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July 25, 2005
ESRI UC Conference 2005 Preview
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! By now most of you are aware the ESRI Conference will be taking place July 25-29 in San Diego, and many have made plans to attend well in advance. Basically the program will remain the same but there are some changes to the format. The conference agenda is available online and I've noted some highlights and changes in the Industry News.

Also, in June, Autodesk announced RealDWG 2006 technology for application development. Developers have requested this product (formerly ObjectDBX. Read about what that might mean as this product makes development of AutoCAD-based products available to all developers.

GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at Managing Editor

Best wishes,
Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News
ESRI UC Conference 2005 Preview
By Susan Smith

By now most of you are aware the ESRI Conference will be taking place July 25-29 in San Diego, and many have made plans to attend well in advance. Basically the program will remain the same but there are some changes to the format. The conference agenda is available online.

The 2005 plenary session has an entirely new schedule. In the past, Jack Dangermond gave the opening address and then opened the conference up to senior staff to describe the new products. This year, Dangermond, senior staff, and topic experts will interact throughout the day in sharing the ESRI vision for “GIS-Helping Manage Our World.”

Dr. Jane Goodall, DBE, Founder of the Jane Goodall Institute and U.N. Messenger of Peace, will be the keynote speaker on Monday, renowned for her incredible study of chimpanzees in Tanzania's Gombi National Park. In addition. Dr. Goodall is respected worldwide for her environmental conservation efforts and humanitarianism. With a strong emphasis on the preservation of primate species, Web sites have been set up to enable attendees to make contributions to the Jane Goodall Institute, the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International, and the Orangutan Foundation International.

Along the same lines, in the summer issue of ArcNews, an article on “GIS Applications for Gorilla Behavior and Habitat Analyses” outlines the power of advanced spatial technologies and GIS being used by The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International (DFGFI) to help study the Virunga gorilla habitat and behavior in central East Africa. Space imagery, GPS and historic maps have been combined in a GIS to display and analyze the data for research and conservation efforts. Representatives from the DFGFI will be on hand in the Map Gallery for discussion.

UC Discussion forums for ESRI International User Conference attendees provide a way for conference attendees to connect with one another prior to the conference regarding accommodations, transportation, conference expectations, and other topics relevant to the conference or San Diego.

In cruising the online agenda, I did notice some new events, changes and additions. The Sunday Welcome Social on Sunday, 4:30-7:00 p.m., will be held in the Grand Lobby, Outside Hall C, SDCC. It is free to attendees and their guests, but your conference badge is required to enter.

A new day and time for the Eighth Annual Special Achievement in GIS Awards event - Wednesday, July 27, 2005--3:30 p.m.-5:30 p.m., SDCC, Hall A. These awards recognize organizations for their outstanding achievements in GIS.

Pre-conference Summits

I will be attending both the Third Annual Survey and GIS Summit and the Sixth Annual Telecom and LBS Summit this year.

Survey and GIS Summit --July 23-26, 2005, This year's program has been expanded to Include Engineering and Engineering Design. surveyors, engineers, and GIS professionals to discover technology, applications, and methodologies that can help us collaborate and improve our efforts as we support our customers.

The Sixth Annual Telecom and LBS Summit on July 24 will feature best practices as well as trends in technology, applications, and business models.

Pre-conference Seminars

Preconference seminars include topics such as Implementing the GIS Portal Toolkit, Image Processing for the GIS Analyst, Health Geodatabase Modeling, ArcWeb Services for Developers and much more.

Fifth Annual ESRI Education User Conference

The Fifth Annual ESRI Education User Conference (co-located with ESRI UC) will be held at the Marriott Hotel & Marina July 23-26, 2005. That conference will offer:
- A conference dedicated to geographic learning
- Hands-on workshops using ESRI software
- Opening and closing presentations by David Rumsey and Dr. Mike Fay
- Past experiences shared by GIS educators
- Information on grants and resources
- Information on software licensing
- Updates on projects, programs, and partnerships
- More than 20 exhibitors in the Solutions EXPO
- New insights to take back to the classroom or lab
- The opportunity to network with other GIS educators

Just for Fun

The conference hosts a GeoTreasure Hunt on Saturday, July 23rd from 5:00-7:00 p.m. at the Marina-Salon D/E, Marriott. This is a hands-on activity that uses handheld global positioning (GPS) units to follow clues and navigate to several locations near the hotel. Trimble, the activity sponsor, will provide instruction for using GPS units running ArcPad. With handheld units supplied by Trimble, participants will navigate to several locations around the conference center and hotel. Prizes will include a copy of ArcPad software. EdUC attendees are welcome to bring their own GPS units. For more information on the GeoTreasure Hunt, contact Molly Dougherty at Email Contact.

Other recreational activities will include a tennis tournament, golf tournament, 5K fun run walk.

Authors of several new books will be on hand for signing. Fun with GPS, by Donald Cooke, outlines examples and exercises of the use of GPS on snow and ice, mapping an old cemetery, magnetic vs. true north, mapping the Boston Marathon, land conservation and trail mapping. Most of the work done in the book is done with Garmin products, apparently because the Garmin GPSs can be set to record track log positions at fixed time intervals, and other equipment is not set up to do this, according to the author.

Before leaving for the conference, you might want to check out the Preconference Survey Q&A where users' questions are answered by Jack Dangermond. Almost every possible question is posed in this Survey, on a variety of geospatial topics.

Autodesk Announces RealDWG 2006 for Application Development … and What That Might Mean

(First published in AECWeekly, June 13-17, 2005)

In June, Autodesk announced RealDWG 2006 technology for application development. According to Mark Strassman, senior director of marketing for Autodesk's Platform Technology division, developers have requested this product Autodesk RealDWG 2006 (formerly ObjectDBX) which enables third-party application providers to develop and market products that read and write design data formats AutoCAD DWG and DXF.

Autodesk RealDWG 2006 is fully compatible with Autodesk's products, including AutoCAD, Autodesk Inventor Series, Autodesk Revit Building, Autodesk Architectural Desktop, Autodesk Civil 3D, Autodesk Map 3D and AutoCAD LT. DWG is the base format of AutoCAD which began with version 1 20 years ago.

Since then, all Autodesk products have supported DWG internal technology and third parties have begun to develop ways to read and write DWG files in order to enhance the base products. "In the past we had something called ObjectDBX which is actually the software libraries - components of AutoCAD that we actually use in all our applications at AutoCAD, and they read and write the same type quality DWG format. We've licensed that to a handful of developers," explained Strassman. "However, the few developers who used it were more on a one-off basis, and prices were high. We charged a per unit licensing fee based on how many units our customers shipped."

Yet during that time, other third party developers who were not selected by Autodesk to use ObjectDBX or who didn't want to pay the cost, continued to use other products to read and write DWG files to build their applications.

In a conversation with Evan Yares, president of the Open Design Alliance, an organization that sells OpenDWG, a set of code libraries also designed to allow read/write of DWG files, one reason why the Open Design Alliance is in existence today is because there was never any certainty that people would be able to get access to libraries [from Autodesk] that would allow them to read and write DWG files. "To the extent that Autodesk opens up their policies and makes them more consistent, and it benefits users, that's a great thing," said Yares All CAD software companies, including Autodesk, have been invited to join the Open Design Alliance.

"The problem as we see it is, we change the file format every so many years to allow us to put new features in the DWG format to support new features in our applications, and these third parties are working to try to get their applications compatible with DWG," Strassman stated. "Our customers were actually upset with the quality of their DWG in third party applications because they were getting application errors and accuracy errors, so we've found that customers are having bad experiences when DWG is written by third party applications."

Autodesk RealDWG 2006 is actually a series of code libraries that have been reworked from ObjectDBX, with new licensing terms, rebranded and repackaged. As part of that, if companies choose to license the libraries they will become members of the Autodesk Developer Network for the remainder of the year, a free promotion for base entry level. "This gives them a large amount of support," said Strassman. "One of the components of licensing RealDWG is an ongoing maintenance of a sort."

The initial fee is $5,000 for the first year and the customer is able to get any upgrades and any updates that Autodesk makes to the Toolkit for that first year. This includes the right to distribute one application using Autodesk RealDWG and any software updates in that time frame. The distribution license is an annual fee of USD$2,500.

"Now, any developer who wants to develop an application to read and write DWG that are 100 percent DWG compatible can do so," claimed Strassman. "We're doing this because there are billions of DWG files out there. We recognize that customers exchange information with products that aren't Autodesk products and we want our customers who are using Autodesk products and working with third party products to have the best possible experience working with the DWG file format and with our product. In order to have our customers interoperate with third party applications, we need to make that genuine DWG format available."

"A bunch of different companies out there provide DWG read/write capability mainly by reverse engineering the DWG file format," Strassman noted. "We get a lot of errors from customers who say their AutoCAD is crashing or they're losing information. We look at the files and see that they aren't from Autodesk applications, they are from third party applications. By providing these libraries we think we will provide a better experience for our customers."

Strassman did say that the libraries are the same type of thing as what the Open Design Alliance offers in their OpenDWG libraries. Yares agreed that Autodesk's updating of their ObjectDBX is "very similar to what our libraries are. They updated it so it works with the latest versions of .NET development tools. Of course the Open Design Alliance has had libraries that work with the latest versions of .NET for quite a long time."

Although we don't know quite what Autodesk's intentions are other than to provide what their customers want, there are some interesting parallel points about RealDWG and OpenDWG. 1) They renamed the ObjectDBX technology "RealDWG" which does seem parallel to the name "OpenDWG," the Open Design Alliance's standard for DWG file formats. 2) Autodesk commented on the accuracy and errors in third party solutions using DWG products other than Autodesk's, which according to Yares, has no basis in fact. "We have 2,000 companies that use this stuff in products that are critical to homeland security and infrastructure, and we respond to any problems there are with accuracy. Only with the version 2006 have they [Autodesk] added capabilities similar to ours."

3) Autodesk's pricing structure RealDWG 2006 is exactly the same as that of the Open Design Alliance's standing membership: $5K the first year, $2500 the year afterwards. "The only difference is that they restrict people to one product and we allow people to use as many as they want to. They provide one version under Windows, we provide multiple versions and we provide DGN as well," said Yares.

Making RealDWG available to more developers has been a long time in coming, but Strassman said that "For our customers sake it's time to allow these tools to be used more widely. We have made it easier to integrate than anything out there."


ESRI announced a newly formed business relationship with MRO Software, leading provider of strategic asset and service management solutions. This partnership will result in a first-of-its-kind embedding of ArcGIS components into MRO Software's Maximo Enterprise Suite (MXES), providing users with a geographic framework for improved decision support and work planning.

eSpatial and Laser-Scan are pleased to announce the signing of a technology alliance. The official announcement is to be made at Laser-Scan's 16th Annual User and Partner Conference.

Together with a joint customer in the UK, this alliance provides a framework for Laser-Scan & eSpatial to work in partnership to support the enterprise wide deployment of Data Capture and Cleaning tools built using iSMART(tm) and Radius Topology(tm) . In partnership, it is now possible to unlock the power of Oracle Spatial through eSpatial's iSMART middle-tier deployment environment, underpinned by Laser-Scan's Database level data cleaning platform.

Laser-Scan and Star Informatic are pleased to announce that their partnership has now been extended to cover the visualization of AdV Model generalized data (AdV = Working Committee of the Surveying Authorities of the States of the Federal Republic of Germany). The proof of concept was shown at the ICC Conference (held 9th -16th July 2005 in La Coruña, Spain), where it has generated significant interest. This collaboration builds on the successful implementation of this solution at Institut Géographique National, France for their current cartographic flowlines. The demonstration featured datasets from Landesvermessungsamt Baden-Württemberg. This institute currently uses both Laser-Scan generalization tools and Star Informatic's cartographic publishing solution Mercator.

Orion Technology, provider of award-winning web-GIS software and integration services, and i-TEN Associates, Inc. a leading GIS services and products provider announced that they have signed a partnership agreement. Under this agreement i-TEN Associates will include OnPoint, Orion's web-GIS Product suite to their current product offering, combining custom-designed functionality with out-of-the-box pricing to complement their GIS Solutions.

Contex Scanning Technology and Z Corporation announced that the companies will merge to create a global leader in color scanning and 3D printing solutions for engineering markets, including computer-aided design (CAD), geographic information systems (GIS) and architecture, engineering and construction (AEC). The transaction is expected to close in the third quarter of 2005. Financial terms were not disclosed.


Revenues from mobile location-based services (LBS) in the European market will grow by 153 percent during 2005 to reach � 274 million, according to a new report from the research firm Berg Insight. For the coming five years, the average annual growth rate is expected to be 83 percent. Johan Fagerberg, senior analyst at Berg Insight, explains why the market now is finally taking off. “This year we have begun to see the expected shift in revenues from voice to non-voice services in the mobile industry. Increasingly user friendly handsets paired with a more mature approach to content services create the right conditions for launching new offerings on the market.”

Geographic Technologies Group, Inc. (GTG) has announced several municipalities and local governments have selected GTG for products and services. These include Yuma County, Arizona - Complete GIS Implementation and Strategic Plan; Indian River, Florida - GIS Needs Assessment and Implementation Plan; Wicomico County, Maryland - Address Point Creation Project; Forsyth County, Georgia - Year Two of GIS Implementation Plan.

The Carbon Project successfully demonstrated its promising data sharing capability, Gaia Session Files, at the GEOINT Tech Days in Reston, Virginia, company officials said. The Gaia Session File, or GSF, is a .NET-based format designed to enable geospatial data sharing in a network-centric environment.

During the GEOINT Tech Demo, participants showed the capability to access many open-geospatial web services, including Geography Markup Language (GML) sources, save all the data to one small file on an iPod shuffle, pass it to other participants, and easily work online as well as offline with the consolidated data session.


VARGIS, LLC announced that Bryan McFadden has joined their business development team as a Senior Account Manager. Mr. McFadden will use his fourteen years of GIS and Remote Sensing experience to pursue geospatial opportunities with State level and Federal government agencies in the Eastern region of the United States.


The City of Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has won a 2005 BE Award for its Toronto Water Integrated Network Skeletonization project. The award category was “Geospatial: Public Works.”


Merrick & Company announced a new $84,000 contract with Malmstrom Air Force Base (AFB) to provide LIDAR data, color digital orthophotography, and 1-foot contours for approximately 15-square miles of the base and surrounding area. Malmstrom AFB is currently upgrading its infrastructure and requires high-resolution aerial imagery to be used for feature extraction and as a basemap source. Awarded in June 2005, final delivery of all data products is expected in October 2005.

New Products

Proxix Solutions, Inc., GIS solutions, tax applications and Web services innovator, announced the release of its National Municipal Boundary Database.

NAVTEQ, a global provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, has released its first map of Bulgaria's road network. The map is available to NAVTEQ's direct customers with the Q2 2005 version of the NAVTEQ database and all subsequent releases.

Laurel Hill GIS, Inc. announces that GeoData Diagnostics version 1.1 is now available. GeoData Diagnostics is an off-the-shelf software product for ESRI's ArcGIS personal and enterprise geodatabases. It allows users to compare structures and properties of two geodatabases and report differences in user friendly HTML. Major new functionality includes:
- SDSFIE geodatabase model support

- Support for ArcGIS 9.1
Laurel Hill GIS, Inc. also announced a new version release of GeoData Sentry. GeoData Sentry is an off-the-shelf software product for ArcGIS enterprise geodatabases. It provides users the ability to create custom testing environments for their geodatabases. Technical and managerial users will be able to detect and report errors related to attribute validity, referential integrity, and spatial relationships.

NovaLIS Technologies will perform demonstrations of its GIS-based solutions in Booth #910 at the ESRI International User Conference in San Diego, July 25 - 29.

Spatial Insights, Inc. announced the release of Point2Point Drive, an application that enables users to find-the-closest location using drive distance as the metric. Instead of the commonly reported straight-line distance calculated between latitude and longitude coordinates, this new tool offers a more realistic, 'on-the-ground' measurement of how far apart locations actually are from one another based on drive time or driving distance.

Cartographies of Disease: Maps, Mapping, and Medicine is a comprehensive survey of the technology of mapping and its relationship to the battle against disease. The new book from ESRI Press traces the history of medical mapping used by researchers struggling to understand epidemic disease from the 1690s to the present.

ESRI is currently shipping ArcGIS 9.1 Publisher and ArcReader 9.1. ArcGIS Publisher allows users to publish high-quality maps and GIS data that can be viewed with ArcReader. New for version 9.1 is the ability to publish and display 3D maps and data.

Around the Web

Google balance privacy, reach, by Elinor Mills, July 14, 2005, CNET News.com--Detailed personal information is so readily available on public Web sites that it makes most people uncomfortable. But it's nothing compared with the information Google collects and doesn't make public.

Google Moon Fun with Google

Upcoming Events

25th Annual ESRI User Conference
Date: July 25 - 29, 2005
Place: San Diego Convention Center, San Diego, CA USA
Discover a community of peers eager to share their ideas, expertise, and practical applications of GIS in their organizations at the largest GIS event of the year.

Eighth Annual Society for Conservation GIS
Date: July 31 - August 2, 2005
Place: Asilomar Conference Grounds Pacific Grove, CA USA
The conference will discuss and promote the use of geospatial technologies for the conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage throughout the world. Technical applications of GIS in conservation, as well as recurring philosophical and ethical issues faced by conservationists, will be explored.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.