Put Planet Geospatial to Work for You

I’m happy to see that James has decided keep Planet Geospatial going. It’s been one of the more consistently valuable resources in the community since its inception and it’s good that it will continue.

While I’m looking forward to seeing how James evolves Planet Geospatial, there are ways to more efficiently extract value out of its current state right now. At its core, Planet Geospatial is an RSS feed. RSS can safely be called “venerable” nowadays, but it still does what it does very well.

Two of my favorite tools for culling down the firehose that is Planet Geospatial are IFTTT (the title of this post is a riff on the IFTTT motto) and Evernote. If you’re not familiar with IFTTT, you should be. It reminds me of a more-intuitive Yahoo Pipes and it allows you to mix channels, triggers, and actions to automate processes of your choosing. It’s become by preferred method of synchronizing my blog with social media and for filtering data sources. It also drives the Unofficial QGIS Info Twitter account. Continue reading “Put Planet Geospatial to Work for You”

SpatiaLite for Android Available

On what seems to be turning into SpatiaLite Monday, Sandro Furieri also announced on the SpatiaLite Google Group the availability of a stable version of SpatiaLite for Android.

I am happy to see that this version was developed and contributed back by the US Army Geospatial Center. The fact that they contributed back to the project under a standard open-source license is a nice step from a DoD organization.

The message is quoted below:

Hi List,

I’m really proud to announce you all that finally a rock solid stable and really easy-to-be-deployed binary porting of SpatiaLite for the Android platform is now available for download [1].

[1] https://www.gaia-gis.it/fossil/libspatialite/wiki?name=splite-android

Many thanks to the U.S. Army Geospatial Center [2] who very generously contributed this highly appreciated and really useful resource under a genuine free software license (LGPLv3).

[2] http://www.agc.army.mil/

A detailed tutorial [3] explaining how-to deploy and use SpatiaLite on Android platforms has been kindly contributed by Andrea Antonello, who spent many long hours during the last week while performing a thorough testing of SpatiaLite-Android, then deciding to publicly share his experiences with the SpatiaLite community. Feel absolutely free to pay a beer to Andrea; he’ll surely appreciate 😉

[3] https://www.gaia-gis.it/fossil/libspatialite/wiki?name=spatialite-android-tutorial

enjoy, Sandro

SpatiaLite 4.0 Released

It looks like it was a busy weekend for Sandro Furieri and the rest of the SpatiaLite team as version 4.0 was announced on Sunday. There are a number of changes, so it’s best to catch up on them before switching over.

Not this SpatiaLite

I have a couple of Federal customers that are integrating SpatiaLite into their workflows so I’ll need to take a day or so to assess impacts any impacts there. Looks like the perfect way to slide back into work after a long weekend.

The Biggest News You May Have Missed…

In case you missed it, this tweet floated across the Twitters last week:

Yes, the team at Arc2Earth is apparently working on a new feature in Arc2Earth Sync, called TileMill Connect, that will link ArcMap MXDs with TileMill. This will allow users to migrate their ArcMap cartography into TileMill to take advantage of the rich tools there as well as the potential for version control and cut/paste sharing of techniques and best practices enabled by CartoCSS.

Brian Flood followed that up today with a short video showing it in action.

No word on a timetable for this feature, but I can’t wait to kick the tires. I am especially intrigued by the pseudo PostGIS proxy service that enables connections to ArcGIS data sources.

Personal Geospatial Workflows

I’ve had a couple of people ask me recently about the geospatial tools I use. Year-over-year, that answer changes but here’s how I answer that right now:

As a Federal contractor, I spend a lot of time working with the Esri stack during my work day. A few years ago, I added a few open-source geospatial tools into my tool set and, since then, have also done a respectable amount to consulting work them as well. The balance between the two varies over time, depending on the requirements of individual customers and projects. Lately, commercial customers have seemed much more interested in open-source tools while my government customers are sticking with Esri. Since those observations are based on the the extremely heavy filter of my own recent experience, I’d be hesitant to draw any larger conclusions from them.

I’ve always believed that proficiency with a wide range of tools makes me a better consultant and integrator, so I am always exploring and trying new things. With those commercial customers, and in my own personal side projects, my recent workflows have gelled around a core set of tools, both commercial and open-source: Continue reading “Personal Geospatial Workflows”

Wilson Center to Discuss FCC National Broadband Map

One of the most compelling recent success stories for open-source geospatial tools in the Federal Government has been the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) National Broadband Map initiative. It has been a very visible example of the stability, scalability, flexibility, and power of open-source geospatial tools.

The Woodrow Wilson Center will be hosting a case study of National Broadband Map on October 15th, 2012. The event’s page also includes a link to the full paper (PDF), authored by Zachary Bastian of the Wilson Center and Michael Byrne of the FCC.

The full paper, in my opinion, is recommended reading for anyone working with geospatial technologies in the government space. While the Broadband Map has rightfully garnered significant attention based upon its success, especially in terms of performance and scalability, the paper does a good job of reminding us that the map is not an end goal in itself, but a step toward the larger policy goal of expanding broadband access. The paper does an excellent job of illustrating how top-level policy goals were broken down into actionable parts that resulted in a concrete product such as the Broadband Map. In so doing, it walks us through the introduction and fostering of an open culture within the FCC that resulted not only in the Broadband Map but also in the development of open APIs and the availability of FCC tools as open-source projects themselves.

In its conclusions, the paper also makes compelling observations about the power of focused policy goals to drive the use of technology standing in stark contrast to generic overarching technical policies, such as the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) which are disconnected from specific policy goals and achieve little traction.

If you are interested not only in geospatial technologies, but also the link between policy and technology implementation, and the cultural change that can be brought about by open-source technologies, you should consider attending the event at the Wilson Center on the 15th. While not a universal blueprint, the National Broadband Map makes a compelling case study.

Cutting Tiles for ArcGIS Server Using TileMill

There’s been a lot of talk about TileMill and CartoCSS lately, with good cause. TileMill makes it very easy generate beautiful map tiles using the Mapnik engine and CartoCSS provides a familiar method to author the cartographic representation of spatial data. As Brian Timoney points out, CartoCSS has the added bonus of making best practices shareable via copy-and-paste.

Naturally, the best way to take advantage of TileMill is to export your tiles to MBTiles and use MapBox hosting. If that’s not an option, you can pretty easily self-host with TileStream. That said, there are some organizations that, due to larger GIS workflows, IT policies, and a host of other legitimate reasons, need or choose to use ArcGIS Server to do map hosting. For those organizations, TileMill is still an option to create attractive basemaps, within certain constraints.

So I set out to see if I could bridge the gap between the two. Two blog posts pointed the way. A while back, Dan Dye blogged about how he had forked mb-util and added support for exporting WeoGeo tilepacks from MBTiles. Also, a co-worker of mine, Eric Mahaffey, had blogged some time ago about how to use Arc2Earth to manage tile caches across air-gapped networks. Using these posts for guidance, I was pretty sure I had all the pieces I needed. Continue reading “Cutting Tiles for ArcGIS Server Using TileMill”