Of Predictions and (Geo)Hipsters

“Never make predictions, especially about the future.” – Casey Stengel

A few days ago, my friend Atanas Entchev asked me for my thoughts on coming trends in 2014for a feature he was preparing for his GeoHipster site. Being the obliging sort that I am, I provided a couple and I’ve been attempting to explain one ever since. This has mostly been back-channel via private messages and such but, today, the GeoHipster piece was the subject of the “#geowebchat” on Twitter. Twitter is very effective for some types of communication but quickly goes off the rails where nuance or anything long-form is required. So, it was time for a post. My prediction went like this:

I think 2014 will be the year Javascript takes over mapping and visualization in the geospatial world.

It was followed by an apparently too brief explanation that I will attempt to expand here.

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geoMusings 2013

As we enter the final hours of 2013, I wanted to take the chance to thank everyone who stopped by, and continues to stop by, this blog. I appreciate your readership, comments, and feedback. Even after 7 years, I am still humbled by the fact that so many read this blog each year. I decided to take a look at the top ten posts from this year, according to Google Analytics.

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DC DevSummit in Works for 2014 Esri Federal GIS Conference

I got word today that Esri is planning a one-day [Developer Summit] in conjunction with the 2014 Federal GIS Conference. It appears that the DevSummit will happen on the Wednesday immediately following the Fed Conference (which runs on the Monday and Tuesday) and will be focused on the issues and challenges that are unique to developing applications with Esri technologies for the Federal Government. I spoke with Jim Barry, who told me the DevSummit has come together rather quickly and Esri hasn’t had time to do its usual data gathering to prepare for such an event. As a result, they are canvassing the developer community for input on topics they should cover. Here are some things I suggested:

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JS.Geo 2014 Announced (Maybe)

UPDATE (12 March 2014): The situation with JS.GEO 2014 seems to be a bit fluid and the information originally posted here is no longer accurate. As indicated by Steve Citron-Pousty, the current goal is to have the event occur with FOSS4G in Portland, though that does not appear to have been finalized. In short, don’t book travel yet.

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

tl;dr

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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GIS Day After

It’s the morning of November 21st, but not for long. You open one eye. Just one; it’s best not to rush such things. Apparently, you finally came to rest in the ball pit you all made using the squishy globes from myriad conferences past. A cursory scan tells you the GIS lab is trashed. It starts to come back to you: the rousing game of “Pin the Certificate on the Khakis.” Yes, there are your pleated khakis on the wall with everyone’s training and GISP certificates stuck on or around them with pushpins. Someone won in what would have been a most painful way if the khakis had been on your body. The loin cloth fashioned from the old hard-copy topos (which you are still wearing). The fact that you let the intern talk you into finally opening a Twitter account and your glee at discovering you could attach photos to geocoded tweets with your BlackBerry.

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Desktop Not Dead

In 2011, I gave a talk at the NCGIS conference about the continued dominance of the desktop in the world of GIS. In that talk, my main point was that, regardless of the ultimate destination of GIS data or maps (cloud, server, paper, PDF, etc.), most GIS data passes through a desktop GIS at some point. I don’t have hard data to back up that claim but I think anyone who has worked in the industry for any length of time will agree that it feels right. If we loosely define “desktop GIS” to include not only GUI analytical tools like ArcMap or QGIS, but also command-line tools such as GDAL/OGR and cartographic tools such as TileMill, I think the statement is even more comfortable.

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Maryland Department of Planning Bundles Property Data With QGIS

This past week, I got an e-mail from Jim Cannistra, Director of Data Planning Services and the Maryland Department of Planning (MDP), alerting me to a new product available from MDP called FINDER Quantum. This product bundles Maryland property data and related products with QGIS software to provide users with a fully-functional, free-standing system for interacting with the data. It is designed to replace an older, custom software product, capitalizing on an industry-standard open-source system.

From the MDP site, the bundled data includes:

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