Posts Tagged ‘gis’

Ortelius, new Mac GIS software?

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Ortelius was demonstrated at the AAG conference in Las Vegas in mid March and looks promising. It’s billed as an affordable middle-way between Adobe Illustrator + MaPublisher and ArcGIS and it works on Macs, which ArcGIS does not. It’s a graphics design package that can import shapefiles and purports knowing object topology. It also has an integrated database so you can view and edit map object attributes. Map projections are supported and the package comes with pre-loaded map files to get you started.

Ortelius is currently under development and version 1.0 will be available in the first quarter of 2009. The intention is to release standard and “pro” versions with a starting price of $79. Thanks to Martin for this tip.

Read more on the MapDiva blog about the product . . .

ISO global road, rail shapefile (Kelso)

Monday, March 30th, 2009

I’m in search of a super generalized but comprehensive global coverage dataset or datasets that shows major highways and rail lines, even sea lanes. You can see an example of this on Plate 21 of the National Geographic 8th Edition Atlas of the World. Do you know of one? Please shoot me a note to nathaniel@kelsocartography.com or comment here if you have a tip.

Why do I want such? I am working with Tom Patterson (of Natural Earth fame) and Dick Furno (retired from The Washington Post) to release a comprehensive, attributed GIS base map dataset derived in part from the Natural Earth physical wall map at around 1:15,000,000 scale and two other consistent and self referential datasets at approx. scales of 1:50m and 1:110m. These datasets will provide coverage that perfectly registers with the modern satellite remote sensing imagery and SRTM derived topography. Yes there is 1:1m coverage around the world but it is often out of date and too detailed for doing global, continental, and regional mapping.

We hope these open source datasets will allow everyone in the cartographic community to focus on telling the best “why” and “how” visual story about their thematic data instead of spending 50 to 70% of project time looking for or creating the vector geometry that captures the basic “where” of their thematic data.

Release is expected Fall 2009 at the NACIS map conference in Sacramento. Please check back in this space for more details as they develop.

TRAINING: Building Rich Internet Applications with ArcGIS API for Flex (ESRI)

Wednesday, January 28th, 2009

[Editor's note: Take advantage of free training from GIS-leader ESRI. Thanks Mary Kate!]

Republished from ESRI.

When: Thursday, January 29, 2009
Three broadcast noted in three local time zones

  • 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., or 3:00 p.m. (PST)
  • Noon, 2:00 p.m., or 6:00 p.m. (EST)
  • 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., or 11:00 p.m. (UTC/GMT)

Do you want to use the new ArcGIS API for Flex to build fast and visually rich Web mapping applications? We will show you how during Building Rich Internet Applications with ArcGIS API for Flex, the next ESRI live training seminar. You will learn the concepts of rich Internet applications (RIAs) and what tools are needed to start building Web mapping applications with ArcGIS API for Flex that you can deploy on the Internet or to the desktop.

During the seminar, you also will learn about:

  • The capabilities of the Adobe Flex framework and the ArcGIS API for Flex features and functionality
  • How to use existing Flex components with ArcGIS API for Flex
  • What to consider when authoring and deploying applications in a Web server
  • Other educational resources available about Flex applications and how to obtain the information

Viewing the Seminar

A broadband Internet connection and an ESRI Global Account (free) are needed to watch the seminar. An ESRI Global Account is complimentary and only takes a few minutes to create. A few weeks after the live presentation, a recorded version of the seminar will be archived and available for viewing.

For more information, visit ESRI Training and Education.

Meet Richard Furno (Kelso)

Wednesday, January 21st, 2009

My friend and cartography colleague Richard Furno retired from The Washington Post as of January 1st, 2009. He had a long and productive career first at National Geographic Maps starting in 1963 and then for 30 years at the newspaper making daily, deadline driven maps for publication in the next day’s newspaper from 1978 to 2008. For many of those years, he was the newspaper’s Chief Cartographer and influenced a generation of cartographers. He was a victim of a changing media landscape and dreary economic times.

Richard has been a great mentor to me, encouraging me in my map making, strengthening my graphic design and visual story telling, and given me the courage to take up software programming. His love of maps brought out the best in those he worked with and has driven us to want to excel. He was the last (map) projectionist at National Geographic Maps and his insights about that science are one of a kind.

We are officially honoring Richard this week in the NewsArt department. The image above is a “roast” page that is a typical gift for departing colleagues with jokes and jabs mixed in with general vignettes (the page should be taken with a grain of salt). View larger. Download PDF.

 

Recommendation by Michael Keegan
Former AME (Associate Managing Editor)
NewsArt Department
The Washington Post

Dick Furno by any other name would be… what? Map Man? Longitude Dude? The Prime Meridian? When you think of Dick Furno, you think maps. He is the man — the Map Man.

We all have someone we instinctively go to for answers about a particular subject. When it is a question of mapping or geography, I go to Dick Furno. No one else. Dick is my Map Man. Over the years I have know him, Dick has patiently explained to me many particulars of making and reading maps — about the best way of creating them and why one map projection may be better than another. But I think the most important lesson that he has taught me is the appreciation of maps themselves, and for the power and importance they hold.

This was especially true at The Washington Post were we worked together for nearly 24 years. The significance of maps to the Post’s reporting cannot be overemphasized. They located murder scenes and closed roads, school openings, fires and protest marches in the streets. They recorded armies moving across boarders, ships sinking, and political victories as well as the best locations for ice cream in the heat of summer.

Washington Post maps were rich with information and they packed that information in a small amount of space. Maps clarified stories, they made precise reference to location when the copy could not. And in the end, maps simply helped educate readers about the physical world they lived in, and that, in itself, was a noble cause.

Dick was cartography’s best evangelist at the newspaper. He set high standards and continuously raised those standards. He taught several generations of editors that their stories were so much more clear and authoritative with a map. And by the time of his recent retirement, Dick had build a team of excellent cartographers to carry on what he started at the newspaper — Map Man’s legacy.

 

Richard Furno the Map Maker

While he was at National Geographic, Richard worked on The Moon Map and I’ve posted an extensive photo essay on that project here. That is just one of the many fabulous projects he’s worked on. Here’s a small image gallery of a few others (click on thumbnails to see larger view):

  

 

Richard Furno the Programmer

Before there was ArcMap or ArcView there was Azimuth, a CAD based mapping solution that we still use to this day at The Washington Post. It had geodatabases before that phrase was coined. It combines both thematic classes and layers into a single document where they can be freely mixed and matched, with multiple sets of database attributes, and Adobe Illustrator export. But more importantly, it also is the best tool out there for choosing an optimal map projection for the geography at hand and then quickly projecting raw data into a size appropriate for publication.

Richard saw the need for such a tool back in the 1980s when personal computers were just becoming available and taught himself how to program and steadily built in more functionality through the years.

I’ve noted significant milestones in Azimuth’s development below.

 

History of Azimuth

0.1 in 1982. IBM pc program command line, with menus. BASIC and then compiled. Could digitize with a 30  x 30 inch tablet output to pen plotter. All maps from 1980s mid in pen and paper. This is world loRes circa 1983, digitized world hiRes circa 1985.

1.0 in 1988. First Macintosh version via GraphSoft. From BASIC to Pascal. Only output perspectives… and could zoom in… Choose file and it would plot it (with a settings file) and output plot file.

2.0 in 1990 or 91. Now visible data layers.

2.5 in 1992. Mostly bug fixes, and new features.  Countries around 1992 or 3 which are all CIA country maps which became the basis for all the hires continentals (because they were from CIA).

3 skipped.

4.0 in 2001. Plugin to VectorWorks (known as MiniCad). Pascal to C++ in CodeWarrior.

4.5 in 2003. Raster image projection added. CodeWarrior.

5.0 in 2007. Modernizing code for new VectorWorks on Intel Macs.

5.5 in 2009. Adds new projections, datum support, bug fixes. From C++ to Cocoa / Carbon. X-Code.

KML to Shapefile File Conversion (Zonum)

Friday, December 12th, 2008

[Editor's note: Useful free tool for converting KML files to Shapefile for use in the GIS. Thanks Mary Kate!]

Republished from Zonum Solutions. Kml2shp file conversion

Need of transferring Google Earth Data to a GIS? Kml2shp transforms KML files into ESRI Shapefiles.

Download. Windows program. No Mac version.

The KML file could contain Points, Paths and Polygons. When creating SHP files the information is separated into thematic layers.

For each shapefile (shp), an attributes table (dbf) and index file (shx) are created.

The kml to shp conversion consists of three steps:

1) Open KML file
2) Choose Shape Type
3) Select output Shapefile name

Optionally, you can change from WGS84 to a local datum and from Lat/Lon to UTM.

Also, Kml2shp can export to AutoCAD (DXF) and GPS (GPX)

kml2Shp is a beta freeware tool. This program doesn’t need to be
installed, just unzip it and run it.

kml2shp.zip contains the executable file (kml2shp.exe) and some bpl files. If you receive a message error about missing bpl files, come back here and get them.

DOWNLOAD

MAPublisher 8.0 Adds Automatic Flash Map Creation (MacNN)

Monday, December 8th, 2008

[Editor's note: New version 8 of Avenza's MAPublisher brings CS4 compatability and new feature to export interactive Flash SWF versions of your map with viewable data attributes, layer, and pan/zoom controls. Thanks Curt!]

Republished from MacNN and Avenza.

Avenza Systems has released MAPublisher 8.0, the latest version of its cartographic plug-in for Adobe Illustrator. The update includes a new tool for automatic creation of interactive Flash maps. A MAP Vector Crop tool and dockable toolbar have also been added, along with support for Illustrator CS4. The company has improved the MAP views editor, MAP attributes interface, and the line simplification function. The import time is claimed to have been reduced by up to 80 percent.

The tool can be used to create maps based on Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data, for high-resolution printing or electronic distribution. Many GIS data formats are supported, including ESRI, MapInfo, MicroStation, AutoCAD, Google, US Government, GML and S-57.

MAPublisher requires Illustrator CS2, CS3 or CS4, and can be purchased for $1250. Registered users of previous versions can upgrade for $550.

From the Avenza website:
More on the new MAP Web Author Tool for automatic creation of interactive Flash maps:
MAPublisher 8 introduces the MAP Web Author tool that exports Adobe Illustrator documents with GIS data to interactive Flash maps, fully completed with callout bubbles, rollovers, layer control, pan and zoom controls, and with all the underlying GIS attributes intact.
As with the other MAPublisher functions, MAP Web Author is a completely built-in to Adobe Illustrator. Therefore, users are not required to have Adobe Flash installed to benefit from this tool.

What is looks like at default. View larger

Several Customization Options. View larger.

MAP Web Author Panel. View larger.

Web Tag Template (HTML formatting of GIS attribute data for that object). View larger.


Web Tag Dialog. View larger.

Export to Web. View larger.

Open Source GIS Stack (Mikel Maron)

Sunday, November 16th, 2008

[Editor's note: If you want to stay away from Google, Microsoft, and ESRI to get your interactive, online map on, here's how. Also check out this interesting PDF article on GeoDjango.]

Republished from Brainoff.com on Oct. 31st, 2008.

There’s a need for a good, high level description of the alternatives within in the “gently settling” stack of open source geoweb application development.

The OpenGeo Stack is the epitome of clarity, breaking down their tool set in a nice executive summary. But the OpenGeo stack only covers their tools, not all the available options. So I’m going to make a quick first pass of a high level overview. It’s useful for me, maybe for others. If you think I’ve done a poor job, help improve it in the comments, or on some wiki somewhere.

OpenGeo breaks things down into FrontEnd, Tiling, ApplicationFramework, Database. I’ll add Rendering, since in other tool sets this is split into different packages.

FrontEnd
the slippy map

* OpenLayers the Ajax gold standard
* ModestMaps for mind blowing Flash, ala Stamen
* Mapstraction don’t want to tax your mind? it looks just like the Google/Yahoo/Microsoft API

Tiling
be nice to your database or WMS and cache map images into tiles, just like Google and friends

* TileCache simple bit of python
* GeoWebCache same thing in Java
* mod_tile it’s kinda OpenStreetMap specific, but an apache module is a good idea too

Rendering
make pretty maps

* Mapnik looks beautiful. getting somewhat less painful to install.
* Mapserver does it all. also a pain to configure. looking better.
* GeoServer

ApplicationFramework
where the the main logic of the app goes. MVC. CRUD. etc.

* GeoDjango making great progress on a complete package.
* GeoRails more a bunch of plugins than a package, but definitely useable
* GeoServer the standard for open geo standards. Java.

Database

* Postgres + PostGIS
* MySQL sure, it has spatial extensions too. just not as fast or fully implemented as PostGIS

Random notes, other good sources

Architect your interfaces on Geo RESTful services. Andrew breaks down the formats and approaches for Neogeography and the GeoWeb in this presentation and book. For Ajax smooveness, use jQuery or prototype. Paul Ramsey has a good deep overview of open source GIS. Mecklenburg County GIS is a nice example of an instance of the stack.

There really is a need for a new book on this stuff, the O’Reilly trio of paper geo titles are great but out of date, and the landscape of osgeowebappdev is stabilising. Of course, no one wants to write it.

Our city in 3D (Google Lat-Long Blog)

Friday, July 18th, 2008

 [Editor's note: Local interest to DC but promising in sharing of public GIS data.]

Reprinted from the Google Lat-Long Blog. Published: July 16, 2008

The District of Columbia government has submitted more than 84,000 3D models to Google Earth via the Cities in 3D program. But why would a city, let alone one that is known as a horizontal city because of a strictly enforced height limit, be so eager to participate? Here’s a glimpse into our thinking in the District’s GIS department.

1. It is the right thing to do. Fundamentally, the District Government believes that data created with public funds should be available to the public. Making this data now available via Google Earth is an important step in making our data truly accessible to the public at large.

2. Because every neighborhood can benefit from 3D. Instead of modeling just a select few landmarks in exquisite detail, we wanted to model every building in every neighborhood. Economic development was a primary driver behind development of the dataset. The buildings provide the context in which to plan and debate proposed new developments. Despite our aforementioned reputation as a horizontal city, we are also a city of spires, penthouses and domes, as you can now see. As public sector mappers, we put the entire city on Google Earth, not just downtown, because every neighborhood needs planning and development. We hope that the private sector will follow suit and create rich 3D models of proposed developments as KML downloads in the future.

3. We get better 3D performance from the cloud and we don’t pay for it. Some GIS users in the DC government, have made excellent use of the data, but with the city’s current technology, the 3D data had to be used locally on high-end desktops. Frankly, the District did not have the technical capabilities for distributing nearly 100,000 3D building across the enterprise. With the data now hosted on Google Earth 4.3, we expect DC Government users to turn to Google Earth just like the public. And using the same tools as our citizens is another powerful way to connect with them and ensure the quality of their experience.

4. We want to communicate with our residents. It is important to us that citizens, particularly DC taxpayers, understand what we do. We posted the “coolest” data set DC GIS has, because now that we have your attention we want to show you all of the other stuff we do. As part of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s drive for transparency, the DC government now makes more than 200 geospatial data sets publically available. So admire the thousands of 3D buildings, but also extend your virtual tour. You can add these datasets as layers on Google Earth, and view things like wards, trails, parks, museums, building permits, fire hydrants, zoning and even things the city isn’t proud of, like calls for rodent abatement.

GISLook & GISMeta – Preview GIS Data Before Opening It

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

 gis quick look plugin bernie

Using Quick Look in Mac OS X 10.5, you can view the contents of a file without even opening it.

I am proud to announce today that Mr. Genius Bernhard Jenny of the Swiss Institute of Cartography at ETH Zurich has created Quick Look and Spotlight plugins for GIS data for Leopard. Download here.

Use GISLook to browse and preview GIS data in Finder window thumbnails, including Cover Flow and Quick Look windows. Use GISMeta to view the size of GIS raster grid files.

If you haven’t upgraded to 10.5 yet, this is good reason. If you don’t own a Mac, get one and run ArcMap  via Parallels Desktop.

This software is donationware. You can freely use them at no charge. If you use them regularly, it is suggested that you pay a donation of €5 or a more suitable amount.

Supported file types include: 

Vector data

  • ESRI Shape (.shp)
  • E00 ArcInfo Interchange (.e00)
  • ArcInfo Coverage (.adf)

Raster grids, such as digital elevation models or land cover data with a single band

  • BIL (.bil), BIP (.bip) and BSQ (.bsq) with .hdr file
  • ESRI ASCII Grid (.asc)
  • ESRI Binary Grid (.flt with .hdr file)
  • PGM (.pgm)
  • SRTM (.hgt and .dem)
  • Surfer Grid (.grd)
  • USGS DEM (.dem)

Newsflash! ESRI to best Google Maps with Mashup Capability

Monday, May 12th, 2008

(Reprinted from flex888.com. View original post.)

Finally, GeoWeb is Complete and Born

Posted by Moxie | March 19, 2008 .

What’s is the best RIA application ever created? If your answer is something aroundFlex or Flash, then it’ll be wrong answer. The right answer is Google Map. It’s Google Map makes AJAX known and RIA a reality. Google even goes above and beyond claimed the term “GeoWeb“. However, up till now, Google Map is still just the best client, the visualization end, of GeoWeb. The “Geo” part of GeoWeb was missing.

Yesterday, ESRI, the shy, but true and real “Geo” dude behind all, I mean ALL, the web map buzz and technologies, released its very own JavaScript API and REST based Geo Process services to the world. The GeoWeb is finally complete and born.

The JavaScript API has three parts, the ESRI JavaScript API, the Google Map extension, the Virtual Earth extension. That means you can use the top three GeoWeb clients with this simple API to do the real “Geo” things.

What is the “Geo” things and why it’s a big deal to GeoWeb?

Well, everyone and his/her grandma knows what Google Map does, plans the trip and shows locations. What’s the most mashed up platform? Google Map. What 99% Google Map mashup applications do? Put pins (markers) on the map? But what if we want to ask some questions beyond the pushpins:

  • Within 5 minutes driving time, show me the areas that I can reach. Don’t fool me with a circle. That is cheating. Because there might be highway, service street, or river among the 5 minutes driving range. The area you can cover by driving is a irregular polygon. But how do you get that polygon drawn on the map to show the 5 minute driving range?
  • Three of my friends want to meet for lunch. We want to meet at a Starbucks where everybody has the least driving time to get there. Fair enough? But how do you quickly give me that Starbucks location and provide driving direction for each of us.

The questions can go on and on. How these questions are answered? Through a thing called Geoprocessing, which is provided by the technology called GIS (geographic information system). But why you’ve never heard of it and it’s not well known in the Web 2.0 space? That’s because it’s a very hard nut to crack and only a few dudes know how to do it inside out. ESRI is the one does it the best, and now, it gets everything figured it out. The whole web can have it.

If I tell you, with three lines of JavaScript codes, plus some regular JavaScript programming you can easily answer the above question visually on either ESRI map, Google Map or Earth Map. Do you believe me?

You don’t have to because I’ll show you how.

First Line:

    var map = new esri.Map(“mapDiv”, { extent: startExtent });

Looks familiar, isn’t it. Indeed, it’s just like Google Map or Virtual Earth API.

Second Line:

    var streetMap = new esri.layers.ArcGISTiledMapServiceLayer
(“http://server.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/
ESRI_StreetMap_World_2D/MapServer”);

Something new here. Well, if you head to ArcGIS Online, a free gwoweb resource from ESRI, you would find out there are lots of good free base maps you can choose. Or, you can use any map published to a ArcGIS Server. It’s long story here for those map publishing goodies, I’ll tell you later, piece by piece. But just you know this line of code gives you a whole big world of maps to works with. Just remembering that is enough for now.

Third Line:

var gp = new esri.tasks.Geoprocessor
(“http://sampleserver1.arcgisonline.com/ArcGIS/rest/services/
Network/ESRI_DriveTime_US/ GPServer/CreateDriveTimePolygons”);

This is “Geo” part of the GeoWeb. One line, it consumes a geoprocess, in this case, a services called CreateDriveTimePolygons. This geoprocess called is actually via REST API (as the URL reveals) . The returned result can be in JSON, KML or XML. That means you really don’t have to use this JavaScript API. As matter of fact, I do have Perl or PHPexamples consume the very same gepprocess, but that’ll be another post.

The rest code is really just parse the result and draw the polygon on the map. If you know Google Map API, there are no surprises there.

The following is the true GeoWeb application I’ve introduced to you. You can zoom in to any city just like you would do with gmap (scrolling mouse, drag the map, etc.). Then click the map. The 1, 3 and 5 minutes driving time polygon will be shown.

Click Here to Run the Application (view source for detail code).

I will post another example to solve that other problem using Flex. Stay tuned.