GIS Thoughts

Flash is not dead yet, just ask these guys…

There has been much in the blogosphere, tech and even mainstream press written about the relative merits of Flash and it’s use compared to the up and coming shinny new standard of HTML 5. While nobody other than possibly Adobe denies that HTML will be core to much of the future web, today there are some very pragmatic reasons while flash is still widely used.

That said flash has never been very popular from a web mapping point of view, every since the original Google Maps back in 2005 web mapping has developed by exploiting the cutting edge features of html and javascript.

However from a rich user experience point of view there is much that flash still has to offer..

Last week I spent some time with the people behind, a B2B operation in London who have developed a rich mapping/GIS  SaaS  (“software as a service”) application using flash. The service is a very slick interface to OS mapping in the UK, and offers basic GIS functionality without any of the GIS baggage found in other web based GIS tools.

So Findmaps sits somewhere between arcgisonline and Google/Bing maps, and clearly meets a real market requirement. In particular a key point of pain that is largely successfully hidden from professional users is the almost comically complex OS licensing that has been reduced to a running shopping basket total which is updated each time you view a map.

Yes you read that right for large scale OS data you do pay each time you view the map on screen !

In many ways findmaps may represent what GIS ultimately becomes, the complex GIS we know today will become even more focused on the needs of those relatively few organisations that create data, the professional users in real estate, Land and environmental management who currently use desktop GIS will migrate to SaaS applications like this and everyone else will use web mapping tools.

Written and submitted from the Boulder Marriott (40.016N, 105.260W)
GIS Google Earth Google Maps

What Map Maker is /is not

Last week Google introduced Map Maker a set of online map making tools to very positive… but not universal acclaim.

I can understand where SteveC is coming from, but I think it’s important to clarify a few points.

Map Maker is clearly not an open source project, and as such is not in competition with openstreetmap and does not I believe represent a forking opportunity for the creation of open geodata. If you wish to help build an open geodata based global map then openstreetmap is the project for you.

What Map Maker represents is the public exposure of the tool Google has been using internally for a while to “fill in the gaps” of our global mapping coverage, specifically mapping areas not currently covered by the commercial map data providers. We are now asking the users of Google Maps to help us by providing mapping data using the same tool. The data submitted is licensed by contributors to Google to eventually become part of Google Maps/Earth following moderation by Google.

This is a key difference in approach to openstreetmap, most end users of Google Maps/Earth etc. and most developers using their api’s don’t want or need access to the raw data, for them such information is most usefully made available as pre-rendered tiles.

Although not currently an open source project, it does produce data that is free to users, the information contributed by the community becomes freely available to them via Google Maps and the Maps and Earth API’s

At the moment, I believe this is the best way to rapidly expand the availability of mapping and to provide access to detailed online maps to communities which up until now have just not had access to something most of use take for granted.

Written and submitted from home, using my home 802.11 network.

GIS opensource

State of the Map looking good

State of the Map

I’m afraid I won’t be able to attend this years State of the Map Conference, but the schedule looks fantastic and I’m sure Limerick as a location will provide great craic. If you have not already registered, this is a conference I would really recommend attending, without question crowd sourced geodata will be an important part of the Geospatial Industry of the future, and this is the event to hear from the pioneers.

Written and submitted from the Google Office, London.