So yea, two weeks ago I was all excited about Google Earth Builder. What’s not to like? It handles geospatial data easily, has some awesome visualization tools and has a pricing model that seems reasonable (Disclaimer, I should say it scales reasonably. That of course doesn’t mean it will be reasonable in cost at the base line. Google Earth Enterprise isn’t cheap nor is licensing other Google Maps data). And of course everyone is totally excited about it on Twitter (Sewing circle they are) and I have to think Directions Magazine is happy that one of their webinars was so well received. So why do I have a problem with it?
First off, lots of things seem sexy and fun until you start playing with them. I mean watch someone with a Yo-Yo. How much fun does that all look? Then they hand it to you and you are bored before you can even put the string on your finger. GEB could be the same way. Yea it does some things really well, but once you actually want to start and do real work with it, you have to choose another tool. This isn’t to say GEB won’t become all that, just generally these things take time to build up to where other tools have been for 20/30 years.
My other issue with GEB is it seems like a Federal Government play. You know, the one where Google and Esri fight over government pork spending? GEB might be perfect for this world, but that doesn’t mean that those of us with our feet on the ground can actually use it for anything. Sort of like a Data.gov 2.0 thing. Sounds great in practice, but theory doesn’t pay the bills for most of us. Until I see actual use cases in commercial space, I’m going to chalk up GEB as a government tool that Google has thrown out there to fight Esri, Microsoft, Oracle and whatever other large Government technology implementor that uses “geo”.
Which one is Esri and which one is Google?
Taking on Esri in the Federal Government space? That’s a pretty ballsy move by Google. Esri is a tough customer and they’ve shown time and time again they fight to win. In a way this is probably the best part of GEB for the “rest of us”. Think of Esri technology (Remember Geography Network, ArcIMS and the WebADF) before Google came along? Now they stuff is almost a joy to work with (almost). As long as Esri’s GEB response isn’t more ArcGIS for Explorer (Do I have that name right?) and ArcGIS for Server with Advanced Enterprise, I think we all win.
The tragic prelude to all us brothers getting together.