Welcome to GISWeekly! Orbit Geospatial Technologies’ Orbit GIS 4.1 is designed for the desktop, as well as client/server and web based platforms. The Orbit GIS Desktop is a cost effective alternative to more complex GIS solutions for the middle to low-end market who would most likely not purchase a GIS system otherwise. Read the interview with Peter Bonne, product and sales manager for Orbit GIS, in this week’s Industry News.
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Susan Smith, Managing Editor
Orbit GIS 4.1 Supports 64 bit Processors on Windows
by Susan Smith
In September, Orbit Geospatial Technologies of Belgium announced the release of Orbit GIS 4.1, supporting 32 and 64 bit processors on Windows.
In an interview with Peter Bonne, product and sales manager for Orbit GIS, GISWeekly learned about the origin of the “Orbit Geospatial Technologies” business unit, and the release of a GIS desktop product utilizing the Orbit engine, which can be used by both experienced and inexperienced GIS users.
GW: Who is your target audience?
Peter Bonne: At Orbit GT, we target our products at the middle and low end market, while providing solutions that offer the most often used functionalities in GIS; either desktop, client/server or web based. We believe that there is a significant market in potential users that don’t get around to using GIS because of the complexity and TCO involved in it.
Other experiences teach us that solution providers have to pay a lot while using only about 10% of the product they purchased, and have to invest quite some effort in building and maintaining the solutions they wish to offer. I believe we can rightsize our products to the needs of these customers.
By presenting a technology that is equal on all platforms, and an engine with APIs equal on client as well as server side, any extension and third party effort has a significant ROI. This leads to a second target audience: website developers. Orbit FlashMap is so easy to install that any web developer without any GIS knowledge feels perfectly at home.
GW: How would you say your product fits into the marketplace?
PB: As there is a growing demand for using geodata throughout the society, there is an equal demand for GIS tools at all levels. Some vendors aim at the high end B2B, some at the consumer market. Many businesses are right in between. They need simple and no-nonsense solutions, cheap enough to make the shift, yet powerful enough to get the result. Our products built on the pure Java Orbit engine offer exactly that flexibility.
GW: Is OrbitGIS used on 4x4 quad core processors?
PB: I have no knowledge of that, but if there’s a Java runtime that supports these processors, it should be no problem. I know of people who ported previous versions of Orbit GIS to Linux and Mac without our aid.
GW: How long has Orbit GIS been in existence, both the company and product?
PB: Orbit Geospatial Technologies is the GIS development department of Eurotronics. Eurotronics started in 1972 as a hardware and software development spin-off from Aero Survey, the first independent photogrammetry company in Belgium. In the late 70s, we succeeded in building a fully digital production line, including digital data capitation, block adjustment software, interactive editing and plotting. That was before PCs were invented and before HP released their first HP/GL plotter.
Early 90’s, we built OpenGIS’ (happens to be a name used by the OCG later on) on Unix systems and supported RDBMS data storage using common data types.
Today, the Orbit technology is our Eurotronics 4th generation GIS engine, which we started in 1997, and has evolved with the growing requirements of our customers, while development has always focused on reusability and strategic software design patterns. While our focus has been on the local market over the years, we believe we are now ready for an international profile. Hence the startup of the “Orbit Geospatial Technologies” business unit, and the release of a GIS desktop product, accessing the Orbit engine that’s been around since 1998.
GW: Who are your main competitors?
PB: As anywhere else, these are the main international players such as ESRI, MapInfo, Autodesk and Intergraph. But I do believe that as the market learns about our solutions, the difference will become clear. There are a lot of solution providers out there that can build faster and charge less for a better performance solution than they do today.
GW: How many actual seats of the product are there in use?
PB: As we are new on the international market, these figures are yet insignificant. Locally however, Orbit is market leader, mainly because of its integration of tailor made solutions for government use. We’re also well represented in the educational market.
GW: What are the sales figures?
PB: I can only refer to local sales figures for now, which are about $1m – quite OK for a small country. Up to today, our Orbit technology has rather been an enabler for our services and solutions division.
GW: How is the product priced?
PB: Orbit GIS is available for only 299 ï¿½, Orbit Explorer is our free viewer, supporting ECW and MrSID. We tend to include functionalities that other companies offer as extensions. For example, support of FME is a standard that is included. If you have your FME engine installed, Orbit GIS will recognize and use it.
More important for us is the level of integration between our desktop GIS, server systems and web mapping solution Orbit FlashMap. These solutions are equally low priced, and have a pricing model based on processors and concurrent users. For example, the basic Provider version of Orbit FlashMap starts as low as 699 ï¿½. The 10-user Lite version is free.
GW: What are your future directions?
PB: We consider Orbit GIS to be an all-purpose desktop vehicle. By providing a 4-step “Publish to the web” wizard, integration with Orbit FlashMap offers very fast web delivery already. Based on user demand and use cases, we will provide additional capabilities to the OFM public interface and server APIs. We will do more with Orbit FlashMap in the future.
The second goal is to provide equal features on all platforms. We’re currently in the process of offering all our products on Windows 32 and 64 bit, and Linux/Unix 32 and 64 bit. Mac OSX will follow shortly.
Third is the further development of our photogrammetric software Strabo. This demanding technology increasingly finds its way in new application fields and we wish to make it accessible for low-end users. As extension to Orbit GIS, it’s a uniquely integrated photogrammetric tool.