Archive for the ‘Software’ Category

Google Public Data Explorer (information aesthetics)

Monday, March 15th, 2010

google_data_explorer

[Editor's note: Summary of data visualization web apps with focus on the new Google Public Data Explorer which has a good mix of charting and mapping. Interesting Google has approached the visualization space with their Flash API. Some offer private data but most take a shared-data (public) storage system.]

Republished from Information Aesthetics.

Google Public Data Explorer [google.com] is yet the latest entry in the ongoing race to democratize data access and its representation for lay people. Similar to Many Eyes, Swivel, Tableau Public and many others, Google Public aims to make large datasets easy to explore, visualize and communicate. As a unique feature, the charts and maps are able to animate over time, so that any meaningful time-varying data changes become easier to understand. The goal is for students, journalists, policy makers and everyone else to play with the tool to create visualizations of public data, link to them, or embed them in their own webpages. Embedded charts are also updated automatically, so they always show the latest available data.

Continue reading at Information Aesthetics . . .

NodeXL: Network Visualizations in Excel (Visual Business Intelligence)

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

[Editor's note: Visualizing complex connection topologies is made easier with a new plugin for Microsoft Excel. Now someone needs to port it to Flash ActionScript 3!]

Republished from Visual Business Intelligence.

This blog entry was written by Bryan Pierce of Perceptual Edge.

The chances are good that you’ve seen network visualizations before, such as the one below in which the circles and octagons represent large U.S. companies and each connecting line represents a person who sits on the board of both companies.

(This image was created by Toby Segaran: http://blog.kiwitobes.com/?p=57)

While these types of graphs have become more common in recent years, there’s still a good chance that you’ve never created one yourself. This is because, traditionally, to create network visualizations, you’ve either needed specialized (and often unwieldy) network visualization software or a full-featured (and usually expensive) visualization suite. That’s no longer the case. A team of contributors from several universities and research groups, including the University of Maryland and Microsoft Research, recently released NodeXL, a free add-in for Excel that allows you to create and analyze network visualizations.

Using NodeXL you can import data from a variety of file formats and it will automatically lay out the visualization for you, using one of twelve built-in layout algorithms.

Continue reading at Visual Business Intelligence . . .

A tutorial for creating good layer packages (ESRI)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: The 9.3.1 release of ArcGIS adds the ability to embed GIS data in layer packages for easy sharing. This blog post from ESRI steps thru how to create and leverage layer packages. Natural Earth will soon be available as a layer package!]

Republished from ESRI ArcExplorer blog.

With the release of ArcGIS Desktop 9.3.1 the ability to create layer packages was introduced. Layer packages encapsulate the data, cartography, and other properties of the layer as it’s authored in ArcMap (or ArcGlobe) into one easily shareable package.

Layer packages can be shared with other ArcGIS Desktop users, shared on ArcGIS Online (public beta soon), and are also supported in ArcGIS Explorer 900 along with layer files. What’s significant for Explorer users is that now the cartographic capabilities of ArcGIS Desktop can be seen using Explorer. In the past only simple rendering options were available in Explorer for local data sources, now these are expanded to include ArcGIS Desktop cartography via layer files and layer packages.

ArcGIS 9.3.1 was released not long ago, and ArcGIS Explorer 900 is currently in Beta. But since you may want to begin to create layer packages now for use in Explorer 900 when it becomes available we thought we’d cover a few basic pointers on how to create good layer packages.

We began by downloading some data and an ArcMap document (.mxd file) from the USGS. The data we downloaded was from an open file report with data from the Engineering aspects of karst map.

We downloaded the data, started ArcMap, opened the provided map document, and this is where we started. Our goal for this post was to take the karst_polys_polygon layer in the map and share it as a layer package with ArcGIS Explorer 900 users.

You can see the data (from a personal geodatabase) is already symbolized so we have a good start. But there’s a few things we want to do during the process of authoring the layer package that will ensure those we share the layer package with have the best possible experience and that we present the data in the best possible way. We think authoring is a good way to think about this process, and we’ll step you through the basics of what to consider.

Continue reading at ESRI ArcGIS Explorer Blog . . .

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping Data (Sunlight Foundation)

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

[Editor's note: Listing of several dozen free web apps and tutorials, including GeoCommons Maker!, Modest Maps, Color Brewer, Open Layers, and Batch GeoCoder.]

Republished from the Sunlight Foundation.
By Kerry Mitchell on 02/19/10

Services, Resources and Tools for Mapping DataLong ago, putting together a map of data points would be the sole domain of a skilled GIS practitioner employing an application like ArcView. These days, particularly with the advent of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps and OpenStreetMap, et al., there are a multitude of options for an individual to employ in displaying data geographically. Of course, there are, and will always be, technical options that require some level of programming chops. Fortunately, the pool of drop dead easy implementations that anyone can throw together with ease has grown a lot over the last few years. Then, there is the growing middle ground, lying somewhere between easy but rigid and difficult but flexible. Personally, I tend to hover in this netherworld, leveraging existing code, services or tutorials when possible but occasionally finding myself diving into the more technical areas when necessary and learning a lot in the process.

For those of you out there who might be interested in mapping data, I’ve put together a collection of links to a variety of services, code samples, resources and tutorials I’ve found useful in the past. These links range from new services that barely require anything more than a spreadsheet to complicated frameworks that require a great deal of technical knowledge. This is by no means all encompassing and if you happen to have additional links you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments.

Continue reading at the Sunlight Foundation . . .

Going Native: Using the Google Maps API v3 in Smartphone applications (Killingsworth via Google)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

[Editor's note: Cut down on development time using the new Google Maps API v3 but creating a single mobile version of your map that can also be wrapped inside a native application for the iPhone or Android.]

Republished from Google Geo Developers Blog.
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Over the last couple of years, my office has been working on using the Google Maps API to display the Missouri State University campus map. The map is used by campus faculty, staff, students, and visitors and includes buildings, parking and transit system information. Beginning this summer, we started work on incorporating live GPS tracking of our campus buses into the map. Both the idea and GPS application on the buses came from one of our computer science students who wanted more information on the campus transit system.

Using the Google Maps API v3, I was able to create a mobile version of our map for use on smartphones. After showing it to my users, one of the first responses I got was, “Are you going to make this available as an application?”. After spending many hours developing a feature-rich mobile web version, the thought of investing a large amount of time to code the same experience on multiple platforms was overwhelming. Then I began thinking of the maintenance headaches; even simple changes, such as adding a new sets of icons for custom markers, would be time consuming. All of a sudden the idea sounded much less appealing. I’d spent all this time on the mobile web version of my map, why couldn’t I just use that?

All Wrapped Up

So instead of writing the maps application using the SDK of each phone platform, I wrapped my v3 Maps API site into a WebView inside a stub application. Now all the work spent on the web version automatically applies to the “native” application and my users never even know the difference. The Google Maps API team have even provided some great reference articles for Android and iPhone which help get the process started.

Continue reading at Google Geo Developers Blog. . . .

State of Salmon Interactive Data Graphic (Periscopic)

Wednesday, February 17th, 2010

[Editor's note: This Flash-based info graphic / report from Periscopic is a delight. They are based in Portland, Oregon and have an impressive client list. The company tag line of "Living in a world of data – and offering  a better view" is evident thru the project's sophisticated quantitative analysis tools, accessed thru the Hydrography, Clusters, Historical, and List tabs. Thanks Wilson!]

Republished from Periscopic.

Salmon are a cultural and biological keystone of life around the Pacific Rim, uniquely linking freshwater and marine ecosystems. They form an irreplaceable mosaic of populations across land and water. This assessment, the first in a series on Pacific salmon, focuses on loss of biodiversity in one species – sockeye salmon.

Interact with the original at Periscopic . . .

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Open Geospatial Tools Expand Their Niche (V1)

Friday, February 12th, 2010

[Editor's note: Interview with Paul Ramsey, involved with PostGIS, MapServer, and last year's FOSS4G conference keynote speaker.]

Ramsey_PaulPaul Ramsey has been an open geospatial advocate for some time and is deeply involved in PostGIS and MapServer development and project consulting. Paul was the keynote speaker at last year’s Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference (FOSS4G), and teaches many workshops to help others develop solutions with this technology. He works for OpenGeo, a company that has just released the OpenGeo Suite, a productized stack of optimized open geospatial technologies. V1 editor Matt Ball spoke with Ramsey regarding this new suite of tools, and about the status of open geospatial tools in general.

V1: I’m really interested in the mission-oriented work of OpenGeo. I see that the consulting work of OpenGeo supports a non-profit that aims to create a better managed urban environment.

Ramsey: OpenGeo is a part of the Open Planning Project. The goals of the Open Planning Project have always been around social engagement in urban planning and open government. We’ve taken those goals and superimposed them on what we do, which is to develop open source geospatial technology. We are managed as a separate entity.

We’ve formed ourselves as a social enterprise, meaning a business, but a business where the variable of maximization is not value of capital. In your traditional startup you dump some capital into it and you hope to make that pile of capital as big as possible. Our goal as a social enterprise is to take that starting capital and use it to grow as much social good as possible.

Our synthesis of how to do that best is to take our startup capital and work to be financially self sustaining. We’re working to build a business around open source tools that allow people to more democratically do mapping, but building a business with an aim to self sustain the development of that software so that we’re not tied to the vagaries of funding at the end of this process.

V1: What has been the motivation for the recently launched OpenGeo Suite of tools?

Ramsey: Our take on GIS tool space is that there’s some need for democratization, and there’s a place in the market for the kind of tools that we’re putting together. The old GIS tools have real access issues for folks who aren’t already part of the GIS priesthood. It’s a pretty expensive and daunting task to understand the ESRI ecosystem, and that’s why a lot of organizations have looked at GIS and said, “the hell with it.”

That flipped in about 2005 with the rise of consumer-oriented mapping tools, but the consumer APIs have their own limitations. They only do so much. We feel that there’s a place in the middle here for tools that are as open to non-geospatial developers to access as consumer tools, but not as limited in terms of the audience that they’re able and willing to serve as the consumer tools.

Continue reading at V1 . . .

Introduction: Flash Google Maps API and Multi-touch

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

[Editor's note: From last year but multi-touch is still getting rolling.]

Republished from Cyna C Design Ideas blog.

There are many APIs out there to work with. If you start searching around Google, there are many people dedicated to helping people like you and me tie in different information and resources into Flash. It can take quite a long time just understanding a full API and be able to use ALL of it’s capabilities. But that idea is way down the road. If you are like me, it’s nice to find something to help you get off the ground.

Today I came across Emanuele Feronato‘s website, Italian geek and PROgrammer. He has a tutorial to get you started using the GoogleMaps API, so here is your first task in this tutorial:

1. Read Emanuele Feronato‘s tutorial and get Google Maps running in Flash.

Got it yet? Not yet? Don’t worry I took me a little while to get everything downloaded, hooked in and sorted out.

Got it now? Awesome! Set your API key and everything? Great. This tutorial I’m going to try something different. Last time, I built up to the final code step by step. This one, I’ll show you the final version of the code, and we’ll step through it. Let me know which type of tutorial you like better and in the future, I’ll try to keep a consistent style.

Continue reading at Cyna C Design . . .

ESRI 2010 Mashup Challenge

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

This one’s open to everyone. Cash prizes up to $10,000. Due March 5th. Thanks Dan!

Create an innovative mashup using ArcGIS Online and Web Mapping APIs for the chance to win one of four cash prizes. Awards will be based on originality, creativity, and analytic process.

Getting Started

  1. Build a mashup using ArcGIS Online and ESRI Web Mapping APIs.
  2. Shoot a video of your application and post it on YouTube.
  3. Submit your mashup. Deadline: March 5, 2010

Read more at ESRI . . .

Meet Map Practical, a new carto blog

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

Kevin McManigal (also of Adventure Cycling) is teaching intro to cartography in Montana and has a new blog focused on getting into mapping. First posts focus on Google My Maps, Vector versus Raster, and Purpose and Audience.

Welcome to Map Practical, where the cartography gets done. These are the cartographic trenches, the domain of greasy hands, busted knuckles, and sore mouse fingers. This is the home of techniques, tutorials, and tricks of all things map. Here’s how we do it; your job is to make it look good!

Are you a cartographer or studying to be one? How many tricks have you found that slipped your memory and had to be re-learned? How many hours have you spent on Google looking for that long lost tutorial? Thinking back on my first mapping class, there were so many things that I figured out by trial and error, blindly groping for the right keywords in “Help.” There has to be a better way!

So, here I am teaching cartography now and thought, “What if all those tips could be in one convenient place?” Well here it is, Map Practical! This will be an ongoing process; a tip a week, a link here, a comment there, and a video tutorial when I find the time. After a semester or two it should be a good resource.

Please contribute, and it will only get better.

Thanks, Kevin

Check out Map Practical . . .