2013 is still the year of the PDF – U.S. Forest Service brags about PDF on mobile


Consider this title: “U.S. Forest Service offers new digital maps for mobile devices

You’d think, “Awesome!” and then quickly read on:

“This mobile app makes it easier than ever to plan your visit to a national forest or grassland,” said U.S. Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell. “By putting important forest information right at your fingertips, it will encourage more Americans to get outside and explore their forests.”

The digital maps are part of USDA’s work toward reaching President Obama’s initiative to create a paperless government that also provides the American public with better, more accessible information. Online customer surveys also indicated a desire for more online products and information, such as maps. The Forest Service is currently working on the first phase of a website redesign, expected to debut early in 2014, which centers on a map-based tool for planning trips onto our nation’s forests, grasslands and other special places.

Paperless, that’s the first sign things are not good.  Paperless usually means one thing….

Doesn’t look awkward at all does it?

The PDF Maps Mobile App, developed by Avenza Systems Inc., is available as a free download from iTunes and the Android Play Store. The app provides access to Forest Service maps, such as motor-vehicle-use maps, which are free while pages from national forest atlases are 99 cents and forest visitor maps are $4.99. Prices are pending for other agency maps.

The maps are geo-referenced with the user’s location appearing as a blue dot. The app works on iPhones (3GS or newer) and iPads with WiFi+3G. It also works with Android 4 or newer operating systems on devices with at least 1 gigabyte of memory.

Oh my, not only are we talking about PDF here but we’re talking about a charging for free data.  But maybe it’s a stopgap measure:

In geographic areas with Internet availability users will be able to use the products with live data. The interactive map is expected to be available on a limited basis starting in March 2014.

Read that sentence a couple times and try and figure out their plans.  National forests with “internet availability” (how’s that for a small subset?) will be able to use “the products” (we talking about PDF Maps Mobile?) with “live data” (which means what?).  I guess we’ll just have to wait until next year to see if 2014 will continue PDF maps on mobile.  But don’t fear:

Paper maps are still available for purchase online at the National Forest Store.


PostGIS Day Special Hangout This Week

We’ve got a special hangout this week: PostGIS Day Extravaganza Panel. Paul Ramsey, Bborie Park, Stephen Mather and Josh Berkus join me to talk about the most important tool since the sextant. We’ll have a IRC discussion going and we’ll be giving out free copies of PostGIS 2.1 to some very lucky people. We go live at 10am PST right here so don’t be late!!!! Mmm, PostGIS…..

Homer eats PostGIS

Boundless Releases OpenGeo Suite 4.0

Boundless (ex OpenGeo) released OpenGeo Suite 4.0 this week:

Boundless is proud to announce the release of OpenGeo Suite 4.0. This version reflects deep changes that have occurred in the platform, while still supporting the functionality that our customers rely on. This release brings many new features and improvements, including the following component upgrades: PostGIS 2.1, GeoServer 2.4, GeoWebCache 1.5, support for OpenLayers 3 and the inclusion of the OpenGeo Suite QGIS plugin.

Of course upgrades to the standard server components but now with desktop (QGIS) integration. Get a load of this:

Our new plugin for QGIS allows for seamless management and publishing of geographic information from this popular desktop tool to OpenGeo Suite — connect to PostGIS, GeoServer, and GeoWebCache right from your familiar desktop environment to manage your geospatial deployments.

Don’t care for the command line? Just fire up QGIS and work with the server data in everyone’s favorite desktop GIS client. Rip and replace was never easier and QGIS and OpenGeo Suite go together like chocolate and peanut butter (still a Halloween candy hangover around here)!

Chocolate and Peanut Butter

Does Ideas4OGC Fix Problems with OGC Standards?

Remember the OGC REST API standard blowup earlier this year? Yea, great times. It reinforced the notion that the OGC is run by those who donate the most to the organization. Smartly it was withdrawn and we can all go about our business without some crazy new standard being rushed through. Cameron Shorter highlighted a new initiative at the OGC to try and address these issues brought up by the REST debacle.

You may remember the contentious proposal for the GeoServices REST API to become an OGC standard? After strong community concerns, largely focused on duplication of existing standards, the motion to approve the proposed standard was withdrawn. The fact that the proposal progressed as far as it did, to the point where it was almost ratified as a standard before being blocked, was a primary driver leading the OGC to initiate an “Ideas for OGC” (Ideas4OGC) review, aimed at re-baselining OGC priorities and processes.

The OGC has the Ideas4OGC initial recommendations on their wiki page:

Formally kicked off on June 20th, 2013, the Ideas for OGC (Ideas4OGC) process has collected a broad set of comments, recommendations and constructive criticism from across the membership, the public and OGC staff.

Yea they heard us. Head over to that wiki page and read up and input your comments. Sounds like they are totally rethinking how they operate on this kind of stuff. Hopefully this means that any new standards proposed will have to go through a process that is open and meaningful, rather than a rush job so one company can prove their software is OGC compliant. This gets a thumbs up from me!

Best Picture Ever

Blockholm: Crowdsourcing City Planning with Minecraft

Minecraft and planning. Seems so right doesn’t it?

The Swedish Centre for Architecture and Design has announced a project where the topographic site for Stockholm has been reproduced in Minecraft and people are invited to rebuild the city virtually.

Blockholm opens on 24 October and allows people to realize the city they always dreamed of. It is interesting as it allows a form of modelling and design rarely practiced on a large scale in city planning.

What’s really awesome is you can follow the builders live on this web map. That map itself is built using Leaflet.js and is of course mobile compatible. Backend awesome is built on PostGIS with some FME help. I love the simplicity of it all!

My GIS in the Rockies Keynote

Last week I was lucky enough to give the keynote at the GIS in the Rockies conference in Denver, CO. It was a bit of a different talk from me than I’ve given in a while. Less snark and more practicality. The conference committee video taped (why do we still say “taped”?) it and you can watch it below. Geoff Zeiss was at the keynote and wrote up his take on my talk.

The slides are on Speaker Deck but you can also see them here.

Hitting the Road — Conference Season 2013

This fall has been a busy time for me and I’m enjoying it. Less than two weeks ago I was able to give the keynote at the 2013 North Dakota GIS Users Conference in Grand Forks, ND. This trip was special for a couple reasons; I picked up some UND Hockey gear, got to meet a ton of new people and now I can safely say I’ve been to all 50 states. Yes, North Dakota was the last one on my list after an airplane malfunction allowed me to add a night in West Virginia to the list earlier this year. You might say I had a fracking good time up in North Dakota (get it?) and I’m totally looking forward to going back, especially since the weather was beautiful. Must be like that year round.

This week I’m headed to the 2013 AGIC Education & Training Symposium up in Prescott, AZ. I do love myself a symposium, that’s for sure. It’s basically the Arizona State GIS conference but I guess you can’t call it that. I’ll be giving a talk on Using OpenStreetMap in your GIS Project which will be full of practical points on getting the most value out of OpenStreetMap.

Next week I’m keynoting the Manitoba GIS User Group 2013 Conference (I guess not everything is a symposium) on October 2nd. I’ll be giving a talk on staying relevant with technology changes but still calling yourself a GIS professional. Again, lots of good stuff but I don’t want to spoil it. I can guarantee that there is 100% no pictures of cats in my presentation.

And lastly, I’m keynoting the GIS in the Rockies 2013 conference in Denver, Colorado October 9 and 10th. I’ll be giving the same talk as the MGUG conference but there won’t be any French in the slides (or jokes about Maple syrup). We’ll look at ways to embrace the new cool tools everyone is using but keeping within workflows that are usually out of your control.