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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Before you get too excited, the implications for geospatial are apparently not great. I’m not aware of any geospatial press who were invited to listen to the conference call this afternoon. I’ll explain a bit more why the implications are not great after getting to the gist of the announcement.

Here’s what we do know from Autodesk’s PR firm and this PR:

Autodesk and Bentley will exchange software libraries, including Autodesk RealDWG, to improve the ability to read and write the companies’ respective DWG and DGN formats in mixed environments with greater fidelity.  In addition, the two companies will facilitate work process interoperability between their AEC applications through supporting the reciprocal use of available Application Programming Interfaces (APIs).

What all that says to me is: all the stuff we already can do, read each other’s file types, call each other’s APIs, we may do a bit better/more elegantly. File fidelity (not losing entities/features) may be better. We’ll use existing APIs to better connect our products, which I read as “there may be some scripts/tools to help link products that follow one another in the workflow.”

While this is all well and good and is apparently something both companies feel benefits them, it’s quite a bit different from the interoperability vision we have in geospatial - open standards any developer can support. Autodesk and Bentley are instead swapping proprietary libraries and promising to use already existing APIs. Both companies, BTW, are involved with OGC and support several different standards.

The reason I think this is not such a big deal for GIS is that CAD formats are just “not great” for storing geospatial data. You can do it, but it’s messy. Far better to store data in a dedicated geospatial form/encoding like SDF or GML rather than DWG. Besides, data interop for geospatial, so far as Autodesk is concerned, is a done deal with Feature Data Objects (FDO) now an open source project.

Ralph Grabowski, who was on the call notes that this deal makes Open Design Alliance (ODA) irrelevant (at least for these two):

Bentley confirms that the ODA is now irrelevent both ways: (1) Bentley will use Autodesk’s RealDWG instead of the Open Design Alliance’s OpenDWG libarry; (2) Bentley will no longer provide documentation and tech support to the ODA’s OpenDGN library for the DGN format that follow this year’s release of MicroStation.

Update: That last bit is incorrect per Bentley’s VP of Corporate marketing: “With respect to the ODA, Bentley will continue to provide the documentation and technical support to the ODA for the libraries the ODA creates.

However, we are under no obligation, nor do we have any intention, to deliver the new Bentley DGN Toolkit to or through the ODA.” He refers to the toolkit the company is sharing with Autodesk.

So, the big losers may in the long run be other vendors that use OpenDGN (I think ESRI does). Remember this deal is all about interop between Autodesk and Bentley, not any other players.

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/08 at 04:30 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

In case you missed it (I think I did) PopSci offers vignettes of 5 science apps built on Google Earth including: volcano ash prediction, hurricane growth, biomapping, ice cap mapping and bird flu.

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/08 at 08:12 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Rumors suggested that Garmin’s Nuvi 8xx and 5xxx were built on Linux, but to date, the company didn’t follow the GPL2 (open source license) which requires code written on that OS to be distributed with source code. Garmin got around to making the source code available today.

- PC World

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/08 at 07:51 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

If you don’t follow press releases or read Science you may have missed this:

In an article published today in the journal Science, a group of former senior federal officials call for the establishment of an independent Earth Systems Science Agency (ESSA) to meet the unprecedented environmental and economic challenges facing the nation. They propose forming the new agency by merging the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS)....

The authors recommend that no less than 25 percent of the new agency’s budget be devoted to grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements with academic and nonprofit institutions.

The full text is behind a wall. The press release goes on to quote David Rejeski, of the Woodrow Wilson Center (and one of my favorite interviewees back in the day), suggesting that high risk, high reward efforts, such as DARPA (the folks behind the Internet among other things) are just the ticket for a better future.

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/08 at 06:48 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

I’ve not been a fan of Capital One’s ads, especially those for its credit cards. It’s latest commercial, this one for its many ATM locations in New York and New Jersey, raised eyebrows. The spot involves buddies looking at a mapping site that pops up pushpins to note ATM locations. Then, giant pushpins falling from the sky and wreaking havoc, including one just outside the restaurant where they sit. (See a graphic, a link to the video and how they did it at Post Magazine.)

A reader of Stuart Elliot’s advertising column in the New York Times found the destruction of New York City appalling and Elliot notes that the destruction was actually minimized during the spot’s development.

It’s a good thing everyone has come to expect pushpin as the de facto symbol for a point location. Quick - which online mapping site uses pushpins? Not that “G” one… By the way Capital One’s locator uses MapQuest, which does not implement pushpins!

by Adena Schutzberg on 07/08 at 06:31 AM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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