GIS Monitor Jan 18, 2001
- GIS Industry Loses Scott Elliott
- Autodesk Unveils New Map and Design Server
- Intergraph Announces Support for New OGC Interfaces
- Points of Interest
- Back Issues
This issue sponsored by:
INDUSTRY LOSES SCOTT ELLIOTT
Scott Elliott died January 10, 2001, losing a long battle with lung cancer.
Scott’s involvement in GIS had a profound impact on the current state of
the industry. His data company, Wessex, revolutionized GIS delivery in
1992 when it offered nationwide coverage for about $1,000 – a tiny
fraction of what other vendors were charging at the time. The so-called
“Wessex effect” not only inspired several other companies to follow suit
but more importantly, it allowed the adoption of desktop GIS by many
organizations that would otherwise have been shut out of the market.
John Haynes, of Geodata Consultants, recalls the rollout of Wessex data
(from a post to MapInfo-L): “I was in Troy in 1992 when Scott unveiled his
$995 Wessex product that was every bit as good as the $100,000 U.S.
Streets being sold by MapInfo. Because he happened to do it at the MapInfo
Reseller conference, his ejection from the group was as dramatic as the
boys from Troy could make it. Kind of like those old Western movies where
the offending officer was stripped of his buttons with a sword and marched
out the gate of the fort to Indian territory.”
After Wessex was purchased (first by BLR, then by GDT) Scott moved into
publishing. He founded Directions Magazine in 1998, the first online GIS
publication of any size. Articles by experts and quick access to breaking
news established the site as a required daily stop for the geospatial
I first met Scott when I worked at ESRI. We knew him as the “Wessex guy.”
I’m not sure I realized the impact of his data on desktop GIS in the early
1990s. Scott himself recalled his first MapInfo (DOS) demo in 1989: “I've
been enthralled ever since.” Desktop GIS was just coming of age in the
early 1990s – ArcView and MapInfo were stabilizing and users were
realizing its possibilities. Without data, of course, GIS is nothing. And,
until Wessex, data – any data – was thousands of dollars. Because Wessex
was an ESRI partner, all of the US offices, including mine in Boston, used
the data extensively for demonstrations.
The real contribution of Scott and Wessex, however, was awareness. The
introduction of low priced data invited users, for the first time, to
evaluate their data needs. How much data did they need? How much detail
was required? More and more questions about accuracy and availability came
to light and made better data consumers of us all. Specialized data
providers began to distinguish themselves and find niche markets to call
their own. That process continues today.
I was intrigued when Directions Magazine came online. I liked the idea
that a GIS insider was writing and serving GIS information. Scott’s first
breaking story – the announcement of Microsoft’s mapping/GIS product
MapPoint – brought much of the GIS community to his site. Scott even
started a companion publication to cover MapPoint, MP2K.
Bill Davenhall, of ESRI, one of Scott’s first customers and longtime
friend, puts it this way: “It’s difficult for me to think about a world
without the penetrating ideas of Scott. He seemed to have a never-ending
supply of ideas that challenged every part of the business geographics
community. I am quite sure that I will never forget the day he introduced
the world to his Wessex street files. Back then I called his move “like
dropping a depth charge into snake infested waters.” Now -- almost eight
years later -- I realize that Scott launched a whole new generation of GIS
practitioners, and frankly, that was what Scott was about: breaking down
barriers that kept the masses out. I will certainly miss Scott and his
unquenchable enthusiasm for challenging the status quo of our industry and
always pushing the envelope of where this exciting technology could lead”.
I was a daily visitor to Directions during my tenure at ESRI. Today a
great many links at TenLinks are to articles at Directions. The future
will reveal the full extent of Scott Elliott’s impact on our industry.
Funeral services were held January 13, 2001, in Winnetka, IL. Scott was 52
years old. He is survived by his wife, Jane, and his stepson, Johnny.
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AUTODESK UNVEILS NEW MAP AND DESIGN SERVER
Autodesk’s GIS Design Server is a back end solution to store and manage GIS
data. The front ends are Autodesk GIS products. Not surprisingly, this
product is built on VISION, part of technology Autodesk purchased from SHL
Systemhouse in 1999. That legacy means that the server is first available
on UNIX, (a platform Autodesk dropped several years ago) Vision’s native
platform. A Windows version is expected later this year. Clients including
AutoCAD Map, OnSite, and MapGuide support a variety of platforms
(browsers, Java and Windows).
The server sits on Oracle 8.1.6 running on Solaris 2.7 or AIX 4.3.3.
Autodesk touts using “standards” and “standard languages” but points only
to Rational Rose as a modeling tool.
Autodesk illustrates the application of the Server to government,
utilities and telecommunications via existing Vision clients. Features
include a central geospatial repository, Oracle base, business process
modeling, scalability, long transactions, routing cartridge, out of the
box clients, an open API (ActiveX and ObjectARX for Map), single storage
for both spatial and tabular data in the Oracle database. (This may be new
for some Autodesk users, but these features have been available for some
time in Oracle, ESRI and other products.)
Perhaps having “Design” as part of its name may someday allow it to hold
data other than GIS – maybe similar to ProjectBank from Bentley.
How do you get your hands on this product? Don’t rush out to your reseller
as they don’t seem to be involved. The email set up to handle questions,
gisdesignserv[email protected], was not in service at the time of this
INTERGRAPH ANNOUNCES SUPPORT FOR NEW OGC INTERFACES
Intergraph, who regularly touts its membership in the Open GIS Consortium,
announced its first implementations of OGC specifications in the GeoMedia
product line: Web Map Server 1.0 (WMS), Web Feature Server and Filter
0.0.11 (WFS), and Geography Markup Language (GML) 2.0. In reality, only
WMS is a completed spec; WFS and GML are in draft/recommendation form. A
total of seven specifications, each covering a different aspect of
interoperability are currently released.
In practice, Intergraph’s real achievement has been in making their
desktop products, GeoMedia and GeoMedia Pro understand GML. GeoMedia Web
Map and Web Map Enterprise can both “publish” GML. In addition, the
servers can participate with other Web Map Server enabled sites to make
integrated data available to Web clients. Technology-wise, Intergraph
simply built new GDO data servers (such as those they already provide for
various data formats) for the new GML format.
Intergraph points out on their OGC page that “with the incorporation of
the latest OGC interfaces into the GeoMedia data server architecture, an
industry solution achieves the goal of the OGC vision. No other GIS or
mapping vendor has yet achieved this goal.” Perhaps not, but according to
the OGC web page, four vendors (not including Intergraph) have implemented
and passed conformance testing for the Simple Feature Specification, and
six others (in addition to Intergraph) have implemented the Web Map Server
Intergraph’s timing is right. OGC conformance is becoming a criterion for
purchase, especially in the US federal government and agencies, some of
OGC’s biggest proponents.
Points of Interest
-Lazy Boy and WebTV have introduced the "Explorer" e-cliner! a comfy chair
rigged to power up and connect your laptop or ease you into the included 2
free months of Web TV. It has a wireless keyboard, a fold out table for a
laptop. Listed at over $1,000 it comes in fabric and leather.
-Yahoo started a new site for IT, Yahoo's! Industry Marketplaces. The site
is broken down into three categories: IT Software Marketplace, IT Hardware
Marketplace, and Electronics Marketplace. The site is built in conjunction
with KnowledgeStorm. You have to register and, there is room for
improvement: ESRI’s ArcCogo is priced at $1 to $25,000.
-Vert, the company that uses GPS-enabled technology to publish different
cabtop ads as the vehicles passed through different neighborhoods, is on a
roll. Their first customer is Lycos. The company is hitting hometown of
Boston first, followed by New York, then on to London and Singapore in
-The Open GIS Consortium is starting its own newsletter to keep members
and interested parties up to date. The editor of this newsletter: yours
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