The main presentation by Jack Dangermond was pretty good, as was last year’s. It’s a good mix of what is new in ArcGIS 9.3, what users are doing in the field, what’s coming on the horizon, and an overall impact of GIS in the world.
- Reverse Geocoding
This has been a long time coming and a hot item on the request. This wouldn’t warrant too much discussion, except that the implementation was really well done. Typically (from my point of view) ESRI is a functional program, but wouldn’t win any UI or productivity awards for most of it’s features. The buttons or dialogs for typical tasks aren’t always where you expect them and sometimes you have to drill down through 10 screens just to get to your data.
However, with the reverse geocoding, it was a very easy to use tool with a crosshair for your cursor and a small dot that would snap to your street network nearest to your cursor. Clicking would very quickly give you a geocoded address at that point. If you clicked on an intersection the geocoding would be the intersection of those streets.
These reverse geocoded addresses could be saved as pushpins which can later be saved as features I believe. Very nice!
- Oh, I just stepped into the Geocoding Intro technical workshop. Now when you run a geocoding process, if there are any addresses that could not be geocoded, in addition to the standard options to fix this you can now use Pick Location. This allows you to use the Reverse Geocoding tool to pinpoint exactly where on the map this address should be. This is great as it might be difficult, if impossible, to change the address in the source data.
- KML Export
As the rest of the world jumps online ESRI, arguably the largest provider in the GIS arena, has been a little behind the game. In the past I have had to resort to 3rd party tools to export our map data to KML. Invariably this also requires lots of massaging of the data afterwards before it is ready to be published on an online mapping service such as Google.
You can see an example of our school district layers pushed to Google through KML here.
Now ArcGIS will have native KML export built in. When used in conjunction with ArcGIS Server and other tools this will make offering your GIS data to online mapping systems a very easy process, that will free up maintenance and always hit live data.
- PDF Support
For a while now you’ve been able to export GIS maps as PDF. This is a great feature as ArcGIS Desktop will also export the text as well which is completely searchable and selectable using Acrobat Reader. I use this all the time when exporting maps of our district. It’s amazing when I have several hundred streets on a map, go to the Acrobat Reader search box, type in a street name and find it in an instant on a map. This is really useful when other users download our maps and want to find where they live. We have an online School Locator tool, however, having a map on your local machine is a great tool for use in offline scenarios.
However, other than this ability the PDF version of the map has still been fairly static. ESRI has been working with Adobe to really exploit the abilities of Reader. Now you can export a wealth of data to PDF. This includes data frames, layers and feature attributes. In the PDF hierarchy you can now see the individual data frames and layers. When clicking on a feature you can get all the underlying data for that feature. This is just like using the Info tool in ArcMap. Also, the data can be georeferenced. This allows a user to get X,Y coordinates from any area of the map. There is no geocoding yet, but tis is all pretty neat.
This is pretty amazing because now you can get an incredible amount of information just from an offline PDF. This is not only useful for Internet connected machines. As more and more users are using mobile devices that may not have direct connection to an online GIS service, having a PDF they can use with this info will be a great step forward short of building an offline app.
- Virtual Earth Integration
They went through this area pretty fast so I didn’t get all the details. It seems that you can pull VE services and resources directly into ArcGIS Desktop now and use in your own maps. This means that you have full access to the imagery and data. This is all on demand, which means that you cannot store the resources for your own editing or offline use. However, this also means that you will always have the latest data. When you open a map it will retrieve the latest images, including any new ones Microsoft may have published, directly in your maps. This can offer a wealth of data if you have out of date or no imagery/data for your map content.
I assume that Google and other map services will be accessible as well, it’s just that ESRI kept touting it’s partnership with Microsoft so I’m a little hesitant to say this.
This has been a sore point with ArcGIS in the past few years. As I said above, ESRI has really been playing catchup. Most of ESRI’s online mapping products have been pretty bad. The UI design wasn’t great and it was terribly slow.
Eh, maybe I’m just pessimistic but you can see the marketing "woohoo!" all over these demos. ESRI always operates their demos in the perfect world. But so does everyone else (i.e. Microsoft). 🙂
OK, if you are a web developer and haven’t been in a coma for the past few years, you should know what a mashup is. In a nutshell a mashup is simply a web page that takes data from one source (i.e. Flickr photos), combine it with another source (i.e. Google Maps) and display the results (i.e. showing where the photos were taken on a map).
I can’t seem to find these slides or any information on John’s presentation anywhere so hopefully he will publish these soon. Otherwise in my spare time maybe I can throw a few together. (Yeah, when do I have spare time! I stayed up to almost 4am last night!)
Overall it was a great session.
I’ll be adding more posts throughout the conference on anything I see that’s noteworthy. Those will hopefully be a much shorter read!