MO No Mo’

Okay, there’s nothing terribly surprising about ESRI’s announcement regarding MapObjects in this technical article. I would have been more surprised if they had announced that it would be supported or that there would be another version or something like that. In truth, I haven’t touched MapObjects in years. It was dead to me even if it was still on life support at ESRI. But there was something about seeing it in print:

MapObjects Windows 2.4 and MapObjects-Java 2.2 and 2.3 are not supported on the Windows Vista. ESRI is not certifying any new environments for MapObjects-Windows and there are no plans to support Vista with MapObjects-Java.

It brought back a lot of memories. I began programming when I was 10. I wrote a D&D character generator in BASIC on a Commodore 64. I guess that makes me an old geek. D&D and computers might even be a double-down. 😉  I’ve pretty much been doing some form of BASIC ever since (not so much VB.Net anymore, though, as I do most of my .Net in C#) along with a lot of other languages. I got interested in maps a few years later and discovered I could fuse maps and computers as I headed into the workforce.

Early on, I was able to do some MapBasic stuff but that didn’t get too far. So I suffered through AML and Avenue for a while in order to feed the GIS development jones. Then along came MO.

With MO, I was able to introduce an old friend (BASIC in the form of VB5 and later VB6) to a new friend (GIS, although it wasn’t new to me by then). I was able to write real apps that fused mapping with databases and other cool tools. For one customer, I built a COM system that featured a core UI and provided a pluggable architecture and an API so others could write plug-ins. Then we converted a lot of stand-alone apps to work in the system. Sounds familiar huh?

From a GIS standpoint, MO wasn’t the most powerful game in town but it was fun! And, if you needed an algorithm or something that MO didn’t support, you could just implement it yourself in the language of your choice. There are operations that I originally implemented in MO/VB6 that I have migrated and still use in C#/ArcObjects/Others. In case I didn’t get the point across earlier, it was just plain fun.

That was a while ago. GIS is still fun but I just don’t use MO anymore (maybe that’s the problem). ESRI’s announcement is sort of like when you read that the arena where you went to all of your concerts in your youth got dynamited to make room for a shopping plaza. So, much like I did that day, I’ll pop a cold one, raise a glass and say “Thanks for the memories.”

The better part of my hearing was left here.

  • Next you are going to tell me you don’t write Avenue code anymore.

  • Only for my ArcView IMS apps. 😉

  • I always pegged you as a MapCafe man….

  • Heh. Good one.

  • Bruce

    We had a database of soil samples including logs and chemical analysis for Denver’s TRex project ($1.67 billion highway reconstruction project). We added the location of all the testholes and CAD drawings in shapefile format, added a simple GUI in MO and put all together with an installer and distributed it in CD’s for the contractors. The idea was here is all we know about fill/waste dirt in the project – you figure out what to do with it.
    The client and contractors had no problems with it and I don’t think any of them had much GIS experience.

  • It was nice to just bundle an app up in an InstallShield wizard and send it off. I’m sure time and distance have added a bit rose-colored tint to my glasses because I do remember wrestling with MO as well. But I agree with others that it may have been the single best product ESRI has put out. It was stable, reasonably inexpensive and hit its target market well. I remember when Visio incorporated it for “Visio Maps” or some such thing (before MS bought them out).

  • hey Bill, that’s funny, I also started with adventure game programming but on the Vic20 😛
    Btw, I am looking for someone very smart to help me in configuring zigGis for using Librarian (or is it out of the box in ArcGis Desktop?)

    🙂 🙂 🙂

  • Librarian? There’s something I haven’t thought about in a long time. Did quite a bit of work with it though back in the day.

    You’ve got me beat on the Vic20. 😉

  • I loved MapBasic. When I was at Cubic Applications in Leavenworth, KS, we wrote some kick ass stuff in it. I think I even have a 4.0 install set laying around the house somewhere.

    At my current job we still do development in MO, simply because the runtime license is much, much, much more reasonable than ArcObjects runtime. When you have an application in all the emergency vehicles, for instance, it is a major cost savings.

  • I couldn’t agree more. I can think of numerous applications where MO does all you would need it to do. There’s something to be said for a component that’s light, easy and cheap to deploy. The primary thing that let’s me get away with ArcEngine is that many of my customers can use C/JMTK meaning they don’t have to skip back to the Wizard every time they want to turn one on.

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