Ten-Second Tidy

Things have been a bit hectic the last few weeks and that’s left little time for blogging. Quite a bit has happened so I thought I’d do a little round-up (if for no other reason than to clear my own head).

In no particular order:

Steve Coast to Microsoft (I told you it had been a while) – Firstly, congratulations to Steve (#sincerity). Secondly, this clearly is the final proof that crowd-sourced data in general, and OpenStreetMaps (sic) in particular, has no real value when compared to “authoritative” data sources (#sarcasm).

Google Fusion Tables – The only real problem at this point is the size limitation but, otherwise, this will be a game-changer for storing and sharing data. In its current form, it’s already fairly easy to push your data up and expose it through Google’s APIs. It’ll be interesting to see if it gets easier. Support for spatial queries hints at some analytical capability, too. Speaking of which…

Analytics in GeoCommons – This is one to watch. They are debuting a new function each day on their blog. FortiusOne builds their platform API-first, UI-second so everything they are showing should be exposed through their APIs. This will be a huge step in moving cloud-based geospatial technology from the “bit-bucket” stage to having a more complete workflow on the cloud infrastructure.

Arc2Earth Data Services and Arc2Cloud – Continuing the theme of building a complete workflow, Arc2Earth is working on exposing a complete range of Google geospatial services to ArcGIS Desktop users. It’s no secret that I’m a fan of Arc2Earth (and my company is a reseller), but this represents a big expansion of capability. Google’s cloud infrastructure works differently that Amazon’s and I think what Arc2Earth is doing is important because it will open up another channel for users and enable them to make choices based on their needs and requirements.

WeoGeoThese guys never sit still either. They’ve got some changes coming up that will greatly increase flexibility for managing spatial data on a cloud infrastructure. Taken together with the previous two entries on GeoCommons and Arc2Earth, I see a lot of innovation in cloud-based GIS really being driven by small, focused companies. This is not simply “push your server to an AMI and keep working.” (Although that approach can have some utility.) Each of these companies is trying to figure out how to leverage the unique capabilities of cloud infrastructures to build new workflows and expand capability for users. And, it’s important to note, they are making headway.

WhereCampDC – Obviously, judging from the web site, it’s still in the early planning stages but I’m excited by the idea. This is exactly the kind of independent event that this area needs. I have always been baffled by the lack of such events in this area, especially given the level of geospatial activity around here.

Google Earth 6 – The latest release confirms that StreetView has yet to drive my street. For that I am happy.

FOSS4G – The conference doesn’t happen until next September and already the buzz is building. I have had people that I know have yet to touch an open-source GIS tool ask me what I know about “that conference I’m hearing about in Denver.”

Silverlight – I can’t think of a technology in recent years that has given me more of a feeling of ambivalence. It has great capability and the Esri Silverlight API team has done good work building on it (this piece addresses Silverlight, not the Esri API). I think it’ll continue to be a fine technology for intranet development but I’ll leave it there. I don’t expect my work with it to wind down anytime soon so I’ll keep blogging it as I think it’s perfectly possible to be productive with Silverlight within certain parameters. The whole episode regarding its future (which was something of a tempest in a teapot, in reality) simply highlights the risks involved in relying on closed, proprietary technologies. This time, it was Silverlight, but make no mistake, the same risks are there with Flex/Flash (it just runs on more browser/OS combinations). Of course, there are risks with any technology choice but it’s nice when those risks do not include “whim.”

So that’s it for my odds and ends. It’s good to get them stuffed back into the couch. 2010 has been an interesting year. It almost feels like a year in which groundwork is being laid. It may just be me, but I have a feeling of anticipation similar to what I feel right before the first daffodils appear in Spring. It just feels like there’s a good bit of pent-up energy and that a lot of new things are about to spring forth. It could be loads of fun.

  • Hugo Estrada

    Nice blog entry. I share your feelings about silverlight. My issue with the platform is not as much the recent doubts about its future, but its collection of quirks when developing with it. It makes one appreciate how well design the core of the .NET frameworks is.

    • Agreed. I am particularly fond (this week) of the lack of ability to pass credentials using a WebClient in Silverlight. 😉

      • Hugo Estrada

        Have you tried using RestSharp? I haven’t used its credentials support, but the code is there. Since what I was using only required GETs and POSTs, I authenticate via a html page, and then use the broswer stack to use the cookies.