Friday, 28 March 2008

JTS at the sharp end of many arrows

Miguel Montesinos and Jorge Sanz from the gvSIG project have made a nice diagram showing the relationships between a bunch of GFOSS projects. It' s nice to see JTS close to the centre of the diagram - although having so many arrows pointed at it makes me a little nervous!

They show JTS having a dependency on Batik for some reason - that must be an error, there's no relationship between the two. Or does Batik use JTS?

It would have been nice to see a "parent-of" relationship between JTS and GEOS and NTS, since the latter two also form a key component of quite a few projects. And I'm pretty sure MapGuide OS uses GEOS, as does OGR.

But it's not surprising there's a few errors and omissions - it's a pretty complicated web of relationships. And this is over only what - 8 years? I wonder what the diagram will look like in another 8...

Monday, 24 March 2008

Time for JSTS?

Like a lot of stuff, spatial functionality is moving out into the browser. Signs of the times:
  • proj4js
  • GeoJSON
  • This comment: "The DOJO client-side libraries provide support for performing some simple spatial operations like ‘intersection’ on the client-side." (Although I haven't been able to find this functionality in a quick browse of Dojo - can anyone confirm this?)
Seems like maybe the time is ripe for a port of JTS to JSTS - the Javascript Topology Suite.

Take it away, someone - I'm too busy!

Saturday, 22 March 2008

Swimming taught by telephone

Ok, this is like popcorn... you can't have just one.

Just think - they had no idea that one day you would be able to simply download a learn-to-swim podcast and listen to it on your waterproof MP3 player...

Has Automation affected YOUR job?

Can't resist posting this (from Modern Mechanix).

I'm definitely enjoying not having grimy hands, but what happened to the shorter work week and more leisure time?

Tuesday, 18 March 2008

World Population Cartograms

The Daily Green has some cartograms showing the change in distribution of world population since 1900.

But there's another aspect to this that the original images don't show - the increase in the absolute number of people in the world. So here's the images with that factor applied:

1900 - 1.65 B

2007 - 6.64 B

2050 - ~ 9 B

A good kick in the pants for the GeoWeb?

Reading the blog posts that are starting to come out about the ESRI Dev Summit, I'm struck by a few things:
  • REST! KML! JSON! AJAX! Dojo! I haven't seen this many tech buzzwords out of ESRI since ArcGIS on Windows was released with COM! VBA! DLLs! Hopefully some of these have more legs
  • Clearly ESRI is embracing the GeoWeb concept with a vengeance. It will be very interesting to see how these new modes of access to GIS functionality plays out. To what extent will the marriage of web services and GIS processing be an effective model?
  • They also seem to be accepting Google Maps/Earth and MS VE as valid spatial delivery platforms. It sounds like there is some pretty full-featured capabilities to deliver data to these platforms. It's going to be interesting to see the uptake on these capabilities, and whether ESRI's heart is really in making these platforms perform to their full capability. No doubt there will be some fascinating business implications as well that get played out over time...
  • I'll be interested to see whether ESRI's "legitimizing" spatial-via-web-service will have any effect on the OGC W*S world. It seems to me that while OGC was early out of the gate with a web service suite, they seem to be wallowing in the doldrums as far as making the specs effective for real-world use. The OGC W*S suite was quickly adopted by the OSS world, and for good reason - open source tends to be very faithful to open standards, since a design goal is usually to have a high degree of interoperability. Not to mention that it's easier to code to a standard which has already done a lot of the hard thinking. But - the cool kids are losing interest in the crusty old W*S interfaces, since they're not keeping up with the rapid emergence of exciting new web paradigms.
  • Ultimately ESRI's trailblazing will be a good thing for OSS technologies. Nothing like having a working system to inspect, copy, and improve. And the more open, standard technologies that system uses, the easier it is to steal - um, learn from. Also, as the GIS stack gets more open interface technologies accepted, it becomes easier to plug in heterogeneous components into that stack.
Now to start looking into that ArcGIS Server REST API...

Monday, 17 March 2008

Tired of those boring old conformal map projections? Make your own!

Flex Projector is an interesting tool that allows you to make a custom map projection by adjusting the location and shape of meridians and parallels.

Here's a nice projection I defined to maximise the area of tropical vacation spots 8^)

The downside of this app is that as far as I can tell, there's no way to export a projection once it's defined. Instead, you have to use the Flex Projector application to reproject datasets. So it doesn't look like you can make your own custom projection for use in say, PostGIS or OGR.

I guess it might be asking a little much for the app to spit out some custom Proj4 C code with an associated EPSG code and CRS WKT... But hey, it's an open source app, so come on someone - how about it?

Friday, 14 March 2008

Quote of the (Pi) Day

Sir, I send a rhyme excelling
In sacred truth and rigid spelling
Numerical sprites elucidate
For me the lexicon's full weight

Maybe not the greatest lyric poem - but list the number of letters in each word. (If you prefer a shortcut this site has them already listed - along with 9, 979 more)

And notice the value of the date as MM.DD...

Monday, 3 March 2008

Branch-and-Bound algorithms for Nearest Neighbour queries

This paper by Roussopoulos et al is a fine expositions of how to use a Branch-and-Bound algorithm in conjunction with an R-tree index to efficiently perform Nearest-Neighbour queries on a spatial database.

Nearest-neighbour is a pretty standard query for spatial database. Oracle Spatial offers this capability natively. It would be great if PostGIS did too. If the GIST index API offers appropriate access methods, it seems like it might not be too hard to implement the Roussopoulos algorithm. (How about it, Paul, now that you're dedicating your life to becoming a PostGIS coding wizard...)

I'm also thinking that this approach might produce an efficient algorithm for computing distance between Geometrys for JTS. It's always bugged me that the JTS distance algorithm is just plain ol' O(N^2) brute-force. It seems like there has to be a better way, but as usual there seems to be precious little prior art out there in web-land. This should also work well in the "Prepared" paradigm, which means that it will provide an efficient implementation for PostGIS as well. Soon, hopefully...