Checking Out the GDAL/OGR Plugin for ArcGIS

A while back, I blogged the availability of a GDAL/OGR plug-in for ArcGIS desktop by Ragi Burhum at AmigoCloud. At the time, I was hoping to dig into it fairly quickly but that didn’t happen and I’m finally getting to it. Anyone who has followed this blog for a while knows that I have had more than a passing interest in integrating new data sources with ArcGIS over the years. This comes from the fact that, as a technology geek, I am fascinated by all forms of technology and enjoy the process of integration and, as a consultant providing services to the Federal Government, most of my customers have standardized on Esri tools. Integrations such as GeoRSS, PostGIS, GeoCommons and GeoJSON have directly benefitted my customers for real-world applications so I continue look for ways to remove the barriers between them and the data they seek.

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MSDN Article on Mapping with WPF

I found this article today about using VB9 and WPF to draw thematic maps. It’s a good walk-through of how to do it. The article admits that the coordinate transformation used is not terribly accurate but that can be rectified. This article is a good example of how to build a mapping application without any third-party components. The author converts Census boundary files to XML for this app. It shouldn’t be a stretch to use SQL 2008, PostGIS or some other database that can emit GML and has an OLEDB provider as a data source.

I’ve been using WPF with SharpMap on a project for a while but my mapping code is about 5% of the overall project and I haven’t had a chance to extract what I’ve done into something digestable to provide an example. I had to fit into the rendering paradigm of a previously developed GUI so it deviates from how it’s shaping up in SharpMap 2.0.

So, if you’re looking for an example of how to render spatial data in WPF, this is a good one.

Stealing GPS…

The following was reported on the local news in Washington, DC:

WRC-TV
updated 7:37 p.m. ET, Mon., Nov. 26, 2007
BETHESDA, Md. – On two nights earlier this month, several cars were broken into in Bethesda, police said. The break-ins occurred overnight Nov. 7 to Nov. 8 and overnight Nov. 11 to Nov. 12, police said. Between the two nights, a total of 49 cars were broken into.

The culprits stole global positioning systems.

You have to wonder about the logic of stealing something that locates itself…
Here’s the link: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21979301/

DDJ on “The Return of the Desktop”

Okay, I swear I’m not on the DDJ payroll, but this article caught my eye immediately. Michael Swaine has been on a roll lately but I think this one just drips with significance for the GIS community.

Over the past 10 years, as everyone has run screaming from the desktop, I’ve been a little mystified as to why it was considered a good thing to reduce a CPU more powerful than everything NASA had in 1969 to a mere vehicle for a browser. The browser-based model reduced our computers to really cool-looking equivalents of a VT220 so it’s nice to see that the market is starting to gain back a little sanity.
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Interesting Washington Post Article…

For those of you familiar with what Northern Virginia is like now, the following article may be of interest:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/08/01/AR2007080102407.html

It’s about how archaeologists are using some recently discovered aerial photos of Fairfax County from 1937 to analyze change over the decades.

New DDJ Column on Concurrency

Anyone who has browsed this blog enough has probably figured out that I am a fan of Doctor Dobb’s Journal. This month’s issue inaugurates a new column by Herb Sutter dealing with concurrency. In my opinion, the confluence of mult-processor/multi-core systems with a greater emphasis on server-based GIS makes concurrency a huge issue for the GIS community.

The most obvious example of where concurrency can be of benefit is ArcGIS Server. The entire ArcObjects library is exposed in such a way that complex geospatial operations can be published as services. Many such operations can benefit from concurrency, especially as they are executed in a multi-user, server-based context.

I am of the opinion that the current 9.x architecture of AGS (with COM under the hood) is not optimally suited for such an approach but it will be interesting to see how ESRI addresses concurrency as 10.0 evolves. I also view the current AGS as a step along a path rather than an intended end state. Of course, there are other technologies out there. I merely hold up AGS as an obvious and visible example of a product that can benefit from being built with concurrency in mind. Of course, it’s up to us as software developers to correctly build our apps as well.

That said, I highly recommend this column. The inaugural installment rightly kicks off from a conceptual standpoint but I suspect we’ll be in the weeds soon enough.

DDJ Article on MyMap Javascript API

An article in the latest Dr. Dobb’s caught my eye. It’s about MyMap; a javascript api that standardizes the calls between Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and Virtual Earth. I’m always drawn when mapping tools get press outside of the GIS world. MyMap is predicated on the idea that each mapping engine provides similar capabilities. There is a different .js file for each but the function calls are the same. Therefore, it makes it relatively easy to provide similar capabilities for your web app regardless of the back-end engine.

I installed the sample from the DDJ resource center and it’s pretty straightforward. You may need to comment out the call to Google Maps because the API key won’t work for you. If you have your own, you can use that. Either way, the Yahoo and VE calls work fine and give good idea of how MyMap works. I’d recommend checking it out.