ExtMap Touch — Mobile Browser Geo Framework

Alper Dincer is one busy guy. Seems like just a couple weeks ago he release iExtMap for iOS. Well if you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know I’m always complaining about apps and app stores holding back real mobile development. I mean shouldn’t it be simple to just have one web app that covers iOS, Android and Blackberry? Ah, but no. It just isn’t that easy, until now…

Alper though has a new framework that looks very promising. Says Alper:

Writing a multi-platform viewer is also quite hard due to different code bases on different platforms. Mobile Web is developing very fast due to usage of WebKit on different platforms. Today; iOS, Android, WebOS, Bada, BlackBerry, Symbian and other platforms are using WebKit implementations on their browsers and this lead to a dream of web developer : One browser to rule them all?

Anyway, I have the idea to write a mobile version of ExtMap, but there is a need for a motivation to start the project. The motivation was Sencha Touch Developer Contest and Sencha Touch Framework and I started working ExtMap Touch on Sencha Touch Framework and Google Maps JavaScript API v3.

Yahtzee! I’ve been playing with the demo this morning at the GITA Oil and Gas conference (where WeoGeo is exhibiting) and I love what I see. I can’t wait to get back home and start playing around with this thing. Check out the live demo and the ExtMap project home for more information.


Book Review — Map Scripting 101

A great intro to web mapping!

I was thinking just the other day when someone asked, why were there not updated Google Maps API books out there. People like to read books, right? I mean, reading API pages is boring even for devs. I saw a review a couple of weeks ago of Adam Duvander’s book, Map Scripting 101, and jumped at the chance to read it.

Funny thing though when I first started reading it. I was totally turned off by the use of the open-source Mapstraction library. But what do you know… I’m a total convert now for beginners looking to get started in web mapping. I was thinking, it would be so better to teach people one API (probably the Google one) and then leave it at that. I mean who really uses Bing or Yahoo! anymore. Well after reading the book, I think for most “ordinary” people, focusing on the Mapstraction library is the way to go. Being able to code one JavaScript app for your web mapping applications simplifies the whole process (no matter how you wish to use it). If you need advanced features, you’ll probably want to code directly with each particular API, but I’d wager most people reading a book titled “Map Scripting 101” what the quickest method to getting a good-looking map.

Anyway, enough about Mapstraction and on to Adam’s book. Adam starts off with some simple maps built on a couple of APIs, but quickly gets into how you can use Mapstraction to simplify it. Once he gets beyond the intro to creating maps with these APIs, he gets into some samples that should get the attention of those who this book was written for. He hits on some classic mapping examples such as weather and earthquakes but then gets into some Twitter and music event stuff that was a refreshing change from typical web mapping books. And you better believe there was a coffee shop example that used some cool geocoding and routing stuff.

Adam also got into some of the formats that are important to web mappers; GeoRSS, GeoJSON, KML, and even threw in a MySQL example. Word of caution though, you’ll want to have some MySQL background before trying as there wasn’t much background there (and probably rightly so). The Map Scripting website has all the examples ready to go if you want to be a copy and paste coder.

The one thing about the whole book though is that it is clear that Adam is a great writer who is excited about technology and it shows. The book is very accessible for beginners and even intermediates who might want to get more familiar with Mapscraction. Adam should be very proud of his book as I think he’s done a superb job on it. I hope he’ll continue writing technology books because his style is needed in a normally very drab and boring space. I’d wager most readers of this blog will gain a ton of benefit from reading this book if they want to learn more and apply some of the fun things you can do with web mapping.

This web mapping is the craziest party that could ever be…


The Dirty Little Secret About Esri’s EDN at version 10

I’m sure all Esri EDN users are running in to the same problems I am with the product, licensing. At WeoGeo, I’m testing our new toolbar on many platforms and OS versions so that we know it works with ArcGIS 10. The problem is that the ArcView license included in EDN only allows you to install ArcView twice. Every time I need to switch from one VM to the other, I’ve got to go through this crazy unregister/register process just to use ArcMap. And you’d better believe I’m headed to a point where I won’t be able to install ArcView anymore because I’ve hit the install ceiling (which I’ve heard is at 999 installs).

So don’t assume that an EDN is licensed per developer because it sure isn’t. Makes you question the value of the product where licensing keeps kicking you in the shins. I have no will to fire up ArcGIS 10 anymore because of the Esri licensing mess. This wasn’t a problem at 9 and I can only assume licensing was tightened at 10 so we’d all pay up. But EDN is supposed to be licensed for developers, not production and you’d think Esri would encourage me to make sure my toolbar runs on 32/64 bit XP/Vista/7. Time to cue the Price is Right losing horn…


Esri Adds Parcels to Their Little Used World Streets Map Service

Remember that World Streets Map Service from Esri? Of course, you don’t. You’ve been using the Google or Bing maps as your backgrounds or the beautiful Esri Topographical map. Parcels in World Streets is nice I guess, but until it is in the Topographical map service, I just can’t see using it.

You have to be in awe about the pressure companies such as Esri, Google and Microsoft can put on these “premium”, “authoritative” data sources (like First American) to release their product like this. Parcels are a big deal to many folks, but the percentage that actually care about the parcel database vs the pretty picture outlines is small. Now everyone who just wants to see Parcels on their map can do for free (well free in the sense that Esri and Google’s licensing allows it).

Why anyone would pay for parcel data anymore is beyond me.