I’ve been out at a couple of Association for Geographic Information (AGI) events over the last couple of weeks- organised by their Northern Group. Their main function is to organised events in the North of England (hence the name), but the outgoing chairman Rollo, has been really pushing for events with a national attendance and relevance. I spoke briefly at both events, and my talks can be found on slideshare and on my talks page here.
Just as we are settling down with the transition to open source, it would seem that a lot of other people are at least considering their options along the same lines, for whatever reason. This thread on the osgeo_discuss list, started off as a question about the value of open source to individual’s careers, but rapidly morphed into a discussion about replacing the ESRI packages. This seems to have lead to a general consensus about the areas where the open source packages do well and do badly.
UPDATE: We’ve had some more feedback about this from ESRI UK- see my other post for details (though don’t get too excited because nothing really changes) So, our move to open source gets a boost today, from an unexpected quarter. In what can only be described as a noble act of self-sacrifice, ESRI have told us that as an educational charity we are no longer allowed to have an educational discount for using their software and, not only that, our license codes will cease to work at the end of this month.
It would appear that ESRI (UK) were as surprised as we were when they received notification of ESRI (US)’s decision to tighten up the license agreements, and they are negotiating on behalf of all of us educational charities/associate sites to get us a little more leeway. It has to be said that the email we received from them, which I based my blog post on, contained nothing about this whatsoever, and basically told us we had till the end of March to pack our metaphorical bags, but we are grateful to them for their efforts.
Firstly, if you’ve seen this post before, apologies. It got lost in a previous re-organisation of the blog and I thought it was worth re-posting… You can get free contour data for the UK from the Scottish Mountaineering Club website. It’s based on public domain NASA data, cleaned up by the club and made freely available. It comes in garmin .img format, in several zip files, which roughly represent areas of the country.
There’s an article on the All Points Blog that goes into more detail about the potential support for PostgreSQL/PosGIS in ESRI products. The caveats to this are listed below, and I have to ask- what’s the point guys? It will only be in Enterprise ArcSDE- so you’ll need ArcGIS Server Enterprise Basic as a bare minimum, and of the windows products it will only work on Server 2000⁄2003. So- if you have loads of money to spend on your GIS you’ll be able to use PostGIS- but not if you don’t have thousands to spend.
I have just stumbled upon the ESRI Mapping Center and, while I had been following their rss feed for a while, I didn’t know about the wealth of useful information that they have been putting together for creating attractive maps. A lot of the tips can be applied to other software packages too- not just ESRI. I particularly like the article on historical maps, or how to create an authentic looking treasure map.
I have made a little more progress with evaluating the various free options for accessing PostgreSQL/Postgis database tables from ArcMap. I have to confess that some of the problem was down to my own lack of experience with Postgis! The issue that I had with PGarc was that it would fail with an error if you had deleted tables from a database. It turns out that this is because deleting tables using the PostgreSQL “DROP TABLE” syntax does not remove it’s reference in the “Geometry_Columns” table.
This post is a discussion of my experiences with a couple of ArcGIS connectors for Postgis. To me, a reliable Postgis connector would be so useful, as we simply don’t have the resources (or the inclination) to purchase the equivalent proprietary products. We are also looking for a solution that will provide a flexible backend for all sorts of interfaces, such as MapGuide Open Source, UDig, and so on, alongside ArcGIS.