News Roundup - Esri UC, OSM, GEO Viewer

You couldn’t swing a dead cat this month without running into news about the Esri UC. Despite the economy, the UC was bigger this year than ever before. I didn’t make it out to San Diego, but reading the coverage and playing with 10, here’s what I like:

  • My personal favorite is the AGS REST interface is being published as an open standard. Pending more details, that is awesome. My only concern is rather than releasing things like an open API for the file geodatabase, they'll say you can have to buy AGS and use the REST services for that. Still, awesome.
  • The Web ADF was slated for execution deprecation. This doesn't affect me personally, but it does touch people I could hit from my office with a well-aimed brick. This is just one of those things Esri does. With a new server product they throw clients against the wall like spaghetti noodles, and over time noodles hit the floor. I personally like this decision. The Web ADF is awful.
  • Esri likes crowd sourced/user generated/volunteered data (now). They released an open source extension for editing OSM maps right in ArcMap. Nice!
  • ArcGIS for iOS4 (iPhone/iPad). Since Android recently whizzed past iOS to become the second most popular smart phone OS (behind Blackberry), I imagine somebody at Esri is putting in late nights getting a client for it ready.
  • There's an ArcCatalog pane in ArcMap now. I've tried it, and it's wonderful. It's so wonderful I'm not going to waggle my finger and point out it should have always been there.
There were some rollout problems (when I first saw their online distribution/validation plan I thought bittorrent or dead), but everything seems pretty smooth now. After playing around with the desktop clients, it looks like a very good release. With one notable exception.

ArcGIS 9.3 clients can’t talk to SDE 10.

Which means I’m not going to SDE 10 until SDE 11 comes out. I don’t think Esri realizes how much this screws their customers. I’ve got SDE clients I have no control over whatsoever. I’ve got vendor provided clients, clients in other departments, clients in entirely other organizations. If SDE has to cater to the lowest common release number, I’m up the creek. This is a brain dead business practice. If Microsoft released Office 2010 and said no earlier releases of Office will be able to open the new documents, there would be IT execs brandishing flaming pocket protectors in front of Microsoft’s headquarters. I thought Esri figured this out with 9.2 SP5 allowing direct connects to SDE 9.3. That would be a no.

The US Department of Labor has released a Geospatial Technology Competency Model, probably because the Department of Labor Statistics report found geospatial technology the #3 fastest growing technology profession. From the press release:

The model will serve as a resource for career guidance, curriculum development and evaluation, career pathway development, recruitment and hiring, continuing professional development, certification and assessment development, apprenticeship program development and outreach efforts to promote geospatial technology careers.
I'm not sure what this does to GISCI, though I think they're reevaluating their criteria as a result. I'm not a certification fan for GIS; the field is so broad as to make certification meaningless, and certs like this are often more about protecting markets (i.e. by statute you'll need a certified surveyor, a certified property mapper, and a certified GISP for that project), which I find irritating on principle. But a model to serve as a general resource doesn't seem like a bad idea at all, although looking at the 9 stage, 29-part pastel pyramid made me go blind for 30 seconds.

There’s a visual development tool for Android out called App Inventor for Android. It reminds me a bit of Scratch, dragging pieces around and linking them together to form an app, “no programming knowledge” required. App Inventor includes access to the phone’s GPS sensor, so you can build apps with location features, and there are some sample apps to get you started. You can deploy your apps right to your Android phone. It looks awfully cool, and it’s available for Windows, Linux, and OS X.

And now for some quick hitters: