Bad Esri Products are Good

I was having drinks the other day with an ex-Esri employee and we were talking about what Esri products I liked to work with. The short list is right below:

  1. ArcView 3.x
  2. MapObjects
  3. ArcIMS

Arc/INFO might be on that list but let’s cap it at three. None of them were products that Esri wanted to keep around. All of them were thrust in the marketplace and then poorly supported. I get the idea that Esri wanted everything on ArcGIS platform (Server being a joke for so many years is proof of this) but being a developer on those platforms was really hard. The transition from Avenue to VB/VBA was particularly brutal. There were books written to help with this transition, but none by Esri.

My trajectory was shaped by these products above being abandoned by Esri. I went another direction because of being burnt by proprietary products that when abandoned cause huge problems. I think you have two choices, either double down or hit the eject button. I’m so glad I ejected…

Google Maps + ArcSDE + ArcIMS + ArcWeb =

Link – Google Maps + ESRI’s ArcWeb Services

  • Users can geocode by city (Lawrence), address (1930 Constant Avenue, Lawrence), zipcode (66047), or the intersection of streets (9th & Iowa, Lawrence). We are using the Public Services category of ESRI’s ArcWeb Services.
  • The black and white imagery is coming from ESRI’s ArcSDE through ArcIMS. We are using the ArcIMS cache on demand system that I mentioned here. The reason for this is the lack of quality imagery data that Google provides for most of Kansas.
  • The Map client is the Google Maps ajax client.
  • The Road data is from Google Maps (Teleatlas).

Quite a novel way to get around limitations of all the products. You’d think with so many sources and different servers this would be slow, but it looks quite snappy and is a big improvement over the standard Google Maps version. Great job guys!

Putting ArcIMS Services into Google Maps

Link – ArcIMS to Google Maps…

have debated with myself and others about if and how we should publish our large raster datasets within the Google Maps framework. State and local governments have large amounts of high quality aerial photography, often much better than what Google Maps provides. But how do small government agencies deal with the massive computing infrastructure of Google? One of the reasons people like Google Maps is that it is a fast, seamless repository of imagery (high quality in some areas, very low in others). The speed for Google Maps lies in the tiling scheme. Unfortunately the Google Map API does not allow (currently) a way to overlay an image that spans multiple tiles, if it is an image then it must conform to the tiling system. Google Earth is much different. I and others have shown how relatively easy it is to pass a network link containing ground overlays that span large areas on top of Google Earth’s base data. This is not the case for Google Maps (at least not that I have been able to see).

Jeremy has a great example of taking data you are serving out of ArcIMS and putting into a Google Maps page. There are many parts of the country that don’t have good satellite coverage in Google Maps so taking some DOQQs and serving them up can help with any Google Maps mashups you are working on. Jeremy also went into some of the details on how this works so click through to find out more.

Using AJAX with ArcIMS

Link – ArcIMS & AJAX

Well, now that everyone and their mother has seen Googlemaps, all I keep hear from my clients is “can you make it pan like googlemaps?”. To be honest, I had thought about doing something exactly like it several years back, but dismissed the idea thinking no one would really want that anyway. Boy, was I wrong.

Jason over at ROK Technologies wants to know if anyone is currently using AJAX with ArcIMS (or ArcGIS Server). We’ve started moving that way with our latest ArcIMS project using AJAX.NET, but we haven’t really progressed far (a little MapObjects project took up some time over the past month). I’m also not really interested in spending too much time developing my own AJAX ArcIMS site since the new ADF with 9.2 should make this all much simpler.

Chris Tweedie Looks at Google Maps Accuracy

Link – Its google – it must be right

After comparing some common overlays from both Mapserver and Arcims (using the php code i posted earlier), it was obvious something was up, either my data being projected was wrong or googles base data was out

Chris makes the same assertion that I did yesterday and it backs up why metadata is just so important. If the Google Maps service is going to be taken seriously they will have to start addressing this issue.

Of course if they just leave it in Beta for the next couple years, what does it matter?

ArcIMS Talking Points Really is a Blog

Link – ArcIMS Talking Points and Blogs

What is a blog? There are tons of definitions, but I would think every one of them would classify the ArcIMS Talking Points as a blog. The only problem I have with it is there isn’t a RSS feed, that would be great and probably give everyone more value. I’d even take an email alert to remind me to check back for a new talking point.

Still if you use ArcIMS you really should bookmark the site.

The Road Ahead — ArcIMS and the ArcGIS Server

I was really interesting in learning about the changes and improvements to ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS with 9.2. Personally I’ve been a huge user of ArcIMS, but with the improvements to ArcGIS Server I’m looking at migrating our applications to it. Some plans for Server GIS ESRI is going to have free client apps such as ArcExplorer, improved developer tools (integrated tools for .NET and Java), integration of ArcIMS and ArcGIS with a common Application Development Framework (ADF), improved administration tools and support for standards.

With 9.2 ArcExplorer returns and many people I’ve talked to during the conference are excited about it. ArcExplorer is both a lightweight windows app and a browser based web app. No development is needed and they will support ArcGIS Server, ArcIMS and OGC. It supports both Map and Globe visualization so you’ll be able to publish your maps easily and to many desperate people. ArcReader has worked really well with publishing maps, but you need to have a PMF document. With ArcExplorer you can just connect to your GIS server (even embedded in your websites). The GUI for ArcExplorer is very simple and I think users will enjoy using it to view your maps. Novice users will be able to navigate your maps, but there is tons of functionality that more advanced users can take advantage of. The ArcExplorer web client takes advantage of some nice DHTML including seamless AJAX panning and some really slick map tips. The panning is so slick that you don’t have to wait for your map tiles to appear like you see with the Google Maps interface.

ArcIMS 9.2 is going to be a huge update from 9.1. ArcIMS 9.2 can publish to ArcExplorer web as well integration into standard IDE (Visual Studio.NET or Eclipse). As I said above, ArcExplorer Web is a huge leap from previous ESRI interfaces and even novice ArcIMS users can create maps that have really nice features such as map tips with ease. Yesterday I talked about the IDE integration so I won’t go over it here. The ArcIMS Designer is much improved with a .NET application that gives you a very simple interface to create your ArcExplorer Web applications. As with all 9.2 applications improved documentation should help all users get more out of their Arc applications. Art Haddad’s demo of the Web Application Designer has a Microsoft Office look and feel to it so you’ll feel very comfortable (drop down lists and wizards are everywhere). You can forget about those old Java designer, author and administrator apps! Programmers can also take these web applications you create in designer right into your IDE. ArcIMS continues to support Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Web Mapping Service (WMS), Web Feature Service (WFS) and Catalog Service for Web (CSW). ESRI will also start supporting Styled Layer Descriptor (SLD).

The great new news with ArcGIS Server (and ArcIMS also) is the ADF. This should allow programmers to move between the two servers quickly and easily. As was said yesterday and above, integration in to the IDEs will make all programmers happy because it will simplify our workflows. Server now supports GeoProcessing and Globe Publishing. The demo on publishing an ArcGlobe service showed how easy it was to publish a Globe service. With Google Earth grabbing everyone’s attention creating this simple 3D views is going to be important to may users. The ability to serve 3D services on the internet will enable users to share some really powerful maps with many users and the speed at which ArcGIS Server serves them up will make their experience of these 3D views an enjoyable experience.

The ArcGIS map service allows you to publish very high quality maps with support for identify, find, select, query and other tools. These are pre-rendered and cached at multiple resolutions. Support for serving both static and dynamic data is also included. The demo showing panning around the world was so smooth that you’d never think that you were in a web application (thanks to some really impressive AJAX). Geocoding performace has improved by a factor of 4 over 9.1. They support both batch and single geocoding as well as reverse geocoding. You can use either shapefiles or Geodatabases.

The new Geodata Publishing allows you to browse, query, extract and replicate data. Support data exchange using XML, Geodatabase and other formats. The demo of checking out data from an ArcGIS Server app showed checking out data from a map view into a Personal Geodatabase. Then they added it to ArcMap and edited the downloaded data layers. Then they stopped editing and saved and the changes. With ArcMap you can then save only change changes into a Geodatabase. This database was then uploaded via that same web application and the changes were then reflected on the web. The process was very simple and I could this being very useful for enterprise users.

GeoProcessing is now available in ArcGIS Server so you can take your models that you’ve build in ArcMap/Catalog and allow your web users run these models. The demo showed a web application that allowed you to select an area, choose what layer you want to download, save a file (shapefile/geodatabase/other) and then pick the projection. This application ran a model that took the input parameters that were selected on the web page and hen passed them to the pre-built mode. Interoperability with ArcGIS now supports WMS Services, SML, KML (so you can serve to Google Earth) and others.

The ArcGIS Server for .NET ADF changes allows you to create some really nice looking is web controls. You can point at multiple services and put them in your map control. Better navication, find, and map tips as well as some web templates for ArcExplorer Web and Network Analysis. There are some new Javascript, Table of Contents and AJAX. There is a new optimized object model in Javascript (no longer trying to figure out those scripts) and AJAX web controls. The new designer in Visual Studio.NET gives you some really nice visual tools for customizing your web applications. Rather than creating many of the same tools (such as TOC, identify) yourself, you can almost drag an drop them into your web form.

The new features in ArcGIS Server for Java include many of the new changes that were outlined for .NET developers and better UNIX install and security. ArcExplorer Web Java Edition includes all the functions of ArcExplorer Web. You now have a pure Java API (ArcObjects are now Java), out of the box spatial Enterprise Java Beans (EJBs), support for all standard IDE’s and tight integration with Eclipse and SunCreator. The IDE integration is as slick as the .NET IDE integration. The Java tools are all cross platform compatible so you’ll be able to administer on any operating system.

The changes in ArcGIS Server and ArcIMS will really enable developers to push the envelope on their web applications. Many of the complaints developers have had in the past have been addressed and many of the new tools will greatly simplify our workflows.

ArcWeb Services Update

The new ArcWeb Services update looks great. It is all vector based using what looks like Flash inside the browser. The user interface is very “Google like” in its simplicity. In the past most ArcIMS and ArcWeb sites were overly complex, but now it appears that they will be as easy to use as Google Maps. I love it!

ArcWeb Services Update

The new ArcWeb Services update looks great. It is all vector based using what looks like Flash inside the browser. The user interface is very “Google like” in its simplicity. In the past most ArcIMS and ArcWeb sites were overly complex, but now it appears that they will be as easy to use as Google Maps. I love it!

ArcWeb Services Update

The new ArcWeb Services update looks great. It is all vector based using what looks like Flash inside the browser. The user interface is very “Google like” in its simplicity. In the past most ArcIMS and ArcWeb sites were overly complex, but now it appears that they will be as easy to use as Google Maps. I love it!