Visual Composite Application Platform
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Visual Composite Application Platform

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Industry News
Visual Composite Application Platform
by Susan Smith

Lansing, MI firm IDV Solutions recently released Visual Fusion Server 3.0 (VFS), what they refer to as a “visual composite application platform.” According to the press release, “VFS goes beyond typical enterprise mashups to integrate with and extend Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS), connect to any data source or Web service, and empower users to create compelling, interactive, actionable composites of data and services focused on solving real business needs.”

Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 (MOSS) has been out for less than a year and is the fastest growing Microsoft server product to be released yet. Scott Caulk, VFS product manager said that Microsoft has already sold 85 million licenses. “The reason it’s selling so fast is that enterprises are finding it easy to work with and very powerful.”

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Hitching its wagon to the MOSS star seems like a pretty safe bet for the new release of Visual Fusion Server. Although VFS offered an extension for SharePoint with the former release, “With the latest release we decided to integrate more heavily with MOSS, so all our stuff is implemented as SharePoint features in MOSS,” Caulk noted. “We get a lot of leverage from all the capabilities found in MOSS.”

VFS leverages MOSS functionality such as Excel Services, Enterprise Search, the Business Data Catalog, and security. VFS also geospatially enables MOSS Libraries and Lists, combining this information with existing enterprise data stores, such as SQL Server and ArcSDE, Web services, and information feeds. VFS offers advanced spatial operations, a more robust styling engine, and a new Graphical User Interface (GUI) to manage and organize information layers.

“We continue to do transformation to the data itself such as spatial operations that allow us to do clustering of points,” explained Caulk. “You can think of a visual composite application platform as three things: one is location intelligence, the concept of putting data in space; the second one is interactive data visualization - the concept of taking data out of spreadsheets and text files and putting them into pictures and things you click on and explore for really high level views, and the third thing is basically a geospatial content management system for which we leverage MOSS.”

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The VFS map viewer and control panel allows you to turn on and off data layers, comprised of locations of your facilities, real time weather data, geographical or political boundaries, etc. “Once you have a layer of your plans up on the map, you can tie those to other layers.”

For a large oil company, IDV Solutions used VFS to create a hurricane management system which allowed them to do geospatial content management. “They were able to bring in a couple dozen different weather feeds to pictures of the projected path and plume of the hurricane, in real time,” said Caulk. “They have their own internal data such as bathymetry data of the ocean floor in the Gulf of Mexico, plus up to the minute satellite imagery, stacked on top of each other. You can turn on and off the layers you want. You can change the opacity of these to get a good view of what you want.”

With VFS 3.0 the focus is on bringing the content management side into SharePoint. Within SharePoint are libraries and lists. Microsoft MOSS allows you to take one basic list and add and build onto it, extending it to make it serve specific purposes. “We took the concept of the library where you would drop in documents or Excel files, and added some code to that so that it would automatically georeference that,” Caulk said. “The code we wrote will allow you to make that available to the Map Viewer in our own map client. The control for turning on and off the layers will show up in the layer control.”

VFS 3.0 has an ArcSDE Connector as well as an SQL Server Connector for bringing in data. You can drop shape files into one of the libraries and they will show up on the map. A typical end user doesn’t have database expertise, but can drop shapefiles, GeoRSS files with location information, WMS feeds, and KML files, into the VFS database. New in 3.0 is support for KML and that data is available in the context of a map.

The data link library is a list of data links. It enables you to collect all the links, paste them into a spreadsheet view and the data from all those links will show up in your map. You can combine this data with all the enterprise data and different feeds. “You can create a list of layers with this data and organize it in a structure, then either export that to our viewer or export it as a KML file and put into Google Earth, and you can see all those layers from VFS in Google Earth.”

“One of the key things we’re doing is leveraging SOA,” Caulk pointed out. “Gartner estimated that 50% of all new mission critical applications and business processes were built on SOA this year.”

By 2010 they expect that number to rise by 80%. Caulk said that MOSS is a platform for leveraging SOA. SOA organizations can build web services that can connect into different databases or services which will can be brought into the VFS Map Viewer.

Caulk said that they do not consider VFS a GIS product, but rather a way to store spatial data and do spatial operations. VFS is a complement to a product like Oracle Spatial or SQL Server, in that it does some lightweight spatial operations such as clustering of points and buffering.

VFS 3.0 offers for the first time an SDK that will allow developers to customize and extend the capabilities of the product. An example of this is the hurricane management system which is a highly focused application built on top of VFS, with IDV developers extending and building toward a customized, business focused application.

With a straightforward implementation, once VFS 3.0 is installed, it can be used right out of the box. “You don’t have to do any customization to get value out of it. You can put data in to your SharePoint libraries, hook into SQL Server or ArcSDE,” Caulk explained. “There are native connectors built in, which empowers end users as well as developers.”

“The client agnostic server outputs KML and GeoRSS and our client receives that, but any client that will take KML or GeoRSS can use the server product.” Users can leverage their databases in one web portal.

Top News of the Week

The French National Geographic Institute (IGN) has selected Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging’s RedSpider Catalog 3.0 to build and maintain a catalog of geospatial resources. With this catalog, the IGN will fully handle visualization requests made by end-users through the Gé

RedSpider Catalog provides a robust and secure solution meeting IGN’s in-house cataloguing needs, with the ability to feed the Gé with interoperable geospatial resources.


Adapx and ESRI announced a strategic agreement to deliver Capturx for ArcGIS Desktop to all of ESRI's markets such as government, utilities, engineering, natural resources, and various other industries. Under the terms of this agreement, ESRI will offer Capturx for ArcGIS Desktop in the United States through its direct sales force and channel of 1,700 resellers. Capturx for ArcGIS Desktop is a fully integrated GIS software solution that digitally enables paper-based field mapping with a digital pen and standard paper for a broad range of industries.

National Disclosure Authority (NDA), an independent hazard disclosure company, announced its partnership with Digital Map Products (DMP), provider of web-based embedded mapping and GIS solutions. The companies first began working together in 2007 and successfully created exclusive software that integrates NDA's legal and disclosure expertise with DMP's advanced mapping technology. The new software enhances NDA's unparalleled disclosure reporting by providing state-of-the-art mapping capabilities allowing heightened accuracy of hazard location to within inches of a client's property line, and real time updates of Federal, State and local maps. This cutting edge technology is unrivalled in the hazard disclosure industry.

GyPSii, a geo-location and mobile social networking provider, has partnered with Shanghai Rannuo and China Unicom to launch its GyPSii service during the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing.

The GyPSii service combines social networking, mobile, location and web 2.0 technologies to offer China Unicom users a seamless mobile lifestyle experience. It will allow users to create pictures, video and blogs centered on all things Olympic while using their existing camera phone. GyPSii users can capture their special moments during the Olympic games, upload the content to their personal space and share it with friends, family and communities. The users can also search other GyPSii User Generated Content (UGC), people and points of interest and get maps and directions to their location – all from their mobile phone.

China Public Security Technology, Inc., a leading provider of public security information technology and GIS software services, announced that its variable interest entity, Shenzhen iASPEC Software Engineering Company Limited ("iASPEC"), has entered into a series of agreements to acquire 57% of the shares of Wuda Geoinformatics Co., Ltd. ("Geo"), a leading provider of GIS software products and integrated solutions in China, for an aggregate purchase price of RMB49.5 million (approximately US$6.8 million) in cash. The transactions are expected to close on or before April 1, 2008, after which, iASPEC will become Geo's controlling shareholder, and Wuhan University, Geo's founder, will be the second largest shareholder through direct and indirect investments.

NAVTEQ Corporation, a global provider of digital map data for vehicle navigation and location-based solutions, announced that Nokia Corporation filed the necessary notification to the European Commission in regards to its pending acquisition of NAVTEQ. Completion of the acquisition is subject to receipt of European regulatory approval and the satisfaction of the other closing conditions set forth in the merger agreement.

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging announced that Data Design is now an authorized distributor of Leica Geosystems’ solutions to customers in southern Africa.

Headquartered in Cape Town, South Africa, Data Design specializes in reselling a broad range of geospatial solutions, instruments and services, including those of IKONOS®, OrbView, RadarSat and Aster. Effective January 1, 2008, Data Design now also handles Leica Geosystems’ entire product portfolio.

Astrium announced that it has entered into a joint-venture with the Cartographic Institute of Catalonia (ICC), the Catalan official mapping agency, and Hisdesat, a space services provider, to create Infoterra Servicios de Geoinformación SA (Infoterra SGSA).

Infoterra SGSA will form part of the Infoterra Group, a leading provider of geo-information products and services based on Earth observation data. The new company will expand an already strong European organization present in France, Germany, the United Kingdom and Hungary.


PTV is a partner and system supplier of the PSF Initiative which focuses on the development of the Physical Storage Format (PSF). The consortium consists of 19 industry-leading car manufacturers and system and map suppliers who work together to create a standardized map format for basic car navigation and telematics functions. The aim is to provide maps more quickly and easily. Car navigation data have been available for different devices, using different formats making it both costly and time-consuming to update and exchange the map data. The new harmonized format is meant to eliminate costly format conversion.

The Carbon Project will release a major update to CarbonArc PRO, its Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC®) Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) 1.0 extension for ArcGIS, at the ESRI Federal User Conference on February 20 in Washington, DC. SDI 1.0 is a selected suite of OGC standards endorsed as part of ongoing efforts by government agencies to promote interoperability. CarbonArc PRO 1.5 brings a new generation of SDI 1.0 compliant data discovery and production tools directly to the ArcGIS desktop.

Agrian, a fully integrated agridata tracking solution, announced that it has reached an exclusive, multi-year agreement delivering the entire suite of Agrian products to the country's largest organization of professional crop advisors and agronomists. The agreement with the American Society of Agronomy enables Agrian to expand its integrated, field-to-fork solution nationally with a certified group of trained professionals in production agriculture. The Society's CCA and CPAg Programs boasts more than 13,000 Certified Crop Advisers (CCAs) and Certified Professional Agronomists (CPAgs) throughout the US and Canada.

The Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc. (OGC) is requesting public comment on the candidate CityGML Encoding Standard. CityGML is a Geography Markup Language 3 (GML3) application schema for the storage and exchange of virtual 3D city models.

CityGML is a common information model for the representation of 3D urban objects. It defines the classes and relations for the most relevant topographic objects in cities and regional models with respect to their geometrical, topological, semantical and appearance properties. Included are generalization hierarchies between thematic classes, aggregations, relations between objects, and spatial properties. This thematic information goes beyond graphic exchange formats and allows users to employ virtual 3D city models for sophisticated analysis tasks in different application domains such as simulations, urban data mining, facility management, and thematic inquiries.

Timmons Group, a leader in geospatial consulting services, announced that ESRI-Washington DC has awarded Timmons Group the 2008 Foundation Partner.

The Foundation Partner award recognizes the partner who, through hard work and dedication, has consistently built a very strong, dependable relationship with ESRI. This partner is one of the foundation blocks on which ESRI's strong Business Partner Program is built. The presentation of the awards will be held on Sunday, March 16th at the 2008 ESRI Business Partner Conference in Palm Springs, California.

Only 48 hours after UNOSAT, a United Nations operational programme of UNITAR that provides an enhanced access to satellite imagery, contacted Infoterra GmbH's teams in Friedrichshafen, the company's experts were able to deliver a readily processed high-resolution radar image acquired by the new German radar satellite TerraSAR-X.

Heavy rainfall had caused severe flooding in Bolivia, already killing more than 60 and leaving over 40.000 people homeless by February 13th, 2008. In the worst-hit province, Beni, thousands of people had to leave their homes amid rising floodwaters; rivers had broken their banks, and floodwaters were threatening to breach a raised road surrounding the provincial capital Trinidad, home to some 90,000 people.


HP announced financial results for its first fiscal quarter ended Jan. 31, 2008, with net revenue of $28.5 billion, up 13% from a year earlier and up 8% when adjusted for the effects of currency.

In the first quarter, GAAP operating profit was $2.6 billion and GAAP diluted earnings per share (EPS) was $0.80, up from $0.55 in the prior-year period. Non-GAAP operating profit was $2.8 billion, with non-GAAP diluted EPS of $0.86 up from $0.65 in the prior-year period. Non-GAAP financial information excludes $158 million of adjustments on an after-tax basis, or $0.06 per diluted share, related primarily to amortization of purchased intangibles. See press release

Garmin Ltd. announced a record quarter ended December 29, 2007, reporting the highest quarterly and annual revenue and earnings in the Company's history. The company also announced a share repurchase program. See press release 


deCarta, supplier of software and services for the Location-Based Services (LBS) industry, announced that it has established a new office in Dusseldorf, Germany, to meet customer needs in Germany, Austria and Switzerland (DACH) and Central Europe. This expansion is a strategic move to meet the increasing deployment of LBS for fleet-tracking, mobile resource management and personal navigation applications in the region.

Heading up the Dusseldorf office will be newly-appointed senior sales director, Martin Wenzel, who joined deCarta from Navicore OY (Germany, Austria and Switzerland).

New Products

Magellan introduced the latest addition to its MobileMapper GIS and mapping line of products - the MobileMapper 6. A rugged, waterproof, handheld GPS/GIS receiver, the MobileMapper 6 fulfills the requirements for low-cost, professional GIS field data collection. It fills a market gap in the data collection field between high-cost devices and consumer-grade products. It is expected to particularly appeal to forestry and other natural resource organizations, oil and gas, agriculture, utilities, government agencies, and businesses large and small that need a highly-rugged, robust GIS unit that can collect geographic data with 2-5 meter accuracy in real-time with SBAS corrections.

Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging released Leica Image Manager, an innovative new solution for efficiently storing and quickly sharing imagery throughout the enterprise.

This dynamic solution comprehensively addresses problems universal to many geospatial data providers and those in the public sector and civil engineering, oil, gas and land management industries. These businesses often work with geospatial data too large to be centrally stored, or rapidly shared.

Global Positions, LLC announced the release of KnowGIS 9, which is now shipping. The KnowGIS training series provides video-based innovative training material for learning and knowing ArcGIS Desktop, including ArcView software. This innovative video training series contains eleven (11) tutorials and is an excellent tool for learning and understanding ESRI’s ArcGIS Desktop. It is also an excellent reference for information and techniques. The detailed instruction on GIS concepts and software techniques, combined with project files to work along with the instructor, enable you to retain more and broaden your skill set. This video series which contains eleven (11) videos is dedicated to helping you understand ESRI's integrated suite of applications which make up ArcGIS Desktop, including ArcCatalog, ArcMap, ArcToolbox, the Command Line Window and Model Builder.

Around the Web

Spatial Guru blog: " "Desktop GIS: Mapping the Planet with Open Source" by Gary Sherman. The "About this book": "Desktop GIS explores the world of Open Source GIS software and provides a guide to navigate the many options available.

Upcoming Events

2008 ESRI Technology Showcase
Date: March 1 - October 31, 2008
Place: California, Hawaii, Nevada, USA
ESRI invites you to attend a one-half day event featuring demonstrations of ESRI’s latest technologies that illustrate how these tools can be deployed to address common organizational needs.

If you are responsible for making decisions about GIS in your organization, attend the showcase to evaluate the fit of specific ESRI products. If you are focused on applying GIS technology, the showcase offers content to help you be more productive with ESRI tools.

8:30 a.m.—Noon


FME Worldwide User Conference
Date: March 6 - 7, 2008
Place: Vancouver
We invite you to join us in beautiful Vancouver, BC, Canada for the FME Worldwide User Conference on March 6-7, 2008. As we explore the theme New Dimensions in Spatial ETL (extract, transform and load), you’ll learn more about new developments in the industry and in FME, including 3D geometries and spatial data federation.


GITA’s Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference
Date: March 9 - 12, 2008
Place: Washington State Convention Center
Seattle, WA USA
The Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference's technical program will include interactive half-day seminars, educational sessions, user forums, panel deliberations, and networking socials. The corresponding exhibition will feature the leading geospatial hardware, software, and services vendors.
Anyone who is interested in using geospatial information technologies is invited to attend. The conference program will address topics of interest to executives and managers in government agencies; electric, gas, and water/wastewater utilities; telecommunications companies; pipeline companies; the public sector; and other organizations interested in using geospatial information to enhance their bottom line.


Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium
Date: March 9 - 12, 2008
Place: Seattle, WA USA
GITA is pleased to announce the Geospatial Dimensions of Emergency Response Symposium, a unique forum taking place in conjunction with the association’s Geospatial Infrastructure Solutions Conference (formerly Annual Conference). This event will be the first ever to address the application of mapping technologies such as GIS, GPS, and remote sensing to emergency and disaster response.


NSGIC 2008 Midyear Conference
Date: March 9 - 12, 2008
Place: Annapolis
The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) is an organization committed to efficient and effective government through the prudent adoption of geospatial information technologies (GIT). Members of NSGIC include senior state geographic information system (GIS) managers and coordinators. Other members include representatives from federal agencies, local government, the private sector, academia and other professional organizations.


WALIS International Forum 2008
Date: March 12 - 14, 2008
Place: Perth Convention Exhibition Centre
Western Australia, Australia
WALIS Forum is one of the premier GIS events in Australia, attracting over 650 participants from a diverse range of professions.
Held every 18 months, the Forum provides an opportunity to address issues related to the collection, management and application of geographic or spatial information. The Forum is open to everyone, however, is targeted to people working with geographic information (GI) or those who would like to find out how they can harness GI to improve their business.


2008 ESRI Worldwide Business Partner Conference
Date: March 15 - 18, 2008
Place: Wyndham Hotel and Palm Springs
Convention Center, Palm Springs, CA USA
The 2008 ESRI Worldwide Business Partner Conference (BPC) will be held March 15–18, 2008, in Palm Springs, California. Jack Dangermond, ESRI president and CEO, will share with you the future of GIS business and technology that will help you drive your business. You'll gain insight into ESRI's products, services, data, and technology innovations.


GIS-T 2008
Date: March 17 - 19, 2008
Place: Houston, TX USA
The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials sponsors the annual GIS for Transportation Symposium. It is a chance for persons in government and private industry who are interested in the use of GIS for transportation purposes to get together and share experiences, see state-of-art software, and learn more about this field. The Symposium annually attracts over 400 Symposium registrants in addition to the 50 exhibitors in the technology hall.