Open Source Update Friday

Everybody’s working for the weekend, especially on Friday. But there is good news for those who like to install updates to software on their Friday; QGIS 1.7.1 and OpenLayers 2.11 are available.

  • QGIS 1.7.1 was released this week. This is a bug fix release so there isn’t much new there other than cleaning up issues. Check out those release notes to see what was updated.
  • OpenLayers 2.11 also was released this week. Don’t let the .01 update fool you, this is huge. Specifically “native” support for touch devices (you know, like that thing called an iPad) and some big performance updates. Clearly, this is an update all who are running OpenLayers 2.10 should look at very closely.<
  • Esri Canvas Maps are now available on (er ArcGIS Online). Now your paleo maps can have a little neo map flavor. Everyone is a winner! Yea that’s not really open source, but you can use it in OpenLayers so that’s a win for libre.


Esri “Depreciates” ArcGIS

Who says selling “enterprise software” can’t be fun? Part of the job is writing deprecation plans for software. Esri has updated theirs to tell you that even though you are still stuck on ArcGIS 9.3.1, ArcGIS 10 will be dead before you get there.

Mark Twain Building a GIS

Time to get out the “Building a GIS” book to see the way forward!

Update: Esri has updated their blog title to “deprecation”. Why change it now?


Esri Finally Gives Users Usable Basemaps

Now don’t get me wrong, I love the cartography on the Esri produced basemaps. They are very pretty and warm my heart. But in the real world they are totally unusable. I’ve talked about how I’ve searched for a “white label” basemap to throw behind my data for years. In fact, I lamented that the Esri Ocean Basemap didn’t go in enough zooms because I wanted to use it as a generic basemap. Clearly Esri is listening to me (hey, that’s how I choose to view this). Say hello to Esri Canvas Maps.

Canvas Maps: a new set of online basemaps specifically designed to give users a neutral ‘canvas’ on which to better display data.

Clearly they seem influence by the great work of Stamen and I even see a bits of Bing Maps in their look. But that’s OK because is what we are looking for. Something to give our users reference without getting in the way of our story. I’d recommend every user of Esri’s basemaps to switch out their background maps to these now Esri Canvas Maps immediately. Your users will appreciate it. I don’t see them available in the basemap list on or inside ArcGIS Desktop, but if you search ArcGIS for grey, you’ll see a couple of versions of them.


WhereCampPHX is this Saturday

WhereCampPHX Logo

Just a friendly reminder, WhereCampPHX is this Saturday in Downtown Phoenix at the Arizona State University Cronkite School of Journalism. We are on our way to over 150 people registered so it will be a great time. You can still sign up to attend but space will be limited. It all starts at 9am Saturday October 1st. We’ll also be having an after-party at Turf Pub across the street from the WhereCampPHX site. That will start a 7pm, food will be provided.


Autodesk is Now Cloud Ready

This is a new one, using a buzzword to hide a licensing model. Well played Autodesk!

Autodesk was nowhere to be seen at FOSS4G 2011 so I assume they’ve gone back to their roots and away from location. The world is much cleaner when you work in paper space.


INTERGEO — Why Do Germans Always Get Nice Things?

So INTERGEO is 17,000 large this year.

The annual German Trade Show for Geosptial and Geomatics technologies opened today in Nurnberg with 17.000 attending. And if the economy is in poor state, the show did not flinch or disappoint a turnout from an estimated 500 exhibitors from 30 countries are present and displaying the latest in technology and applications

So why are we American’s more vendor focused? I can’t be the only one who would love to walk down an aisle and see Esri, Oracle, MapInfo, Intergraph (or whatever they are these days), and others all lined up for me to evaluate. No, we nickel and dime ourselves into little silos with fairy tales of cloud-ready computing.


The Guide to What Was Important at FOSS4G for People Who Didn’t Go to FOSS4G 2011

FOSS4G 2011 Logo

So FOSS4G has come and gone, in fact it came and went over a week ago. My day job kept me from posting about what happened last week, but the weekend always gives you time to write (Especially while watching Arizona State demolish Southern Cal). The near 1000 of us who attended saw all the great new initiatives around the open source geospatial community, but you probably didn’t. So here is what I see as where you should be looking in the next year before FOSS4G happens again.

  • Mapnik is King. It seems every session had at least some Mapnik component to it. Mapnik is becoming the cartography engine of GIS. I saw cartography during FOSS4G 2011 that just blew my socks off. Innovation in this space is moving so fast and Mapnik is the choice for anyone who is making beautiful, useful maps.
  • PostGIS 2.0 will come out early next year and you will have zero excuse to use any other spatial database. Much like Mapnik, most sessions had some sort of PostGIS component to them. If you don’t want to be left behind, get the book and start changing how you manage your location data.
  • Designers: One thing that has always been a knock against “traditional GIS” is that it is designed by scientists for scientists. Totally unusable for ordinary users. What I noticed at FOSS4G 2011 was how many companies are employing designers to make sure their apps and maps are usable for everyone. Vizzuality and Development Seed (Tell me that Dev Seed?s homepage isn’t awesome, I dare you.) have jumped to the lead of pushing design in front of classic geospatial front ends. Vizzuality’s CartoSet is giving users tools that they can easily design beautiful mapping applications with little or no coding. Development Seed’s MapBox suite makes it easy to leverage the powerful Mapnik engine to produce tile caches that work out of the box without any need of expensive servers software. Awesome stuff.
  • QGIS: At least in North America, QGIS is the desktop application of choice. I don’t recall seeing any gvSIG or uDIG (Is uDig dead?) presentations, but QGIS was used by almost everyone. Over the last year it has morphed into a desktop GIS tool that is now my primary choice when working with GIS data. Combining QGIS with Mapnik gives me the ability to make beautiful cartography I cannot create anywhere else. It is completely liberating!
  • JavaScript not Flex/Silverlight: Yea, it isn’t much of a surprise, open source users aren’t big Flex or Silverlight users, but JavaScript HTML5 web apps are everywhere and doing everything Flex/Silverlight can do, and work everywhere (When I refer to everywhere, I choose to ignore IE 6, 7, 8. If you’re stuck on those, find a new job). At this point it is safe to call every Flex/Silverlight location app as legacy as nobody in their right mind would be coding with those tools in 2012.

FOSS4G 2011 was probably the best Geospatial/Location Conference I?ve been to. Paul Ramsey put it best when he said:

I told some folks at FOSS4G 2011 that I thought this year’s event was the “best FOSS4G ever” (HT, Juan Antonio Samaranch) but that wasn’t just tongue in cheek. 2011 was the biggest ever, but only a few attendees more than Barcelona in 2010. Yet somehow I felt more energized, more connected, like I had more conversations, than in 2010.

That was pretty much exactly how I felt. I was connect to the attendees, I was energized by the talks and left feeling like at least a portion of the geospatial community has a future in front of it. What is best about this community it is free to join. Just bring your experiences and get started.

The Tragic Prelude


GISCloud Releases HTML5 Client

OK, I know what you are all thinking. Esri told me 5 years ago HTML5 was for small mash-ups and those serious about mapping should use Silverlight or Flex. Well if you haven’t been paying attention in the past year you’d be totally wrong. Not only is HTML5 based maps becoming standard practice, they are performing as well as Flex or Silverlight in most applications (Now for sure one could come up with a demo where Flex can display a gazillion points, but nobody wants a gazillion points on a map at once).

The latest company to release a HTML5 client is GISCloud. While other visualization companies offer JavaScript maps as an option, GISCloud has made them default. By using the HTML5 Canvas element, GISCloud is rendering vector data right inside of the browser, with no plugin (Right I know, IE supports nothing. Upgrade to IE9 or stop using the Internet. Your choice!). Oh and you don’t need to use some sort of weird API to get it to work on iPhones or iPads. It just works, browsing 2 million features on my iPad in Safari without a native app. Crazy!

Plus when you are working with vectors in the Canvas element, you can interact with them, the potential is limitless. I’m glad to see some of the innovative companies step up with amazing HTML5 clients that work as good or better than anything else out there. This is what happens when you have no legacy holding you back. You innovate and lead.

So who will blink first? Flex, Silverlight or HTML5? My money is on Silverlight, but it sure won’t be HTML5.

The Good, The Bad and the Cat


Post GIS 2.0, FOSS4G 2011 Was Off the Hook, Sponsorships Don’t Matter and Go Giants

Monday’s after a good conference are always a load of fun. Hitting all that work you put aside to get involved with the future of GIS. But until I can get up my thoughts on the 2011 Edition of FOSS4G here are some things you probably should know.

PostGIS 2.0 is on the horizon. If you were unable to get to the session, check out the slides.

Paul Ramsey says FOSS4G 2011 was the best and tells you why. Hopefully 2011 is a blueprint for the future of FOSS4G.

Why all the focus on sponsorships as a metric to success? As far as I can tell, FOSS4G 2011 was a huge success and gave back lots of money to OSGeo. Anyone who wants FOSS4G to be more like GeoInt is freaking nuts.

Lastly the World Champs are teasing me with thoughts that they might actually make the playoffs. FOSS4G 2011 was all about the Giants putting the hurt on the Colorado Rockies. Glad I could be there to witness it.


FOSS4G 2011 Begins

There are over 900 people attending FOSS4G 2011 in Denver.

You probably should have come.