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James Fee GIS Blog

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Geospatial Technology, Web Mapping and Spatial Services
Mis à jour : il y a 14 min 31 sec

GIS: From ActiveX and ColdFusion to Node.js

jeu 04-02-2016

When ArcIMS 3.0 arrived, it was literally the best day of my life (well from a GIS programming perspective). After hacking ArcView IMS 1.0 and then some crazy VB5/VB6 stuff with MapObjects IMS 2.0 (esrimap.dll is the work of the devil) there was finally something that was able to be truly a web server GIS development environment. With excitement I pulled myself into the Esri UC session for ArcIMS 3.0 and then sat down with pen and paper (this was before WiFi). I looked around and noticed that there was not many people in the room for the ActiveX session. But across the hall the ColdFusion session was packed and out the door). Now the less said about ArcIMS 3.0 the better but it was the start of real programming on Esri Server products.

ColdFusion hung around for a while but the ActiveX stuff was quickly replaced with the WebADF. Now there is much on this blog about the WebADF and I don’t think I need to go back over it but while it was a complete mess, it did allow us to develop with .NET and actually create some amazing applications. Eventually the REST API replaced much of what we were doing with the WebADF Framework and we were free from all the limitations of that AJAX madness. I think the key with Esri Server development is the REST API. This is what freed us from siloed frameworks and allowed us to move into other languages such as Ruby/Rails.

Now during the Ruby/Rails period, I was working for WeoGeo so my focus was on that stack, not the Esri one. I do recall Dave Bouwman showing Ruby/Rails stuff at the DevSummit but it never took off as an Esri development language. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with it, it just was never supported as well on Windows as other options so by the time Windows support was good enough to be used, we all moved on to Node.js.

Now Node.js is probably the biggest impact on what we do with Esri Server since .NET. The best part though is development is basically cross platform so I can be on my MacBook Pro and my other Devs can roll on Ubuntu or Windows. Again, because of the REST API. If you go to the Esri Github repository or look on npm you’ll see lots of JavaScript and Node.js projects just ready for the taking.  It’s a far cry from the days of trying to register some stupid ActiveX control in VisualStudio (heck I still have nightmares about Visual InterDev).  Now I won’t sugarcoat npm because when it works it’s great, when it doesn’t it sucks.  But generally I can type a couple words and have a new Node.js application installed in my project.

As I’m getting back into ArcGIS for Server 10.3 and ArcGIS Online I’ve come to reflect on the crazy path we’ve taken from Avenue -> VB5 -> ActiveX -> .NET -> Ruby/Rails -> Node.js and on to whatever is next.  Not only that, during this whole time there were those Java guys (it was like 3-5 of them) in the corner trying to just get ArcGIS for Server Java installed.  But hey, they got free copies of MapObjects Java Edition.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

GeoJSON Ballparks Update

jeu 28-01-2016

Just in time for spring training, I’ve added the Grapefruit League ballparks to the GeoJSON-Ballparks Github repository. Right now there are over 250 ballparks mapped in GeoJSON.

I plan to focus on China and Europe next and eventually fill out some college conferences (Pac-12, SEC, ACC, Big 12).


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Extensions for ArcGIS for Server

mer 27-01-2016

One of the more confusing things for new ArcGIS users is that they probably need either Spatial Analyst or 3D Analyst to do their work.  It’s almost a foregone conclusion that every ArcGIS for Desktop license will have at some point either one of those extensions.  As I’m getting back into Server though I’m starting to take a look at those extensions as well.  Specifically the GeoEvent Extension has caught my eye.  Conversations on Twitter basically expose that it either works or it doesn’t and it’s either great or maddening.  Sounds like typical Esri software.

The thing about Server extensions though is they mostly have a Windows requirement to run (thankfully GeoEvent doesn’t).  As I’ve jumped back into ArcGIS for Server I’ve been impressed with it’s maturity but alas it’s still a windows only product which limits its use in hosted environments.  I’m not oblivious to the reasons why these things go Windows only but it is a shame that Workflow and Data Reviewer require windows.  Hopefully as Esri transitions into a more software agnostic development environment, they’ll start fixing these Windows only requirements.

At least GeoEvent Extension runs on Linux, wish me luck with that….


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Editor Choices

ven 22-01-2016

I’ve been a BBEdit user since probably 1994 (that’s the oldest floppy disk I can find) and I’ve loved it.  Back when I worked at WeoGeo though, I flirted with TextMate as did many others who worked with Ruby.  But that project imploded with the 2.0 beta so I moved back to BBEdit with MacVim running when I needed command line editing.  I’ve dabbled in Sublime Text but I just never cared for it so I stuck with BBEdit.

With my new job though I’m knee deep in Node.js and Express.js and BBEdit just isn’t working for me so I’m looking at a new editor.  My choices as I see them right now are:

I’ve used Atom on and off since GitHub had their beta but I stuck with BBEdit for what I’m guess are “historic reasons”.  Atom, being born out of GitHub is modern and has what appears to be a robust community behind it with packages and themes.

Brackets is intriguing but I just can’t get my head behind using an Adobe product (even if it is open source).  I feel like Adobe PageMill might just suddenly appear on my desktop.  The biggest +/- of Brackets is that it is designed for web design.  It doesn’t concern itself with Objective C or Swift coding.  It’s focused on web technology which simplifies it a bit but limits my use of it.  I like the idea of just using one editor and staying with it.

Now Microsoft Studio Code is very good.  I’ve really liked using it and it too has a robust community developing extensions.  Plus it is built on Electron which is the underpinnings of Atom.

I’m torn between using Microsoft Studio Code and Atom.  I’ve been locked on Atom the past week and while I do like what Microsoft has done with Code, I think I’m going to be staying on Atom moving forward.  The best part of JavaScript development though is you really don’t need to standardize on any editor.  Just let Git control the project and edit in TextEdit.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Ben Carson’s Map Screws with New England

jeu 19-11-2015

He’s only running for president, close enough I say… Connecticut clearly wants to be close to Canada.  And lets be honest, Massachusetts was too large anyway.  It’s more manageable now.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Story Map Time

mer 18-11-2015

I made a story map today. The process is a bit rough on the edges but I worked through it.  I’ve used more Esri in the past month than the past 5 years. 

Interesting times…


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Using the Esri ArcGIS Server Cloud Builder

ven 06-11-2015

I’ve been playing with ArcGIS for Server 10.3.1 at Matrix and we’re all about running things with hosted services.  So rather than spec out some hardware and install ArcGIS for Server on local legacy machines, we’re doing it all in the cloud.  Because I’m new here there wasn’t any legacy AWS use so I was able to pick Azure for deployment.  My logic:

  • While I’m experienced with AWS, Azure is mostly an unknown world to me.  Given we’re running Windows servers with SQL Server, why not go native.
  • I really want to give SQL Azure a spin.
  • The portal for Azure is much nicer than AWS.  They have those stupid panels in places[footnote]is that what they’re called?[/footnote] but mostly it makes logical sense.
  • Esri has Cloud Builder to simplify installation which I though would be great for starting up prototypes quickly.

So logical, no?  Well late yesterday this tweet went out by me.

/me We should try ArcGIS Server on Azure /me Seems easy enough /process fail /me should have known

— James Fee (@cageyjames) November 5, 2015

I was stuck here:

You can literally hear the sad trombone sound.  Now Sam Libby was helping troubleshoot but things were still a bit weird.  Basically as you can see in the error above, I needed to accept an EULA.  Now of course I went into the the Azure Marketplace and followed the instructions to allow the Esri VM to be deployed programmatically which is what Cloud Builder requires.  But each time it errored out the same way.

Sam offered this:

@cageyjames @Esri Run the image from the Azure console and then remote in and apple the license yourself — as a workaround?

— Sam Libby (@s_libby) November 5, 2015

Basically he hit upon it.  Microsoft did something with the marketplace and for whatever reason the Cloud Builder app won’t install an Esri ArcGIS for Server VM until you actually install it first yourself.

The workaround to get the Cloud Builder app to run is actually just create a VM using the Azure Portal then delete it.

After that, the Esri Cloud Builder app runs perfectly without trouble.

Philip Heede basically confirms everything.

@cageyjames @s_libby We've discussed with Microsoft and provided feedback on the end user experience.

— Philip Heede (@pheede) November 6, 2015

So the ArcGIS for Server Cloud Builder[footnote]seriously, why no “for” in the title, consistency folks![/footnote] works great.  While I don’t like wizards in general, it automates the processes that take time and let’s you focus on the settings for ArcGIS for Server you want to change.  I honestly haven’t installed ArcGIS for Server since it was ArcGIS Server (without the for) 9.3.1 and it was interesting to see how things have changed and how little has actually changed.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Apple Gets Ready to Release Indoor Positioning Service

lun 02-11-2015

Over the weekend Apple apparently pushed out an indoor positioning appIndoor Survey‘ into the iOS App Store.

“By dropping ‘points’ on a map within the Survey App, you indicate your position within the venue as you walk through,” reads the app description. “As you do so, the indoor Survey App measures the radio frequency (RF) signal data and combines it with an iPhone’s sensor data. The end result is indoor positioning without the need to install special hardware.”

Interesting in the sense it appears to be an app that stores can use to map their interiors with iOS devices.  It’s not a crowd sourced indoor mapping application.  This dovetails nicely with the other announcement this morning about their new Maps Indoor service.

For now, Apple is focusing its efforts on a handful of venues that meet specific criteria. These requirements include:

  • The venue must be accessible to the general public
  • Only locations that draw more than a million visitors per year
  • Apple requires “complete, accurate, and scaled reference maps” for consideration
  • The venue must have Wi-Fi throughout, and an official app available on the App Store

The groundwork is set for Apple to start mapping interiors of these large open venues.  But with an app and an iPhone, clearly Apple is planning to scale this out to just about every indoor location.  I suspect we’ll see stadiums, amusement parks and other entertainment venues appear first over the next year.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

Ask Me Anything – Next Week

jeu 29-10-2015

So I was invited on the Spatial Community to give an AMA next week.  It will be Tuesday November 3rd at 11am PST.  You can literally ask me anything (duh) and I’ll try and respond to everything.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones

What’s Next? Matrix New World Engineering

ven 23-10-2015

So you may have seen last week that I resigned from AECOM.

Today is my last day @aecom

— James Fee (@cageyjames) October 16, 2015

Well I’ve ended up at Matrix New World Engineering as the National Practice Leader for GIS and Geospatial Services.  I’m going to miss the guys at AECOM and working as Project Manager on the BLM Navigator[footnote]replacing the busted old BLM Communicator[/footnote] data sharing portal but the opportunity with Matrix is something I could not pass up.  In a twist, I will be working more closely with Esri technology.  That means you’ll see me blogging more about Esri again.  That said the first program I bought at Matrix was Safe FME Desktop so you can see my overall goals aren’t changing.

Tied in with this is ArcGIS for Server on Azure.  I’m jumping in with two feet it appears.  But don’t worry, you won’t be seeing any ArcObjects or Dojo posts from me.  It’s interesting to try to get back on where Esri server software has gone over the past 5 years I’ve ignored it.  Google searches of course make me laugh a bit.

Trying to research ArcGIS Online but all I find is inflammatory blog posts by me. #circularreference

— James Fee (@cageyjames) October 23, 2015

The bottom goals don’t change though.  Sharing data and liberating data from silos.  Making smart choices with open source technology and embracing Python and JavaScript over Java and .NET.  My Esri account is locked out of ArcGIS Online (who even knows how to get that fixed) so step one is cleaning out the garage[footnote]or is that gutter?[/footnote] in my mind.

Now I had promised Hangouts with James Fee starting back mid-October.  Well given my job change it was difficult to get that started back up.  It’s being pushed back to November and my first guest will be the always interesting Ian White.  Stay tuned for the schedule.


Catégories: Sites Anglophones