Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autodesk donates CS-Map to OSGeo after Mentor Purchase

Autodesk announced today at FOSS4G2007 here in Victoria, that CS-Map is being donated to OSGeo and the Open Source community.

The Press Release shows Autodesk's commitment to Open Source and this paradigm of development and collaboration.

For anyone who has worked with Norm Olsen's libraries (CS-Map was developed by Mentor Software), you realise his work has filtered into many industries worldwide.

Schlumberger Information Solutions has used Norm's libraries for many years in the Finder Data Management software - one of the tools I used for many years while working for them.

Frank Warmerdam, OSGeo President, states in the Press Release "The latest planned contribution supports theprojections and transformations necessary to support over 3,000 coordinatesystems worldwide and has capabilities not previously available to the opensource community. I am also very excited to have Norm Olsen joining thecommunity and I look forward to increased community collaboration andinnovation-hallmarks of the open source community."

As you know Geodesy and Map Projections have been my bread and butter and passion for many years - along with good ol'databases.

I look forward to hopefully working with Autodesk and OSGeo in implementing these libraries into the community with Frank Warmerdam and his PROJ.4 libraries.

This is indeed good news for the Open Source community and OSGeo.

Friday, September 21, 2007

MapServer 5.0 Released - Enhancements & Performance Improvements

When I first started using Open Source for a project in Switzerland, I went immediately to the UMN MapServer. My first introduction to this was loading and using Shape Files to create a relatively simple internet mapping site - my first!

My initial impression of Open Source, was WOW! The ease, the speed and the amount of documentation and resources available made me a believer in the Geospatial Open Source world. I then moved onto loading the data into a PostGIS database developed by Paul Ramsey at Refractions Research here in Victoria. Again, WOW! This was not difficult. I had maps and a database up and running in less than a day and I was able to spatial queries as well.

Today, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) proudly announced on their web-site a major release for UMN MapServer, Version 5.0.

In the Press Release it states:

"MapServer 5.0 is the first major release release since version 4.0 in July of 2003. While there have been regular releases every 6 months or so this is the first time developers felt the new feature set warranted the "major release" label."

Some of the new features include many small bug fixes, more enhancements and performance improvements.

A detailed listing of the new features include:

  • style and label attribute attribute binding;
  • lookup table-based raster color correction;
  • dynamic charting (pie and bar); explicit label prioritizing;
  • enhanced debugging and logging;
  • dynamic allocation for layers, classes, styles and symbols;
  • improved memory management and garbage collection for MapScript;
  • numerous improvements for OGC service support.

This release also incorporates map rendering using the Anti-grain Geometry (AGG) graphics library. According to the Press Release this bring higher and better maps to the internet because of improved cartographic quality.

As the Press Release, and I concur, I to am "excited about the future possibilities of bringing high-end cartography to on-demand web mapping".

My hats off to Steve Lime and the UMN Developers worldwide!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Interesting Fact about Oracle Spatial

I was interested in doing some more work with Oracle Spatial and how it compares in speed to some of the other databases out there that work with Spatial data, such as PostGIS and MySQL.

While reading through the Wikipedia definition of Oracle Spatial I discovered that some Canadian's at the Canadian Hydrographic Service first incorporated spatial data into Oracle with Version 4.

This was even before my time. I started working with Version 6!

Looks like the CHS was ahead of their time.

During the period between Version 4 and the introduction of "SDO" (Spatial Data Option) in Version 7, the CHS and Oracle rewrote the kernel. As anyone who uses Oracle Spatial knows, the tables are prefixed with SDO_.

Just an interesting tid-bit about Oracle. It is amazing the information you can find out there on the web - with Wikipedia, one wonders "Where will Encyclopedia Britannica find a home in the digital world?"

Friday, September 14, 2007

MapGuide Open Source 1.2 Released & DM Solutions Fusion

MapGuide Open Source 1.2.0 has been released.

With this release of MapGuide Open Source, there have been enhancements that include:

1) Support for Unmanaged Data Sources
2) Cartographic Enhancements - Phase I

This includes the ability to use new symbols for Points and Labeling Linear Features (e.g. Highway Shields)

3) Feature Join Enhancements
4) Support coordinate system overrides on feature sources

More details can be found here.

Point 4 is interesting, as in MapGuide Open Source, there is within a feature source, an optional tag called SupplementalSpatialContextInfo. If an entry exists for a given Spatial Context, then the specified coordinate system override will be used. The coordinate system override will be given preference over the coordinate system defined in the data.

In the previous version, the SupplementalSpatialContextInfo was used only for data containing spatial contexts with undefined coordinate systems (I'll talk more about co-ordinate systems and map projections in future blogs). This SupplementalSpatialContextInfo would allow a coordinate system to be specified for a given spatial context. Essentially, the new SupplementalSpatialContextInfo can now be used to override coordinate systems for all spatial contexts in a feature source -- regardless of whether it contains a coordinate system or not.

Why did this modification come about?

Sometimes a feature source geometry may contain an incorrect coordinate system or does not have a coordinate system defined. What can be now? The above solution provides a convenient way to change the coordinate system without having to change the data of the feature source.
MapGuide Open Source handles spatial data with a specified coordinate system and with this modification it allows for the specification of a coordinate system override thereby letting the developer use data that in the past you may not have been able to use.

Symbols and Labels

Many GIS and Mapping applications are in need of very sophisticated symbolization. In the oil and gas industry, we see so many symbols and sometimes one symbol may have more than one definition (dry well, dry & abandoned, etc.).

In many parts of the world, countries published maps must adhere to high standards that are often even written into law. Amazingly though, sometimes even these maps are missing some of most standard information, such as Datum and Map Projection. The Cartographic Enhancements - Phase I introduces a high quality symbolization engine for MapGuide Open Source and allows for point symbols to be used as labels. This is especially pratical in the E&P industry.

Leaders Collaborating - MapGuide Open Source Fusion

As it can be seen Autodesk and the Open Source community are working together successfully in producing a user-friendly, practical, and powerful web-mapping tool.

DM Solutions and Autodesk have been working together on MapGuide Open Source Fusion. Dave McIlhagga and the DM Solutions group provide a very good description of Fusion here.

Take a look at how collaboration between these two companies have helped to move MapGuide ahead. Fusion is also available for UMN MapServer.

Open Source - A new software development paradigm?

Open Source development has been around for awhile, but it looks like it is gaining more momentum and with Autodesk's participation, we are seeing leaders in CAD and GIS realizing the advantages of working collaboratively with others to develop products that can be used and accepted by others.

I'll be talking more about Open Source Software development and some of the business models used and the many advantages of using Open Source in many different industries.