Tuesday, 18 March 2008

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...

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