ESRI’s Marten made the announcement here: ESRI’s geoportal extension is going open source (after a lot of administration issues are resolved.

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The new ArcGIS.com from ESRI is officially online as a public Beta version. We have successfully moved from a dark background to white, as can be seen on the right.

ArcGIS Online Beta

ArcGIS Online Beta Screenshot

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With ESRI’s use of Python as their scripting language and the proliferation of open source GIS, Python became one of the required languages for GIS developers and hobbyists alike. What makes Python powerful is well documented throughout the web, but I want to highlight one very important aspects of Python today: Python Modules.

Python Modules are code someone else has written and distributed, in order to make life easier for the rest of us. You may be familiar with the standard modules that come with Python, like math or datetime, but there are numerous more resources out there for the GIS minded developers. I will be discussing some of the modules I find essential in my work apart from the famous ArcGISScripting module by ESRI: GDAL, numpy, NetworkX, xlrd and xlwt. Let’s dive in! Continue reading »

The new ESRI Support website

The new ESRI Support website

The ESRI family of websites have been seeing a lot of new updates as of late. The screenshot on the right is of the support site that ESRI offers, which hadn’t changed in quite a while. Notice the changes, including the lack of links to the web help (which has proven so helpful in the past to show people help files), and no direct link to the forums prominent in the page (it is located on the left-hand side navigation bar). Instead, people are directed to the new ESRI Resources site, which appears to be the new organization of resources for ESRI products. It is nice to see ESRI trying to separate the official support requests from the support resources, even though I am not sure which design will be more useful to the majority of users.

The new ArcGIS Resource Center

The new ArcGIS Resource Center

The new resources page, for those that did not notice it, is no longer on the esri.com domain, but rather moves to the arcgis.com domain we discussed in the previous post. In the meantime, arcgis.com is still under construction, which the “Coming soon” phrase over an oblique image of the earth. If anyone has any more insights to this, please do share them on the comments section below.

Executive Compensation Mashup by Dave Bouman, winner of the 2010 ESRI Mashup Challenge

Executive Compensation Mashup by Dave Bouman, winner of the 2010 ESRI Mashup Challenge

ESRI announced the winners of their 2010 Mashup Challenge. 1st place goes to Dave Bouwman and his executive compensation mashup available here.

Second place winner was a social media mapper, that presents real time results from social media websites to a map (see it live here), which seems like a great time killer to me.

Congratulations to all the winners and applicants, and many thanks to ESRI for running this challenge and allowing people to be creative with their products.

ArcGIS.com Online Screenshot

ArcGIS.com Online Screenshot from 03/23/10

ArcGIS.com is now online, with a new look and design, and everyone’s favorite web phrase: “Coming Soon…“. A little bit of searching around the internet reveals some information from Vector1Media regarding a cloud-version of ArcGIS in collaboration with Amazon, providing on-the-go GIS functionality.

This is a dramatic change from the previous functionality of the ArcGIS.com domain, which redirected to the esri.com section about ArcGIS. The Internet Archive has a number of older snapshots available here.

Note that the site is currently only available to ESRI employees, that may actually have to request access too. Curiously, the http://maps.arcgis.com/ domain mentioned in this ESRI Blog entry redirects to the same page, even though the screenshots seem to differ. This of course will be different from ArcGIS Online, which is available now in Beta.

An interesting question came about a few days ago. While I have been discussing ESRI’s geoprocessor and how one can use it effectively, I failed to define what geoprocessing is,, either within the ESRI realm or the general¬† GIS realm. In short, geoprocessing is an operation performed on geographic (spatial) data. In other words, it is when one uses data to perform some operations and receiving results. An example would be geocoding. The user provides spatial data (an address), which we geoprocess to identify the output (latitude and longitude). In the ArcGIS world, there are a few methods for geoprocessing:¬† running commands from the ArcToolbox, the Model Builder, the command line and Python scripting (the one I focus on mostly in this blog).
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Often times people write geoprocessing scripts that others try to incorporate in their work. This is done through modules or packages in Python. This is wonderful when one wishes to share their work, but it can also be bothersome if the module you are loading assumes that there is no geoprocessor loaded. This little script will help you safely load the geoprocessor object, either from an instantiation by the main program, or from scratch.

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Google MapsGoogle Maps introduces some nifty new features for its users in the form of Labs (as in their famous Gmail Labs). The new features are accessible on the toolbar on the top right of the screen, labeled as “New” (look like this: ). There are many features for all map geeks available, including Drag and Zoom (allows you to draw a rectangle on the screen to zoom in it), Aerial Imagery (a much finer resolution imagery than satellite), Rotation (rotates the map, making up South or East), and others. My favorite one is of course the option to introduce the Beta label to Google Maps, for those that suffer from nostalgia.

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With the new version of ArcGIS coming out soon (9.4, now 10, tomorrow maybe X), it is nice to revisit the things I would love to see change in the geoprocessor. This is by no means a study on what is missing or what ESRI is doing wrong, but rather what I would like to see in the future. If you have any suggestions, please do write a comment and I will gladly add them to the post (and attribute the addition to you).

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