GIS

Photographic evidence indicates Mark Twain was a big reader of cartography books.


GIS Desktop is Becoming GIS Workstation Again

I read Tobin Bradley’s post this morning on the hardware requirements of ArcGIS 10:

The laptop I’m typing this on, my only work machine, is a C2D 2.0 GHz. I don’t meet the _minimum_requirements for ArcGIS 10. And of course minimum requirements in software vendor parlance is a delicate balance between the software engineers, who would be horrified if you tried to run their software at the minimums, and the sales folks, who really want to say the software will run just dandy on a Speak n Spell.

So this got me thinking as well. One of the test machines I run is a Dell Inspiron Desktop which I’ve discovered can’t run ArcGIS Explorer at all. Sure it has an integrated video card, but that is the point. It mimics what I believe is a standard work computer in both the private and public sectors. Now I should say it can run ArcGIS 10 because unlike ArcGIS Explorer, 10 doesn’t require a heavy video card to run.

Now this is interesting because until the mid to late 90s, GIS ran mostly on Workstations (usually running Solaris). These machines were beefy, speed demons and not something you’d see on every desk in the office. Since ArcView 2.x, we’ve seen an effort to get GIS running on the desktop. Heck ArcView/Info 8 was labeled ArcGIS Desktop. Now don’t get me wrong, that Dell desktop on my desk is 64-bit, dual core (no quad core), 4GB of RAM and a relatively fast hard drive. It runs ArcGIS 10 pretty darn well. ESRI says a 512MB video card is recommended for any 3D so this means that most laptops aren’t going to make the cut.

Of course this isn’t so bad, putting ArcView on everyone’s desk isn’t a good idea any more than putting AutoCAD on them. Users need ways to visualize GIS analysis and with products such as ESRI’s Business Analysis Online, there is zero reason to have them run GIS apps. Heck running viewshed analysis on the server in a web app is probably best for everyone.

Letting GIS Desktop applications become GIS Workstation applications is best for all. The analysts get the tools they need to create content and the end users can consume that content in lightweight web or mobile applications. Seems like the best of both worlds to me!

ArcGIS Desktop minimum requirements has me dazed and confused!


Shapes, Intellectual Property Rights and “Where’s My Desktop App?”

The 12-Pac is here.

Sean was quick to put his GIS skills to work and create a shape that gets me excited (ignoring the fact that Arizona State has no football team anymore). Bring it on Utah and Colorado! Kudos to BT for calling him out for not using a good projection. At least use Albers!

Intellectual Property Rights

One of the better blogs out there is the Spatial Law and Policy Blog. Kevin talks about intellectual property rights and GIS data:

I am still trying to understand the implications of the recent announcement regarding ESRI and It certainly has caused a great deal of concern within the geospatial community. According to this post from the All Points Blog, such concern may be unnecessary. However, given that (i) in the U.S. federal government data is not protected by copyright, (ii) the Obama Administration has been pushing greater transparency with respect to government operations, and (iii) the improvements in technology and open standards, I am surprised that the items Sean?Gorman?discusses in this post are still an issue with respect to federal government data.

More good stuff over there to stay up on the law and geospatial.

OpenGeo Suite 2.0

So it appears OpenGeo has released the 2.0 version of their OpenGeo Suite. Looks great including the pgShapeLoader. OpenGeo continue to refine and improve their open source derived product. Only thing missing is a desktop client.

Where is my StreetView?

So the US Open is going on and there seems to be no Google Street View of the golf course. Shame on you Google!


Geographic Information Systems Q&A at Stack Exchange Continues to Move Forward

Got some good news via email tonight:

Hey there!

A Q&A site proposal which you are following, Geographic Information Systems, is now moving into the commitment phase. If you plan to participate in this site, please indicate your support by committing:

Commit to Geographic Information Systems

A good Q&A site needs critical mass to get off the ground, so if the site doesn’t receive enough commitment, we won’t create it. Don’t forget to invite your friends and colleagues to help build support and momentum. Click here to refer your friends:

Refer your friends

Thank you!

Head Alien in Charge
Area 51

I’m glad to see this effort continue to gain traction. I suggest everyone go over and “commit” to making the GIS Stack Exchange website work. If you are unfamiliar with Stack Exchange, you should read up on it (or see Stack Overflow). Once enough people commit, the site moves on to closed beta and only those who committed can participate at that stage.

So take a minute and commit to making the GIS Stack Exchange work. Don’t forget to pass it on.


It is June 2010 and Why Am I Not Using Manifold?

I was reading a good GPU Computing for GIS over at the Azavea Labs blog and it got me wondering. I thought we’d all be using Manifold and their wonderful CUDA architecture by now. Looks like there isn’t much going on, but I’m sure their master plan is working perfectly. Make everyone think you can’t get out a release and then, BAM, release the killer GIS package of packages.

I can’t wait guys, what a battle of wits!