Welcome to GISWeekly! This week GISWeekly spoke with Jaron Waldman CEO of PlaceBase, which is one of those ingenious companies. PlaceBase has been working on integrating GIS technology into websites since 2001. “We've seen over the past year that Google Maps has become a very popular platform, mainly for hobbyists to create web based mashups and web applications, etc.,” noted Waldman. Enter PushPin LE, a hosted mapping platform with the familiar API, similarly high quality mapping output [as Google] but also offering its client live support, total control of branding, no ads on the maps, no limit on transactions and much more. Read about it in this week's Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
PushPin LE Offers Google Map-like Interface for Developers
by Susan Smith
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This week GISWeekly spoke with Jaron Waldman CEO of PlaceBase, which is one of those ingenious companies. PlaceBase has been working on integrating GIS technology into websites since 2001. “We've seen over the past year that Google Maps has become a very popular platform, mainly for hobbyists to create web based mashups and web applications, etc.,” noted Waldman. “The popularity was driven because Google Maps is a great product, it's got a clear, easy to use API and it has very generous licensing terms for people who aren't using it for commercial purposes.” Many professional developers were also taking a close look at Google Maps to integrate into their websites, and according to Waldman, although they love the Google Maps look and feel, the licensing and support terms were not appropriate for what they needed.
How do you get around the fact that Google can change the interface at any time? “We have developed something that looks and feels a lot like Google Maps, but we've built ours from scratch,” Waldman explained. “We have our own programming interface which is not exactly the same as Google's but if you've built your mashup on Google's API then it's very simple to switch over to ours. We've talked to professional developers to find out what they need and we provided that. We provide certain things that Google doesn't, such as geocoding and they provide certain things we don't provide.”
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What Google provides that PushPin LE and CX do not are routing, such as driving directions. Users could conceivably use both Google Maps and PushPin LE in order to derive the benefits of both.
PlaceBase's mission clearly has been to bring advanced GIS types of features out to mass audiences via the web. “We think GIS on the web is in its early stages right now,” remarked Waldman. “The features in our CX application are the ability to control cartography, to make presentation more effective, the ability to put themes on the map, and ability to do spatial querying and many capabilities you find in a traditional GIS. Gradually we're going to migrate those over into our LE platform as the market matures and as people become more familiar with maps on the web.”
Additional features in PushPin CX are, geocoding on the fly and the ability to layer different maps on top of one another. For example, a person has her own sales territory and wants to see that on a map, or wants to see area data on a map. “To do that effectively we have developed an approach in CX that disaggregates all the layers,” noted Waldman. “We cache everything, as image data, i.e. we take the vector data and we turn it into raster image data. We do this for each layer on a transparent background and then we can composite them together when they're requested and send them over to the browser as a single layer of images, which means it's very fast. In order to do that customization we've developed an approach that breaks the layers apart and stores them separately on disk as cached imagery.”
Google Maps is obviously responsible for exposing a large number of people to power GIS and mapping through an easy-to-use web interface. PushPin LE will take this one step further: by bringing the power of mashups and GIS beyond the hobbyists to a much broader community of users.
Top News of the Week
Editing in ArcGIS 9: Tips and Tricks II, a new live training seminar from ESRI Virtual Campus, explores the newest tips and tricks in ArcGIS Desktop. The seminar is ideal for experienced ArcGIS users who edit features in ArcMap and want to learn techniques to increase efficiency and precision. The Web seminar will be presented on April 27, 2006, at 9:00 a.m., 11:00 a.m., and 3:00 p.m. Pacific time. Visit the website.
Intergraph Corporation and TerraGo Technologies announced that MAP2PDF versions for Intergraph product lines, GeoMedia and Digital Cartographic Studio (DCS) are now generally available. GeoPDF embeds geospatially referenced data for map coordinate readouts, distances and bearing information in an easy to understand PDF format.
The new MAP2PDF will export geospatial data from GeoMedia or DCS to a georegistered PDF with layers and feature attributes. This GeoPDF can be easily distributed and used in connected or disconnected modes with TerraGo's free Adobe Reader® software. Users are able to view maps, turn layers on and off, query attributes, display coordinates, GPS track and create redlines and notes.
John Copple, CEO of Sanborn, announced that the company has been selected to provide digital orthophotography for the state of New Hampshire through a multi-year statewide project. Sanborn, an industry leader in geospatial solutions, has been selected by the State of New Hampshire to provide one foot resolution color and color infrared red digital orthophotography. Using digital camera technology, Sanborn has acquired approximately 1700 square miles of imagery in the first year of the contract with the balance of the state to be completed in subsequent years.