Thursday, July 28, 2011

Converting KML to Shapefiles

An update to the free and open source KML2Shapefile extension for MapWindow GIS has been posted. There are a number of fixes to and enhancements to make conversion faster and easier.

KML has really taken off as a format for posting geospatial data on the Web. Bringing that data into a GIS offers a lot of analytic options for a great price.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Shape2Earth 2.0

Shape2Earth for MapWindow GIS provides simple tools for converting shapefiles to Keyhole Markup Language (KML) for viewing GIS data in Google Earth. It runs as a plugin to the free and open source MapWindow GIS, which is an excellent .NET based GIS desktop application. The purpose of releasing Shape2Earth as a plugin to MapWindow was to take advantage of all of the shapefile tools that MapWindow makes available.

One drawback to this approach was that using MapWindow required a little bit of knowledge on general GIS workflows. Users needed to download MapWindow, then download Shape2Earth into a specific directory so that MapWindow could see it as a plugin, activate Shape2Earth in MapWindow, load a shapefile, and then know how to adjust the symbology of the shapefile using MapWindow, and then export the shapefile to KML using MapWindow.

Shape2Earth 2.0 works on top of the new Shape2EarthEngine, and greatly simplifies the process. Users can run Shape2Earth 2.0 without having to launch any additional programs. Shape2EarthEngine provides its own shapefile reader and symbol rendering engine. It does not require the use of MapWindow GIS, or any of its components.

While Shape2EarthEngine has been decoupled from MapWindow GIS, it can still run as a plugin to MapWindow, just like the original Shape2Earth. This lets users take advantage of all that MapWindow has to offer in terms of managing shapefiles and cartographically defining the symbology for export as a KML file.

Besides being able to run stand-alone, or with MapWindow, Shape2Earth 2.0 offers many new and improved options for letting people create compelling Google Earth maps using shapefiles.

Shape2Earth 2.0 and Shape2EarthEngine are still under development. I hope to have it available for beta testing by current Shape2Earth customers in the coming months.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Google Earth Portable Server

Google is now offering a Google Earth Portable Server as part of their enterprise offerings. This architecture lets users select their area of interest from a web page with the Google Earth Plugin embedded in it. This are is extracted and downloaded on to their computer, and is served to the Google Earth Enterprise client, or to a web page with the Google Earth Plugin.

This configuration offers a lot of flexibility for use, and can run completely disconnected from the network. This is a big deal for government and DoD customers.

Similar solutions in the past made use of Linux virtual machines running a Google Earth Server connected to a Windows machine. The new configuration is much more elegant and manageable.

This architecture will make a lot of sense for military use. Soldiers could select there are of interest from an NGA server, and then download their imager, vector data, and applications as a deployable bundle that can operate disconnected, or in conjunction with other services.