GIS MONITOR, March 7, 2002


- Autodesk Investor Day 2002 

- MapInfo Professional 7.0 in Beta Testing

- Keeping an Eye on Leica Geosystems

Departments: Points of Interest, Business Notes, Week in Review, Back Issues, Advertise, Contact, Subscribe/Unsubscribe

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This issue sponsored by:

Leica Geosystems 



Autodesk held its Investor Day on Tuesday. The four-hour program was held in San Francisco and webcast live worldwide. I checked out parts of it via the webcast. You can catch the replay at the Autodesk site. This program was aimed at investors, so it’s not surprising that the presentations were conceptual and geared toward those who may not be familiar with the technology. Each of the major divisions addressed its market segment – platform, building, manufacturing, GIS and Discreet. Location Services EVP Joe Astroth was at the gathering, but did not speak. Along with comments from the divisions, and others, Carl Bass Executive Vice President, Design Solutions Division, spoke about collaboration.

Larry Diamond, VP of GIS, reviewed the focus of the GIS division. The market has three facets: mapping (land use planning, base mapping), civil design (engineers who design things), and infrastructure management (for organization and maintenance throughout the life cycle). Diamond argued all facets are part of a continuum and each builds on the previous one.

He outlined four market trends: 1)repurposing of data – reusing data along the continuum, 2)cost reduction – getting more from less, 3)infrastructure investment and reinvestment – planning for the long haul, and 4)emergency response planning – a new focus where infrastructure is, based on the events of 9/11. Customers, Diamond reported, need data access, data collaboration and mobile access. He used “open” but did not define it.

Autodesk is in the middle of recasting the GIS products to be customer focused, meaning that they need to address specific customer problems. The Civil Series was the first such product. Diamond was clearly pleased at the results: Raster Design, part of that package, which was reworked to address the needs of civil users, sold $1 million in its first month. The current Civil Series road show is selling out.

The Map Series will be released in Q2. It will expand current offerings with “significant new functionality.” The “Mobility Suite” will be based around MapGuide. Though much is still under wraps, he did reveal that there will be a new data aggregation/analysis technology. A prototype was shown as part of Microsoft’s Visual Studio (VS) .NET launch. Diamond noted that it was the only live technology shown at the launch. “Microsoft was fairly impressed with it,” he said.

I took a look at the Microsoft site to see what else I could learn about VS .NET and the new Autodesk application. First, VS .NET is a development environment built to support XML (extensible markup language) Web services. Applications can share data over the Internet using XML Web services and developers can create applications from new and existing code, on any platform, programming language, or object model. Autodesk’s contribution is a visualization toolkit for all of Autodesk’s file formats, so this solution looks like it’s not exclusively for GIS, although the GIS group took the lead in the demo. The solution can run locally or via client server. And, as I understand it, it can run on a client even if the client is disconnected using something called “remoting.”

Autodesk’s demo was essentially a viewer application. Basically, it looked like your favorite free viewer: you can zoom in, out, look at a number of different data formats, spin the view to get a 3D look, etc. The data, according to the demo, is all XML. That makes me think that raw DWG, DXF, DEMs, etc. are, on the fly, being transformed into XML. The XML, in turn, is being visualized on the client.

After the demo, the host used VS .NET with Autodesk’s GIS ToolKit for .NET, to build a simple app. It looked quite a bit like building an app with MapObjects in Visual Basic. The developer uses drag and drop to include tools, and many simple functions (pan, zoom, etc) are built in by default. This toolkit is aimed at Autodesk’s own staff and Autodesk’s 3rd party developers, a group that from my perspective has gotten short shrift in recent years.

So, what does this toolkit mean within the GIS marketplace? For the first time Autodesk is offering true COMPONENTS for developers. Autodesk waited for .NET to go up against ESRI, MapInfo, Blue Marble and others who’ve been in the component market (sans .NET) for several years with MapObjects, MapX and GeoObjects respectively.

Granted Autodesk’s solution is tied to .NET, but Autodesk has made both collaboration and the Internet top priorities. Autodesk’s focus on these topics, perhaps more intense than other companies’, makes this offering appear as a long-planned decision. Will ESRI, MapInfo and others follow suit? Certainly. But ESRI by tradition and MapInfo due to economic challenges, will wait a bit longer to launch .NET toolkits and applications.

Coming back to the Autodesk webcast, Diamond closed by stating that GIS revenues are headed upward due to the new customer focus.

Carl Bass argued that all of the work of Autodesk users is collaborative. Initially, Autodesk automated design. Now, Autodesk will help automate the collaborative process. He distinguished between design collaboration (with a small known team) and product/project collaboration (with outside players, who are likely not designers themselves and hence won’t have design tools) then commented that collaboration tools will be built into all of the company’s products. There was no discussion about sharing the data with other products outside the Autodesk arena, which is a real challenge we face in GIS.

Webcast  =ADSK&script=2400&item_id=602331


Autodesk Case Study: Visual Studio .NET (Autodesk’s demo is at 52 minutes into the hour and a half long keynote by Bill Gates)  casestudies/autodesk/default.asp


Autodesk Presents Strategy  Jay Vleeschhouwer, Merrill Lynch,, March 6, 2002 Note: This fellow is from Merrill Lynch, who also demoed on stage with Microsoft.

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

Leica Geosystems provides total, end-to-end solutions for the GIS and Mapping industries. Its GIS & Mapping Division offers quality airborne data acquisition, geographic imaging, GPS/GIS and LIS products and services. 


MapInfo Professional 7.0 in Beta Testing

MapInfo has opened its beta testing program for MapInfo Professional 7.0. In addition to the sneak preview, participants in the program will be entered to win a copy of the final product.

What’s new in V 7.0? Of the rather long list, editing seemed a priority: there will be new tools to split by line/polyline, rotate objects, create Voronoi polygons, and 'nudge' objects. Data access is simplified to a single menu option to open graphics files and remote database. Data reading has improved with direct reading of shape files. If I recall correctly, this is the first direct reading capability for vector data in the product, an important step forward. There is also support for JPEG 2000, DRG, CADRG, CIB, ASRP and NITF.

Not in the beta, but expected in the final release, are GML (Geography Markup Language) 2.0 support, Crystal Reports 8.5 and “smart update” to automatically find and install software updates.

Beta Program Info 




From the number of press releases from various parts of Leica Geosystems GIS & Mapping Division, it can be challenging to determine what is “new” and what is the “day to day” operations of the recently purchased companies. This week however, there was significant corporate news. The division is partnering with Canadian NovAtel to jump on the high-accuracy GPS segment in connection with the new upcoming Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS).

Leica Geosystems also entered an agreement with PASCO, the leading GIS vendor in Japan. The press release suggested that PASCO will handle Leica products and also work on “development of completely new solutions together with Leica and ESRI.”

Mar 05 - Leica Geosystems Partners with Japan’s PASCO 

Mar 01 - Leica Geosystems to Develop GPS with NovAtel Inc. 



- According to a post on USENET, the Ordnance Survey (OS) will soon discontinue the 1:50,000 scale (1 point per 50 meter) Landscape PANORAMA product. This UK version of DEM data is widely used for visualization. OS will replace the product with a 1:10,000 scale height product Land-Form PROFILE and plans a height theme within OS MasterMap. There are concerns that these more detailed, more expensive datasets do not fairly replace PANORAMA. There was no mention of the change on the OS website 

- The trouble, many argue, with tiny PDAs and phones, is the challenge of actually getting to the website of interest. According to one count, it took 32 clicks to get to the Amazon website. Enter CodePoint from Mitigo. The company offers technology, based on digital camera technology, that lets devices read URLs from say, concert posters. Data about the artist, date and venue are already “filled” in so the purchase can speed through. This would be a boon for the impulse buy, says Mitigo.

Sticking point? The device must have digital camera technology onboard. Since that is far more common in Japan, the company expects that market to heat up first. This technology reminds me of the CueCat debacle. Remember the mouse-like device you were to run over barcodes in magazines to get further information on a website? No? The CueCat died a quick death. 

- Advice for yours truly: Be careful what you say online – you may be sued. Wearable computer maker Xybernaut, who has turned up at many a GIS show, filed suit and won a claim against an online poster who penned negative comments about the company. "Typically, it's thin-skinned corporate executives whose companies aren't doing well" who go after posters, said Mark Goldowitz, who heads a group opposing this sort of frivolous libel lawsuits. Xybernaut has yet to make a profit.,1367,50548-1,00.html 

- In reviewing the Consumer Electronics Show a few months ago I mentioned the new Garmin FRS (Family Radio Service) radios with embedded GPS. The “whiz bang” technology was the ability to “beam” one’s location coordinates to a similar unit within range. The Northern California GMRS (General Mobile Radio Service)User Group along with Popular Wireless Magazine filed comments this week with the FCC expressing concern about interference when GPS data is sent. Apparently, the FCC has not yet acted to let Garmin sell its radios and this set of comments may slow the decision further. 

- One of the major GIS/remote sensing/imaging or related software technology companies has licensed IDELIX’s Pliable GIS. Which one? IDELIX, after a contest will reveal the answer next Monday, March 11. Interesting marketing tactic. 

- This new GPS game crossed my radar from Caitlin Dempsey’s GIS Lounge newsletter: GeoDashing. I expected to find GPS based orienteering, or something like it. Not even close! In GeoDashing individuals or teams are challenged to reach as many of the randomly generated coordinate locations within an agreed timeframe (typically a month). The locations are worldwide, so team members in other countries are helpful. Points are awarded based on who gets there and reports back first. In the end, the individual/team with the most points wins. The motto of the game: getting there is ALL the fun! 

- The GIS 2002 event, held annually in the UK in association with the AGI Conference, has been renamed GeoSolutions 2002. The goal is to broaden the show’s focus. Ok, so we have GeoSpatial Solutions, GeoWorld, GeoSolutions 2002… Is GIS Monitor the last in a series of publications and events with GIS in the title? No, there is GeoTec’s Toronto-based GIS 2002 coming up in April and online and print publication, GISDevelopment in Asia. Whew! 

- I agree with Brian McDonough, writing for, that one of the stranger uses of location technology will be the ability to “hang” electronic messages in specific locations. The posts are invisible, until someone with the right electronics comes by to read them. Though he points out some useful applications (I’ll suggest having the electric schematics for a building hovering around the building) mostly he expects to see electronic graffiti. I for one expect lots of location-based spam.  =/nf/20020304/tc_nf/16591



- Announcements

LAND INFO now offers geospatial data planning, customized production, and full integration services.

Earth Resource Mapping announced that Caliper Corporation has implemented ECW native support into Maptitude GIS for Windows Version 4.5, released in January. Earth Resource Mapping and Inpho Technology Oy announced the latest release of OrthoWarp ER, a professional software tool for orthorectification of satellite imagery.

Intermap Technologies is planning to acquire aircraft and radar technology of Aero-Sensing Radarsysteme GmbH, of Germany, for a purchase price of approximately US $2.6 million.

GlobeXplorer announced that Internet users can now order high-quality prints of imagery. Printing is from EZPrints, an online digital photo and image fulfillment company.

Sun has been selected the official hardware provider of ESRI’s Geography Network. I think this is first time in some months I’ve seen a hardware vendor, other than Compaq, or UNISYS tout its goods alongside GIS.

DMTI Spatial announced CanMap Rail V1.0, a comprehensive digital map database of Canada's railroad network, at 1:50,000 scale.

ESRI decided to split responsibilities in Brazil between GEMPI, the existing distributor, and IMAGEM, an established GIS company and business partner of GEMPI.

The new release of R2V from Able Software adds support for conversions between the UTM, latitude/longitude and the State Plane coordinate systems, among other new features.

The GeoInformation Group has restructured licensing of its Cities Revealed data under the CHEST (Combined Higher Education Software Team) program in the UK. The offer allows users a one-off payment with no time restriction on data usage, full technical support and the freedom to acquire datasets that cover user requested areas.

Snowflake Software announced a new release of its free OS MasterMap Viewer is available for download from the company’s web site. A new 'light load' option allows the loading and viewing of increased amounts of OS MasterMap data.

- Contracts

Trimble has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Army to provide grade control and laser leveling systems for heavy construction equipment.

Saar Ferngas AG, one of Germany’s largest gas transportation companies, has selected ArcGIS for its new geographic information system platform. The company is migrating from Sysdeco, a system from Norway. That company, after a merger is now aiming at business geographics and enterprise solutions.

Snohomish County Public Utility District No. 1 in Everett, Washington chose Baymont to migrate the District's existing electrical data to a landbase incorporating new digital orthophotography and new cadastral data.

ESRI announced that PlatiNet Communications in Israel has chosen ArcSDE for spatial data management.

- Hires

Des Lauriers Municipal Solutions hired Mike Doyle, formerly GIS manager for the Town of Wellesley, MA.



Mar 06 - Cities Revealed Launches New Building Database for London 

The new building database offers information on the age and structure of every residential building within the London area.


Mar 06 - Sensoria and Webraska to Offer Wireless Navigation 

Webraska's Internet-based wireless navigation services have been integrated with the Sensoria Telematics Environment, an open platform for telematics.


Mar 05 - Pixxures and GeoTel Announce Strategic Alliance 

The two are building an online repository of telecommunications infrastructure data and map imagery.


Mar 05 - MAPPS Joins Partnership to Improve Security 

MAPPS has joined The Infrastructure Security Partnership (TISP) along with some 40 other organizations.


Mar 05 - GDT-Canada Releases Dynamap Canada CompuStreets 6.0 

Enhancements and additions to Dynamap Canada CompuStreets v. 6.0 bring the database's total coverage to nearly 1 million named road segments with coverage for cities and towns with populations of 1500 and above.


Mar 05 - Golden Releases Surfer 8 with Image Overlay Functionality 

The new version can create fully rendered 3D surfaces and overlay aerial photography, satellite imagery and other bitmaps on these 3D surfaces


Mar 04 - OGCE Partners in European Geographic Information Effort 

Open GIS Consortium (Europe), Limited (OGCE) is now a partner with the European Umbrella Organisation for Geographic Information (EUROGI), the European Commission - Joint Research Centre (JRC), and the University of Sheffield in a far-reaching European geographic information (GI) project entitled Geographic Information Network in Europe (GINIE).


Mar 04 - Space Imaging Signs Spot Asia as a Reseller 

Under the terms of this reseller agreement, Spot Asia will gain access to Space Imaging’s portfolio of digital Earth products and services, including high-resolution IKONOS satellite imagery.


Mar 01 - Autodesk Map 5 Integration with Oracle9i 

The new extension provides a direct link between Autodesk Map 5 software and the spatial technology capabilities available with Oracle9i Database. The extension provides a true Geographical Information Systems (GIS) polygon object, which I suppose until this time Map did not support. The extension is only available through the Autodesk subscription program. Cost: $445 for the subscription per seat, plus an optional online support contract for $385, per seat.


Mar 01 - GPS-Photo Link Updates Features For GIS Professionals 

The software, which attaches GPS information to digital pictures adds datum and grid coordinate support, an ArcView extension for linking to photos, and customizable web pages.


Mar 01 - Intelligent Internet Routing Uses Topology and Geography 

The intelligent routing technology allows instant Internet traffic management decisions to be made for global load balancing or content distribution network applications, based on the analysis of network topology and city-level geographic location.


Mar 01 - Logica Announces Mobile MapWorks Plus  /press_releases.asp?display=detail&id=410 

MapFrame technology underlies the field solution for GIS data.


Mar 01 - Sanborn Chosen for Multi-year NYC Mapping Project 

Sanborn will update existing digital orthophoto imagery and planimetric and topographic data.


Feb 28 - GeoMedia Chosen by City of Winnipeg 

The Planning, Property & Development Department will implement GeoMedia Parcel Manager, GeoMedia Transaction Manager, and GeoMedia WebEnterprise for sharing and integrating geo-referenced municipal services information


Feb 28 - Hitachi Software Receives Award for Any*GIS 

Any*GIS received the award from a committee of six Japanese ministries involved in information technology promotion. The product has not been announced yet in the US; however marketing has begun.


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