Emulating MapBox

Did you see this new Esri ArcGIS for Developers website go up? My initial comment:


Yea, HTML5 is teh awesome, right? But you can’t but help to notice that it looks like someone else in the industry. Noted others:



I’d like to think there wasn’t malicious intent here, just that those who created it want to be like MapBox and Developement Seed. Still, when the 800lb (363kg) gorilla does things like this, you can’t but help call it a dick move.

The Dude

Not Cool

This Week’s Hangout with Brian Timoney

Don’t forget, Wednesday at 11am MST, Brian Timoney joins to talk about “map portals”, data sharing (homework) and whatever else we come up with. Brian’s a smart guy and always great to listen to. Check out his FOSS4G Keynote talk:

[vimeo 29189799 w=640 h=360]

FOSS4G 2011 Brian Timoney from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

FOSS4G 2011 Brian Timoney from Peter Batty on Vimeo.

You can either tag tweets with the hashtag #hwjf or join the chat live.

GIS as a Marketing Term

Am I the only one who thinks the term “GIS” has become less valuable because it is thrown around like “the cloud” and “web services”? Heck the first 3 Google search results go to a company, not Wikipedia. That’s some serious marketing SEO.

As I’m starting up my own consulting company, I’ve noticed that it’s hard not to just say you “do GIS” and not explain what it is. Soul searching on what you actually do is a great way to get started. Say tuned…

Marketing Dork

Cartoon by: Hugh MacLeod

Avoiding the Broken Extension Problem

I got this email from a reader a couple weeks ago:

We use several tools that are built as extensions inside ArcGIS as toolbars. Most of these tools are built by other federal agencies (USFS and USFWS). These agencies are hit with cutbacks and budget cuts just like every other government agency. This results in an inability to keep up the extensions with current versions of ArcGIS. Do you know of any type of design/programmatic solutions that could in theory be used to avoid the broken extension problem that I seemed to be plagued with everytime I upgrade my software?

Problem we’ve seen for years. How many friends to do you know still using 9.3.1 because of an extension issue. Now to be fair, this is a problem with many applications and operating systems. My Dad is using Mac OS X 10.6 because some scanning software he uses has never been updated. But here’s the big question from above:

In short is there a way programs can interact with ArcGIS without having to be rewritten everytime a new service pack or upgrade comes along?

Now the kicker for this user is that they are using extensions created by someone else. The trick is to get these under your control. Now you could open up Visual Studio and start coding, but I’d say your better bet is to recreate the geoprocessing using Python and open libraries. That way you’d be software agnostic (well at least besides Python) and not have to worry about what version of ArcGIS you are using. Then I’d leverage Arc.py to call these Python processing scripts and perform the analysis from within ArcGIS Desktop. The best part of this is you can then transport this processing cross platform to any applications you are using. Simply simple!


Because the ending as it stands today is very sad:

We just upgraded to ArcGIS 10.1 and it broke all the extensions i use and no updates are available. Hind sight being 20/20 I should not have assumed these tools would work from 10 to 10.1.

Esri gives lots of free Python training classes and Python has no shortage of great documentation.

Special Episode of Hangouts with James Fee:: An Open Discussion About Open with Andrew Turner of Esri

We’ve got a special episode of Hangouts with James Fee this week. Andrew Turner of Esri joins me to talk about what it means when he says Esri is open. Read up on his blog post and be ready to follow along. We go live at 12pm MST right here.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssa7kzaTC4c&w=560&h=315]

You can either tag tweets with the hashtag #hwjf or join the chat live.

This Week’s Hangout with Steve Citron-Pousty

Don’t forget, this week Steve Citron-Pousty joins me to talk geospatial technology and how to use OpenShift with your geospatial applications. We go live this Wednesday at 11am MST so be ready. A couple people have mentioned they hate IRC with a passion and I’m a neckbeard for using it. Well if you’ve got comments, you can use hashtag #hwjf on twitter and I’ll monitor that as well. How’s that for open? (open as in skies, not open as in a door)

As always, the feed will be available right here on my blog.

Steve Coast’s Kickstarter:: GPS Art Poster

If you’ve ever seen one of Steve Coast’s OSM presentations, you’ve seen that GPS trace example of London where the delivery people go all over the place and you see the road network. Cool stuff for sure and I know you’ve always thought that would make great art. We think no more because there is now a Kickstarter to make that happen. GPS Art Poster gives you a map of your hometown or favorite city build using GPS tracks.

We start with many thousands of GPS traces from people moving around your city. Then we cook them using open source software and bake them in to the posters you see. Each black line is a unique journey. When paths cross they tell a story; the pulse of a city.


Steve has the whole USA, UK, Germany, Netherlands and Denmark. Kickstarter pledges start at $5 for a jpg desktop wallpaper and go to $99 for a full custom print. Shipping is free in the USA and reasonable outside. They are printed on acid-free archival-grade paper and high quality ink.

I’ve just gone ahead and gone with the $59 level and will be choosing Phoenix. Should be awesome!