I am a Professor at Salisbury University where I teach courses in quantitative geography and GIS.

What spatial database do you use?

How do you manage your spatial data?  Just looking to see what kind of consensus there is out there – please pass this along

I want to continue adding more nuances to my previous geocoding post here.  In this post, I wanted to show you how I am using Radian to call SQL Server to perform data selection, A Radian function to modify the data coming back from SQL Server, Google’s geocoding API to get X,Y coordinates from an address string, and then another Radian function to convert the geocoded coordinates into a geometry object.

Recently my students and I wrote a paper on geocoding with different Python tools here. While that was really fun, it does take a bit of work to write the code.  As you know, I’m partial to doing anything I can with SQL.  My attempts to build geocoding into PostgreSQL has not been very successful, although my friends who use Linux versions have had better success.

So, I was really happy to see that Radian built in many geocoding servers into their product, and the functionality is accessible via SQL.   The following video shows how to use the Google geocoder through Radian, and I’ve added a little wrinkle: some of the locations are straight addresses, while others are intersections.  Using a very simple CASE statement, the addresses geocode effortlessly.  Check it out, and let me know what you think.

if you are interested in learning how to use Radian Studio, check out http://www.gisadvisor.com where I have 9 different training courses in geospatial technology.

Review of An Introduction to Statistical Problem Solving in Geography

I was just recently sent a review of my book An Introduction to Statistical Problem Solving in Geography.  If you are thinking about a good introductory text on quantitative geography, this review will give you a good idea of what the book is about.

Also, for a limited time, you can get my online version of the course for \$30 here.  That’s 12 hours of lectures, explanations, and hands-on demonstrations – these are similar to the lectures I give in my University course (although somewhat abbreviated).  So, if you want apply quantitative geographic theory in your GIS work, this is a great way to learn.

My GISUK talk on Parallel Processing

Someone just retweeted my presentation from Scotland last Fall.  I spoke on creating a QGIS plug-in for parallel processing and terrain analysis.  I had a fantastic time at @GISUK.  Here is a link to the talk.

Cartography in ArcGIS and QGIS

Today I want to introduce you to another one of my students, Meghan Murphy.  Meghan is an outstanding student, and one of the top undergraduates I have ever worked with (I know, I say that a lot, but they just keep getting better and better).  Even as a Sophomore, Meghan was always helping other students out, even the Seniors – students would seem to wait for Meghan to organize everyone together to study for upcoming exams.

She also has an innate ability to work with GIS, and pick up new things: one day she has never programmed in Python, and the next day, she has a couple of hundred line Python script created and running in ArcGIS!  So, I was so happy when Meghan said she wanted to take a special course in Open Source GIS that I was offering this semester.  We covered QGIS, Postgres/PostGIS, GDAL, and Geoserver.  For her final project, Meghan decided she wanted to compare the cartography capabilities of ArcGIS and QGIS, and make a video about it (maybe she was inspired by my videos, or maybe she just figured after watching Lembo’s videos, how could I do worse!).

Whatever her reason, like everything else she does, this turned out great, especially since she had never done a live tutorial like this.  So, I encourage you to watch the side-by-side comparisons for creating a basic cartographic product in both ArcGIS and QGIS.  It’s about 40 minutes long, but worth every minute: I found that I learned some things I hadn’t known regarding some cartographic tools.  And, on that note, I’ll have more videos from my undergraduates shortly (some built web maps, others built an enterprise GIS with Postgres.

If you want to learn more about open source GIS, Python programming, Spatial SQL, or Spatial Statistics, check out my online courses at www.gisadvisor.com.

The Web Duel – Last Thoughts

The Web GIS Duel: Final Thoughts

This is a continuation of Mark Balwanz’s blog posts on his creation of web mapping sites using both ESRI and Geoserver.  Today he will talk about his experience creating the site using open source technology.

Over the first three parts of this blog series (here, here, and here), I have laid out my project plan, walked you through my ESRI implementation, and my Open Source implementation. During this fourth and final blog I plan on sharing with you my overall thoughts on both implementations in regards to what I liked and disliked. As I mentioned in Part 1 of this series, everything I share here is just my opinion and is based on this one project. I also want to point out that most of my previous experience, both academic and professional, is based in ESRI and is probably shaping some of my opinions.

I will start by sharing my opinions about my experience building the ESRI version. I found the ESRI build to be quite simple thanks to the enormous amount of information that can be found online. Since the entire stack is from the same company the integration between ArcGIS Desktop, ArcGIS Server, and the API was seamless and very easy to navigate. Publishing data to ArcGIS Server was a breeze thanks to the publishing tools that they have included in the desktop software. I also found it extremely easy to pull ArcGIS Server map services into the application that was built with the API. None of this should come as a surprise since these things were built by the same company and are meant to work together. Another positive I found with ESRI is their documentation. The ArcGIS for Developers website and specifically the JavaScript samples and API reference page contained everything I needed to build my application. The online community of users is quite large as well which provides a tremendous wealth of information within forum posts. I think one of the huge benefits that the ESRI implementation provided was the ArcGIS Server capabilities; the identify task, geometry service (although I did not use it), and many others. I found using ArcGIS for Server to be much easier than GeoServer when it came to writing JavaScript code to query the services. I really did not run into anything with the ESRI implementation that made frustrated me. Of course, if I was building something like this for a company I would have to factor in the cost of the systems as well. The ESRI stack has the advantage of being built by a single company with a single vision of how everything should fit together, and that is something that by its nature the Open Source stack will never have.

So as you can tell I enjoyed my time building the ESRI version, but was really excited to see how the Open Source one would compare. I think I mentioned this in Part 3 of this series, but I was once again very impressed with QGIS. I found it very intuitive and the amount of plugins that you can add is very impressive. The GeoServer Manager plugin made the publishing of WMS to GeoServer a trivial task. As mentioned above, I do prefer ArcGIS Server over GeoServer, but that being said the GeoServer manager page is very easy to use and seems to be well thought out. The open source JavaScript libraries were also quite impressive. Although I ended up switching from Leaflet to OpenLayers 3, I still came away impressed by how easy it was to use Leaflet was and will be looking to use it in the future. The one problem I had with OpenLayers was how hard it was to find accurate information about OpenLayers 3, online. Most everything I found was for OpenLayers 2 and that does not migrate very well to OpenLayers 3. Even the book I bought for OpenLayers 3 had some code that is not included in the library anymore and therefore did not work. The samples page on the OpenLayers 3 website was helpful, but overall I was not impressed by their documentation. Another area where I felt was lacking was the integration of GeoServer and OpenLayers. I found it complicated to perform relatively simple spatial queries against a GeoServer WMS from within OpenLayers. What made this more difficult is that I had to search through two sets of documentation to solve my problem (GeoServer and OpenLayers 3) rather than just one. I do think that some of these problems would probably decrease the more I used GeoServer and OpenLayers, but better documentation would make it easier for people to jump into the Open Source world. After completing this project though, I am pretty confident that the Open Source world has the capabilities to match ESRI and the fact that the software is free is a huge benefit. Additional work to more seamlessly integrate these Open Source projects would go a long in making them more user friendly.

As someone who has spent most of his GIS life working with ESRI, I have to admit it was a little uncomfortable to move into the Open Source world. However, being uncomfortable was a good thing as it pushed me to learn a lot of new technologies. I think Open Source can be a great way for organizations to start using GIS as there is a lot less upfront cost and with a little research you can find the Open Source project that best fits your need.

I hope you have enjoyed this blog series and have maybe learned something that you can use. Please feel free to leave comments if you have any questions and thanks for reading!

Maryland State GIS Conference (TuGIS)

The TuGIS training workshop on March 20, 2017 is completed – you can see the workshop evaluations below:

The workshop evaluations are in

(if you want to cut to the chase, the workshop results are here).

I had a great time teaching our two workshops at the TuGIS conference.  In the morning, my students and I presented Spatial SQL: A Language for Geographers, and in the afternoon we taught Python for Geospatial.

We knew expectations would be high: both courses sold-out in 2 days, and we even expanded the class size to 38 people for each workshop!!  I knew that teaching 38 people would be a challenge, but it would also be a great lesson to see if we could corral so many cats into a single, technical workshop.  The workshop evaluations would be crucial to determine if we met our objectives.

The workshop evaluations were overwhelmingly positive.  For example:

1. over 90% said they enjoyed the workshop.
2. over 83% said it was much better than other GIS training they have been to.
3. on a scale of 1-10, 95% of the attendees rated the course a 7 or above.
4. 93% said they learned something new in the workshop.
5. 89% said the workshops would help them in their careers.
6. 91% said they would apply these skills to their job.

I decided to throw one curve-ball on the evaluation sheet and asked:

This was a half-day workshop. Most one-day GIS training classes cost around \$600/day. If we developed other in-depth full-day workshops on topics like this for under \$250, how likely would you be to participate in it?

it turned out that 89% of the respondents rated a 7 or higher, indicating that almost 90% of the people valued the training enough to pay \$250 for a full day course (opposed to \$600 for most GIS courses).  This means it is possible to offer really good, low cost training to GIS professionals.  Keep an eye out on this, as I am very likely to take these training classes on the road.

The comments the participants provided were great – it confirmed our belief that this was an excellent training course, and that the course needed to be expanded to 8 hours, rather than 4 hours – most everyone felt like their was simply too much information to absorb.

If you would like to see the results of the workshop evaluation, click the link below:

Finally, if you can’t make it to a live workshop, all of my video training courses are \$30 or less, when you visit www.gisadvisor.com.  These courses can’t get into the level of depth that a live course gives, but you’ll see that after thousands of students taking the courses, close to 90% of them give the course 4 starts out of 5!

I just got the new build of Radian Studio, and now that it can directly read geodatabases, you can link directly to the geodatabase from inside of Radian and perform Radian spatial queries on it.  In this video, I’m linking directly to an ESRI geodatabase, creating a small map display of the data, performing a spatial clip of two vector layers, and returning the results.   In my previous video, I showed how Radian studio can read data directly from PostgreSQL, SQLite, and also easily exchange data between them.   This is just another example of how Radian can manage disparate GIS databases.

l hope you like the video, if so, consider learning more about Radian Studio in my online course here.

As many of you know, Manifold Software, Ltd. has just announced the release of Radian Studio.  To help people learn Radian, gisadvisor.com, LLC. has just released the video training course Radian Studio.

The more I’m using Radian Studio, the better I like it.  Have a look at the short video below to get a quick look at what Radian Studio can do, and decide if it is something you want to try out.

The course is over four hours of video instruction, which as you know from other gisadvisor.com videos, is probably close to a one or two day training program.  I wanted to get this training out quickly, so there will be more added to it as the days go on, and as Manifold Software, Ltd. adds more functionality.

As part of the introductory offer, the entire course is available for \$30 if you purchase it using the coupon code here – that is an incredible deal to learn such a sophisticated piece of software.  And as always, any of the courses you sign up for are available forever, and you can view the courses on your desktop, tablet, and any smart device.

This is one of the best ways to learn the basics of Radian Studio, and it’s at a price that is very affordable to anyone.  Don’t forget, if you use Radian Studio, the Manifold forum is a great place to learn from others.