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Automation or Scripting

When I think back to my first exposure to GIS, it is through ARC/INFO. Just me and a command line. Everything was written in AML which made everything I created a script or even an app if you take the parlance that seems popular these days. I’ve beaten the drum about scripting and GIS so much on this blog that I feel like I don’t need to rehash it except to say that if you ain’t scripting you ain’t living.

But is scripting as important as it once was? I scripted AMLs because that was the only way short of typing in commands one at a time to build anything, and you sure as heck couldn’t visualize anything without AML (well you could, but not in anyway that you’d share). Do we script as much anymore? I was looking at my automations in my life last night and there is so much that I use Zapier for that there really isn’t anything in my house that happens without a trigger. I think today we use works like “automate your workflows” rather than scripting but that is just the low-code ontology that permuted into our vocabulary.

Regardless, the future of GIS is not scripting. That is writing Python or JavaScript and then running that file to see a result. It will be taking triggers and attaching them to actions to see results. The best part of this is that it isn’t hard coded to anything, they just wait for something to happen and then do something.

A Rube Goldberg contraption.
You just take an trigger and attach an action.

GIS really is set up for this, almost everything you do is an action. The trigger is your mouse button but do you really want to be clicking your index finger all your life? But don’t be sad, this future doesn’t devalue your experience, it enables you to bring it to where it is needed. Output of GIS is more likely to be Salesforce or a BI tool than a PDF moving forward. That’s the biggest win for everyone.

2 replies on “Automation or Scripting”

Also notifications are a third leg to the stool, trigger, action, notify. We use Microsoft Teams at work and its crazy simple to create a webhook for a channel then use it to post a message when your automation completes, in my case a Data Interoperability workspace but even scripted its only an HTTP POST.

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