Written by Val Rudolph
I went to the GIS in Action conference at Portland State University on April 23rd and 24th. I have come away with the idea that conferences are something you do that can be fun, depending on your attitude that day. And it’s definitely good for you, like eating your vegetables, especially if you’re a student. I’m posting my recollections of the talks I attended. If you understood something differently, please take a moment to tell me.
Attending the conference stretched my wings. I’ve been meaning to apply to Portland State for years, and it finally got me in the door, for an actual academic reason instead of just going there to watch a movie or attend a meeting. I still wish there were a public university, or branch of PSU, on The East Side. That has got to be coming sooner or later!
All the presentations were well “over my head”. But, as an instructor told me recently, every time you attend a lecture, you learn something, even if it’s just getting your brain accustomed to the basic concepts and terminology. Also, the conference is a way to learn what professionals are actually doing out there, how they went through their development process, and whether or not you find the topic interesting.
I was surprised how interested I was in EYEON18 golf course drones service. They save golf courses money by flying over them a the client’s desired interval during their local growing season, then sending them true color and NDVI images. So you can see where problems are and catch them quickly. The speaker used the example of a golf course employee using a key to turn off a particular sprinkler head for temporary convenience. If he forgets to turn it back on, the dry spot will soon start to show up in the imaging, and a groundskeeper can go out and correct the error. Each sprinkler head has its own coded number, if not on the ground, then at least in the data.
On one golf course, the imaging showed low-vitality circular areas around each sprinkler head. The problem was that when the sprinklers were installed, they were set in place with sand instead of soil. So the course was able to correct the problem.
David Howes presented at one of the Web Applications talks. Here’s what I understood:
Mr. Howes holds a PhD in Geomorphology. Geomorphology is the study of landforms and geological processes. GIS imagery plays in important part in this discipline. Mr. Howes, however, told us, “I’m not a mapmaker. I’m a developer”. I think that he is currently engaged as a GIS widget-maker.
I’ve been struggling a bit to firmly grasp the concept of the “widget”. It’s not the same thing as an application. It’s something you use in an application. As he put it, “The functionality becomes available to the user” when you add it into your Web Application. Another thought that shed some light for me was, “A widget is basically a folder full of files”. I guess I knew that, but I’m so comforted to hear it from a professional!
Here were my main take-aways from the Widget-making presentation:
WebBuilder: He says to go through ArcGis Online. But to make widgets, you need the Developer Edition. To this, download the SDK zip file, unzip to your local drive. Then the server starts. You work in 3 folders concurrently:
You have to keep your files synchronized as you work. There is a tool you can use that automates this process, but it sounded to me like he does not use it personally.
General tips: “Start very small”-i.e.: two buttons on a form.
“Develop really clean code so you understand yourself”. In my words, if longer expressions do the same thing as shorter expression, use the shorter ones, and be completely consistent.
“Reuse things as much as you can”
“Make the most of the GeoWeb App community”. In my words, as long as your peers don’t mind you using what they developed, and it works for you, use it as much as you can.
ESRI has a Research and Development center in Beijing?!
Be very, very careful when you remove files between the three types of files. This fellow has lost work and knows about this from hard experience. Ouch!
Mind-blower: in HTML, you control color display with numbered codes!
Notepad++ is a coding editor. Oh, that’s why we use it in labs!
F12 you can hit in browser to debug the feature server.
(What is a feature server?) …a “a Map Server is a host that provides map services, and a Feature Server is a host that provides feature services.”-https://gis.stackexchange.com/questions/126373/difference-between-feature-server-and-map-server?utm_medium=organic&utm_source=google_rich_qa&utm_campaign=google_rich_qa
This is some deep technical stuff, this GIS technology. It takes a lot of work to perform magic!
Indie MapperRead Now
Written by Thomas Pham
Indie Mapper (http://indiemapper.io/app/) is a free web-based thematic mapping tool developed by the guys at Axis Maps – Andy Woodruff (Bostonography) and Zach Johnson. It was developed some 8 years ago and from what I have seen, some things have not been maintained such as pop up help link images. However, the functionality is still there and it is still interesting to play around with it.
So what can it do? Everything is web based so all you need is a web browser. Built into the application is some preset data layers you can choose from including: boundaries, countries, states, populated places (which all come from Natural Earth). There is also some additional thematic layers that can be added ranging from agriculture to water consumption. You can also add in your own data, which is limited to: KML, shapefiles, and GPX. You can save your project to a .imp file which can be reused simply by re-uploading that file to the site. Lastly, you can add in a north arrow and create annotations.
It allows you to project your data automatically although it is limited to 14 different projects. One nice feature is that you can filter projects by distortion type. For example, you can show only projections that preserve size, shape, direction, or is a compromise. Additionally, it also gives a brief overview of that specific projection and the distortion that is associated.
Once you complete your map you can export it. You have the option to export as an SVG, JPEG, or PNG and specify the size.
Here is an example of a bivariate choropleth map I created that visualizes patterns in percent obesity and percent diabetes. For the bivariate choropleth style, you can select number of classes, classification method, choose from pre-defined color schemes.
Overall, you can tell that the website is a little bit dated but there are certainly some interesting features. I really like that you can create bivariate choropleths and cartograms easily. It does become sluggish when you bring in large datasets.
Blog posts are written by students in the Interactive Map Design course at Portland Community College.