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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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.

Good Article on Optimizing Open-Source Software

There’s been a lot of recent buzz about open-source GIS software. Good discussions can be found at James Fee’s site, plus Datum Shift as well as on Dave Bouwman’s blog.

Given all of this discussion, I found this article in Dr. Dobb’s Journal to be rather timely. It’s not about GIS software per se but it’s definitely relevant.

DDJ has undergone some changes of late but I still find it incredibly informative. That said, I still miss opening it up to find Verity Stob.