Arc2Earth Cloud Services and Arc2Earth Version 2.1

Posted on January 25, 2009. Filed under: Arc2Earth, ESRI, GeoSpatial Training Services, Google Earth |

GeoSpatial Training Services is an Authorized Reseller of Arc2Earth.  For more information on Arc2Earth please contact us at:  sales at geospatialtraining.com.

Brian Flood and the folks over at Arc2Earth have been really, really busy on the release of Arc2Earth Cloud Services.

Arc2Earth Version 2.1 Released
Arc2Earth Version 2.1 was recently released, and contains lots of new features and bug fixes.  Contact sales at geospatialtraining.com for an evaluation version of the software.  You can see the brochures for Arc2Earth Standard and  Publisher.  Version 2.2 will contain a user interface for creating and consuming Arc2Earth Cloud Services….which brings me to……

What is Arc2Earth Cloud Services?
As described by Brian Flood

After exporting and publishing their data (from Arc2Earth), one of the first questions our clients usually ask is: “This is great but is there any way to search the data?” or “Can I click on the features?” For the most part, once our export took place, we had to rely on the functionality of Google Earth, Google Maps or MS VE for ad-hoc searching/clicking or provide additional custom programming to enable an application beyond the exported data. The former will certainly get better over time but is somewhat lacking right now and the latter, while lucrative, does not fit with the original vision of “one click” export to publish your data to the web.

So, another model is needed to provide this additional, runtime functionality to those users who do not have the time, expertise or funding for their own servers. To fulfill these needs, we will be providing an online service that allows users to host their maps and layers online while providing REST based access for queries, editing and spatial analysis (limited as it may be). We will also provide a new desktop application that automatically synchronizes data between your local drive and online services. As edits occur online, they are automatically pulled down into your original source data (optionally of course).

What can you do with Arc2Earth Cloud Services?
Once again as described by Brian

ArcMap Integration – create and edit your maps directly from ArcMap using some new A2E toolbars and windows. You can add “cloud layers” directly to your local map and then use the native editing tools in ArcMap to make changes. Every resource in your cloud instance is controlled by login and ACL lists so you can create groups users who all work remotely on the live data. There are also bulk upload/download tools so you can get a fresh copy of any layer anytime you need to perform heavy lifting GIS analysis.

Datastore – I can’t tell you how much time I’ve spent going over the merits of a distributed Big Table datastore (like Google App Engine) versus running clusters of PostGIS on Amazon EC2. I am hardly qualified as an authority on the matter but the reality is that both have positives and negatives and in the end, a hybrid between the two seems to work well. This topic deserves several posts in and of itself so in the future I will try to layout why we chose GAE’s Big Table for our cloud’s data storage and how we went from geohash to quadkeys to finally packing grids of data separately into Big Table (or “quadtrees full of r-trees” as I like to call them). It is no replacement for a good RDBMS for sure but it is highly optimized for distributed access and querying of the spatial data, the exact kind of access seen in todays web clients like Google Earth. The automatic scalability of GAE (as long as you play by their rules) is both extremely attractive and cost effective for small company such as ours.

KML – The KML engine used in the service can be applied to any resource that serves features. There are a couple of endpoints where KML can be returned but in the samples below, it is the “search” resource. All aspects of the KML (labeling, balloon templates, styling, height, filtering etc) are applied at runtime and streamed out. In general, Arc2Earth will always be able to create and serve static files but the focus in the Cloud is the dynamic creation of KML. What’s even better is that any of these endpoints support REST parameters that allow you to control this from the client.

Viewers – Google Earth, Flash Editor, ArcMap, Android, OpenLayers – we’ll start with the basics and keep adding viewers. and since we are still compatible with ArcGIS Server REST api, you will be able to use those scripting and Flex libraries as well.

Here is the brochure for Arc2Earth Cloud Services.

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