Natural Earth 2.0 is Available

Last week Natural Earth 2.0 was released. It is no secret that Natural Earth is one of my favorite worldwide datasets and we at WeoGeo use it quite a bit. We’ve updated WeoGeo Market to now have the latest Natural Earth data. The vector data is available in many GIS or CAD formats and with all 26 layers.
Natural Earth: 10m Vector

The raster data is also available in many formats and with all 49 layers.
Natural Earth: All Rasters

The WeoGeo data team was able to create some really beautiful preview tiles of the Natural Earth data. The airports and harbors in the preview tiles are symbolized with Maki Icons. The data team continues to output beautiful work!

The One Where We Agree, You Got To Do What You Love!

This weeks hangout was very special. First, it was the longest show we’ve ever produced, over 1.5 hours. Second, we were lucky enough to get 3 great guests; David DiBiase of Esri, Kenny Miller from the State of Maryland and Jessica Touchard, Senior Recruiter with GeoSearch, Inc. We took some questions from the IRC chat and those that were proposed via Google Moderator. I really hope this is a great resource for those who are looking for their first job, a new job or a new career in GIS.

As always, the IRC log with some of the URLs is available on the WeoGeo Video page.

GIS Day 2012 — A Reflection

I normally don’t reflect on GIS Day, mostly because I forget when it is. But given I’ve got a GIS Day event this year, I’ve known the date for quite some time. I started blogging way back in 2005 and I thought I’d thing back to how I was doing GIS then vs. now.


Hardware looked like this, I was on some sort of Dell Precision laptop (M60 or something) with a 20”+ monitor. I’m sure the laptop was a beast for the time, I do remember running through Atlanta’s airport with it on my back so I can assure you it was heavy. At that time I was split between two worlds, GIS analysis and GIS development. In support of the former, we had a fancy color laser printer and some huge HP plotter that was pushing out planning scenarios for our military clients. There was of course some Dell server in the background with some drive array and tape backup that I always forgot to change out.

Software wise, it was all ArcGIS (Desktop/Server). I started blogging right before I received our ArcGIS 9.1 disks so I’m sure I was using 8.3 over 9.0 at the time (avoid even release numbers I always say). Maps were authored using ArcInfo and plotted usually from PDFs. We had SDE running in the background, but mostly we used personal geodatabases because our clients used them. Scripting back then was done with VBA. Damn, that sounds all so depressing.

Esri Moon Eye

My workflow back then seems so antiquated

On the development side, I was pure .NET. Back in 2005, we still stuck to again because our clients were using it. We authored our own .NET API for ArcIMS, but I can’t remember if we ever shared it. I think that would have been Microsoft Visual Studio .NET 2003 era because VS 2005 didn’t really arrive until 2006 (stop putting years in product names people). I remember trying to use ArcGIS Server for development, but the product was clearly not ready for production then.

If you look at the first blog post, you can see I was looking for other solutions than the ArcSDE/ArcGIS Server/.NET stack. MapServer, PostGIS and PHP (yea I suck) was where I was putting my spare time into. Of those three though only PostGIS is something I still use today. Oh and this was my introduction to the wonderful Sean Gillies.


Funny how hardware changes. I no longer do GIS analysis beyond donating time to non-profits, so I no longer need my own plotter, laser printer, tape backup or Dell server array. My primary work computer is a 2009 15” MacBook Pro. This thing continues to be a workhorse and besides upgrading the hard drive to 1TB and memory to 8GB, it is as stock at it was when I got it the day I joined WeoGeo (how’s that, one computer since I joined a cloud based company, makes sense though). I’ve got a 23” Apple Cinema display and I backup my laptop using an Apple Time Machine Capsule. I’ve also got a basic Dell Optiplex under my desk that I VNC into when I need to use Windows, but that rarely happens anymore.

The new hotness!

Software side I use PostGIS for most of my GIS analysis. Doing everything in a database is awesome. PostGIS sits on my laptop, but I do have a mirrored copy on AWS. I use QGIS mostly as my GIS package with help from GDAL/OGR (scripting is the way to go!). Cartography is done with either Mapnik or TileMill depending on my mood. We use Safe FME at WeoGeo so if I need to do any file conversions I’ll leverage a VM with FME on it in a pinch. I really dislike running virtual machines so FME and ArcGIS rarely get used on my laptop because of lack of Mac OS X support.

I can’t remember the last time I wrote any .NET code. 70% of anything I write is Python followed by 25% JavaScript and then 5% Ruby. I don’t use any IDE, just BBEdit and a browser window to discover awesome Python libraries. I’ve been meaning to start sharing my Python code on Github, but most of it is either poorly written (possibly all of it) and so specific to my needs it might not be worth it. Maybe one day I’ll sit down and pull out the awesome. I create most of my tiles using Wetsaw and Dan Dye’s fork of MBUtil and the WeoGeo API


The biggest change I see is not using Esri as much as before. I’ll be honest though, the ONLY reason I don’t use ArcGIS Desktop is because it isn’t available as native Mac app. Same with FME. Initially it was difficult to change my workflows away from tools Iv’e used for years, but the end result is that I’ve got a nice native workflow without the need to start up a VM. Plus if Esri and Safe ever get around to releasing native software, I can go back to using them in addition to the awesome open source tools that are part of my life. I probably peaked as a .NET developer back with Active Server Pages (well at least to .NET 2.0) so even by 2005 I was looking at transitioning beyond what I felt was a bloated IDE and tools. Python seemed perfect (even to a Perl geek like me) and I’m glad I committed to it back then.

The other takeaway from this that really surprises me is my hardware. The fact I can do cutting edge GIS on an almost 4 year old laptop tells you how crappy the Windows/COM stack is. I’d love to replace this work computer with a retina laptop, but it might also be fun to see how long I can last.


Fry Squint

Safe FME is supposed to be running on Mac soon so I suspect I’ll be using more FME next year than I am now. Esri seems to be moving away from ArcObjects and in doing so will eventually have a native Mac version for ArcGIS Desktop. I doubt that this will happen in 2013 though even if we start seeing a Mac client appear. PostGIS/QGIS/GDAL/OGR/Mapnik is a nice tight multi-platform stack. Clearly everything is in place for open source GIS replacing proprietary GIS. I’ll happily bring ArcGIS Desktop back into my workflow when Esri supports my platform, but for now I’m enjoying what I have.

This Week’s Hangout:: Geospatial Career Panel 2012 – Navigating the Field

Update: I’ve already gotten word that this hangout will be broadcast at a couple GIS Day events on the big screen. Let me know and I’ll get the word out about it.

This week is a very special hangout titled “Geospatial Career Panel 2012 – Navigating the Field”.

The Geospatial industry is evolving rapidly these days, and it can be difficult to get your bearings and plan your career wisely…

In honor of GIS Day (Nov. 14th), we’ll be hosting a special Google+ HangoutOnAir: “Geospatial Career Panel 2012: Navigating the Field.” It will start at 10am PST (1pm EDT). We have three amazing panelists lined up to answer viewer questions about the GIS and geospatial job market, and how best to prepare for it.

  • David Dibiase, Director of Education for Esri’s Industry Solutions Division, has years of experience in GIS education, and will represent the academic sector and Esri.
  • Kenny Miller, President Elect of NSGIC (National States Geographic Information Council) and Maryland’s Deputy Geographic Information Officer, will provide insights into public sector GIS.
  • Jessica Touchard, Senior Recruiter with GeoSearch, Inc., will provide us with an overarching view of GIS jobs in the private sector.

After introductions and opening statements from each panelist, the show will be audience driven. Viewers will be able to submit and vote-up questions in Google Moderator. Please submit one here now! During the Hangout, we will also keep an eye on viewer comments in the IRC (instant messaging) channel, #hwjf on

If you can’t make the live show, no worries; it will be recorded and posted right here.

This event should be especially helpful for students and young professionals; please share this announcement or post this flyer to help spread the word.

This Week’s Hangout with Paul Bissett:: Data Marketplaces v. Data-as-a-Feature Business Models

This week’s hangout features WeoGeo’s CEO and co-founder, Paul Bissett. We will be talking about the differences between data marketplace and data-as-a-feature offerings in the spatial data industry. Marketplaces connect buyers and sellers of data reducing the importance of a customer’s software package to the process. In contrast, data-as-a-feature offerings bring high-quality data directly into a software package, allowing software vendors to use their purchasing power to bring free or low-priced data to their customers and creating lock-in potential for the software vendor.

We’ll be talking on the IRC channel again so either show up to the Hangout page on WeoGeo or better yet, point your IRC client to #hwjf on