GIS MONITOR, November 1, 2001


- Who Writes GIS Articles, Anyway? Part II
- An Interview with RPM: Taking On Atlas GIS 
- Windows XP and MicroStation V8 Ship: Does the Earth Move?
- Daratech Estimates GIS Software Revenue at $939 Million in 2000

Departments: Points of Interest, Letters, New Lists, Week in Review, Back
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Last week’s article brought a flood of mail (see letters below) mostly
suggesting that we as readers do indeed need to be careful in reading our
industry publications.

Since those who don’t work with publications may not know how GIS articles
get to print, I’d like to share my experiences. The first GIS article
credit to me appeared in GIS World in May 1995 when I worked at Bentley
Systems. I say “credited” since I didn’t write it. Bentley hired someone
else to write it, and later told me my name would be on it. I wasn’t too
comfortable with that, but I did get to edit it and do some fact checking.
I decided then and there I’d never do that again.

I wrote my first CAD article in 1996, when I worked at ESRI. I was asked
by then CADENCE editor Kathleen Maher to write a feature article on raster
to vector conversion. When I explained to her that I knew nothing about
it, she said I’d be perfect! I didn’t even know what the going pay rate
was then, so I believe I let her set the fee. I wrote a second article for
CADENCE a year later for then editor and current TenLinks CEO, Roopinder
Tara, on AutoCAD and the Web.

In 1998 I got a call from ESRI’s marketing department asking that I write
an article about CAD/GIS integration for GIS World. That was tough since I
had to try to be objective even though I worked for ESRI. ESRI was in fact
paying me my regular salary to write the piece. I must have done an OK job
because I was asked to write a similar article in 2000, when I worked for
Cadcorp. And, again, this was considered part of my duties. Also in 2000,
I was asked by a small mapping tools company to pen an article about their
software. The requestor paid for the article, which later appeared in
Professional Surveyor.

I have also done some ghost writing. There are some who feel that’s not
really fair, since the “true” writer gets no credit. I’ve found that if
you are writing on behalf of someone you understand and actually feel
comfortable “speaking for,” it can be quite rewarding. On the other hand,
writing for someone you don’t “get” is approximately impossible.

Those are some, but likely not all, of the ways that articles from vendors
make it to print. Where and whether these types of articles are published
is at the discretion of the editors. As readers, and writers, we are at
their mercy.

Adena Schutzberg’s Publication List    

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Last week Retail Profit Management (RPM) announced that they’d signed an
agreement with ESRI to take over sales and support of Atlas GIS 4.0 and
port its look and feel to the ArcView 8.1 platform. I interviewed senior
partners Steve Lackow and Elio Spinello of RPM about their plans.

Q: Why did RPM take on the sales and marketing of Atlas GIS?

A: RPM has always been involved in the sales and marketing of Atlas. We’ve
been using Atlas products since Atlas Graphics was released in the 1980s
and Steve Poizner, SMI’s founder, answered the phone himself in technical
support. And we’ve been VARs and developers for 10 years, spanning the SMI and ESRI eras. It’s always been the easiest product to teach and support, and that is important to our customers, primarily in business, social
sciences and health care.

Now, we’re essentially trying to address several audiences. There are
unmet needs for service, support and extension among the legacy Atlas
users who have had no compelling reason to “upgrade” or change. There is
another group of Atlas users who would like to take advantage of the
capabilities of the broader ArcView platform, but the low level nature of
ArcView 3.x has resulted in missing functionality, making this feel like a
downgrade for many Atlas users. Now, with ArcView 8.1 we can easily
address those issues – adding both the functionality and the look-and-feel
of Atlas. We also think this platform and an Atlas extension of it will be
attractive to users of other mapping and GIS systems.

Q: Will Atlas users be interested in an ArcView 8.x extension? Or is this
extension equally aimed at ArcView users? I recall only a small fraction
of Atlas users moving to ArcView when ESRI extended an offer soon after
the acquisition.

A: Atlas users have stayed with Atlas, even though to this day and at
least through the end of the year, they can still upgrade to ArcView 3.2
or 8.1 at the same prices as ArcView users can. They simply have not had a
compelling reason to upgrade. Now, in implementing the function and feel
of Atlas on the ArcView 8.1 platform, we think we are providing that
compelling reason, or at least making it possible for Atlas users to
consider the switch. They couldn’t do so before, because ArcView 3.2
couldn’t meet their needs. If they still want to stay with Atlas 4, that’s
OK too. We’ll support them.

As for ArcView users, the Atlas extension will make it a lot easier to do
everyday business tasks, for example assigning data by location to a
customer database or aggregating point data to regions. We also think that
it will be of value to users of other GIS systems, who can utilize the
Atlas functionality and be more productive with the interface. We believe
that many users of other systems are looking for ways to migrate to ESRI
technology anyway, since it looks like the best bet for the future.

Q: Do I understand correctly that Atlas 4.0 will be the last version of
Atlas built on its "original" code base? If not, what, if anything, can
you say about the arrangements with ESRI? I'm curious only because in
another case of a GIS being taken on after its "prime" by a third party -
I'm thinking of GDS - there were issues when those taking over could not
have access to the source code to truly upgrade the product. .

A: Yes, Atlas 4.0 is the end of the line for releases on that platform. We
may introduce maintenance releases and updates, particularly to the
geocoder and the ZIP centroid file, and the data bundles. But it just
doesn’t make any more sense to us than it did to ESRI to undertake a
duplicitous effort to make Atlas contemporary - for example, to add raster
or map server capabilities or to swap out the flat-file database for a
relational one - when we have the benefit of ArcGIS technology to

Q: I’m afraid I have to admit that I’m one of the people who felt that
“business geographics,” a market that Atlas addressed, never really
exploded. How do you view that niche market of GIS?

A: From a desktop perspective, GIS is going to be increasingly
“wizardized” so that one need not be a database or graphics expert, let
alone a GIS expert, to use the technology productively. That is where ESRI
is going with the Business Analyst, and where Atlas is going at version
8.1. The desktop GIS products – all of them, including Atlas – have been
too difficult to learn and to use straight out of the box. We promoted
Atlas for a long time as the “GIS for business when your business is
business, not GIS.” But truth be known, even Atlas hasn’t been easy enough
and suffers from the same kind of GIS-centricity as the other desktop
products. That is why GIS on the Internet and embedded GIS have been such strong trends over the past 3 or 4 years. Mapquest alone has exposed more people to digital mapping possibilities and capabilities at a profoundly
faster rate than we could ever have imagined just a few years ago. We are
now trying to include GIS as part of basic IT infrastructure, so much so
that users are taking advantage of spatial function without even knowing
they are, because the technology is built-in to their core info systems. A
good example of this is the ability to select customers who live within 5
minutes of a store or a hospital without ever looking at a map. Finally,
through products like Mapquest, consumers have become more knowledgeable with respect to the basic application and concepts related to GIS.

Q: Any thoughts that other GIS products in their mature years may
resurface as ArcView 8.x extensions?

A: We have our hands full with 3.2 extensions and scripts that want to be
8.1! Actually, I am wondering about what is going to happen with MapInfo.
I’ve long felt a kinship with many of the MapInfo users because they work
more with similar business and social science applications as we do, and
have a terrific mailing list that is managed by Bill Thoen who goes out of
his way to be of service to the users. I think the folks at MapInfo also
think that “business geographics” is a mature if not saturated market, and
that this extends towards their entire attitude towards the desktop. They
seem to be focusing on Internet and embedded GIS opportunities. It would
not surprise me at all if someone disenchanted with MapInfo and Map Basic
came along and wrote a MapInfo for ArcView in VBA. With ArcGIS, everything is there to build your own product. Don’t like ArcView? Fine, roll your own interface and application, here are the objects, the properties, the
methods. Want a three-tiered application and not a desktop one? Fine,
we’ll deliver it as application service over the Geography Network using
ArcIMS - which, by the way, we may very well do with Atlas 8.1 at some

Q: Why do you think Atlas has survived as long as it has?

A: That’s an easy one. Atlas GIS for Windows, 3.x and 4, is the best GIS
program ever. It might not be easy as pie, but right out of the box it can
do so much more than ArcView or MapInfo or anything else. Its primary
strength has been a highly intuitive interface in which functions to
support commonly performed tasks are centralized and easy to access. And,
with a little user self-help and some ESRI training, and a VARs push in
the right direction, there’s a lot of room to learn and grow into the

Q: If you had run Atlas development/marketing at SMI or ESRI, what might
you have done differently to expand Atlas' market share?

A: With the benefit of hindsight, there is quite a bit we’d do
differently. But acting on what was known at the time, I’m not sure. At
ESRI, the big mistake was not fully leveraging how entrenched Atlas is
among its users and how loyal they are. You also have to keep in mind that
at ESRI, and at RPM for that matter, making money is not our primary
objective. We are private, closely held companies with Big Goals. As
Bernstein tells the reporter in Citizen Kane, making money is not hard to
do if that is all that you want to do. But we have a much greater vision
for the technology, a vision that extends to enhancing mutual
understanding among people all around the world, and to providing an
information platform that will support better management and conservation
of the world’s precious resources.

Retail Profit Management    

Oct 25 - Atlas GIS Returns to Market as an ArcView 8.x Extension  


Last week was a big week for product shipments. Two much-talked-about, and somewhat hyped products, Microsoft’s new operating system to end all
operating systems, Windows XP, and Bentley’s latest and greatest CAD
package, MicroStation V8, became available to the general public. An IS
manager from Boston who runs a mixed AutoCAD and MicroStation shop noted that he didn’t feel the earth move.

I suspect most of us didn’t. The media has been all over Windows XP for
its potential enforcement of the Microsoft way and continued strong-arming
of consumers, in addition to significant privacy incursions. Still, the
general sense is that the operating system will be hard to avoid in most
consumer-level PCs and laptops in the coming months. Those who are
considering upgrading are pointed to the system’s overall stability and
its “smartness” about working with digital cameras and other external
devices. Detractors point to the privacy issues associated with
Microsoft’s Passport. They also note the screams of alternative browser
users who were locked out of and Hotmail. The resulting
controversy over Microsoft’s lack of interoperability forced Microsoft to
open the site up to all.

As for Bentley’s V8, the hype has been contained. Since beta testers were
held to strict non-disclosures, there was very little discussion, except
in cursory ways on comp.cad.microstation, in the past months. Bentley did
the bulk of the “campaigning” within the current user community, and it
was quite low key.

Still, V8 does introduce some key things that make the product more
acceptable to AutoCAD and other CAD product users: unlimited layers and
the ability to read DWG directly. Bentley has also bent over backwards to
make its new product accessible to all. There are new month-to-month
subscriptions and an aggressive competitive upgrade aimed at AutoCAD 14
users, who can purchase V8 for $888 in North America. ACAD 14 users in
other countries receive the product at half the local price. Both offers
run from today until December 31, 2001. I applaud Bentley’s choice of
focusing on core MicroStation for the rollout, leaving the engineering
configurations for later discussion.

Will the new release be a hit? The snippets I read from existing
MicroStation users, and beta testers, who are now free to speak, are quite
positive. The real trick is getting AutoCAD and other users to give V8 a
chance. My sense is that after all the past efforts to pull AutoCAD users
away from their beloved platform – from free and low cost trade-ins, to
aggressive marketing from competitors both in the vanilla CAD and solution
arenas – it’s not likely to happen. In addition to the “stickiness” of
AutoCAD, I think Bentley made the “if you can’t beat them join them”
decision about real-time support of DWG too late.

Windows XP Finds A Home (  

Microsoft Belatedly Opens Access to MSN (CNET) 

Bentley Releases MicroStation V8 

Bentley Announces $888 Competitive Upgrade For AutoCAD  


Daratech, a company who develops market share numbers for GIS software,
has released its latest report: GIS Markets & Opportunities 2001, which is
available for $4950.

According to the report, state and local governments account for 20% of
software sales. The software sales in turn support $7 billion in other
software, hardware, and services revenue.

The press release details market share this way:

ESRI 35.9%
Intergraph 15.6%
GE Smallworld 6.9%
Sicad Geomatics 6.3%
Autodesk 6.2%
MapInfo 5.7%

Surprises? Not really. GE Smallworld revenues seem to be OK at $64.8
million, though the company seems rather quiet in the US. Sicad Geomatics
does well in its native Germany, but it’s rarely seen in the US. Although
Autodesk’s GIS group products include civil engineering and mobile
applications, it’s arguable whether they are truly GIS. ERDAS and Enghouse
each have about 2% of the market, along with a few other small companies.
Likely lumped into the “other” category, covering 11%, are Bentley,
Manifold and other small players.

Oct 25 - Daratech: GIS Software Revenue Tops $939 Million in 2000  (pdf) 


- I’ve been following geo-targeting, where service providers sell the
ability to locate your computer to those trying to target Web ads
geographically. The technology is in use! I was reading Wired and saw an
eBay ad with a misshapen map of Massachusetts (where I live) touting
eBay's local trading. I was taken to eBay, where a search tool had already
plugged in that I wanted to look at things for sale near Boston. I could
also get searches near other big cities. It’s a start.

- GeoWorld reports that URISA’s annual conference attendance was down to
700, about half of what was expected. The conference ran from Oct. 21 to
24 in Long Beach, Calif. 

- Intergraph Mapping and GIS Solutions has decided to extend the deadline
for the GeoSpatial World 2002 call for presentations from October 31, 2001
to November 20, 2001. 

- At press time, NIMA was in talks with Space Imaging to continue its
exclusive contract for imagery of the Afghanistan war zone. NIMA paid
$1.91 million for the first 30 days of the contract, which runs out
November 5. 

- I hope to meet with many Illinois readers at the Illinois GIS
Association Fall Conference in Lisle next week.  


- Caitlin Dempsey, former GIS guide, details her plans. 

“Thanks for the news update in your TenLinks newsletter regarding the
demise of  That URL is now redirecting to Matt's
geography site but the content from the GIS site is being migrated to a
new home at   The projected launch date is November

- The response to “Who Writes GIS Articles, Anyway?” was substantial and
gives me hope.

>From Dr. Duane F. Marble, professor emeritus of geography, Center for
Mapping, The Ohio State University:

“Your comments in "Who Writes GIS Articles?" were well taken. The shallow,
and often biased coverage of the trade journals in the GI S&T area has
become worse over the last couple of years. I find little of any utility
in the ones that I receive and it seems to me to reflect the changing
pattern of ownership of the journals.

“Presently, there is no place to publish good, in-depth case studies of GI
S&T applications. The little ESRI case study books help but they also lack
sufficient depth.”

>From Gary L. Schaffer, vice president, Product and Market Management,
MapInfo Corporation:

“Your article was on-target. Too many self-serving articles in this
industry. I appreciate your editorial approach.”

>From Felix Lopez Phillips, Applications Development Manager, Agra Baymont

“I could not agree more with your comments on the articles subject. Lately
I've come across too many of those "product ad in disguised" articles. The
Internet lends itself for yet another pervasive practice: content
stealing. Now everybody writes an article as an expert on any subject,
sometimes I can't help but complain to the editor for gross errors and
inaccurate statements on technical articles I have come across especially
in the CAD and GIS area. Having worked in this area for over 15 years (I
started working at Intergraph in my native Venezuela when IGDS was running
on DEC's PDP-11 systems) gives me an appreciation for publications from
writers like you and Ralph Grabowski, thanks for your professionalism.”

[Ralph Grabowski edits Upfront.ezine,, which is the inspiration and
older brother to GIS Monitor. – Ed.]


GPS Tracking 

Wine and GIS 


Oct 31 - Intergraph Reports Operating Results for Third Quarter 2001   
Once again, the company and its five divisions were profitable.

Oct 31 - Maine Hires Applied Geographics, Inc. Team 
The firm will study and design a cost-effective statewide Geographic
Information System (GIS) with partners Camp Dresser and McKee and
Maine-based GIS Mapping and Analysis.

Oct 31 - Cingular Wireless Selects TCS as LBS Technology Provider 
The carrier selected the TCS' Xypoint) Location Platform as one of the
vendors providing support for the company's Phase I and II wireless E9-1-1
location service.

Oct 31 - Verizon Wireless Negotiating E9-1-1 Contract With TCS 
TCS entered into a Letter of Intent (LOI) with Verizon Wireless to provide
Phase I and Phase II wireless E9-1-1 location service.

Oct 31 - GEMI Corp Joins EarthScan's ImageNetwork* 
EarthScan will develop an ImageCommerce* Solutions storefront for GEMI
Corp, which publishes Earth Observation Magazine (EOM) and Modern

Oct 31 - geoVue First to Issue 2000 Block Group Boundaries 
geoVue released an updated version of the company’s flagship solution,
iSITE, with the new boundaries and data along with additional software

Oct 31 - Mobility Tracking Software Will Collect Traffic Data 
The company developed probe collection software that enables it to collect
speed and location data from vehicles. Mobility will start with its own
traffic reporting fleet.

Oct 30 - HeyAnita Selects Kivera as LBS Provider 
HeyAnita Inc., a voice software company, is utilizing Kivera Location
Engine technology in its location-based service offerings.

Oct 30 - Paragon/Galileo Group Sign Hyperspectral Imaging Deal 
The alliance will fuse Galileo's proprietary spectral detection algorithms
(patents pending), with Paragon's image exploitation tools (ELT Series
Software) in a new product called SpotLite. SpotLite will enable users to
ingest large spectral data cubes, apply algorithms and efficiently
identify selected target and features.

Oct 30 - LineSoft and Logica Announce Business Partnership 
The business partnership has produced a joint interface product that
capitalizes on the successful integration efforts achieved at a number of
mutual customers.

Oct 30 - Now Users Can Add New Listings to Lasoo 
Says the site: “Please note that only businesses and websites that have a
corresponding physical location on the Earth will be added to Lasoo.”

Oct 30 - USGS and FIU Join Forces to Fly 
TerraFly will let visitors interactively fly over the Earth's surface and
explore spatial data, such as aerial photography, satellite imagery,
street maps and locale information.

Oct 30 - ISTAR North American Image Catalog Tops 20,000 Square Miles 
The additions of Dallas, Texas, and Buffalo, NY, put the company over the

Oct 30 - WhereNet Adds Jaguar, Land Rover to Customer List 
This service is about maintaining parts inventory wirelessly.

Oct 30 - Dakota Electric Selects GE Smallworld 
GE Smallworld was selected in a competitive bid to assist Dakota Electric
with developing a Technology Roadmap to support its IT strategies.

Oct 29 - GPU Telecoms Adopting Intergraph Geospatial OSS Solution 
GPU Telecoms selected Intergraph's Geospatial Operations Support System
(G/OSS), OSP/Comms to support the development of the company's new fiber optic communications network.

Oct 29 - French National Mapping Agency Chooses Laser-Scan 
IGN has selected automated generalization technology from Laser-Scan.

Oct 29 - Mining Property Risk Info Online Through MDA's NLIS Hub 
Property searches by solicitors in the UK involving the Coal Authority can
now be processed electronically through the National Land Information
Service (NLIS) Hub.

Oct 29 - Link Digital Photos with GPS Information! 
Your GPS tracks, you take digital pictures. When you get home the common
date/time stamp is used to automatically put lat/lon on the digital images
and create Web pages with rough maps of the photo’s location.

Oct 26 - PlanGraphics Develop $ $1.3 Million GIS System for China 
The company signed a multiyear contract with the government of China's
Sichuan Province to develop an urban management GIS for the Sichuan Urban Environment Project Office, according to a news release. I don’t know
where the release came from – it was not on the Plangraphics website. This
was in the company's hometown paper.

Oct 26 - Chrysler to Offer Wireless Phone Link in Vehicles  
Two very cool things are in this new offering: You can use your existing
cell phone and you pay just for the hardware, with no service charge.

Oct 26 - OpenOSX Releases Grass Pre 2 CD - Now Shipping  
“Grass is the only real alternative to ArcView GIS, which fully-configured
will cost more than US$20,000 and is not supported on the Macintosh)
platform.” So, I guess ArcView is NOT an option on the Mac, which is
platform the press release is touting.

Oct 26 - GEW Cologne AG Implements GE Smallworld  
GEW Cologne AG, a large regional gas, electric, district heating and water
utility in Germany, has begun implementing GE Smallworld geospatial asset
management technology.

Oct 26 - OGC Puts out Requests for Multi-Hazard Mapping Initiative  

Oct 26 - LocatioNet and Traxsis Establish LBS Partnership  
LocatioNet customers will be able to locate wireless subscribers using the
Traxsis GPS position solution; allowing location sensitive services
through the LocatioNet Platform.

Oct 25 - Manifold Achieves "Designed for Windows XP" Status  
So far as I know, Manifold is the first to achieve this designation.

Oct 25 - Bentley Integrates MrSID in MicroStation V8  
“MicroStation V8 users can now leverage MrSID to dramatically reduce the
costs and time associated with capturing, storing, sharing and using
high-quality aerial imagery.”

Oct 25 - York County, SC Selects NovaLIS Solution  
NovaLIS will provide York County, South Carolina with a complete Computer
Assisted Mass Appraisal solution and Geographic Information System.

Oct 25 - Maporama Partners with Europcar  
Maporama will provide online maps via Europcar websites.

Oct 25 - GeoConcept Triples Net Profits in Record 2001 Results  
Founded 11 years ago, GeoConcept is now in its tenth profitable year. 


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