Tag: Dev Meet Up

And now onto the Dev Meet Up in Charlotte

On our way to Charlotte, after waving at some highway patrolmen, Jim Barry ( @JimBarry) and I (@AmyNiessen), arrived at the hotel, and it was definitely a warm welcome. Charlotte was very much a downtown that I would imagine. On the road, the crosswalks were painted in checkers as a cute way of announcing the NASCAR Hall of Fame nearby. Being that we were only there one day, we had to get right down to business. We needed to prep for the meet up in the evening and wanted to get to the venue, Black Finn (@BlackFinnCLT), beforehand to set up.

When we arrived, we were introduced to the coordinator, Courtney Maddox, who was very kind in helping us get set up for the night’s event. She immediately offered us the entire upstairs bar, as opposed to the tiny room that we used the last time we visited. On top of that, we were getting a microphone. Hooray for microphones (don’t get me started…)! As people started to come in, I started to get a little hungry. I was able to sneak in a few bites of the gourmet food Black Finn had in store for us for the evening. Lucky me! As people checked in, I started to see some familiar faces from our Charlotte office, such as Garima Vyas and David Crosby. We also recognized another friend (although he was disguised in plaid), Glenn Goodrich (@ruprictGeek), who was all set perform the keynote speech.

Jim introduced the EDN Team and the Meetup.com sites that we have for all of our Dev Meet Up events. The Meetup.com site provides a way for users to network and plan for upcoming Dev Meet ups. The EDN Team can stay in touch with users this way and really cater the event toward what the users want. As soon as Jim turned the stage over to Glenn, he kicked off the evening by displaying Backbone.js. He was kind enough to share a little bit of code with everyone. Thanks, Glenn!

Now onto our lightning talks. Bryan Townsend from York County, SC presented “Customize by Configuration”. He presented features from the Geocortex Viewer for Silverlight. Interestingly enough, random sound bytes would interject with rock ‘n roll tunes into Bryan’s presentation. They came at good times, though and it seemed as though he planned it that way.

The final lightning talk presentation we had was from Shawn Carson of Rock Hill. Shawn showed off the website he built for the City using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. At the same time, he used the City’s website to show all of us how easy it was to just pick it up and get building, even for someone like him who was really new to coding in JavaScript. The first release of his website contained about 90% copy-pasted code from the ArcGIS API for JavaScript Resource Center. There you’ll find well over a hundred sets of runnable JavaScript code that exercise pretty much all of the most common mapping and GIS functions.

Finally, we had a few trivia questions that needed to be answered in exchange for our Esri tote bag and some other very cool items. Some renamed the Esri tote bag as the official shopping bag of Colorado.

We want to thank everyone for coming out. To stay involved, please visit our Carolinas Meetup.com page where you can meet other developers in this area, find out more about our events, and be notified of our next visit. Ciao for now!

Posted in Developer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Back in Denver!

Andy Gup (@agup) and I, John Yaist, (@TheMapHaps) conducted a successful DevMeetUp with around 30 Denver area coders on Tuesday evening, July 26th, at Denver Water. The evening started, as so many technical ventures seem to, with technical difficulties. But alas, technical glitches have a natural tendency to lean toward resolution. How else do you explain that often the best solution to a problem arises after stepping away from it? This one ended up resolved, too, and we had a computer properly projecting onto the projection screen.

Chris Sergent (@ChrisSergent) from the City of Decatur started the evening off through Skype, presenting code techniques on how he utilized jQuery and Dojo for his Web applications. He included great tips on watching for conflicts when applying closed and open themes, whether or not explicit JavaScript calls were necessary, and inclusion of widgets.


The Colorado Front Range whipped up a rocking rain storm, accompanied by a serious wind to blow open the Denver Water doors, appropriately announcing that it was time for the lightning talks:


Rob McGovern from Cybertech presented next on using the “ArcGIS Web Part for SharePoint.” He highlighted the innovative nature of this technology by asking the audience how many had incorporated Web Parts and Sharepoint, and only one other coder had (raising their hand, hesitantly I might add, which is another reason why Dev Meet Ups are fantastic – people can hear about technology they’ve never had experience with before!). The presentation emphasized how the Web Part could incorporate Real-Time data into maps updated on-the-spot. He enlightened the audience with a workflow that demonstrated the ArcGIS Web Part in SharePoint immediately geocoding addresses integrated from flat-file data that had been imported into MS Access. He discussed the implications this had in streamlining crime searching.


Next, Ben Ferguson from Ferguson-Jenkins presented “Flex and ArcGIS Server”, sketching a framework he constructed around Flex for ArcGIS Server. He discussed using Adobe FlashBuilder and Pure MVC to increase the ease of customization in Flex viewers so an organization could create a viewer that represented them uniquely. No longer do all Flex viewers have to look the same.


Jonathon Solomon from Cassidian came on next and talked about the “Evolution of GIS in Emergency Notification Technology.” He presented a timeline walking through the progression of Emergency Notification Systems (ENS) in GIS-enabled Desktop applications from Generation 1, DOS, to Generation 2, Client-Server Technologies. The chronology continued, leading to how ENS and GIS combined during the Information Age of the Web 1.0 in web-based client server apps, to current day Web 2.0 Cloud services implementations. These technologies are allowing ENS to create smart apps based on heat maps for safest disaster locations to possible cell-tower blasts warning of impending danger. Stay tuned!


Paul Angelino from The Nature Conservancy concluded the lightning talks describing how to write logic that creates PDF reports from web pages once, so the programmer can concentrate on the actual Web functionality. He outlined an application architecture based on ASP.NET and the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, including the import of an HTML to PDF conversion library. This allowed him to detail the technical workflow beginning with a web client request to a server HTML processing stage to the ultimate goal of the server using cached HTML to write a PDF output report. VOILA! The site visitor has PDF output; onto the cool web code we can focus!

Posted in Developer | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Washington, D.C.

Less than a week after the Philadelphia meet up, we were back on the East Coast in Washington, D.C. For some reason the venue thought the meet up was the next day but thanks to Charmel from the D.C. office, they rallied round and started setting up for us.

Just as well – we had a large crowd of hungry and thirsty geonerds turn up for a superb set of speakers.

None other than Bill Dollins opened with his GIS take on the Washington Post’s “5 Myths” series. He kept the audience in rapt attention from start to finish as he talked about the place of Desktop, Maps, and The Web in GIS today. There’s a lot of discussion in the GIS community about NoGIS, moving to the web, etc., but Bill managed to provide a very grounded set of arguments for and against. He re-iterated a theme I’ve heard with increasing frequency, which is that GIS is much more than just maps. His slides are available here, and are well worth taking a look at.

After that, we dived straight into the lightning talks. Andrew Hargreaves talked about a pretty cool desktop-based sewer maintenance system. That’s right: I said “sewer” and “cool” in the same sentence. Remote controlled robots make their way through D.C.’s sewer system taking video as they go. The robot’s relative position to where it entered the sewer system is tracked and tied to a position in the recorded video, so as faults are spotted along the sewer, they can be geolocated on the map immediately. Then, anyone can jump to the relevant position in the video just by inspecting the fault record or by clicking on the map. Really very cool and very seamless. He showed how an exported attribute only report of sewer faults (which is how engineers typically use the data) could integrate with the video in exactly the same way.

Mark Wimer talked about searching for GIS data (slides here). As a bit of en experiment, we had intended that Mark’s talk be quite interactive, but in the end he had so much great material in discussing a couple of recent data-hunts he’d embarked on that we didn’t have time (after all, that’s why we stick around for the social afterwards, isn’t it?). For geodata searches, he demonstrated the importance of having a date, source, thumbnail, and description at your fingertips.

Dave Smith then told us about how the EPA handles data quality and integrity across all its data sources using their Facility Registry System. This aggregator allows all data sources to be included in a single place, not just for query, but also quality control and integrity. In particular, a single geocoding and addressing system can be applied to all facilities, and data gets a steward with appropriate knowledge to do the QA. In addition, the system keeps track of an indicator of the accuracy of the location data – all very neat and incredibly valuable. You can find his slides here.

People’s glasses were emptying (mine in particular), so I called a five-minute break for top-ups and handed out some t-shirts to a few lucky trivia winners. Then we turned our attention back to the screen for Chris McClain’s talk on GIS Development, past, present, and future (slides), during which he took us back through the history of our industry and conjectured on where we were all going. He touched on a number of topical issues, including the role of the developer and the cloud in the future of GIS, how location and place will work out their differences, and overall complemented Bill’s opener very nicely.

Christopher Fricke closed the lightning talks out with a great run through of how ArcPy has made his job easier by automating a bunch of installation and data processing tasks (slides). He can make use of really robust Python libraries and reuse desktop code in maintaining server systems, freeing up his time for the things he really likes, like not being stuck indoors.

A common theme throughout all the talks and presentations was that the speakers had fun presenting and kept the crowd thoroughly amused. Many of the speakers did a great service to the Meet Ups by emphasizing the importance of the community getting involved, and I think the next time we return to D.C. we’ll have an even larger crowd.

Many thanks to all who attended, especially the speakers, and congratulations to our prize-winners Sara Emani who won an EDN Subscription, and Jay Boyd who we’ll hopefully see enjoying his pass to the Dev Summit next March.

Posted in Developer | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Atlanta, GA

It’s hard to believe it took us this long to have a meet up in Atlanta! Well, we did and you can thank Seth Patrich (Twitter: @SethPatrich). It was Thursday evening, June 16th. Seth had originally brought up the idea on Twitter, then we discussed it a bit further at the DevSummit a few months back. Atlanta has a fairly vibrant and active software app developer community, whether or not they’re using maps in their apps (yet…). Cut to the chase, a good time was had by all and we can’t wait to get together for the next one.


First, where to have it. Seth suggested something in Buckhead as being fairly central, a little north, and easy to get to on MARTA. We had good luck with the Maggiano’s chain at other meetups, so badabing Crista made that happen.


So then, we added the Atlanta meet up to the Dev Meet Up – Southeast group we spun up last year for the Tampa meetup. Folks could then have a place to chat, connect, share slides and code, and help us all arrange meetups going forward.


**In fact, if you think Esri Dev Meetups in Georgia, Florida, Alabama are a good idea, feel free to join the Meetup.com group and let us know. If you’re a little north of there, we have another active group that covers the Carolinas.**


Next, about the meetup itself. Well, feel free to insert some assorted “Hotlanta” comment here. It was. And humid. I hear this is normal. It’s been many years since I lived in the south so I’d forgotten.


The evening kicked off around 5-ish with some food and drinks as folks drifted in after a long day designing, coding, testing, or whatever everyone was up to. After that, I spoke for a few minutes about the resources and events for developers using Esri’s various dev kits and APIs for desktop, web, and mobile.


Then we quickly moved to the keynote talk. Seth had invited local Microsoft MVP Sergey Barskiy to talk about all things MS, today and in the near future. No slides, no demos, just a stand-up, chat, and Q&A. He covered what’s coming with Silverlight 5, how Windows Phone is doing, a little ASP.NET, as well as the Azure platform and what that means for developers. I tweeted some pics and details if you scroll thru the #devmeetup hashtag going back to June 16th. Else, check out Sergey’s blog here (which he uses often) or his Twitter feed (which he doesn’t use that often).


Sergey talking all things Microsoft

We usually have time for four or five Lightning Talks, but at meet up time, we only had one step up to the plate. Lee Leonard from TerraGo talked about “Maps Making Maps” and his team’s development and work on improving the capabilities of their GeoPDF exporter to make maps that are more usable and interactive. Later that evening he showed this pretty cool tool that lets the user draw lines on the map to explore line-of-sight possibilities on the terrain interactively.









Lee talking about “Maps Making Maps”

Next I asked if anyone else wanted to show anything they’re up to. Manuel Correa, a student with the University of Georgia demonstrated a web app his team created with the ArcGIS Viewer for Flex, combined with some custom coding using the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. This app supports the GNAHRGIS program (Georgia’s Natural, Archeological, and Historic Resources GIS).










Manuel with his web app: Flex + JavaScript

Next, Daniel Longmatey with GeoFields jumped up to discuss more generally his organization’s experience with updating their apps that use older or heavier technologies (Avenue, ArcObjects) with our newer APIs for the web and particularly new opportunities for users on mobile devices.











Daniel talks about app migration to new technologies

After that we had time for a round-the-room set of introductions. Since it was our first meet up, it was great for everyone to meet everyone else, talk about what they do, and so forth. We also discussed some tech problems, and others jumped in to share ideas and solutions.












Corban Davies talks about GIS app development

and customization for the Sawnee Electric Cooperative

So, if you weren’t at the Atlanta meet up this time, we hope to see you there next time. And if you have ideas on how to promote it further throughout the north Georgia tech community, we’re all ears. Jump onto our Southeast group on Meetup.com and let us know.


Thanks again to Sergey, Lee, Manuel, and Daniel for sharing their ideas. Thanks to everyone for attending. And of course thanks to Seth for pushing this as a great idea. See ya next time!


Posted in Developer | Tagged | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Chicago, IL

We were spoilt with a superb venue in Chicago at Maggiano’s. A very private room with excellent staff. Don Corleone would have felt at home here.

Unfortunately we didn’t have an opening speaker and only three lightning talks, so I changed things up a bit and made the event a little more interactive. After doing my quick intro and talking at a little greater length than usual about Dev Summit (have YOU been?), I turned it over to the room and asked everyone to introduce themselves and let us know what they hoped to get out of the meet up.

There were only 20 or so of us spread around four large round tables and so it took just a few minutes, but it was fascinating and by the end of it, plenty of people already knew just who they’d be talking to at the drinks break.

So we took a quick drinks break to get people started.

My problem then was getting the room back together for Ross Capaccio’s (@rcapaccio) lightning talk before his parking meter ran out! I got everyone’s attention with some quick-fire prizes and then Ross talked about his brilliant app for using aerial imagery to build 3D models of roofs. He talked about how it came about and how he and Dejun Song built it, really beginning with no clue about how it might be done. Then we bravely struggled through the demo. Struggled, because I was driving the laptop and hadn’t worked out what I was doing. Somehow their app handled my botched attempts at giving it good input (turns out it wasn’t the Mac – it was my confusion) and came back with a perfectly derived 3D model of a roof. My input was not ideal, but great software will always cover for a foolish operator!

Incidentally, while this was going on, a mysterious late-comer snuck in, grabbed a beer, and perched themselves at the back of the room.

Next up, our very own Adam Pfister (@adamjpfister) from the Chicago office showed us an iPad app he’d written to make use of the new custom views for info pop-ups. This is one of the many new features in ArcGIS API for iOS 1.8. He showed us the code and explained how to get Twitter data, how to parse the paged results, how to project it properly to the map’s projection, and how to design and integrate a custom view.

This was the first time many of the folks there had seen Objective C, and we had a brief discussion about the relative merits of developing for the various mobile platforms.

Our third speaker, Matt Kemp from Group 1 Solutions, was unfortunately unable to join us, but his colleague Bob Pokorny (@RA_Development) was persuaded to get up and talk about their experience in migrating from VB6 MapObjects. He talked a little about their solutions and requirements before opening it up to the room for suggestions and hints. There was some great discussion revolving around Engine, the upcoming ArcGIS Runtime, and code migration vs re-writing.

That was all I had scheduled, but since Bob’s interactive discussion had worked so well, I asked whether anyone else would like to get up and ask the room about some general problem of theirs. Thierno Ndao leapt to the front almost immediately and took the floor. His question was very simple, but yielded a good lengthy discussion: How do folks deal with data that’s slow to get updated? His specific example was parcel data. New parcels exist in the real world the moment something’s built, and need to be serviced by emergency response, etc. etc., yet sometimes parcel updates are not received for months, and it varies from municipality to municipality. There were a few suggestions about how to deal with this, but Chris Onjack’s seemed most elegant and got plenty of approving nods. Most people preferred to push to fix the business process though, but that’s sadly not the easiest option.

The discussion looked set to continue for a while, so I begged a moment to hand out the two raffle prizes. The EDN subscription was won by Anthony Scilingo (and perfectly timed since his current sub is expiring soon). The Dev Summit pass was initially won by John Owens, but when he admitted that he certainly wouldn’t be able to go, Thierno offered to take it for him (Palm Springs in March is much warmer than Chicago). In the interest of fairness, John returned it in exchange for an Esri hat and I drew another ticket. Thierno won. Really. Palm Springs: Prepare yourself for Thierno.

Despite there being no keynote, everyone said they’d come back. The focus of these events is to get people talking, and we showed that can happen really well even without a line-up of speakers. Much like Philly, even a small crowd can get great value from turning up. The fact that we had a large, quiet room helped a lot with the interactive discussions. In all, another successful meet up.

Oh, and that mysterious latecomer? None other than the esteemed Jim Tochterman (@jtochterman), all the way from Charlotte!

Posted in Developer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Raleigh Up

Jim (@jimbarry) and I (@AmyNiessen) flew out of Ontario International Airport (yes international…I think because they go to Mexico) to head to Houston, TX and then from Houston to Raleigh, NC where we would be hosting a Dev Meet Up the next evening. The flights were good, on time, and still refusing to give out food. That’s OK; I always bring snacks along. Upon arriving, we drove to the hotel to unwind and rest a bit. Downtown Raleigh was not what I was expecting. Let’s just say I think downtown Redlands could stand up in a competition. Does that say enough?

After an evening of pre-prepping and checking out the hotel gym (four machines, one functional), we hit the bed so as to get a good night’s rest.

The next day, I decided to do a run around the North Carolina State University at Raleigh campus. It was absolutely gorgeous. This was the opposite direction of downtown and I’m really glad I got a chance to see it, because it really did wonders for the city. (OK Bruegger’s Bagels had a little something to do with my giddiness as well.) Later on in the evening, I would meet Curtis Belyea, a biologist at NCSU, who was not only attending the Dev Meet Up, but also presenting as well.

Having some time before prepping for the Dev Meet Up, we met up with some folks at a place called The Pit Authentic Barbeque. It’s a barbeque joint, and strangely enough, they did have something on the menu called “Barbequed Tofu”. I had to try it. Not bad. I think the barbeque sauce was pretty much what made it.

After our lunch and regrouping, we headed to The Flying Saucer where the Dev Meet Up would take place. The place looked pretty awesome and gave off a really good vibe. The staff was super friendly and definitely came through, especially in the AV department. The Flying Saucer had a bit of a British pub vibe going, but of course they hadn’t seen or experienced anything like the Esri Dev Meet Ups before!

As I’m greeting people and Jim is setting up, I meet Curtis (see above if you forgot) from the Biodiversity and Spatial Info Center at NCSU, who sits down and begins to talk to me as though we’re old friends (even though this is the first time I’m meeting him). I think to myself, “Should I compliment him on the nail polish color he selected for his nails?” He later informs me that it is part of a bet. Ah.

The next to arrive is our keynote speaker, Scott Gonzalez (@scott_gonzalez), who is a dev lead for jQuery UI from appendTo, which is a company dedicated to the growth and usefulness of the jQuery JavaScript library. Scott has been contributing to the jQuery library since 2007 and is currently the development lead for jQuery UI, which is jQuery’s official user interface library.
He also co-authored the jQuery Cookbook along with about 18 other authors. I think Jim scared him a little bit by showing him a picture he dug up from a video Scott was recorded in. As we waited for the meet up to get started, the staff started to bring out some wonderful appetizers including the best one I have had yet: Bavarian soft pretzels with the spiciest hot mustard I’ve ever had.

So now it was time for Scott to present his keynote speech. In a very visually appealing slideshow, Scott’s presentation covered the process of building applications. He begins by offering the advice to start out simple, expand and adapt, find users, ask others for help, and repeat. He states that “you don’t need to understand everything because chances are, someone else already knows how, and you can pay them for it.” Here is his presentation in a nutshell for those of you who missed it:

“How I Got Started as a Coder and How You Can Too”


1. Stare blankly at the monitor

2. Build something, anything (even something that already exists, just to accomplish something)

3. Expand the app with new ideas

4. Find users

5. Ask for help

6. Repeat

7. Repeat again

8. Raw talent doesn’t matter

9. Great ideas evolve

10. You don’t need knowledge, you need to know how to find knowledge

11. Code quality doesn’t matter if it works

12. Sometimes good enough is good enough


Overall, Scott gave an inspirational keynote and got people excited about getting out there and creating some new applications.

We took a short break before starting the lightning talks. People got a chance to ask Scott questions, as well as introduce themselves to one another. Starting with Marc Stanard from NCEM (North Carolina Emergency Management), we began the lightning talks. He discussed their Floodplain Mapping Information System (FMIS).

Next up was Tyler Waring from the City of Durham, who wants to get more people involved in coding. (Am I seeing a theme here with this Dev Meet Up? Very inspirational!) He shares a flexible app that he created for clients using XML. Soon after, when he switches to a demo, he runs into a little snag, but thankfully Jim was able to help him back up and running. Tyler was able to then show us his widgets using the demo.

Finally, it was time for my buddy Curtis to present his lightning talk. He came in completely empty-handed, so I thought he was just going to perform in a very animated way; however, I saw that he pulled out a thumb drive. Before he began, he revealed to everyone the story behind his nail polish. He gave his presentation on urbanization analyses he performed on some land use raster data using Geoprocessing tools and Python scripting.

Before we began the raffle, and after the final lightning talk, Tyler stood up and threw out a couple of questions to the crowd on how he can close a widget in Flex Viewer 2.2. This got people involved in suggesting workarounds that he could use.

For the raffle, Joe Weyl and Mike Ping both won passes to 2012′s Dev Summit event in Palm Springs. They were both super stoked. Can’t wait to see you guys there!

We had a great Dev Meet Up in Raleigh! There was such a good turnout, and we hope to see you guys again. Now on to Charlotte…

Posted in Developer | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Philadelphia, PA

Under tornado watch, the Philadelphia Dev Meet Up presented us with the unusual problem of plenty of speakers, but not many attendees. An interesting conundrum, but nothing we couldn’t handle – at least this way we could stick to the agenda. And if nothing else, it makes the chances of winning a prize really really good!

Our speakers had to contend with a space that was anything but well suited to speaking. It may have been the entrance hall to an old bank, which is rather glorious but echoes any sound as a background mumble. In addition, we had a Starbucks in the same space! I hope the people drinking their coffees were fascinated by GIS, because they were about to get over an hour of it (although I’m sure all they heard was “rhubarb rhubarb“).

Robert Cheetham (@rcheetham), Founder and President of Azavea, kicked off with his talk about OpenStreetMap (OSM) and how it inspired the PhillyTreeMap application that Azavea built. He covered OSM in detail, showing plenty of excellent examples of the quality of the data it produces and talked a little about Esri’s own open-source OSM editor. His slides can be found here. I was very pleased that Robert agreed to speak, and he brought a few of the fine Azavea folks along too.

Robert’s presentation was clearly of great interest to the room (the ones that came for the meet up, not for coffee), and a lot of people were keen on the Community aspects. I suppose in the city of brotherly love, you’d expect little else.

Adam Conner of Geodecisions took the first lightning talk (slides here). He spoke about building mobile geo apps for iPad and iPhone using HTML5 without having to commit to building an iOS native app. He covered making an HTML5 app look more like a native app, and introduced us to HTML5 local storage and making use of a device’s GPS. For extra points, he did his presentation using Keynote on his iPhone with it connected directly to the projector, but sadly didn’t have time for a demo.

John Reiser (@johnjreiser) covered the New Jersey Land Change Viewer (slides here), an application he built for next-to-nothing using tiles generated by ArcGIS and hosted on Amazon S3. He showed the results of the analysis and then covered the architecture of the app, contending that without Amazon S3 he wouldn’t have been able to do the project at all.

Tarren Anderson from Hopeworks ‘N Camden started his talk with a handout of some local maps of Camden, NJ, which his GIS team had put together before diving into a demo. What’s interesting about his GIS team is that they are all local kids learning new technology skills, either out of school or in school, with a view to completing their education and moving on to college.

Lastly, Ben Mearns talked about the University of Delaware Community Campus Map (slides here), combining OSM and Google Docs for style control, all in combination with PostGIS using the OSM schema for data updates.

The prizes, with such good odds, a Dev Summit pass and an EDN Subscription, were won by Mike Romankiewicz and Tarren respectively.

Many people stayed long afterwards to discuss how we can improve the numbers for future events in Philly with some good ideas that we’ll be looking into. Philly clearly has a lot of GIS talent with a big desire to share and a lot of commonality in what people were doing – all exactly the kinds of things we like to see at these meet ups.



Posted in Developer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Champaign, IL

During the month of April, there were approximately 292 tornadoes that touched down in the U.S. (a record!) and we were on our way to head to Illinois! Wait, whose idea was this?? Well, a large part of it was Chris Sergent’s (@chrissergent) idea, and the EDN Team couldn’t have been more excited to take up his suggestion on holding a Dev Meet Up after the ILGISA conference. This way, we could reach out and connect with our GIS peeps in Illinois. So Jim Barry (@jimbarry) and I (@AmyNiessen) went out on April 28th to give those in Illinois a big Esri hug and connect with them on some of the projects they have been working on.

I felt so honored to be a part of the very first Dev Meet Up where we Skyped in our keynote speaker. Ever. And this wasn’t just any keynote speaker; this was Joe Stagner (@misfitGeek) from Microsoft. Luckily we had done a few test runs earlier in the day to ensure quality communication so that by the evening time we were all set to go.

When it came time for the Dev Meet Up later in the evening, everything was set up perfectly at the iHotel located at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I couldn’t believe how high tech this ballroom (yes, a ballroom) was that we were in for the evening. When I couldn’t find the projector, I went to ask the AV tech who kindly flipped on the switch that gently lowered the projector from the ceiling. Suh-weet!

People started trickling in from the conference and from as far away as Peoria (1.5 hours away). A lot of people heard about us from the Meetup.com site we have for our Dev Meet Ups, which is really nice. It’s a great place to stay connected with others who are interested in GIS even beyond the day of the event.

We began the Dev Meet Up by introducing our keynote, Joe Stagner, who began the evening’s event with a discussion on jQuery integration with Visual Studio 2010. He generated a lot of interest while discussing Visual Studio. The Q&A alone lasted a good 30 minutes. Many web developers recognize the power and popularity of the jQuery library, so it’s really great to see Microsoft recognize that and make its use with Visual Studio easier. A week before the talk, we pointed Joe to our online Resource Center for the ArcGIS API for JavaScript, and he was able to create, pretty quickly, a basic mapping app using ASP.NET and demoed that for the group. Top question asked by Jason Kuhlman: “Are you in a Microsoft bunker or what?” It turns out Joe was calling in from his studio in New Hampshire. To find cool tools and apps, check out Joe’s taskbar in his screen grab training videos at www.msjoe.com.

Next up was Kathleen Crombez (@KathleenCrombez), a GIS Analyst/Programmer from the Champaign County GIS Consortium (CCGISC). In her presentation, she really wanted to open people’s eyes to the benefits of automating workflows. She explained the Tax Map Application. Every year CCGISC produces a Tax Map Atlas that is distributed throughout several county departments and sold to other interested companies. It used to cost a lot more to publish but is now not only free but also more sustainable thanks to the Web application she built, which provides a friendly user interface for looking up parcels through several different search modes (e.g., parcel ID search, township range section search, map book page search, and selection by selecting an area on the map, etc.). 

Since it is an annual project, ease of duplication for the Tax Map Application was highly desired. The majority of the application (including the generation of the Web site and all the geoprocessing of the GIS data) is completed through a Python script using Esri’s arcgisscripting module. Automation of this process has dramatically cut down the application creation time. The initial application took three months to build, but through automation, the atlas can now be created in less than a week. Perhaps the most exciting thing about this process is the ability to duplicate this application for other counties. She built the Tax Map Atlas on the ArcGIS API for JavaScript. She wanted to focus on this application because all of the geoprocessing is done using Python and arcgisscripting. She also quickly presented her ArcGIS Server Public Interface Webmap after nearly strangling Jim’s laptop.

Kathleen couldn’t have had a better evening, as she was our winner of the 2012 Dev Summit giveaway. Also a winner was Micah Williamson (@micahwilli). We can’t wait to see you guys there!

Towards the end of the evening, everyone gathered around the snacks and bar to meet and discuss the projects they are working on. We went into overtime and figured it was time to call it quits when the storm refused to let up. We had to remember that some of our attendees had to head back to Peoria, so we said our goodbyes after exchanging business cards and Twitter account information. We had such a lovely time and received such positive feedback that we looked forward to reading the Meetup.com reviews. The ILGISA board may invite us back for their conference in Naperville in October. If you think that’s a good idea, please let them know. Until then, if you’re in northern Illinois, we’re planning a Dev Meet Up in Chicago on 6/14.

Thank you for having us, Champaign! Another big thanks goes out to the ILGISA board (especially Roger Diercks (@storm72) and the ILGISA members statewide for inviting us to sponsor this great opportunity to support the GIS developer community.

Posted in Developer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Reston, VA

Just a couple of miles from Dulles Airport and surrounded by tech companies, Mon Ami Gabi hosted the Reston
Dev Meet Up on March 29th. Running through the checklist, we looked to be in good shape: Wifi, projector, screen, private room, registrations, raffle tickets, keynote speaker, lightning talks… Ah. Where were the lightning talks?

Unfortunately, we had only one lightning talk, offered I think in sympathy by Patrick Stingley, CTO of the Bureau of Land Management, just the night before. Never mind though, the show must go on!


A little bit of shuffling around of the agenda here and there, and with some great help from Charmel Menzel from the DC Office and our very own Andy Gup from the EDN Team, we managed to pull together some content that we thought would keep the crowd entertained.


Joining us were Todd Schick and Greg Lutz from ComponentOne. After giving people a little time to show up and settle into things, Greg opened up proceedings with a great hands-on presentation of using MVVM.


Greg built a sample charting app and showed how to automatically display updates to underlying data and application state with just the simplest hooks into the MVVM framework. He used both standard DataGrid controls and ComponentOne’s own charting controls. Greg also showed us how to avoid some of the pitfalls of the framework in building a responsive app. Overall a great presentation.

Since we had only one lightning talk submitted, I’d given Greg a little more time than usual to present, so when he finished, we took a quick break to digest MVVM, grab a few bites to eat, and fill up our glasses before Patrick Stingley took the floor.


Pat talked for about ten minutes about what he has planned for the Bureau of Land Management. He discussed his vision for the role of GIS professionals at the BLM as distinct from the general IT role. His aim is to remove the headaches of IT from interfering with the actual work of GIS, suggesting something like an “iTunes model” where you sync your work in the morning and get on with your day. His very informal chat started some great discussions that carried on well after the lightning talks ended.


That’s right. We ended up with another couple of lightning talks, albeit presented by myself and Charmel. Charmel showed how to create a VGI application in ten minutes using the out-of-the-box ArcGIS Viewer for Flex. Although she felt it was more configuration than development, there was still a fair amount of interest from the crowd (and a little bit of coding!).


After that, I ran through the first part of a Demo Theater that Andy Gup and Allan Laframboise put together for the DevSummit just a few weeks earlier in Palm Springs. Although I’m no Andy (there can be only one!), I managed to drum up a fair bit of interest in working with Twitter feeds, how to ask for and interpret Twitter data, and what different levels of spatial information is returned.


We wrapped up with a raffle of an EDN subscription and a pass to the 2012 Dev Summit in Palm Springs, won by Mark Reidy and Rony Ledany respectively, and Brett Antonides walked away with a ComponentOne Studio Enterprise license that Todd and Greg very generously provided.


Although we struggled to get user-content for this Dev Meet Up, feedback was great. To be fair, we didn’t give as much advanced notice as we’d have liked, but I think next time we’ll have a lot more input. Mon Ami Gabi’s staff were brilliant, making sure we had a steady supply of food and drink without interrupting. All-in-all, a good meet up.

Nick Furness

EDN Team

Posted in Developer | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Dev Meet Up – Denver, CO

Driving up to Denver Water in preparation for the Denver Dev Meet Up, I thought to myself, “How is anyone going to find this place?” Surprisingly, there were people there ready to join us within 15 minutes of us arriving. The ‘us’ to whom I refer would be Andy Gup and I. As part of the EDN Team, we have been traveling all over the U.S. conducting Dev Meet Ups in the hopes that we can get developers together to discuss geospatial technologies, complementary third-party tools, and development platforms that are supported by Esri. Bryan Franey from the Esri Regional Office in Denver came out to give us a helping hand. Denver holds a special place in our hearts, as this is a recurring location for the developers in nearby areas of Colorado.


For this particular Dev Meet Up that occurred on Tuesday, March 29th in Denver, we had an especially large group of developers that were very eager to share information about the projects they have been working on. No, really. When I say large group, I’m not kidding. We had so many lightning talks for this Dev Meet Up that we had to shorten the time on them just so we could get everyone in there. It was fun and somewhat challenging at the same time. Before we started the race with the lightning talks, Tom Tierney and Milton Ospina from NAVTEQ gave a well-received keynote speech that covered a bit of what NAVTEQ is involved in (yes, the car industry!) and about their public safety application samples.


And then we were off to the races!


Starting us off in one corner was Scott Mueller from Sanborn. Scott introduced his research on mixing ArcGIS Server with NoSQL databases. He is currently working on a blog page that covers his research. As for right now, the page is not up, but when it is, it will be at meanderingstream.net.


In another corner we had Brandy Gavlin from ITTVIS. Her presentation on Post-Wildfire Erosion Remediation Tool using ENVI for ArcGIS really caught everyone’s attention. This presentation centered around combining image processing tools from ENVI with a Geoprocessing model in ArcGIS to model areas that were susceptible to erosion following a wildfire. The two main parameters in this model were the Normalized Burn Ratio (NBR) and terrain slope. The NBR is calculated using Landsat TM or ETM+ data from the near infrared and short wave infrared bands and a difference surface (dNBR) is created from pre and post fire images. Terrain data is then used to determine if a significant slope is present. If a moderate-high burn severity (dNBR > 0.44) is coincident with a slope greater than the set parameter, the area is flagged as high risk. The presentation concluded with a live demo of model builder running. Her Burn Severity Toolkit was particularly interesting, as it is known to extend ENVI’s capabilities.


In the next round, Kirk van Gorkom (@kvangork) from Forge Apps presented “Making Apps that Don’t Suck”, which really stresses the importance of being careful with user interface design. “Keep it simple” and “Take off your nerd hat” were two resonating messages that Kirk left with the audience. His full 36-minute presentation that he outstandingly performed at the 2011 Dev Summit back in March is available here on the ArcGIS Resource Center.


At the halfway point, Brian Timoney came up to promote using HTML5 to keep web maps simple. He demonstrated an HTML5 application that used mouse-over events to show basic demographic data using the Raphael.js JavaScript lib. View a similar demo to his example but with the inclusion of some charting features.


And then we turned to Allen Glen (@a_glen) from the City and County of Denver who covered embedding Java apps in a div tag by bootstrapping resources. This was a neat concept because it allows the developer to build apps that do not require much access to the host web page. He pointed out a few things like making sure to use a CSS reset so the style does not cascade into a div. I had a lot of requests for Allan Glenn’s “Building Distributed JavaScript Map Widgets” presentation which was really cool.


Rounding the corner to the finish line, Bryan Noyle (@bnoyle) from DTS Agile talked about Google and HTML5. He addressed the end of the Silverlight scare and the compatibility issues with Apple products. Soak in the boiled down version of the presentation as it was delivered at the 2011 Dev Summit.


At the finish line was Julie Kub from the Dept of Commerce in Broomfield, CO. She presented a system for queuing up multiple raster analysis process that can be spun up as cores become available. Because of the queue, the processing state is maintained after interruptions.


In between lightning talks, and of course at the end, everyone munched on the appetizers (was going to type apps, but was concerned people might get confused on what was being munched on) brought in by Jason’s Deli. Our raffle drawing for admission to the 2012 DevSummit went to George Engelbrecht. He said he went this year and enjoyed it, so we’ll get to see him again next year!


We had a very supportive crowd in Denver. They extended a wonderful welcome to us returning yet again for another Dev Meet Up. Thank you, Denver. Your gratuitous hospitality makes us feel all warm and fuzzy inside. We’ll be back!

Posted in Developer | Tagged | Leave a comment