Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Slashmaps for Mapbox" Drupal Module is cool. And I can do that with ArcGIS Online.

This post shows how I created map galleries for my Drupal web site like the galleries you get from the "Slashmaps for Mapbox" Drupal module.  

I worked on this because my maps are already in ArcGIS Online.  And because I'm a Drupal novice and found the new mapping module intimidating. 

Here is a quick-ref list of all the Drupal map galleries that are described and compared below:

1. built on the Slashmaps for Mapbox Drupal module.

2.  My ArcGIS Online map galleries based on the <iframe> tag:
     a.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 1:  grid view 
     b.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 2:  list view
     c.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 3:  carousel
     d.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 4:  gallery hosted elsewhere and embedded here (gridview)

3.  Marten Hogeweg's Esri_MapGallery Drupal module prototype

Are my ArcGIS Online map galleries as good as the Slashmap for Mapbox module?  You can look for yourself at the links above.  I'll do a capabilities comparison in a future post.

The FCC Announcement:  Slashmap for Mapbox Module for Drupal

I'm in the process of migrating my Choptank River Heritage web site, which already includes a map gallery, to Drupal.  So I was interested in the FCC announcement back in March about their new map gallery.  And their collaboration with the Drupal community to build the Drupal module called Slashmaps for Mapbox.

I took a look at

And I was suprised at how similar it looks to my own map galleries built from ArcGIS Online at and :

Since my Choptank River Heritage maps are already published in ArcGIS Online, I looked for a Drupal module that connects to ArcGIS Online.

Is There a Drupal module for ArcGIS Online?

I googled and found Marten Hogeweg's Drupal sandbox for ArcGIS Online.  It was still rough.  So I contacted Marten and asked if Esri will develop and support a Drupal module for ArcGIS Online.  He said there's interest.  And we plan to meet up at the Esri UC to talk more about this.  (Contact Marten or me if you want to join in.)

Meantime, Marten did some quick work over the weekend and committed a new Esri MapGallery module to Drupal git for me to try out.   Here is the very rough result so far.  Marten has already made improvements (such as removing the huge title banner) that I will incorporate in the next few days.

Do I really need a Drupal module for a map gallery?  How about a simple <iframe> tag ?

I also wondered if I couldn't do a simpler Drupal integration using the <iframe> tag.  Same as we see already for embedding ArcGIS Online maps into web pages:

And for embedding Google Maps into web pages:

My four <iframe> Map Galleries for Drupal

Esri's first "map gallery" was a simple display of maps that belong to an ArcGIS Online user group.  Nothing else to do.  Last summer (2011), Esri released its Javascript template that can be published in an organization's own web site.  This required simple Javascript configuration and publishing the html, css, and js files to your web server.  This is still an option.  Since then, Esri has created other ways to publish map galleries in your own web site.  All of them run off of the user groups at ArcGIS Online.  

Here is the list of demo map galleries in my Drupal web site that leverage the <iframe> tag to embed map group contents from ArcGIS Online.  Each of my Drupal pages gives a short explanation of the configuration and subtle differences between them:

1.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 1:  grid view is simple, usable as-is with no changes to <iframe> sizing.

2.  Drupal Map Gallery - Demo 2:  list view, <iframe> size has to be tweeked to hide annoying side panel, and the gawdy title bar is not configurable.

3.  Drupal Map Carousel - Demo 3:  map carousel, requires <iframe> sizing but otherwise easy, and pretty cool.

4.  Drupal Map Carousel - Demo 4:  <iframe> of the Esri gallery template already published on my non-Drupal web site.  Gives the most configuration control but requires some knowledge of HTML and CSS.

Let me know of your experience with the Mapbox module or these ArcGIS approaches.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Why do I still use both Chrome and Firefox? For bookmarks on desktop, laptop, and mobile.

Web browser bookmarks are important to me.  I use them every day for my professional GIS work.  I need fast access to ArcGIS and Python resources on the web.  I need to get back to training and tutorials.  I need to flip back and forth between web sites, Gmail, and calendar.

I put time and effort into managing and updating web browser bookmarks.  And I need to access them on my laptop, my office workstation, and my Android phone. 

Chrome gives me web bookmarks on my laptop and workstation -- effortlessly.

Firefox puts my bookmarks on my phone.

Neither browser does desktop, laptop, and mobile.  

Why can't Chrome or Firefox get the whole thing right?  I don't know.

Chrome -- Log in and get bookmarks everywhere ... except on my phone.

Some of my co-workers resist the Chrome login idea.  They don't want Google tracking their every web move.

But Chrome with login gives me updated bookmarks on both my laptop and workstation - or any other computer where I choose to log in to my Google account.  But not on my Google/Android phone.

The Android browser is crappy.  No bookmarks management at all.  There is no Chrome-like browser for Android mobile.  At least not the OS running on my DroidX --  Andoid 2.4.3.  There is hope at Android 4.0, which offers Chrome-to-Phone Beta and other Chrome toys.  (If I'm wrong, please leave a comment.)

Firefox -- Manually import Chrome bookmarks to get them onto my phone.

The Firefox mobile browser is pretty nice, with tabs, good handling of Javascript and HTML5.  Best of all, it replicates my bookmarks in the same way I organize them on my desktop.

Not without a cost.  I have to a weekly export-import from Chrome to Firefox to keep all this up to date.

Why don't I use IE?

Because IE mixes together web bookmarks and desktop "favorites".  And that screws up everything.

Is there a better way?

Friday, June 15, 2012

ArcGIS Online pricing - what is a Service Credit worth?

Confused about AGOL pricing?  So was I.

I got on the phone with Esri today.   Here is is our Q&A:

ArcGIS Online for Organizations, Level 1 purchase gets "2500 Service Credits".  But what does that mean?

Service credits are expended when ArcGIS Online functionality is deployed.  With the final release, we are providing a dashboard for the administrator, so that they may review how the service credits are being utilized.

Here are some examples:

1)      Service Credits are not used when you upload data or services to your instance of AGOL
2)      Service Credits are not consumed when using a esri basemap service in your application
3)      Service Credits are used when ‘mash’ up a shapefile, map service, table your company/agency uses in a service
4)      Service Credits are used when you create and store a feature service
5)      Service Credits are used when you create or store a tile or geospatial data service(layer, map package)
6)      Service Credits are used when you use a geoprocessing service (i.e. …batch geocodes), others to be added
7)      Service Credits are used when you do data transfer

This info would be more useful if it read "XX [Number of] service credits are used when..."

Here are examples of AGO Credit Consumption

  • Data Transfer – Data transferred out as hosted services or downloading data files
    • 6 credits / 1 GB data
  • Geocodes –
    • 12.5 geocodes / credit
    • 80 credits / 1,000 geocodes
    • 100,000 geocodes / 8000 credits
  • Tile & Data Storage – 1.2 credits per GB of storage per month, 14.4 credits/yr  per GB of data
  • Feature service –
    • 2.4 credits per 10 MB of storage per month, 28.8 credits/yr  per 10 MB
    • 2880 credits/yr  for 1GB of storage
  • Tile generation – 1 credit per 1000 tiles generated

Is there a more complete table online somewhere -- to help me with service budgeting and making a decision about how much to purchase?

No.  But you might want to download the trial and give it a try. There is a dashboard that shows you how you are using your credits.

Monday, June 11, 2012

I need my proprietary GIS for this hard-core geospatial analysis, right?

Bill Dollins blogged recently that he doesn't see much difference in capability between open source and proprietary geospatial tools.   

I think Web/GIS developers would agree.  But I'm not so sure that geospatial analysts would agree.

I agree, if we're talking about building and using map apps -- displaying points, lines, and polygons, and routine map functions like routing, thematic mapping, and interactive display of the map and underlying data.

But what about hard-core geospatial analysis?  Case at hand:

I'm working on an emergency management application that estimates the age-group populations that may be affected by an emergency event.   The only population and demographics data I have is census block groups.  I create a buffer around the event, then clip the census block groups that intersect the buffer.

The problem is that for many of the included block groups, only a small portion lie within the event zone.  So, only a fraction of the population in each of those groups should be included.

I was ready to write the function for my Python script that would calculate the percentage of the area of  each block group that got clipped.  If only 15% of the area got clipped, I would grab only 15% of the population counts for that block group to add to my population total.

Then I saw Esri's announcement that ArcGIS 10.1 now includes an has areal interpolation tool.

Seems like the perfect fit for what I need to do.  I can create a grid of 100 x100 meter polygons and re-assign portions of the population counts to these much smaller and regularly shaped grid polygons.  And save this data layer for use any time a need a more precise population estimate.

Can any open source geospatial tools do this?  I admit that I don't know.

I think it would be good to do something like what Tobin Bradley did to evaluate the importance of different elements of the Google Maps API.  Maybe do the same with Esri's ArcToolbox.  How much of this tool set is present in open source geospatial software?  How important are the missing tools?

Has anyone besides Esri done an assessment like this?