Data, Apps, and Maps

It’s been a quiet month-and-a-half here on the blog, mostly owing to an abundance of project tasks. I recently started a short-term project to help one of my Federal customers extend data source support for an application they have been developing. This customer is technically a new one but the project team is made up of government developers that I have worked with on a few other projects so there is a great deal of familiarity.

The application, which has been under development for some time, is written in .Net and make use of the open-source (MIT) GMap.NET mapping library. The application features a desktop version running in Windows and a mobile version running on Android tablets. The .Net back end works seamlessly on both through the use of Xamarin, although I have not had the chance to get my hands dirty with that yet due to limits on Xamarin licenses and available Android devices. To its credit, GMap.NET seems to work fairly well in both environments.

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Using BruTile and MapsUI to Enable WeoGeo Previews

A few weeks ago, my company announced the availability of the first beta version of WeoGeo Tools for ArcGIS. Unlike the previous version, which opened a separate browser window, this new release allows a user to order a data set from WeoGeo Market or a library from inside ArcMap.

One of the challenges was enabling data set previews. If you browse data sets using the WeoGeo online tool, you can get an idea of what the data set contains by using the data set preview images supplied by the data set provider.

When we developed the first version of WeoGeo Tools for WeoGeo, they used kamap to create preview tiles for data sets. This was accomplished by used either one of two desktop tools: the weoapp (command line) or gWeoApp (GUI). The first version of WeoGeo Tools used the weoapp in the background to create tiles when uploading data.

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Announcing WeoGeo Tools for ArcGIS

I generally try to keep my blog separate from my daily work life in that I usually don’t directly blog about the projects on which I am working. I’m going to deviate from that today to make a couple of announcements.

It’s been a while now, but you may recall that, about a year ago, WeoGeo announced the availability of WeoGeo Tools for ArcGIS. It was an ArcGIS Desktop extension that integrated the ability browse data sets on WeoGeo Market or hosted libraries as well as providing the ability to upload your data directly from ArcMap.

My first bit of news is that my company, Zekiah Technologies, produced that extension for WeoGeo. We did not announce it at the time because the original plan was for WeoGeo to support it after it was released. That arrangement has continued to the present.

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Getting Started With a Python Wrapper For the WeoGeo API

One of my goals for 2011 was to sharpen my Python skills. As if on cue, WeoGeo puts out a Python wrapper for their RESTful API. It can be found here. The good news is that I now have a familiar problem set to sink my teeth into. The bad news (for me) is that it’s so easy to use it’s probably not going to do much for my Python skills.

The wrapper addresses the full WeoGeo API (Datasets, Jobs, Events, etc.) so it exposes pretty much everything you can through through the WeoGeo SaaS. For example, here is a very simple browse operation:

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Ten-Second Tidy

Things have been a bit hectic the last few weeks and that’s left little time for blogging. Quite a bit has happened so I thought I’d do a little round-up (if for no other reason than to clear my own head).

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cJa7P6dfmco]

In no particular order:

Steve Coast to Microsoft (I told you it had been a while) – Firstly, congratulations to Steve (#sincerity). Secondly, this clearly is the final proof that crowd-sourced data in general, and OpenStreetMaps (sic) in particular, has no real value when compared to “authoritative” data sources (#sarcasm).

Google Fusion Tables – The only real problem at this point is the size limitation but, otherwise, this will be a game-changer for storing and sharing data. In its current form, it’s already fairly easy to push your data up and expose it through Google’s APIs. It’ll be interesting to see if it gets easier. Support for spatial queries hints at some analytical capability, too. Speaking of which…

Analytics in GeoCommons – This is one to watch. They are debuting a new function each day on their blog. FortiusOne builds their platform API-first, UI-second so everything they are showing should be exposed through their APIs. This will be a huge step in moving cloud-based geospatial technology from the “bit-bucket” stage to having a more complete workflow on the cloud infrastructure.

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Clouds

I spent the vast majority of my time at the 2010 ESRI User Conference working the Zekiah/Arc2Earth booth. That was fun as I got meet/reconnect with a lot of people but I didn’t see much of the conference itself. As a result, I haven’t really blogged it.

ESRI continued with the “cloud ready” theme that was rolled out at the Federal User Conference but with more details about how they are moving to “the cloud.” This generated a lot of buzz amongst many of the attendees from what I could tell. One of the big new features of Arc2Earth v3 (disclaimer: my company is an Arc2Earth reseller) is Cloud Services. As a result, we had a banner in our booth that had the word “cloud” on it, prompting lots of people to stop.

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Browsing WeoGeo Market Using the ESRI Silverlight API

Updated: This demo application now running here. I will update this demo periodically, as time permits, so keep checking back.

At the 2010 ESRI Federal User Conference, WeoGeo announced the availability of a toolbar for interacting with WeoGeo Market and private libraries from within ArcMap. This, combined with Dan Dye’s series of posts showing how to use the WeoGeo REST API with Python got me thinking about how easy it would be to integrate with ESRI’s clients for the ArcGIS Server REST API. All of my clients (it seems) are using the Silverlight API these days so I am spending a lot of time with it and decided to use it as my testbed.

My goal was simple, I wanted to browse the WeoGeo Market for any data sets in the current map extent, be able to select one from a list, and have its preview image display in the proper location on my Silverlight map.

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