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James Fee GIS Blog
The next episode of Hangouts with James Fee has special Guest Peter Batty, CTO at Ubisense. Peter will talk about this years FOSS4GNA, Leaflet.js, geospatial business trends and what’s he’s been working on at Ubisense.
We go live next Friday (March 27th) at 1:00pm PDT and you can follow right here on my blog or at the Google+ Hangout event page.
Glenn Letham joined me to talk about the state of the GIS marketplace, changes he’s seen over the past years and what he thinks GIS professionals need to survive moving forward.
SpatialTau is my weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday. The archive shows up in my blog a month after the newsletter is published. If you’d like to subscribe, please do so here.It seems like just yesterday but 10 years ago Google Maps was born. If you hopped in your DeLorean for a trip back to before 2005, you’d remember the days when we were all dependent on paper maps, print-outs, post-its and sometimes even a compass for directions! Getting from point A to B is something we do all day, every day—from finding the fastest way to get to work, to dropping the kids off on a carpool route, to meeting friends for drinks at a new spot—so it should be as easy as possible. That’s why we created Google Maps and why we’ve spent the last 10 years figuring out better ways for you to get around.
Re/code has a great article on the birth and evolution of Google Maps that I encourage you to read. For us in the industry, the biggest thing we remember is the disruption of how we visual maps on the Internet. I didn’t start blogging until May of that year (boy, almost 10 for me) but early on there was much discussion about Google Maps (and Google Earth). Today, most of our mapping libraries mimic Google Maps either with their API or their tile structure or even the look and feel. The days of panning and then waiting for a map to redraw or the re-center on a map click are over. Tiling maps is as common as performing buffers on linear features.
“Google Maps like” is a phrase we see al the time on RFPs and marketing materials. Google Maps has so profoundly impacted our visualization work-flows that we almost delineate between BGM (Before Google Maps) and AGM (After Google Maps). We compare all new mapping applications against Google Maps, in accuracy and in function. Projects like OpenStreetMap are successful because Google Maps changed how we navigate and discover people and places. Companies such as Mapbox and CartoDB exist because as a society we want to view information on maps quickly and easily. Legacy GIS companies such as Esri have pivoted and become web-centric because Google Maps became the visualization method of GIS data. Legacy GIS companies such as MapInfo and Intergraph have been pushed aside because they couldn’t change to work within this new dynamic.
Just look at that. You know what it means and what it does. The impact of Google Maps is so complete we seem to forget it is even there.
Even outside of Spatial IT we see the impact of Google Maps. How long will it take to get to work? Where is the nearest bar? When does the next bus arrive? How do I get to the airport? What is the best place to get a taco near me? These are questions we type in to Google and get map showing us information. Even though our cars may have some proprietary Navteq navigation system, we prefer to use our smartphones to find out where we are going.
I’ve been thinking about this all week, my professional life has changed so much since 2005 because of one product. This started as a simple USA centric car navigation application and has become Navteq/Yelp/Yellowpages/Fodor’s/Michelin Guide/Zagat/AAA all in one. But with the Google Maps API, it becomes a GIS visualization tool that everyone can use. I can connect it to PostGIS without much effort and display database information that would have take a complex Java/.NET middleware component to handle.
Google Maps is the most disruptive force on GIS that ended up being exactly what we all needed. I can’t wait to see what we do in the next decade!
Thanks to Lyzi Diamond of Mapbox for joining me on my hangout this week. You can see the IRC log of the chat on my blog. http://www.spatiallyadjusted.com/2015/03/06/hangouts-with-james-fee-special-guest-lyzi-diamond/
This week Lyzi Diamond (@Lyzi Diamond) of Mapbox joined me to talk about Oregon Football, coding, education, spatial and Mapbox. You can view the show below or go directly to the Google Hangout page here.
The backchannel chat occurred on IRC. You can view the chat logs right here.
If you missed this week’s hangout, as always you can watch above. Thanks to Marc Prioleau for joining!
Thanks to Marc Prioleau for joining me this week! As always if you missed the live show you can view at any time below. Next week the mysterious Ian White of Urban Mapping.
Thanks to Paul Ramsey of CartoDB for joining me this week for the Hangout. We talk Boundless, CartoDB, PostGIS, SpatialIT, Rasters, baseball and cherry blossoms.
Next week Marc Prioleau of Prioleau Advisors joins me.
Episode 2 of Hangouts with James Fee featured special Guest Paul Ramsey. If you missed the live show you can watch it below.
Missed the live show? You can watch it all when you can. Have a great weekend everyone!
Missed the live show? You can watch it all below. Have a great weekend everyone!
Well as promised, season 3 of Hangouts with James Fee premiers tomorrow at 1pm PST. The last time Brian joined me we talked about portals but this time we’ll catch up on all the new spatial news from the past few months. The new broadcast time is going to be 1pm PST every Friday. As before, all the shows will be archived on YouTube and this blog. Go to the Google Hangout event page to find out more.
SpatialTau is my weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday. The archive shows up in my blog a month after the newsletter is published. If you’d like to subscribe, please do so here.So you probably heard the news last month that Google is ending support of Google Maps Engine. Maps and location information are valuable tools for businesses — whether it’s helping people find your store locations or identifying sales opportunities across town. To help our Maps for Work customers continue to get the highest impact from our products, in 2015 we’ll focus on helping customers deliver location information via our Maps APIs and shift away from selling any non-Maps API products. We’ll support our Maps for Work customers through their contracts and work closely with them and our partners through this transition.
I first learned about it via CartoDB through their CartoDB on Google Platform post. Seems like a great service from CartoDB and probably one that is very similar to the users of Google’s Maps Engine. Last week though Esri got in on the action.
In coordination with Google, Esri has prepared a special offer for Google Earth Enterprise and Google Maps Engine customers and partners looking to transition to Esri software.
Details have been slim but it appears to be a consulting service to help people migrate their data from Maps Engine to ArcGIS Online. I’m sure other companies are going to jump in and offer services to migrate the data either to other Google cloud services or other online mapping platforms.
But what is the big picture here? Why did this happen? Clearly only Google really knows why they terminated support but I can think of one of two scenarios.
- The market for hosted GIS solutions isn’t that big. Google probably had visions of millions of companies using and paying for Google Maps Engine but in the end the effort to continue to improve the service wasn’t worth the revenue coming in. Users leverage Google Maps API but store their information in other locations. Traditional users use Esri or homegrown utilities and new mapping users use other hosted solutions (such as CartoDB or Mapbox). The Google Maps for Work has more upside for Google because it uses their standard products and is easier to share with other Google Services. Small companies such as CartoDB and Mapbox can make money with such small number of customers and large companies such as Esri make up the difference with ELA sales. Hosted GIS is a disappointment and a sideshow for mainstream tech companies.
- The market isn’t using Google Maps Engine. While people have dipped their toes in the product, no body is really using it for production work. The Esri/CartoDB/Mapbox solutions are more powerful and better supported. When it came time to put their money down on Google Maps, they choose to go elsewhere.
So which one is it? Probably a little of both as I think the market isn’t mature enough and I think people didn’t use Google Maps Engine. The Google Maps for Work seems much more like a Google service and coupled with the announcement that Google Earth Pro is now free, Google is leaving the traditional GIS market to Esri.
Will this be a new source of revenue for CartoDB? Most likely and one that could be substantial (hopefully). For Esri I can’t imagine this moving the needle enough to make a financial impact. But the big win for Esri is removing a service that was a compeditor for ArcGIS Online which they view as a key to their future product plans.
Win for CartoDB and Mapbox and win for Esri. Probably win for Google too as they can focus on Google Maps for Work. Esri and the others have products to replace Google Maps Engine, will companies like them more than Google? We’ll have to see.
SpatialTau is my weekly newsletter that goes out every Wednesday. The archive shows up in my blog a month after the newsletter is published. If you’d like to subscribe, please do so here.
So I did this late last year.
While traffic was very stable, the code was old and patched together with twine. It was ugly, hard to manage and couldn’t parse feeds very well anymore. It was time and I think 99% of people understood. We get our news from Twitter and Facebook these days. I gave a link to the Planet Geospatial OPML List and let everyone download it and use it with their own RSS reader. But the list itself is old, most blogs are dead and hasn’t been updated in over a year. I’d like to change that.
So I’m setting up a GitHub repository where we can collaboratively update Spatial IT RSS feeds and use them however we wish. But before I do that, I’d like to clean up the OPML. I thought about just uploading it and letting everyone hack at it but it’s so out of date I’d like to make a pass at it first. What I need though is your help.
If everyone who reads Spatial IT/GIS blogs can forward me their top 5 (you can do more or less of course) blogs I’ll grab the RSS feeds from them and create an updated OPML list that everyone can use on GitHub. Just reply to this email and send me your top blogs. I’ll update everyone on the process next week!
Work in the spatial field long enough and you’ll reinvent yourself over and over again. I’ve been cleaning up my old blog and it is amazing to me to see how much .NET/VB6/Oracle I used to do. Heck I used to be a big proponent of GeoDesign but not so much anymore. I remember the first GeoDesign Summit as a good time but the latest pictures from 2015 seem to show things have changed.
A lot of what we experience clearly affects how we approach our work as we move along in life. All that fighting ArcSDE has helped me approach PostGIS better. All that fighting the Esri WebADF has helped me work with Node.js better. All that expended capital on GeoDesign has taught me not to be involved with company sponsored community efforts. None of it is lost though, it all helps built the future as to what Spatial IT becomes.
The news that Google is shutting down Google Maps Engine definitely caught people’s attention. But Google Maps API continues on and working with maps doesn’t really change. All that capital spent working with Google Maps Engine can just be rolled into the Google cloud platform easily and off you go. Years ago such an announcement would have had people jumping off the cliff but it’s just how applications work these days.
Being a GIS developer (whatever that is) has been a crazy ride. Every year you learn new languages, new libraries, new server technologies. That’s why I feel like we’re so lucky to be working in this space. The past year has been Node.js and Angular.js while this year is shaping up to be React and Go. It’s that change that is exciting, fresh and keeps us all working hard. Let the good times roll!
If there is one thing that you can take away from GIS software is it’s love of the toolbar. Every function has a little button on the toolbar. One can turn on all the toolbars in ArcGIS Desktop and you get this nightmare.
But it isn’t just Esri, QGIS almost as bad (possibly uglier).
I get some things are best done by having a toolbar, editing vectors for one seems so logical. But most are just some tool library that some programmer links up to some obscure bitmap graphic that represents what we’re trying to do. I’ve been struggling to think of a better way though.Options
- ModelBuilder/FME Workbench: The logical method to performing GIS analysis is a flow diagram. The data flows through analysis like water through pipes. At the bottom is the outcome (hopefully clean and pure). Rather than highlighting a feature/layer, you perform the selection with SQL-type statements and apply logic rather than luck.
- Scripting: Goes somewhat hand-in-hand with above. The visualization of the scripting is handled by ModelBuilder/FME Workbench allowing the GIS analyst to show others what they are doing. As much as I do love scripting and GIS, the visualization methods used by ModelBuilder/FME Workbench allow sharing of the model with other who might not see the workflow.
- Wizards: Yea I hate wizards but in a way they work better than a toolbar. They are very limited in what they do but it limits the user to the “rails” of the wizard workflow ensuring that they complete the analysis correctly. Most of the time the toolbars call wizards to complete a function. This is the method preferred by button pushers.
- Intellisense: This was the great hope I’ve had with GIS software. All the power of the command line but all the modern features of an IDE. Esri has prototyped this for Python and ArcPy but it is sort of a hack rather than the preferred method. I always felt I was at my best spatial analysis with ARC/INFO back in the day and I’m sure when Esri/QGIS release such a tool integrated into the application I’ll go back to using it.
I love the clean look of a blank canvas for creativity and unfortunately GIS software just clutters up that zen with crazy Windows XP logic. ArcGIS Professional brings the ribbon interface which hides much of these toolbars but it’s still confusing and illogical (seriously, those tabs are a crap shoot for finding a tool). There has been much innovation with mobile and web mapping. Hopefully we’ll see ArcGIS Professional and QGIS start to push the envelope with their interfaces. Just because we’ve been doing this way since ArcView 2.x does mean it is right.