GIS Monitor June 21, 2001
-Highlights from GeoSpatial World
-On the GeoSpatial World Exhibit Floor
-Business Geographics to Cease Publication
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HIGHLIGHTS FROM GEOSPATIAL WORLD
The following is a report from Intergraph’s GeoSpatial World conference,
which took place in Atlanta, Georgia, June 18-20.
This marks the first year that Intergraph has held industry focused user
meetings. Five hundred or so users attended GeoSpatial World as well as 30
vendors and a good number of Intergraph staff.
I attended the International Intergraph Graphics Users Group (IGUG)
Meeting, the “all Intergraph users” forum some years ago but this show was
a very different experience. The international presence increased and the
focus on GIS made it easier to link up with fellow GIS users. This spurred
more user-to-user interaction. In addition, the lack of the hype made for
a more down-to-earth conference that focused on repositioning Intergraph
and serving the customers.
Jim Taylor, Intergraph’s CEO, has the task of repositioning the company.
He noting in his keynote that this is a new Intergraph, having shed the
hardware business, composed of five discrete divisions, each responsible
for their own profits and losses. Bolstered by a profitable year and a
strong quarter, he exuded confidence. In an interview, he noted that
Intergraph finds itself most successful in specialty high-end markets:
ship building rather than desktop CAD, map production rather than consumer
mapping, and so on. The company hadn’t set out to be this way, he
explained, this is simply where they’d been successful.
The future for the GIS division looks bright with several new products
close to completion. GeoMedia Public Works for water and wastewater is
just over the horizon and will include an advanced data model with some
intelligence. A pipe must connect to a valve, for example. Digital
Cartographic Suite will provide high-end map production tools for GeoMedia
and MGE. GeoMedia Parcel will aim for the cadastral market. The company
bought RTSe’s SMMS, a metadata management tool, another key piece to a
complete GIS solution.
Preetha Pulusani, Executive VP Mapping/GIS Division of Intergraph,
highlighted the division’s commitment to OpenGIS specifications and stated
the intention to support interfaces in both the Web map servers (GeoMedia
Web Map and Web Enterprise) and the desktop products (GeoMedia and
GeoMedia Pro). MGE’s future is being explored in the context of the
changes in MicroStation V8.
Only about a quarter of the audience had looked at GeoMedia 4, released
last year. That release included integrated plotting and support for
Oracle 8. GeoMedia 5 is expected first quarter of 2002 and will include a
whole host of new features including grids and graticule production tools,
support for Oracle 9, writing to DWG format, “pick lists” for building
queries, SmartStore (a caching mechanism to improve performance), enhanced
labeling, user defined line styles (oddly, that got no cheers), image
transparency, ECW support, support for expressions in queries, more
coordinate systems, and more open APIs for developers.
There is also a commitment to look at improving and expanding address
matching to support European formats and external data (currently limited
to GDT data).
GeoMedia Web Map 4, the current version has some new add-ons. One of
particular note was a wizard that takes an existing GeoMedia
“geoworkspace” and moves it into a GeoMedia Web Map application. There is
also a Java client due in September, which precludes the current CGM
plug-in. Dynamic segmentation support will be added this fall.
Full Conference Coverage
An Interview with Preetha Pulusani, Executive VP Mapping/GIS Division,
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ON THE EXHIBIT FLOOR
As I toured the show floor, I saw a few new things worthy of mention.
Safe Software has recently created a Geographic Data Objects, GDO (the
code Intergraph uses to access external formats) that allows GeoMedia to
use data from any Safe supported formats. Let’s be clear how that works:
the data is translated via Safe’s tools then loaded into an Microsoft
Access data warehouse, which GeoMedia can use. So, it’s not live exactly.
The company also offers tools (SpatialDirect) that allow web viewers of
maps to pull the data down in any of their supported formats.
MapText’s new labeling software make you feel that any user need, no
matter how special, can be accommodated. Want your text not along a line,
but perpendicular to it? MapText will do that. The company is entitled to
certain bragging rights: the US Census Bureau used their software for 12
The Bentley folks were showing off their newly acquired Intergraph imaging
and engineering products as well as fielding questions about V8.
The hottest thing on the floor? My pick is Pliable Display Technology from
IDELIX Software Inc. This is not a product, but technology that would find
a good home in a GIS or any other product that uses “zooming and panning.”
IDELIX argues that the current tools for moving around the map, such as
“magnifying glasses” and “overview maps” remove map context by hiding a
large part of the map.
Their viewing lenses retain spatial context by showing detail of the area
in question “connected” to the rest of the image. So, what does that mean?
It’s tough to describe, but I’ll try.
Picture a circle with a thick border. The inside of the circle magnifies
the area of the image it is over, 20 times, for example. The inside edge
is magnified a little less. The middle of the border may be magnified 10
times and at the outside edge of the border, it is close to actual size.
The effect is a strangely warped, but still contextually connected zoom
The technology is embeddable – I saw it working in MapPoint, using its
API. I also saw it in GeoMedia. And, the company is working on an
extension for ArcView. It works equally well in raster or vector data.
Check this one out if you get a chance.
After I spent a little time with the crew from IntelliWhere, I finally
understood what their Genie product does: it turns GeoMedia Web Map, which
is the core of the solution, into an application server. You communicate
with that server using HTML or XML. That’s important because pretty much
every platform (Windows, Linux, UNIX, Mac, Windows CE, etc.) can “speak”
those formats. That, in turn means that Genie can let you provide
GeoMedia-answered questions to any of those platforms and a host of
The key here is “creating” the query and understanding and displaying the
“answer.” The client application in the demo was run on an iPAQ, Compaq’s
hot new handheld. (If you didn’t have one in your booth, you were not in
style at this show!) The application, complete with pretty buttons and
lists, simply captured the nature of the query (Where am I? What am I
looking for? How far away shall I look?), put it in HTML and sent it off
to the server. The server parses the HTML and sends the query to the
proper underlying GeoMedia objects. The answer, returned in HTML, is
rendered on the client.
As my demo person put it, this is a platform for people who know XML and
HTML, not necessarily GIS. This service can be called directly -- as we
did to find the nearest restaurant to the host hotel, or as one of many
services needed to combine together to get an answer. The example provided
was the answer to “how do I renew my driver’s license?” That, he
explained, might go to a Genie server to get the “where is it” and
“directions” part of the answer, while another server provided the hours
the office was open, and a third server might detail what information
should be brought.
IntelliWhere seems not too interested in the “consumer pays a dime for
directions” model. They would rather explore the needs of corporate field
staff or of the enterprise. Here the division expects a better return.
I now understand Genie/GeoMedia Web Map as a simple, easy to use and VERY
BUSINESS GEOGRAPHICS TO CEASE PUBLICATION
Business Geographics, part of Adams Business Media’s suite of GIS
magazines that includes GeoWorld and GeoEurope, will cease publication
with its June issue. Their Mapping Awareness and GIS Asia Pacific titles
have also disappeared in the last few years. The e-mail explaining the
demise cited financial challenges and how business GIS solutions have
merged into IT at one end and have become simple at the other. The
publisher will move Matt Ball, Business Geographics’ editor, to GeoWorld.
GeoWorld will add some content on business. John Hughes, the current
editor of that publication will focus on the GeoPlace website.
I can’t say this comes as any great shock to me. The magazine has been
thin – very thin – for some time. And, as I’ve suggested on occasion,
business geographics just didn’t measure up to expected revenue numbers.
And of course, there is the cost of publishing print media compared to
Adams will hold a business geographics conference as part of its annual
Canadian conference next spring in Toronto.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- If you have your Palm Pilot at San Francisco’s Pacific Bell Park, if you
can now upload stats and scoring sheets from beaming posts. Sponsored by
Palm and the San Francisco Giants, the idea of downloading “location
specific” information is something Palm has envisioned for some time. Now,
I would like to pick up the latest grocery prices when I visit the market,
or roster information when visiting my nephew’s soccer game. But, this is
a good start.
-Autodesk’s Point A (created by Epicentric) received the 2001 RealWare
Awards in the Best B2B E-Business Enterprise Information Portal category,
winning against a field of 50 contenders. Although there is a lot of
information at the site, I find the portal quite complex to navigate.
In GIS MONITOR, June 14, 2001, was a letter concerning GIS Web hosting
services. In it, it was stated:
Having some experience with these I'd have to say that a GIS professional
should be very cautious before choosing a web-based service, especially
one dependent on a product not originally designed for the multi-user,
heavily loaded, web-based model (ESRI ArcIMS).
Not so, says Bernard W. Szukalski, Senior Product Manager, ESRI Internet
ArcIMS has been designed and engineered from the ground-up specifically to
support high volume, multi-user access to Internet mapping and GIS
services. ArcIMS powers many high-volume sites like the National
Geographic MapMachine, REALTOR.COM, and AP MapShop, which total over
1,000,000 map requests per day. There are numerous other examples of
multi-user, heavily loaded, web-based sites using ArcIMS, and we
anticipate many of our business partners and users to incorporate ArcIMS
capabilities into hosted services, as well as to continue utilizing ArcIMS
as the foundation of the Geography Network.
From Gail Elber, Geospatial Solutions magazine:
I'm writing an article about GIS as a prison industry. I'd like to
interview anyone with experience in this phenomenon. Did your company lose
a contract to a prison GIS program? Is your company or agency using the
services of a prison GIS program? Did you learn GIS skills in prison, and
then get a GIS job on the outside? Have you hired ex-prisoners who learned
their GIS skills in jail? Please contact Gail Elber at [email protected].
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