GIS StackExchange Analysis, 2014 Edition

It’s time again to revisit my periodic look at GIS StackExchange (GISSE) and what it may or may not tell us about the state of things geospatial. By now, the process is fairly routine. I have single Python script that gets tag data and parses it to CSV. I then hand-edit categories into the data for grouping purpose. While it’s  perfectly valid to quibble with individual category assignments, I’m fairly consistent with it at this point, using previous data sets as a guide. Compared to last year, the all-time look hasn’t changed much. Open-source and “general topics” have switched places, but there were no great shifts that I could see. The roughly 4% increase in open-source topics could be a result of QGIS support moving to GISSE.

gisse_all_time_2014

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Back to WordPress

At the end of 2012, I transitioned this blog from its long-time home on WordPress.com to an Octopress/Jekyll-generated site with the static content hosted on Github Pages. Over the past week or so, I have moved back to WordPress, albeit a hosted instance through Entchev.

I originally left WordPress.com due to chafing with some of the perfectly understandable restrictions. Octopress promised, and delivered, total control. For a time, I was happy. In the process, I learned a lot about Jekyll and reacquainted myself with the benefits of static content, which is the original state of the web.

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Ask the Right Questions

If you’re about to embark on a requirements drill or needs assessment focused on “web GIS,” it is important to be sure to answer one question as you proceed: Do you actually need any specialized mapping server at all?

If “none” isn’t one of the choices in your analysis of alternatives, then you are doing it wrong in 2014 and you may be doing a disservice to your users. The state of current technology makes it perfectly feasible to publish interactive mapping products as static content, using nothing more than your current web server. Given the complexity of today’s IT environments, including requirements for FISMA compliance on Federal systems, it is irresponsible not to consider this option before recommending yet another specialized server product (or hosted cloud solution) for your user’s IT architecture.

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Personal Thoughts on the AppGeo Announcement

I read with great interest today’s announcement that AppGeo is no longer an Esri Business Partner. I find the announcement significant for a number of reasons, which I will explore shortly. I have always respected AppGeo’s work. As a small business that does geospatial consulting, they have foregone the “grow at all costs” approach that is seen all too often in the consulting world. They generally stuck to what they do well and branched out conservatively in ways that tie logically back to their core business.

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Maryland Council on Open Data

Back in May, I had the honor of being appointed to the newly established Maryland Council on Open Data. The Council had its inaugural meeting in Baltimore yesterday and was heavily attended, including attendance by Governor Martin O’Malley. I’ll discuss his remarks to the group later.

As the first meeting of a new group, it went off largely as I expected. The agenda consisted primarily of an overview of the establishing legislation, a review of ethics requirements, demos of the existing open data portals, discussion of the history of open data in Maryland, and remarks from the Governor.

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JS.GEO 2014 Locked in Solid

A while back, I posted about about the 2014 edition of JS.GEO. After that post, things got a little fluid, but I’m happy to finally be able to provide an update.

According to JS.GEO Organizer Chris Helm, the event is “locked in solid.”

The event has a web site, a location, and a date. Tickets and sponsorships are available. Agenda is to be announced and they are actively seeking speakers.

The first event was one of those serendipitous things that turned out to be pretty awesome. It was personally very influential on me and changed the focus of a lot of what I was doing with geospatial and with programming. It’s probably the best single geospatial event I’ve attended in the last five years. The fact that FOSS4G will have already drawn a like-minded crowd to Portland should bode well for JS.GEO. My own attendance is still in question due to a number of factors but I highly recommend adding this to your schedule if you can.

ArcWhat? I Just Want My Map.

TL;DR:

What follows is probably my last post related to the Esri User Conference and is highly Esri-centric. Open-source readers may want to jump off here, or exercise a willing suspension of disbelief.


A couple of posts ago, I did something that I generally try to avoid. I took Esri to task for its confusing product names without really offering any thoughts on how to make things better. I don’t really like it when people do that to me so I’ll try to correct that here. It bears noting that I was not the only person feeling this way at the UC. I was happy to see Adena’s post over at Directions touch on this and it also came up in a number of conversations I had while I was in San Diego.

Here are some things that I think may help. They represent most of the stumbling blocks I typically encounter when doing consulting/integration with Esri-centric users, especially new ones.


Spaghetti”. Licensed under Wikimedia Commons.

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geospatial technologies and practices