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!

MrSID vs. TIFF

It is pretty hard these days not to have a MrSID image behind your vector data. Almost every project I am involved with has a satellite or aerial image behind it. These MrSID images are great because they compress huge raster datasets down to a fraction of their size, but in doing that they cause problems. ArcMap does a great job with MrSID (much better than the old ArcView 3.x ever did) that you almost never notice the difference while panning and zooming, but when you hit that print button the problems begin. The plot file size of these images just balloons to the point of our plotter (HP800ps) just choking on the files. The same plot file using a TIFF is much more manageable. The other big issue with them is you can’t load MrSID into ArcSDE. Well you can, but they don’t work as well as if you had an uncompressed format.

I think the best solution is if you order imagery, always request the “raw” TIFF images as well as MrSID. Down the road you’ll be glad you did.

ESRI ArcSDE on MySQL or PostgreSQL

Another ESRI conference is upon us and I just noticed that the survey that Jack Dangermond always sends out is in my inbox. I was filling it out as I always do putting in that I’d like support for MySQL or PostgreSQL and low and behold later in the survey there is a question asking if I’d like to see either. I can’t recall if that question was ever in a previous survey, but I know people have asked again and again at the technical workshops.

Personally I’d love to see support for either. The biggest cost for SDE isn’t always SDE itself but a RDBMS that can support enough users on the internet. I still would always recommend Oracle over any other RDBMS, but I’ve run into a couple of situations where clients don’t have the money to spend on Oracle or SQL Server for their web applications and we have to leave all GIS data as Shapefiles (bah!). I’m not getting my hopes up that there will be an annoucement, but both MySQL and PostgreSQL have really taken off in the last 5 years. Personally I’d rather have PostgreSQL support, but either would be help us with our web deployments.

Moving Forward with Open Source GIS

Now that we have our PostGIS/PostgreSQL running just about perfectly on our RedHat server, it is time to move forward with UMN Mapserver. I’m excited to see how much we can do with it and I think it will open up so much more to our products than .NET and ArcIMS ever did. As I said earlier, I want to make a front end that looks the same to the end users, whether we use ArcIMS/ArcSDE on the back end or Mapserver/PostGIS. In my previous post, I said that the GUI just wasn’t there for PostGIS, but letting it sit on a Linux server hosting our data should be great.

This should be a great week as we start playing with Mapserver/PostGIS and seeing what we can do with it.

ESRI ArcIMS 9.1, is there a point?

Well I’ve had some time to look at our ArcSDE 9.1 and ArcIMS 9.1 and I’m not really sure if either needs to really be upgraded. I think I’ll upgrade ArcSDE because we don’t really do and direct programming with it so I’m sure ArcCatalog can connect fine and I’m sure our existing ArcIMS sites will still work find, but I’m at a loss about what I should do with ArcIMS 9.1. The only really updated part that interests me is support for Tomcat 5. We don’t use ArcIMS on Unix or Linux so its not a big deal that they are at the same level as the Windows support and I don’t really see anthing on ESRI’s site telling me that there is anything new with the .NET or ActiveX connectors. The WMS Connector is something we’ve looked at but its nothing we are currently playing with.

Both my ArcIMS installs are working fine so I figure lets just go with ArcIMS 9.0.x and not play with fire. The what’s new webpages are nice, but I’d love to see something like a changelog or more detailed writeups of what is new.

Designing a front end

I manage a GIS at a small company in Tempe, AZ. We’ve been designing web based GIS sites since the old ArcView IMS extension. We’ve moved from MapObjects IMS to ArcIMS 3,4,9 and now we’ve begun to look at UMN Mapserver. Basically we’ve heard from clients that they are having problems with the cost of maintenance of ESRI products. If we could eliminate ArcIMS/ArcSDE for these people and still provide our look and feel, this might be a market worth looking into. I’d love to make our sites work with any backend that the client wants. We’ve used .NET in our latest products, but maybe PHP or JSP would be a better choice for doing this. I’m just not sure what to think at this point, but I’ve got our database programmer looking at getting PostGIS and Mapserver installed on our Linux server.

It’s going to be quite a move from ArcIMS/ArcSDE/Oracle, but maybe we’ll learn something. I’ll post more about this next week when we get it installed.