On GeoHipster

This time last year, Atanas Entchev’s GeoHipster site was just getting started. I participated in the 2014 “predictions” round-up, but I was somewhat skeptical of the idea. For reasons entirely my own, I was primarily turned off by the title of the site. I am not one to wear labels easily and I have a bit of natural suspicion for those who do. But a funny thing happened on the way to the artisanal map store: GeoHipster hit its stride.

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A Brief Retrospective

This is the time of year where retrospectives of the previous twelve months become all the rage as content providers have column inches and/or pixels to fill up while skipping out the door on holiday breaks. As an independent blogger, I have no such requirements and the topic of this post, while retrospective, has nothing to do with 2014.

sunrise_crop_small

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f=geojson, Part 2

In which I say nice things about Esri. You have been warned…

A couple of weeks ago, I gave a talk at a local Esri GeoDev Meetup (which also served as a convenient way to tell a room full of developers that my company is hiring developers) on a GeoJSON server object extension for ArcGIS Server that I open-sourced some time ago. I started that effort a little while after giving another talk in which I called on Esri to start supporting GeoJSON. I’m not one to wait around so I built an approach myself.

At the most recent meetup, the Esri staff who were there updated the group on upcoming efforts with regard to GeoJSON. Honestly, I’ve known for some time that there are a lot of people inside Esri who “get it” and that various things have been percolating with regard to GeoJSON.

So I was happy to see the official announcement of support for GeoJSON in ArcGIS Online (AGOL) feature services. Included in the support is access through the REST API using an “f=geojson” parameter. This makes it much easier to consume AGOL services in the web client of your choice. (The announcement shows a Leaflet example.)

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Getting Reacquainted With GeoServer

Over the past few weeks, I’ve had the opportunity to get back in touch with GeoServer. It used to figure more prominently in my toolbox but I got away from it because it simply didn’t factor into most of my project work. Time being a limited resource, it had to go on a shelf.

I’m working with GeoServer 2.6.1 this time around. I always found it to be easy to set up but it think the initial installation borders on trivial now. I was setting it up on an Ubuntu EC2 instance so the entire process was conducted from the command line. From start to finish, it took me about ten minutes, half of which was Tomcat configuration.

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GIS StackExchange Analysis, 2014 Edition

It’s time again to revisit my periodic look at GIS StackExchange (GISSE) and what it may or may not tell us about the state of things geospatial. By now, the process is fairly routine. I have single Python script that gets tag data and parses it to CSV. I then hand-edit categories into the data for grouping purpose. While it’s  perfectly valid to quibble with individual category assignments, I’m fairly consistent with it at this point, using previous data sets as a guide. Compared to last year, the all-time look hasn’t changed much. Open-source and “general topics” have switched places, but there were no great shifts that I could see. The roughly 4% increase in open-source topics could be a result of QGIS support moving to GISSE.

gisse_all_time_2014

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Back to WordPress

At the end of 2012, I transitioned this blog from its long-time home on WordPress.com to an Octopress/Jekyll-generated site with the static content hosted on Github Pages. Over the past week or so, I have moved back to WordPress, albeit a hosted instance through Entchev.

I originally left WordPress.com due to chafing with some of the perfectly understandable restrictions. Octopress promised, and delivered, total control. For a time, I was happy. In the process, I learned a lot about Jekyll and reacquainted myself with the benefits of static content, which is the original state of the web.

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Ask the Right Questions

If you’re about to embark on a requirements drill or needs assessment focused on “web GIS,” it is important to be sure to answer one question as you proceed: Do you actually need any specialized mapping server at all?

If “none” isn’t one of the choices in your analysis of alternatives, then you are doing it wrong in 2014 and you may be doing a disservice to your users. The state of current technology makes it perfectly feasible to publish interactive mapping products as static content, using nothing more than your current web server. Given the complexity of today’s IT environments, including requirements for FISMA compliance on Federal systems, it is irresponsible not to consider this option before recommending yet another specialized server product (or hosted cloud solution) for your user’s IT architecture.

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Personal Thoughts on the AppGeo Announcement

I read with great interest today’s announcement that AppGeo is no longer an Esri Business Partner. I find the announcement significant for a number of reasons, which I will explore shortly. I have always respected AppGeo’s work. As a small business that does geospatial consulting, they have foregone the “grow at all costs” approach that is seen all too often in the consulting world. They generally stuck to what they do well and branched out conservatively in ways that tie logically back to their core business.

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