Saturday, December 19, 2009

Shapefiles for Web Mapping

KML is becoming a standard way to display geospatial data on the internet. With all of the really good web mapping platforms available today, you can take your pick on how you would like to show off your GIS data to a large audience.

Shape2Earth can get your GIS data on the web quickly by converting your shapefiles to KML for display in Google Earth, Google Maps, or Bing Maps.

Here is a quick example of showing off GIS data in Google's App Engine platform with Google Earth. It's important to note that this capability is essentially free. Google will host your spatial application. All you have to do is put it together.

Shapefiles in in Google's App Engine (select the Shape2Earth layers on the right).

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Shape2Earth Users Guide

Shape2Earth has a much needed Users Guide on line to help get people going converting shapefiles to KML. Shape2Earth is very easy to use, but there is a lot that can be done with it in conjunction with MapWindow, and this guide should help those without a GIS background.

There is still some work to be done on the Guide, but I thought that getting the current information out there was more important than having 100% of the content filled out.

Shape2Earth 2.0 is also under works. It is mostly a redesigned form that takes into account lessons learned from Shape2Earth 1.0 for MapWindow. Shape2Earth 2.0 will still work with MapWindow to take advantage of its advanced GIS capabilities, but will also be able to run independently. The core management and conversion has been moved into Shape2Earth Engine. This will make it much easier for things such as batch converting of shapefiles, and embedding Shape2Earth into other applications

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Shape2Earth for MapWindow GIS 4.7 Released

Shape2Earth for MapWindow 4.7 has been released. Shape2Earth is the quickest, easiest, and cheapest way to convert shapefiles into Keyhole Markup Language (KML) for viewing in Google Earth.

This version of Shape2Earth offers a number of improvements, including:

1. Better handling of complex geometries
2. Ability to add custom balloon styles
3. Exporting of selected data, or data in a specific area
4. Sorting of spatial features into KML Folders based on an attribute
5. Higher accuracy on geo-referenced Google Earth image captures

Shape2Earth has been downloaded over 32,000 times in the last 18 months, and has been found to be exceptionally useful and cost effective by local and federal government agencies, as well as industry leaders in a multitude of professional specialties.

Download Shape2Earth and try it on your own data today.

Friday, October 02, 2009

MapWindow GIS User and Developer Conference

The 1st International MapWindow GIS User and Developer Conference will be held in Orlando, FL, from 31 March to 2 April 2010.

MapWindow is a .NET, open source, easy to use, desktop GIS that can be extended through plugins.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Shape2Earth4GPS Alpha

I have been working on a Google Earth based application that uses their new Plugin in a .NET Form called Shape2Earth4GPS. It is an experiment on being able to edit spatial data (in this case, GPS data) directly on the Globe.

Currently, it works very well for digitizing your waypoints and routes, and then saving them as GPX files to upload into your favorite GPS receiver. You can also load and edit your existing waypoints, routes, and tracks.

If anyone would like to act as a beta tester for Shape2Earth4GPS, please send me a note at

Thursday, May 28, 2009

ArcGIS Explorer - Color Coding Shapefile Data

I’ve been working on an ArcGIS Explorer stand-alone application that needs to let users select buildings inside of a buffer that is created around a user defined point. The attributes of the selected buildings and their colors need to be changed to indicate their status. The user will also be able to click on a building to select it, and then be able to change the status of the building (by changing the color/attribute of the selected building).

Using shapefiles, a file based personal geodatabase, or an ArcSDE geodatabase won’t work, because it does not look like you can have an attribute based coloring scheme. There also does not appear to by any way to extrude the shapefiles, and the building need to be 3D.
I can use KML to extrude buildings and change the color of individual features, but I cannot run any of the spatial operations on a KML file.

I am getting around this by using both shapefiles and KML. I’m using the ArcGIS Explorer API to generate KML form the shapefiles on the fly. Each KML Placemark has an ID that is equal to the shapefile FeatureID. I’m using the API to select features from the shapefile based on a point (for selecting an individual building) or by area (to select t group of buildings from a buffer). I can then open the XML/KML file, get the associated Placemarks by matching their Id to the FID, change their style to reflect the change in attribution, and then reload to view the change.

This seems to be a nice way to get around some of the limitations in ArcGIS Explorer to make it quite a bit more useful for my application requirements. This method also seems to work with file based personal geodatabases and ArcSDE.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Create and Edit GPX In Google Earth

The Google Earth plugin is offering many new opportunities for writing custom web-based and desktop applications. iEarth is an experiment that uses Google Earth as the map for interacting with GPS and GIS data.

The Google Earth plugin is intended for use in a web page, but can also be embedded in a desktop application in a web control or referenced as an ActiveX control.

A common method for embedding the Google Earth plugin in a desktop application can be viewed online as a part of the Google Earth code samples.

Part of what makes the Google Earth plugin so much more flexible than its desktop counterpart is the programmatic control that is given to developers through its API.

Not only can spatial data be loaded as KML, but the source data can be directly manipulated through the Google Earth interface.

An example of this is the GPX editor seen below.

GPX is an XML based exchange format for GPS data such as waypoints, routes, and tracks. The GPX editor in iEarth can load existing GPX data for viewing or editing, and also lets users digitize and edit data from scratch. The data is translated into KML for viewing in Google Earth, but is kept in internally in the GPX format for saving.

This same method can be used with Shapefiles. The next release of Shape2Earth will embed a link to the shapefile so that editing spatial or attribute data in iEarth will also edit the shapefile.

Google Earth Plugin in iEarth

Digitize a GPX Waypoint and enter data

View the GPX attributes in the Google Earth Balloon

Digitize Routes in Google Earth and save as GPX for use in GPS Receivers

Right click on existing data to edit the attribute data