New Mapping Software Company Bridges the Gap between GIS and Non-GIS Professionals- More on Hurricane Katrina Response

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! Most people know of Layton Graphics as the folks who created MAP2PDF but now their recently announced software division, Layton GeoScience, has been separated from the parent company and formed a new company called TerraGoTechnologies. According to James Davis, president and CEO of TerraGo Technologies, TerraGo is a “new company with a history.” Read about it in this week's Industry News.

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Industry News

New Mapping Software Company Bridges the Gap between GIS and Non-GIS Professionals
By Susan Smith

Most people know of Layton Graphics as the folks who created MAP2PDF but now their recently announced software division, Layton GeoScience, has been separated from the parent company and formed a new company called TerraGoTechnologies. According to James Davis, president and CEO of TerraGo Technologies, TerraGo is a “new company with a history.”

“We are spinning out of Layton Graphics, which is a service oriented company that has been around for 30 years,” explained Davis. Layton Graphics is focused on the making of complex engineering drawings and GIS drawings for distribution to a mass user group. Since 1999, the company has developed software to help users distribute geospatial data, and two years ago, began to envision separating the software unit into its own company.

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TerraGo Technologies is a full standalone company, owned by the principals of TerraGo. “It has all the assets associated with our GIS products,” said Davis.

Davis said that their focus on helping mass users allows them to take a different approach than that of traditional providers of GIS applications. The core of traditional GIS is still aimed at high end GIS users, even if they provide a product for larger user bases. In contrast, TerraGo's history serves it well - it has worked with non-GIS professionals for many years so they know that market well. They can also help GIS professionals utilize and unlock the great “treasure trove” of geospatial data they've been building. “Most enterprises have been collecting GIS information over the last 10 or 20 years,” Davis remarked. “The challenge is to get all the professional data from the GIS pros out to their enterprise, and not just in 2D maps.”

The flagship TerraGo product, MAP2PDF, allows customers to create and publish georegistered maps-a TerraGo GeoPDF. Users can create a map with a variety of geospatial data embedded and use MAP2PDF to export the data to a GeoPDF. GIS professionals can then distribute the GeoPDF maps to anyone who has TerraGo's free Adobe Reader plug-in, utilizing the Adobe Reader most people already have to view maps, query attributes, display coordinates and create redlines and notes.

Most TerraGo customers have been in the federal government and “tens of thousands” of users have helped define the product, according to Davis. Now, he said, they will be making the product available to a much wider audience.

Citing Daratech figures, Davis explained that the GIS/geospatial market is a $2 billion market, with a million and a half active GIS seats. “We think there are an additional million and a half CAD seats, and geospatial components are becoming increasingly important as part of the CAD processes as well. Also the industry estimates that there are about 200,000 user organizations. For the past several years some of the third party analysts have estimated growth of 5-10% per year for the GIS market.”

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“The conclusion we came to is that it is a large, mature, very stable marketplace,” said Davis. “It hasn't seen any major influx of growth opportunity and is primarily aimed at the GIS professionals. At the very core of that group is about one percent of an enterprise's employee base that are the highly trained GIS professionals who actually do the design and production. We estimate there are another five percent who are experienced GIS analysts who are also trained to work with this data and create very sophisticated maps and presentations. Those two groups of GIS professionals are the focus of this $2 billion market that is growing at 5-10% a year.”

“We're focused on everybody else in the enterprise that has a need to access geospatial data for mainstream business reasons. We believe if we can be successful in doing that, we can help the GIS industry move into the next layer of opportunity and experience a very significant growth. How do we extend all this geospatial data that's been developed and how do we make it a mainstream business resource? How do we give the GIS pros the ability to really be creative in how their data is leveraged? How do we allow them to be able to distribute data with a far more robust and ubiquitous enterprise context? Those are the questions we're addressing. It's also important to be able to make functionality available in connected or disconnected mode. One thing Hurricane Katrina has shown us is that you must be able to do your work in a disconnected mode or you're out of luck.”

The need to distribute data in a format that people are already familiar with and using is paramount in the GIS industry. Also users need to be able to integrate the data with their existing GIS infrastructure. Currently, those applications that allow the authoring and distribution of data in a familiar format are provided by a vendor specific application. Then there are those users who do not have GIS. For all these users, the common format is paper or a flat PDF.

TerraGo Technologies does not “compete” with the GIS vendors and their authoring capabilities. Rather, they provide unique versions of Map2PDF that allow GIS users to export files from their GIS applications into the standard GeoPDF format which, translated, is Adobe standard PDF with an added extension that makes it a georegistered GeoPDF. “With our free MAP2PDF Reader, I have the ability to get access to all that geospatial data,” said Davis. Currently, MAP2PDF versions exist for Adobe Acrobat and ESRI's ArcGIS. Davis said more major GIS application versions are coming soon.

“When you have the georegistration information inside of the PDF platform, then you have a GeoPDF,” explained Davis. “And when you have that you are able to provide additional data in terms of layering so that you can look at details via layer, access to the object data, feature and attribute data, etc.”

Adobe has added additional functionality for comprehensive markup and commenting tools that TerraGo has leveraged in a geospatial environment to be able to provide markup capabilities optimized for geospatial.

Features of GeoPDF include:
- Integrates with existing GIS infrastructure
- Puts robust GIS capability in to the hands of non-GIS professionals
- Uses Adobe Reader which is on almost everyone's computer already
- Full functionality in disconnected mode
Now, with the GeoPDF pyramid of technology, you not only get the graphics but the underlying spatial data associated with it.

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  • October 09, 2008
    Reviewed by 'Khubaib'
    'New Mapping Software Company Bridges the Gap between GIS and Non-GIS Professionals- More on Hurricane Katrina Response

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