Planning the Spontaneous

It's more than just a blueprint.

All Mapped Out

Posted by Robert Chow on 10/02/2010

So I went to the ESRI DeveloperHub conference yesterday to start out my research for the Mapper component.  Despite being held in Birmingham, I did feel like we were in Scotland.  The Scottish seemed to be everywhere – in the crowd and on the stage.

The first person I spoke to (is from, no awards for guessing where, Scotland) is in a similar company to IGI, dealing with oil and gas in the North Sea.  However, he isn’t part of the same background as I – he is a geochemist, and a map analyst.  Similarly, other attendees I spoke to are map analysts.  Yet I did come across a few developers.

Unfortunately for me, these developers specialised in working with and creating products using ArcGIS.  From what I learnt yesterday, this is a platform used for Geographic Information Systems, and is widely used in the majority of independent mapping applications.  With the start of the conference showcasing the new ArcGIS 10, I can now get a feel to what I am up against for when I come to create Mapper.  And yes, once again, there is a lot to do.  The rest of the day concentrated on using ArcGIS in server applications and wrapping it up in web-based APIs, such as Silverlight, JavaScript and Flex.  Although I did find this interesting at first, and rather attractive, I didn’t really get much out of it.  There were the odd moments of how an application could be and would be used, but for most of the time, there didn’t really seem to be much substance; the talks concentrated (very shallowly I’ll admit) on how each demonstration wrapped around the existing ArcGIS server platform to deliver the web-application.

From what I gathered, those working with ArcGIS were very attracted to projecting their current work using tools such as Silverlight, JavaScript and Flex; in fact the day ended with pretty much an advertisement on how ESRI provided training days on creating such applications.  Although interested, I wasn’t overly.  Not to mention I didn’t really know what GIS was until now.

All was not lost.  You know you’re a developer when you start laughing at something like this.

This Way To Java.  A sign posted for Java, Isle of Mull, Scotland. This image is from

It was strange to see the level of developing that some people were coding at.  From the questions, they certainly knew their way around ArcGIS, and in terms of computer science, they seemed to know an awful lot more than me.  A lot of developers had heard of Python, and ArcGIS 10 was supporting it with ArcPy.  Yet despite more than 90% in the room as .NET developers, the majority had not heard of the Microsoft Design Patterns, in particular, the command pattern using the ICommand interface.

For the time being, I still want to complete both Grapher and Mapper before I finish my placement.  I think I can do it.  I am able to do it.


One Response to “All Mapped Out”

  1. Anthony Jones said

    Yet despite more than 90% in the room as .NET developers, the majority had not heard of the Microsoft Design Patterns, in particular, the command pattern using the ICommand interface.</cite

    Re. Microsoft Design Patterns – do you mean the GOF design patterns? I'm always surprised by the extremity of developers' awareness of these (usually either ignorance or fanaticism).
    Re. ICommand – most non-WPF developers wouldn't have heard of it. A more common implementation for the GOF Command pattern in .NET would be based on System.Action and System.Func.

    PS: Stay away from Java. Here be dragons. And pink fluffy code.

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