Personal Geospatial Workflows, July 2016 Edition

It’s hard to believe, but I last touched upon this topic over two years ago, when my family and I were living in our between-houses rental. One of the goals I had when building our current house was to create a space where I could more effectively work from home. To that end, I have a dedicated office that I’ve been working toward optimizing for my technical work.

One advantage of a dedicated space, which I did not anticipate ate the time, is compartmentalization. One of the dangers with working at home is the blurring of the boundary between work time and personal/family time. In our old house, I definitely felt that as I was working from the dining room table. Now, I can more effectively shut the door and step away. I’m not perfect at doing that, yet, but I am getting better.


As a consultant doing federal work, I don’t get to work off-site all the time. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have worked a few projects over the past couple of years that have allowed it, so I’ve taken advantage of it as much as possible.

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Revisiting Two Old Friends: ArcGIS and PostGIS

Back in the dark old days of ArcSDE, when it first started to support PostgreSQL/PostGIS as a back-end data store, I did a series of posts about how to work with it. Of course, working with PostGIS in ArcGIS was a theme of the early days of this blog, through my association with zigGIS. Although it’s been the case for a while, I’m feeling a bit happy today that it’s now as simple as this to work with (vanilla, non-geodatabased) PostGIS in ArcMap. (Post continues below the GIF.)


You might ask “Why not just work in QGIS?” and you would have a valid question. QGIS is a perfectly fine desktop PostGIS client. As a matter of fact, I went almost two years without a functioning copy of ArcMap and using QGIS as my primary desktop tool (which is why I’m exploring the capabilities of ArcGIS 10.4 now). Sometimes, projects dictate what tools you need to use. The data-level interoperability implied by the support shown above has me thinking about hybrid workflows to allow shops (especially small ones) that have need for final products to end up in an Esri stack to still exercise a measure of choice with regard to tools. It may be time to re-tool that old series of posts for the state of GIS tools circa the middle of this decade.

Extending Hibernate Spatial

Java is my “Groundhog Day” language. It’s one that I use just infrequently enough to feel like I’m starting over every time a new requirement pops up. As a result of planning the system migration I discussed in my last post, I’ve been doing some work with it, which is my first sustained Java work since about 2006.

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Desktop GIS

I’ve found myself using desktop GIS more and more lately. While I don’t tend to think of myself as an analyst and I’ll never be confused with a cartographer, it is simply not possible to perform GIS software development without making occasional use of desktop GIS. My typical use cases involve data preparation or query verification or similar such tasks to prove out some logic before I commit it to my application code. The screenshot below depicts my default desktop GIS configuration:


Yes, I have come full circle back to command-line GIS. After years of fiddling with the latest Arc/Q-GUI-du-jour, I find myself spending most of my time working with a flashing cursor.

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A Brief Retrospective

This is the time of year where retrospectives of the previous twelve months become all the rage as content providers have column inches and/or pixels to fill up while skipping out the door on holiday breaks. As an independent blogger, I have no such requirements and the topic of this post, while retrospective, has nothing to do with 2014.


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Building a Simple Geodata Service With Node, PostGIS, and Amazon RDS


This post describes the construction of a simple, lightweight geospatial data service using Node.JS, PostGIS and Amazon RDS. It is somewhat lengthy and includes a number of code snippets. The post is primarily targeted at users who may be interested in alternative strategies for publishing geospatial data but may not be familiar with the tools discussed here. This effort is ongoing and follow-up posts can be expected.

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Consider the ‘Alternative’

When I was in college, I had a psychology professor who posited that you could train a cat (a dodgy proposition at best) to take a circuitous route to its food bowl by only rewarding that behavior. He was clearly a behaviorist and was convinced that you could completely condition the instinct to go straight to the food bowl out of the cat. To my knowledge, this professor did not own a cat and never attempted to test his assertion.

I was reminded of this after reading my friend Atanas Entchev’s post in reaction to the PostGISDay hangout panel discussion. In his post, Atanas describes difficulty in convincing customers to consider open-source geospatial tools. These customers and prospects are comfortable with their proprietary tools and associated workflows and are reluctant to consider switching. I have encountered this attitude many times myself so I take no issue with the observation. Barriers to exit are real considerations, regardless of the new technology being considered. Organizations align themselves around their tools to achieve maximum efficiency with them. I discussed these issues at a talk I gave last year to the New Jersey Geospatial Forum about how organizations can extend their existing geospatial technology investments with open-source technologies. These issues are very real for any organization with a mature, extended investment in a particular technology stack.

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