Day 1: Sunday June 17, 2001
Intergraph is holding its GIS flavored conference, one of several
industry-specific ones slated for this year, this week in Atlanta. I was invited as a member of
the press and hope to report back what I see and hear.
Tonight was the opening reception: good food, drink, and people
greeting colleagues they'd not seen for some time. As I mingled through
the attendees and reviewed the sessions, two things struck me. First, the
number of international attendees seems very high. I am hopeful this means
there will be a flow of information both outward from the US, as well as
inward. Second, one term I heard a lot as attendees chatted was "ESRI."
What does it say about a company if its users, at its event, have the
competition's name on their lips? In this case, I think it has more to do
with the nature of how users are taking advantage of GeoMedia's ability to
directly read ESRI data. Intergraph users, like ESRI users, are very
loyal. I think the ability to reach out to ESRI data has given GeoMedia
users a renewed status in the GIS community.
I walked the rather small "show floor" hosting 31 exhibitors
including several Intergraph divisions, including IntelliWhere, Z/I
Imaging and Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions. I was also pleased to
see Bentley here. I stopped by a few booths to chat.
I visited with MRF Geosystems, a Canadian company known for its cleanup
tools for Autodesk, Bentley, and ESRI products. Recently, they've moved
into the Web mapping arena. Citing limitations in speed and reliability
with existing solutions, the company built its own map server that uses
SVG (scalable vector graphics) to move vector GIS data to a browser. SVG
is considered an emerging standard by the W3C Consortium, the folks who
brought us HMTL and XML. Intergraph's GeoMedia Web Map uses CGM format in
a similar way.
For now, a browser plug-in from Adobe is needed, but new versions of
browsers are expected to support SVG natively, so no plug-in will be
needed in the near future. The application was fast, but like other vector
solutions, needed to periodically go back to the server when new data was
needed. For now, the solution is offered as a services option (no
off-the-shelf product), but MRF hopes to package the SVG Map Server so
that others may resell it as part of their service offerings.
A new company to me, SpatiaX integrates document management with GIS or
CAD or�whatever! Not having much experience with document management, it
took me a while to understand the problem to be solved. The challenge is
to take say a permitting application, a GIS, and a document management
system and make them work together. Certainly it can be done with custom
code, but SpatiaX makes it simple enough for someone who is comfortable
with Access to define relationships between the fields in the various
applications. With these relationships establish an "end user"
can easily click on a parcel in GeoMedia and bring up related permits and
drawings. Or, alternatively, navigate to a drawing file and find the
parcel to which it's related. Licensing is based on a server license, then
a per-seat thick client and thin client charge.
I was pleased to speak with the Trimble reps so I could ask about a
curious press release from last week that said: "Trimble's GPS
Pathfinder Office software version 2.80 allows users to integrate local
data sources, including GIS and field data, with Internet map data for
display, query and analysis. This is made possible using ESRI's ArcIMS and
the Open GIS protocol." A quick demo on an Ipaq with a wireless Web
connection cleared things up. Basically, if you are out in the field and
know what data you'd like, that happens to be accessible from an ArcIMS or
Open GIS Web Map Server conformant server, you can pull the data down into
Trimble's Pathfinder as background data. Very cool. Intergraph, by the
way, has implemented the OGC spec in GeoMedia Web Map, so data from its
servers should be fair game.