Importing Data From GeoCommons Into ArcMap

UPDATE: The code for this post is available at the bottom of the page.

I have been doing a lot of development with the ESRI Silverlight API recently. One of the requirements of my project is to be able to dynamically add KML data at runtime. The incorporation of KML was handled for us through one of the ESRI samples on the resource center so we pretty much just had to integrate that code and test against our use cases. For testing, I typically reached out to GeoCommons since any data set available there can be streamed as KML.

Obviously, this is not my first exposure to GeoCommons but, when discussing it, I found that many of the analysts I spoke with were not aware of it and did not use it much. So I decided to tackle developing a simple ArcMap extension to allow a user to search GeoCommons and then download/add data to ArcMap without the need to manually download, unzip and add the data themselves.

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First Thoughts on ArcGIS 10.0

The announcement that ArcGIS 9.4 is being re-christened as 10.0 leaves me feeling somewhat bemused. I have seen the new version of Desktop and it is nice and will finally update the current Office-97-feeling UI. The list of changes coming in 10.0 (published so far) is impressive but I haven’t seen any discussion of the changes coming to the ArcGIS architecture, which is of greater interest to me as a developer and integrator. Given the past history of ArcGIS, calling this release 10.0, in my mind, implies a significant architectural shift. ArcGIS 8 was a clear departure from the previous releases of ARC/INFO. Indeed, it not only came with a new version but introduced the name “ArcGIS.”

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ArcSDE: Time For a Change

I view ArcSDE (and its predecessor, SDE) as something of a seminal technology. In my quest for true enterprise integration of GIS, ArcSDE fills filled a crucial gap by providing the ability to store, manage and analyze spatial data in the same RDBMS used for everything else. Long gone are the days when I had to manage relates between INFO tables or shapefiles and that’s a good thing. I have since accomplished similar tasks with PostGIS and Oracle Spatial but SDE was the first product I ever used that offered the capability to bring my GIS in from the cold.

At version 9.3, ArcSDE will support PostgreSQL as a back-end, meaning you don’t also need to license an expensive RDBMS in addition to ArcGIS to take advantage of everything ArcGIS Server has to offer. This gives us another option and options are good.

I have blogged before about my involvment with zigGIS, which has given me a lot of exposure to PostGIS. I’ve also done a good bit of work with Oracle Spatial. Both experiences have given me experience with, and a love of, spatial SQL (as each has implemented it). Having all of the data types and methods necessary to store, manage and analyze spatial data completely encapsulated in the RDBMS is a huge advantage. Building an n-tier or services-oriented system is so much easier because all I really need to interact with my spatial data is an OLEDB provider (we’re a .NET shop). This encapsulation serves to further expose the disadvantages of the current middleware approach of ArcSDE.

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Exporting ArcObjects Feature Class to PGSQL

The same project that has me working with WPF has me busy on a few fronts. I’ve been spending the last few days writing a tool to export data out of an ArcObjects feature class and dump it to a pgsql .sql file. ArcGIS acts as a serviceable generic data accessor to many vector data types and ArcCatalog provides a decent UI for the user community I’m targeting (also, they already have it). As a result, I’ve been developing an ArcCatalog command that exports a selected feature class.

As the title of this post suggests, I didn’t have a lot of time in which to accomplish this task.

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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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