Monday, March 24, 2008

Open Source Geospatial Metadata Editor

One of the most important and often overlooked aspects of geospatial data is the associated metadata. In a nutshell, metadata is “data about data”. It provides the background information on the what, when, where, and how of a spatial dataset.

As an example, if you are going to be making decisions based on a spatial dataset, you need to know how accurate and/or precise the data is. Data may have been collected using high grade survey equipment, or it may have been digitized from the educated guess of a subject matter export. Both of these data may be useful, as long as the user knows about these accuracy issues.
ESRI provides two different metadata editors in ArcCatalog. One uses the FGDC metadata profile, and the other an ISO profile (both have some extra ESRI elements added).

The new release of MapWindow GIS (a freely available, open source GIS) has an excellent metadata extension that provides a number of metadata creation, management, and visualization tools.

The Editor can be launched from MapWindow, and can show metadata from a loaded shapefile, or from a metadata xml file loaded from the user interface. Metadata can also be viewed using a number of built in styles sheets.

The metadata editor seems to work very nicely. One change I would like to see would be the ability to store user contact information so that newly created metadata could be updated more easily.

The Metadata Editor can be launched from MapWindow

A simple to use TreeView lets users navigate through metadata elements

I would like to see a change so that users can save contact profiles for quick loading.

Of course this is open source, so there is nothing stopping me!

Metadata can be quickly viewed using a number of built in style-sheets.

MapWindow GIS 4.5 Release Candidate 2

The MapWindow Team released a second candidate for MapWindow GIS 4.5. The second candidate release was due to all of the new enhancements that are packaged with this version of MapWindow.

MapWindow is a Microsoft .NET based, extensible, open source, geographic information system (GIS) for the desktop. It has an active user community, and has been releasing new versions at a regular pace. It's plugin model allows developers to quickly create powerful, custom tools that can be streamlined for specific business purposes at a fraction of the cost when compared to more robust systems.

MapWindow is an excellent GIS package for those who want some basic GIS functionality. I find myself using MapWindow much more often than ArcMap for my day-to-day GIS work. It's just much quicker to start up and getting going with for my run of the mill GIS work.
The most recent 4.5 candidate offers a number of new plugins that are making MapWindow even better. Among them are:

  1. A Great Metadata creation, viewing, and editing tool.
  2. A GPS connection and tracking plugin.
  3. A connection to PostGIS data
  4. Google Geocoder Tool.
  5. Enhancements to the Shapefile Editor

These are in addition to a number of other plugin extensions that have already been made available.

And, of course, there is the Shape2Earth shareware plugin that converts GIS data to KML for viewing in Google Earth and Google Maps.