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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Come Sling Code With Us

It’s been a pretty good week for us at Zekiah. We announced two new contract wins and I’m pleased to say that we’re not done yet. After final paperwork is done, we should be able to announce a couple more. These are the things that make small-business ownership worthwhile: doing good work, building relationships with our customers and then leveraging our track record to be able to work with new customers. Project execution and business development help us build the foundation necessary to be a good place for our employees to work and we try hard every day to make sure that we are such a place.

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Another Look at GIS StackExchange

A year ago, I used the StackExchange API to facilitate an analysis of tags on GIS StackExchangeto see what people were talking about on one of the largest and most successful vendor-neutral discussion sites in our industry. In that post, I stated “It would probably be good to revisit this in a year to see how things have changed, if at all.”

Well, a year has passed so I decided to do it again. I used the same scripts and approach I used last time in order to be consistent. Since this is one year later, there is one key caveat. My analysis last year looked at the top 100 tags since the start of the GIS StackExchange site. Since I ran the same query this year, the new results are compounded so what they so are last year’s results plus activity since then. Essentially, you are looking at “that plus this.” The pie chart below shows the breakdown.

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SpatiaLite and ArcGIS 10.2

With the release of ArcGIS 10.2, Esri quietly added support for SQLite as a geodatabase container. This is big news as the community has been looking for such support for some time. An open-source RDBMS originally designed for embedded systems, SQLite has a very small footprint and is arguably the most widely deployed RDBMS in the world. (Thanks, in part, to the fact that it is embedded into Adobe Reader and other commonly used software.) Over the years numerous strategies for storing spatial data in SQLite have been developed, ranging from simply storing WKT or WKB geometries in a column up to full extensions like SpatiaLite, which adds OGC-compliant data types and methods. SQLite is also the engine that drives the popular MBTiles implementation used by TileMill and MapBox.

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DevOps for Geospatial Data

There has been a bit of buzz the past couple of weeks over the ability of GitHub to render GeoJSON and TopoJSON files automatically using and embedded Leaflet map and MapBoxtechnology. This buzz is quite justified as it presents an easy way to simply publish and visualize vector data sets. In the weeks since the initial announcement, the community has begun exploring the limits of GitHub’s capability. Probably the two biggest limiting factors are individual file size limits and API rate limits. Some, including myself, are exploring strategies for maximizing the ability to store, disseminate, and visualize data within these confines. For the near term, GitHub will probably not be the place to store terabytes of data or act as the CDN for a high-volume mapping application. That is perfectly fine and there is still a great deal of value to be found within GitHub’s current generous constraints.

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