Worm Steals DWGs — Is SHP Next?

It was only a matter of time:

“ACAD/Medre.A represents a serious case of suspected industrial espionage,” said Zwienenberg. “Every new design is sent automatically to the operator of this malware. Needless to say this can cost the legitimate owner of the intellectual property a lot of money as the cybercriminals have access to the designs even before they go into production.”

Now this is clearly a focus on mechanical designs, but there is a ton of proprietary information out there in DWG and GIS formats. Before you install that 3rd Party GIS extension for ArcGIS for Desktop, think about what you might be giving away.

Deep Thoughts


Autodesk’s Project Artoo — Clean Up Your GIS Data

I’ve been keeping my eye on Autodesk’s new project “Project Artoo”. It’s a cool project that allows AutoCAD Map 3D users to perform geometry cleanup operations on geospatial data, even on FDO-connected data stores, including Shapefiles, Esri Geodatabase, SQLite, Autodesk’s SDF and Microsoft SQL Server or Oracle databases. It is also available in languages other than English.

It appears Autodesk is moving back into the GIS space. They’re taking on Esri in the GeoDesign world as well, not to mention BIM. I still hold out hope for more BIM/GIS connections and maybe instead of Esri or Safe enabling it, Autodesk and FDO get it done. Good to see some competition since MapInfo went all Wordperfect on us.


Yes, we’re all happy for some competition. Innovation is what we need!


It is a Buyer’s Market — Google Lowers Google Maps Pricing

Lower pricing and simplified limits with the Google Maps API

Since launching the Google Maps API seven years ago, we’ve been awed by the many ways developers have used the service to build great mapping apps. As you may know, last year we introduced limits on the number of free maps that developers could show daily through the Google Maps API. Since then, we’ve been listening carefully to feedback, and today we’re happy to announce that we’re lowering API usage fees and simplifying limits for both Styled and regular maps.

All Smiles

All smiles down at the Googleplex

There are some pretty big changes over at Google. If you were hoping Google was going to price themselves out of the web mapping industry, you are sadly mistaken. One more little tidbit:

We’re beginning to monitor Maps API usage starting today, and, based on current usage, fees will only apply to the top 0.35% of sites regularly exceeding the published limits of 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days.

So now your Google Maps API application will be monitored for use. Local governments probably have nothing to worry about, they wish they had 25,000 map loads every day for 90 consecutive days. Thank god for the weekend! And on top of it all, they’ve brought their business model to Google Maps!

You can generate revenue from your Maps API application using AdSense for Maps, which enables you to display relevant ads on or alongside your map.

You too can get pennies on the click for Viagra ads on your map of threatened and endangered species in the Himalayas. Sign me up!


QGIS 1.8 is Released

QGIS 1.8

Today is a big day for GIS users. QGIS 1.8 is out and about. Check out the new features on their website.

A couple features that I like: * QGIS Browser which should be very familiar to those who’ve used ArcGIS Catalog.

  • DBManager which is now no longer a plugin. I’m a big users of it so this should be very nice.
  • New plugin repository! I’m always amazed at how many plugins there are available.
  • Microsoft SQL Server support.
  • Expression based labeling (YES!)
  • support for Zip/GZip layers

I’ve already downloaded mine from KyngChaos.


Update: ArcGIS Online Service Credits Might Not Be A Good Deal


OK so we were off just a bit on pricing. Clearly ArcGIS Online can be expensive, but that can be said the same of any cloud service. There are situations where the cloud makes sense and where you are nuts for thinking of using it. For now the price of ArcGIS Online is low enough to get started (especially with the free 30 days) that if you’ve been waiting for such a service, you should give it a shot. Otherwise, just stand up your ArcGIS Server in rackspace and be done with it.

Also this might not be a bad time to mention I’m giving a Lighning Talk at the Esri UC on just this subject, where the Cloud makes sense to users. Heh, I totally didn’t even plan that!

Yesterday I asked what did a service credit get you with ArcGIS Online. To me the pricing seemed aggressive, but given that service credits could mean whatever Esri wants them to be, I figured the devil is in the detail. Don Barker signed up and then figured out what a service credit gets you. Go to his blog post for all the detail, but I’ll just pull this out here:

Tile generation – 1 [service] credit per 1000 tiles generated

I can’t imagine that is right. As Brian Flood points out here, that’s just a simple ordinary tile cache. If that pricing is correct, I now see what all the complaining was about, these service credits don’t get you very much and AGO ends up being expensive, quickly. Hopefully Esri will address this with more detail and we can see what you actually get for a service credit.

You Really Blew It

Wait, service credits aren’t a deal?


Arcgis Online Pricing Released, What is A Service Credit

ArcGIS Online has been one of the more confusing products to come out of Esri that I can recall (well besides ArcGIS Publisher). No one could really figure out what Esri wanted it to be and then it sort of went dark since late last year. In the meantime, we’ve heard rumblings about the pricing being out of wack with expectations and many smaller government users have basically told me they thought it was very unreasonable. But for most of us, we had no idea what it was going look like or cost. But now we’ve got pricing.

ArcGIS Online Pricing

To me, that doesn’t look bad at all. In fact, I’m almost wondering if Esri is doing this at a loss given what ArcGIS Server costs. Now I do get that there is some uncertainty here with what exactly you are getting with these Service Credits. A good friend of mine compared them to “Disney Dollars” where their value can of course be changed at any time. Right now they are 1:1 to the U.S. Dollar but you still don’t really have much idea what that means. As will all Esri pricing, anything is negotiable so call your local rep and deal with them.

But that doesn’t really explain what a Service Credit is and what you get for it. Does anyone have a clue? Some say it is one action of storing data in

If that’s the case, this is a steal and you all need to be more realistic with your pricing expectations. I am quite impressed with how aggressive it is. Clearly, Esri is serious about ArcGIS Online. Meanwhile, Google continues to do nothing with Google Earth Maps Builder. I guess we’ll hear more about it at Google I/O, but whatever lead they had over Esri, that’s evaporated.

Esri Dollar


WWDC Apple Maps Video Posted

Apple has posted the video of the WWDC keynote. If you want to see the new Apple Maps app, just fast forward to about 98 minutes into the talk.


Apple Maps is What We Thought it Was

There wasn’t much surprising about the Apple Navigation app:

Just last week Google unveiled new features including offline maps for Android and 3D mapping, at an event dedicated to mapping, which some people took as a clear sign that the company was feeling the weight of the impeding move by Apple to its own technology. From what we can tell, Apple’s 3D features look a little better than what Google showed off last week but we’ll have to see them both in action to be sure.

On one of the slides from the WWDC, I saw a reference to “Map Kit”. I guess we’ll learn much more this week. The navigation appears to be TomTom or Navteq but it is all rumors right now.

Update It looks like yes, TomTom is providing navigation data. We now have Apple/TomTom, Microsoft/NAVTEQ, Google, and eventually OSM as the four main navigation ecosystems.


Will Apple Maps Impact Web Mapping?

Forbes talks about how Apple dumping Google Maps might hit Google’s revenue, but most of us don’t really worry about how much billions Apple and Google make. Maybe Google is a little unsure, but what about us?

First off, I suspect this mapping API from Apple will be free to developers on iOS devices. So while that might be a large segment of the mobile market, most of us don’t develop exclusively on iOS. Thus in the short term, it becomes one more API we must learn if we are deploying to Apple devices. Maybe Apple will extended it to OS X (possibly eventually the web), but for now I suspect this this will iOS only as Apple is really only concerned if you use their hardware. So you might decide to migrate your Google or Mapbox tiles to Apple on iOS, but you’ll still need to use Google or Mapbox on other platforms.

Second, it might not be useful for GIS applications. Putting any pushpin on a map is easy, but overlaying lines and polygons on top of what might be a beautiful map but noisy, means that users might not be able to see what you are showing them. I’ve always like whitelabel maps that basically give you just enough to navigate, but don’t show you features that aren’t relevant to your product. Apple may get there one day, but I’m going to guess their map they show this week will be beautiful and difficult for us to work with.

Third, if you are already using Google or Mapbox, do you really need to switch? No if things are working well for you. Change for the sake of change is never good. There is no shortage of map tiling options for developers on mobile devices and the Apple one might not be good for us. I guess we’ll know soon.

Chin Music

A little chin music now and then keeps us all honest


It Is On!

So says the Wall Street Journal.

Later this year, Apple is planning to oust Google Maps as the preloaded, default maps app from the iPhone and iPad and release a new mapping app that runs Apple’s own technology, according to current and former Apple employees. Apple could preview the new software, which will be part of its next mobile-operating system, as soon as next week at its annual developer conference in San Francisco, one person familiar with the plans says. Apple plans to encourage app developers to embed its maps inside their applications like social-networking and search services.

Spatial isn’t special, but maps are critical to mobile devices.

High Five

How about a little geo-high-five for ourselves for not getting that degree in English Literature?