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!

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!