I like to think that I learn more every day, but I still really embrace being a computer novice in a lot of ways. About four years ago, I learned about using Windows’ Task Scheduler to run processes on a defined timetable. The typical things it became useful for in my daily activities were: backing up data from my local machine to a server, running processes during off-hours that consume significant system resources, and automating web download workflows/preparing the data before I arrived at work. It’s best for uses requiring no user input, since the user is often absent during a scheduled task run. Read More »
On 30 September 2015, I gave a talk to the Southern Maryland GIS User Group titled “Interactive Maps Without Map Servers.” This post consists of the slides from that presentation interspersed with my “talk track” in order to provide context.
Today, I’m going to discuss publishing interactive maps without using a map server. I’m going to do this by focusing on a specific case study for one of our customers, the US Commission on Civil Rights. This example is fairly simple and I chose it for its ease of illustration for today’s talk. Before I get started, I think it’s necessary to clear up some terminology.
Managing a team of Geospatial Analysts, and all their ongoing projects, requires a decent bit of effort for the Project Manager on one of our current contracts. At the onset, the PM would ask each GA what they were working on, obtain it verbally or via email, and manually enter the information into an excel spreadsheet. He would then discuss the spreadsheet with the client each week, noting any task updates or closures. The importance of the spreadsheet and the weekly client meetings cannot be understated; however, I believed that the amount of labor associated with tracking tasks could be greatly reduced.
While working with geospatial information, it is often advantageous to find out how close one particular piece of data is to other pieces of data. This leads to a greater understanding of the area of study. The knowledge of how things relate to one another spatially is articulated in Waldo Tobler’s First Law of Geography. It states that “everything is related to everything else, but near things are more related than distant things.” Read More »
Over the past decade, GIS professionals who can manipulate the software both manually and automatically are becoming increasingly more marketable within the industry. Automating mundane/repetitive tasks frees up time to focus on more advanced analyses and other GIS processes.
On one of our current contracts, we are required to create map products in response to “breaking news” events. These maps provide situational awareness to our client regarding the status of assets within their area of jurisdiction. Time is of the essence during these events, and the faster a map product can go out, the better.
Esri CityEngine lets you create, as the name implies, cities, quite easily. As a bonus, it lets you export these creations in various formats including FBX files which can be imported into 3D game engines including Unity. You can very easily add VR support for the Oculus Rift to Unity 4 Pro.
To follow along with this tutorial we will need a few things:
- Esri CityEngine 2013: 30 day trial license may be available
- Unity 4 Pro: for Oculus Rift Support, 30 day trial license is available. You should be able to get away with the free version if you only want to add a traditional FPS camera.
- Oculus Rift SDK: free but will need to sign up for a developer’s account
- Oculus Rift Developer’s Kit: Needed to view in virtual reality though you can still follow this tutorial and navigate the city via a regular monitor.
We often hear that we should use the right tool for the right job. The problem for developers is becoming aware of those different tools. So I want to save you some time and introduce you to an old tool that is good for simple processing of CSV files. The language is so simple that an experienced programmer can pick it up in an afternoon.
Awk is a text processing utility that happens to be a programming language. It was created back in the 70s by Aho, Weinberger, and Kerningham, hence its name. Awk was probably most popular during the 80s until Perl, strongly inspired by Awk, replaced it.
So is Awk obsolete? It is obsolete as a general purpose language. But when used for text processing, such as when we work with CSV files, it is good tool to have around.
A while back, my colleague Barry Schimpf touched upon some of the tools that we use in conjunction with the Platform Independent Model (PIM). Today, I will delve into one of the tools we use to generate physical schemas from the PIM. Before, I jump in, let’s review what a PIM is and what it does.
The PIM is an approach we have developed to enable proper configuration management of geospatial data models. We have used it successfully for federal customers to track multiple versions of complex data models, validate physical implementations of those models, and support profiling and adaptation of the models across user communities. The focus of a PIM is on the data model as opposed to the actual geospatial data so a PIM itself doesn’t store any geospatial feature data. It is merely a representation of the logical model; defining the feature types, attributes, relationships, and constraints necessary to build a geospatial data set that is in compliance with a particular data standard.
Clojure is one of the most interesting languages that has emerged recently. It is a Lisp whose main goal is to be practical language for day-to-day programming. And although young, it already has a dedicated community of practitioners. Clojure has a number of features that makes it easy to learn, easy to be productive, and it already has a proven-track record in real-life applications. It also has a community that bridges the gap between industry and academia. I recently was lucky enough to go to Clojure Con, a Clojure conference, and these are my findings about the language. Read More »