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Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Randall Newton writes at AECNews.com that Even Yares of the Open Design Alliance was not allowed to attend AU this year, despite many years of attendence. It’s not clear why he was turned out. I reported in years (AU 03) past that many real competitors, Bentley among them, turned up at AU and execs didn’t seem to care.

Bentley Visits. I met several members of Bentley’s staff at Autodesk University. These people were not skulking around with hoods and dark glasses. One had on a MicroStation V8 dress shirt and badge noting his employer. I applaud Autodesk’s openness in this matter. In the past I’ve been asked to leave competitor’s events, even after I’d registered and been accepted to attend.

Now, I guess someone cares. Odd that such an “open” company would start blocking folks at this time.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/29 at 04:25 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Here at AU it’s pretty much a MapServer lovefest, but Ed McNierney of TopoZone has posted his letter pointing to a bad start for the foundation. Read it; we on the outside need to hear what both sides are saying.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/29 at 10:23 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The demo of Autodesk MapServer Enterpise (MSE) was really a demo of the next MapGuide, one built from the ground up.

It can be deployed on Windows or Linux, developed on via .NET, Java, or PHP, served on IIS or Apache and browsed via IE or Firefox.

MSE sports:

True color and transparency
Advanced labeling (follows curves, scales to fit, one label for many segmented road)
Web based site administration (need not be on the actual server to administer it)
MapServer Studio (“Dreamweaver for maps,” that is a user friendly way to author Web maps)

The MSE clients are parallel to existing MapGuide LiteView and the “plug ins” – but much better. MapView Lite, an HTML solution is replaced with an AJAX implementation. It has tiled maps for background layers and a non-tiled overlay for dynamic layers. The existing MapGuide plug-in solution will be replaced by the DWF plug in.

The good news? The two viewers use the same code and have feature parity, that is, they can “do” the same things! Why? All apps are server-side in MapServer Enterprise. I saw a fine looking buffer application called from the AJAX version.

Autodesk MapServer Studio is slick and includes a step by step into to the five parts of building a map. It’s got lots of pull down menus and check boxes which hide underlying complexity and frankly write code. Studio requires a live connection to the server since it is writing server side XML that defines the maps. These can be built on data “loaded to the server” into a new faster version of SDF or linked to in a database, SDE or other data sources.

The AJAX client (I have yet to see the DWF plug in one) includes a Google Maps type slider for scale and scrolling. It’s in fact a large blue exclamation point: a long stick with plus at the top and minus at the bottom atop a round compass for panning.

Much of what I saw was prefaced by “this didn’t work in MapGuide 6.5 but it does here.” That’s good in the sense that this will be a welcome upgrade for existing users. For the rest of the geospatial world it includes tools that should “simply have been available” such as two line tool tips, or buffers not cut off by the edge of a window.

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/29 at 10:10 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Dave McIlhagga is serving as the ambassador of the MapServer community at this event. In speaking to the Autodesk community he noted that while many had never heard of Frank Warmerdam, Steve Lime and Daniel Morrissette, they had heard of Linus Torvald. MapServer he noted has about to make those names and others as legendary as Torvald’s. Why? Because MapServer, like Linux was going mainstream.

He noted that the MapServer and MapGuide communities are similar. Both have tens of thousand of users. Both try to solve problems using maps.

He gave a brief history of MapServer, which began as Steve Lime’s (yet unfinished he believes) Master’s thesis. He noted his company (DM Solutions Group’s) challenges serving its customers with commercial software, noting that even when he and colleagues could point to the specific line of code that was “broken” it took vendors months to respond. That lead DM to MapServer and a series of contributions to it including documentation, a scripting language and Windows support. User numbers jumped from 100 in 2001 to perhaps 20,000-40,000 today.

He’s optimistic about the Foundation pointing out that the biggest discussion to date was about the name MapServer Cheetah. That he noted was a good sign. He also pointed out that while geotechnology has been trying to merge into information technology, to date it’s not made huge inroads. Perhaps, he says, the creation of the Foundation and Autodesk’s support will really extend geo into IT.

In discussing how the foundation will change the GIS landscape, McIlhagga points to the operating systems landscape. “When Linux came along, it had little impact on Microsoft, but on the small players.” Perhaps that will be true in GIS as well?

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/29 at 10:08 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

“It’s good to be out of the closet.”
Autodesk’s Gary Lang on being able to share the story of MapServer Enterprise

Q: “What are you doing next?”[after MapServer Enterpise]
A: “Selling it to you!”
Q: “I thought it was free!”
Jonathan Mark, GIS Manager and MapGuide User, City of Vancouver joking around after MapServer Enterprise Demo

“AJAX is a complex development environment.”
Autodesk staffer on why MapServer Studio is a necessity

“Under LPGL commercial products developed must be compatible with the open source version.”
DM Solutions Dave McIlhagga explaining why many people may buy MapServer Studio and use it with open source MapServer Enterprise

by Adena Schutzberg on 11/29 at 10:03 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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