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
- Advertise
- Contact
- Subscribe/Unsubscribe
This issue sponsored by:


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 community.

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.

====== a message from our sponsor ===============

ERDAS Has Your Solution

As the world's leading provider of geographic imaging solutions, ERDAS' products are helping organizations like yours visualize, manipulate, analyze, measure, and integrate any type of geographic imagery and geospatial information into 2D and 3D environments.


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, [email protected], was not in service at the time of this writing.


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 Specification.

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 2002.

-The Open GIS Consortium is starting its own newsletter to keep members and interested parties up to date. The editor of this newsletter: yours truly.


You can reach more than 6,000 GIS professionals every issue by sponsoring GIS Monitor. For more information, email

Please send comments and suggestions to:
Adena Schutzberg
GIS Monitor Editor
Ultimate Map/GIS Directory - Your search is over!

If you wish to subscribe, unsubscribe or change your preferences visit our
subscription page.