[ Back ]   [ More News ]   [ Home ]
October 09, 2006
What's at Autodesk Labs?
Please note that contributed articles, blog entries, and comments posted on GIScafe.com are the views and opinion of the author and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of the management and staff of Internet Business Systems and its subsidiary web-sites.
Susan Smith - Managing Editor

by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
Each GIS Weekly Review delivers to its readers news concerning the latest developments in the GIS industry, GIS product and company news, featured downloads, customer wins, and coming events, along with a selection of other articles that we feel you might find interesting. Brought to you by GISCafe.com. If we miss a story or subject that you feel deserves to be included, or you just want to suggest a future topic, please contact us! Questions? Feedback? Click here. Thank you!

Message from the Editor -

Welcome to GISWeekly! What's at
Autodesk Labs? Probably the best way to find out is to go there and take a look.

According to Brian Mathews, director of Autodesk Labs and the chief architect for the DWF design collaboration platform, Autodesk Labs is going to go through a “Labs process” so that what you see up on Labs today is just the tip of the iceberg. Labs is a way to get products and technologies to anyone who is interested, and getting customers involved in product direction and development much earlier in the process than has been available in the past. Read all about it in this week's Industry News.

GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me

Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor

Industry News

What's at Autodesk Labs?

By Susan Smith

What's at
Autodesk Labs? Probably the best way to find out is to go there and take a look.

According to Brian Mathews, director of Autodesk Labs and the chief architect for the DWF design collaboration platform, Autodesk Labs is going to go through a “Labs process” so that what you see up on Labs today is just the tip of the iceberg. There are three types of content that will appear on the site: products, technologies, and features.

So what is it? It is a way for Autodesk to get prototypes, products and technologies to anyone who is interested, and to get customers involved in product direction and development much earlier in the process than has been available in the past. “We can have product managers go out and do customer studies, surveys and one-on-one conversations with lots of people about what 'pain points' they're having,” noted Mathews. “We can bring that back to Autodesk and have product designers design products, build them and put them in beta and take them to market. But there's nothing like putting actual code in people's hands to really get it right.”

Beta versions happen late in the game, said Mathews, and are under NDA. “Beta is very limited in its requirements and what kind of feedback we get and how we get that feedback, plus only certain people are selected to be beta testers. Labs is not meant to replace any other thing that we do to develop software, it's made to augment, i.e., another way to make that process even better.”

Labs lets people who are not beta testers experiment with the technologies and give feedback before the product is fully baked. “With traditional design you've got your product management going out there and surveying at the very beginning to get the requirements correct and beta is at the very end to get the bugs out, but what about the middle?” Mathews charged. “Generally software companies don't show the stuff in the middle, and that's where Labs would come in with the product.”

The beta applications that are currently on Labs include:

- Google Earth Extension
- Autodesk DGNV8 Translator
- Project FreeWheel
- Autodesk Vault Mirror Utility
- Feature Recognition for Autodesk Inventor

Although Labs currently focuses on products, technologies and features, these are not clear cut delineations. Technologies may become products, features may become products or become part of products. When asked if the new Google Earth Publisher would be considered a technology, Mathews declined to categorize it.

Having just stated this, the first example of a product (not on Labs yet) is the soon-to-be-announced Impression, which is the product
Vespa that Autodesk brought to light at Autodesk University last year. Impression is built on sophisticated graphics technology and aims to solve a “new” problem - that of automating the illustration of CAD drawings (eds. note:
SketchUp, now owned by Google, was a generic solution to the problem). Impression will leverage the design information already put into the CAD product, including layers, blocks, and objects.

“By making Impression a free download that anyone can access while it's in the experimental phase, we can get that customer input and revise that product before it goes into beta,” explained Mathews.

Features may go into the next release of a major product such as AutoCAD, and this way customers can experiment with the new features and give feedback as to what needs to be changed in them well before the product release date. This also allows customers to plan for the new release and what it will offer.

The feature recognition code for Autodesk Inventor that converts neutral 3D CAD (STEP, SAT or IGES Solids) models into fully featured Autodesk® Inventor™ 11 models is a feature.

Project FreeWheel on Labs is an example of a technology. It is both a web site where you can enter a DWF URL for interactive viewing, and a web service that allows you to embed an interactive DWF viewer in your own HTML pages. It has pan, zoom and some markup capabilities as well. You can use FreeWheel without having to install any software onto your machine or to your server farm.

An example of use may be a big firm with a CAD manager with IT background can take FreeWheel and mash it up with some of their existing systems. If they run SAP and want to put design content into this and other systems. “Labs can take some risks in areas that are still being defined by the marketplace, take design content and help make it more connectable to other systems and more useful in an enterprise,” said Mathews.

Sometimes a developer will develop a technology that Autodesk doesn't quite know how to productize, so it can be put on Labs for customers to explore and possibly help shape it into a product.

Autodesk Labs will include brand new products that solve new problems for new audiences or workflows, as well as new features scheduled for new product releases. There may also be a section devoted to utilities that are not as “hot” but still necessary to a smaller audience of users.

Labs may include products that engineers want to develop, that no one has asked for yet. “Nobody asked for search on the web but when we got Google, it became obvious it was a good idea,” Mathews pointed out.

Last year Autodesk announced the release of the code for MapServer Enterprise, the company's then new web mapping platform, as open source, as reported in GISWeekly's
ISD Update from Autodesk University. Since then, many people have contributed to
Autodesk MapGuide OpenSource. If Autodesk had had Labs last year, Mathews said, they probably would have started MapGuide OpenSource there so that many people could contribute to its development. Nonetheless, this product has enjoyed considerable customer involvement and has resulted in a
commercial version of MapGuide Enterprise 2007 and MapGuide Studio 2007.

For Autodesk, Labs is another way to get customers to have direct contact with the engineers who are building the product(s). Because there could potentially be a lot of feedback on Labs, individual features and technologies are divided up and comments on those features will be emailed directly to the appropriate teams.

Visitors to Labs are also invited to participate in the process of building Labs, and deciding what functions it should serve.

Top News of the Week

SeaZone Solutions Ltd, the UK's leading supplier of marine data, has been awarded the prestigious AGI Technical Special Interest Group Award 2006. The national prize recognizes the achievements of SeaZone's innovation team and its drive to create a definitive geographic dataset that will help its customers save time and money.

An independent panel of experts selected SeaZone from a pool of more than 50 companies at the AGI exhibition. The judges considered a range of criteria including how SeaZone's data will enable improved customer service and its potential to revolutionize working practices.

GeoAnalytics® Inc., an IT consulting firm that specializes in the planning, design, and implementation of enterprise information systems, announced that Hank Garie has joined the company as the Director of State and Federal Practice.

Garie brings over 25 years of State and Federal GIS experience to GeoAnalytics. For the past three years, he was at the U.S. Department of the Interior serving as the Executive Director of Geospatial One-Stop (GOS) that provides the geospatial component for President Bush's Management Agenda to enhance government efficiency and improve citizen services. His esteemed background also includes serving on the leadership team for the National Geospatial Program Office in the US Geological Survey; being appointed the first GIS Coordinator for the State of New Jersey; Chair of the New Jersey State Mapping Advisory Committee; former member of the Mapping Sciences Committee of the National Research
Council; and past president of National States Geographic Information Council. Garie, who holds a Masters degree in Environmental Science from Rutgers University, was an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University and is a nationally respected author and speaker.


Tele Atlas, global provider of digital maps and dynamic content for the government market, announced it now has expanded its licensing agreements to provide government entities in 41 states with mission-critical digital map data for emergency response teams managing fires, traffic accidents, environmental hazards and public health crises. For example, California and Connecticut government agencies leverage Tele Atlas' OneMap™ solution to enhance efficiency for emergency response teams and transportation agencies.

ViryaNet Limited, a provider of software applications that automate business processes for mobile workforce management and field service delivery, announced that Open Spatial of Australia will OEM and resell the ViryaNet Field Operations Case Utility System (FOCUS) product to its customers and prospects across the Asia Pacific region.

Topcon Positioning Systems Inc. (TPS) announces the acquisition of leading precision agricultural company, KEE Technologies Pty Ltd. KEE Technologies, an Australian-based company with more than 25 years experience in agricultural electronics and applications, focuses on the precision agriculture market.


GIS in Financial and Electronic Crimes Training - Incidents of white collar crime have become a topic of daily news. If it bleeds, it still may lead- but the victim may be the pocketbook. Credit card scams, money laundering, terrorist financing- like a complex web, financial and electronic crimes capture media headlines. Stories of stolen laptops, corporate data breaches, identity theft, disaster fraud and mortgage fraud have taken their place alongside traditional reports of violent and property crime.

- For registration information, please contact Katie Smith, (703) 807-2758

- For product and solutions companies interested in sponsorship information and related speaking opportunities, contact Andrea Feinberg, (201) 592-6477

Azteca Systems, Inc. announced that the 2007 Cityworks User Conference dates have been moved to May 22 - 24, 2007. Azteca made the decision to shift the dates back a day to ensure that the conference wouldn't interfere with participants' plans for Memorial Day weekend. See

The 2007 User Conference will be held in Park City, Utah at the Park City Marriott. The event will feature pre-conference training on May 20 and 21 for new and existing users as well as specialized implementation training for authorized business partners.

Surveyors, engineers, and professionals in related industries have the opportunity to highlight their geographic information system (GIS) projects at the fifth annual
Survey and GIS Summit to be held June 16-19, 2007, in San Diego, California.

For more information about the Survey and GIS Summit and for online submission forms, visit the

MapInfo Corporation, the global provider of location intelligence solutions, announces the details of its annual European commercial conference, The MapInfo Conference 2006, taking place at the QEII Centre, London, UK on Friday 1st December.

More information on the conference can be found at the
MapInfo UK website. Companies are welcome to join the forum at the delegate fee of £199. To register, please contact:
Email Contact or call 01296 622 555.


Galdos announced the appointment of Jim Farley as Vice President to lead its Sales and Strategic Marketing group. Mr. Farley brings over 25 years of industry experience to this new role, including an extensive background in enterprise applications and interoperable spatial data infrastructure; two key focus areas for Vancouver based Galdos Systems.

Jim joins Galdos from Leica Geosystems where he was Vice President of Strategic Market Development. Prior to this Jim served as Senior Principal Product Manager in Oracle's Spatial Development Group.

ESRI president Jack Dangermond was awarded the Henry Shaw Medal in a ceremony on September 13, 2006, at the Missouri Botanical Garden in St. Louis, Missouri.

Presented since 1883, the medal recognizes those who have made significant contributions to the Missouri Botanical Garden, botanical research, horticulture, conservation, or the museum community. It is named in honor of Henry Shaw, a successful St. Louis businessman who founded the Missouri Botanical Garden in 1859.

ESRI announced that James Lee Witt will deliver the keynote address on the role of geographic information system (GIS) technology in emergency response preparedness at the ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit and ESRI Health GIS Conference. These concurrent events will be held October 23-26, 2006, in Denver, Colorado. Witt is the chief executive officer of the public safety and crisis management consulting firm James Lee Witt Associates (JLWA), a part of GlobalOptions Group, Inc.

Andrew H. Freckmann was recently appointed a business development manager with GeoDecisions®, an award winning firm in the information technology industry (IT) specializing in geospatial solutions.


OSI Geospatial Inc. will release its 2006 fiscal third quarter financial results at 4:05 p.m. Eastern Time (1:05 p.m. Pacific Time) on Monday, October 16, 2006. The company will hold a conference call to discuss the financial results at 4:30 p.m. Eastern Time (1:30 p.m. Pacific Time) the same day.

The call can be accessed in North America, toll-free, by dialing +1-866-400-2280, and internationally by dialing +1-416-850-9143 approximately 15 minutes prior to the start of the call. The conference call will also be broadcast live over the Internet and available for replay on the
company's investor site.


The St. Louis, Mo., office of GeoDecisions has won several new contracts with public transportation and commercial clients. GeoDecisions is an award-winning leader in the information technology industry specializing in geographic information systems (GIS).

Madison County Transit (MCT), a member of the St. Louis Regional Bikeway Commission, selected GeoDecisions to help develop a Web-based GIS that will map the bicycle transportation network throughout Madison County. At the completion of the project, the public will be able to plan bike trips online, from viewing available bike paths, determining where to park in relation to the paths, and measuring the distance of proposed rides. In 2004, GeoDecisions was selected through a request for proposal (RFP) process to develop the Regional Bikeways of St. Louis Web site for MCT.

New Products

To increase awareness of its feature extraction services, LAND INFO Worldwide Mapping, LLC is offering a promotion through the end of December 2006: any U.S.-based customer that buys from LAND INFO a DigitalGlobe® CitySphere™ product will receive a free set of road vectors extracted from this highly-accurate off-the-shelf QuickBird imagery. Promotion applies only to cities outside the U.S.

For more information, visit the
LAND INFO Worldwide Mapping, LLC website

MapText, Inc. has released Label-Web v.2.0, the latest version of the Company's high-quality text placement engine that labels web-based maps on the fly in Intergraph's GeoMedia WebMap environment.

Label-Web version 2.0 expands on the capabilities provided in previous versions in a number of ways. New commands and capabilities are available that add even more flexibility to the labeling of maps and charts. The labeling engine has been updated with performance enhancements to ensure that the dynamic placement of label text occurs as smoothly and quickly as possible. Finally, new tools have been added to simplify the process of creating and maintaining Label Rule Files and to aid in the upgrading of existing installations.

Synergos Technologies, Inc., an innovator of timely and accurate consumer data products for real estate, retailers, and restaurateurs announces the updated quarterly release of STI: PopStats -- the research industry's first and only quarterly population estimates. This is the 21st version, and the first to include a 10 year forecast.

CARIS announced the release of Hydrographic Production Database (HPD) version 2.4. With new product editors, new database support and new utility programs, the HPD user group of national hydrographic offices will advance towards a truly integrated hydrographic data management and production environment.

The release of version 2.4 combines ideas and feedback from CARIS HPD users. Eighteen nations have already adopted HPD in their hydrographic production workflow indicating industry acceptance of a database-driven approach to hydrographic data management and production.

Around the Web

Fortune, September 21, 2006 -
Autodesk (
Charts) ranks no. 62 on Fortune's 2006 list of the 100 Fastest-Growing Companies. The San Rafael, California-based company saw profits rise at a rate of 115% and revenues grow 26% with a stock return of 63% on average annually over the past three years. See

Upcoming Events

Location-based Social Networking for Crisis Management Conference (LoSoNet 2006)

Date: October 3, 2006

Place: Sheraton National Hotel Arlington, VA USA

The Location-based Social Networking for Crisis Management Conference will focus on defense and homeland security information sharing among local, state and federal groups and provide a forum to connect the world of social networking with location-based information. Location-based social networking for crisis management is a new approach to sharing information about a crisis area, connecting to groups with similar interests and information needs and breaking down barriers to achieving situational awareness. The conference will focus on innovative methods and best practices to achieve situational awareness for defense and homeland security programs that are in compliance with an all-hazards
approach to meeting the nation's goals for preparedness.

ESRI Electric & Gas User Group Meeting (EGUG 2006)

Date: October 9 - 12, 2006

Place: Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort Albuquerque, Mexico

EGUG, the Electric and Gas User Group, is made up of ESRI users, user organizations, and ESRI business partners. A conference to share ideas and hot topics is held each fall. Membership is freely open to all ESRI users, user organizations, and ESRI business partners. Other applicants are subject to review and acceptance.

SWUG Conference 2006

Date: October 14 - 18, 2006

Place: du Bois Conference Center Flagstaff, AZ USA

The Southwest Users Group (SWUG) is a forum of GIS professionals from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming who use ESRI software and related products. SWUG meets annually to exchange knowledge, discuss new ideas, explore resources, and support the development of diverse GIS interests and education. SWUG 2006 offers two days of optional pre-conference training, skills focused workshops, user presentations, poster session and vendor exhibits.

AGI User Exchange 2006 (EAST)

Date: October 17 - 18, 2006

Place: Renaissance Washington, DC Hotel 999 Ninth Street NW, Washington, DC 20001 USA

Join the experts at the AGI User Exchange 2006 in Washington, DC (Oct. 17 & 18) or San Diego, CA (Oct. 25 & 26). Learn analysis for land, sea, air, and space from user presentations, technology demonstrations, and peer-to-peer discussions with AGI astrodynamicists, developers, and product managers.

geoVue User Conference 2006

Date: October 18 - 19, 2006

Place: Harvard Club of Boston (Main Club) Boston, MA USA

We look forward to showing you how to get the most out of your geoVue solutions, sharing best practices, and introducing you to fellow geoVue users from across the USA. Attendees from last year's conference reported an overwhelmingly positive experience, and we expect this year's conference to be even better!

Geoinformatics 2006

Date: October 20 - 21, 2006

Place: Wuhan, China

Since its inception in 1992, the series of International Conference on Geoinformatics have provided a highly attractive opportunity of gathering and knowledge exchange for professionals and practitioners worldwide. The 14th of this conference will be held on Oct. 20-21, 2006 in Wuhan, China. This conference will also act as the major event of Wuhan Technical University of Surveying and Mapping, which is a part of Wuhan University now. The conference theme encourages diverse topics related to new philosophy, new technology and new solution to enrich the future development of Geoinformatics. The conference will include keynote speeches, parallel sessions, panel discussion and special forums.

NYS GIS 2006

Date: October 23 - 24, 2006

Place: Crowne Plaza Hotel Lake Placid, NY USA

Meet Talbot Brooks and Twyla McDermott, two key people who responded to the hurricane Katrina. They will be part of a spellbinding panel at beautiful Lake Placid. The panel will demonstrate GIS techniques used to analyze storm surge, power outages and map out missing persons reports and calls for service during this incredible time.

2006 ESRI Health GIS Conference

Date: October 23 - 26, 2006

Place: Denver, CO USA

The ESRI Health GIS Conference will provide a forum for participants to examine current capabilities and coming opportunities for managing and sharing geospatial data and analysis in a GIS framework for community health programs, healthcare delivery, hospitals, epidemiology, disease surveillance, health research, and more.

2006 ESRI Homeland Security GIS Summit

Date: October 23 - 26, 2006

Place: Denver, CO USA

This conference is for those in local, regional, state, and federal government, utilities, and private-sector organizations who establish priorities and set directions for their organizations and work to improve systems for public protection and business continuity.

2006 Virginia GIS Conference

Date: October 23 - 24, 2006

Place: Hotel Roanoke and Conference Center, Roanoke, VA USA

The VA GIS Conference has been organized and sponsored annually by the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) for seventeen years. The GIS Conference draws over 400 professionals from local, state, federal government, private sector and universities.

Geomatics 2006

Date: October 25 - 26, 2006

Place: Hilton Montreal Bonaventure Convention Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

The Geomatics 2006 symposium will address both public- and private-sector managers and personnel playing an active role in strategic and operational processes, whether geomatics professionals or not. Participants will have a chance to hear knowledgeable speakers present their latest achievements, their new products and services or their vision of the future. As in past years, visitors will be treated to a large commercial exhibition bringing together the key hardware, software and service players.

AGI User Exchange 2006 (WEST)

Date: October 25 - 26, 2006

Place: San Diego Marriott Mission Valley 8757 Rio San Diego Drive, San Diego, CA 92108 USA
Join the experts at the AGI User Exchange 2006 in Washington, DC (Oct. 17 & 18) or San Diego, CA (Oct. 25 & 26). Learn analysis for land, sea, air, and space from user presentations, technology demonstrations, and peer-to-peer discussions with AGI astrodynamicists, developers, and product managers.

ESRI Latin American User Conference

Date: October 25 - 27, 2006

Place: Los Tajibos Hotel & Convention Center Santa Cruz , Bolivia

The Latin American GIS Users Conference is an annual itinerant event that gathers organizations from different parts of the world, specially from Latin America with the goal to exhibit the several applications of SIG and encourage the use of its different tools.

ESRI Middle East and North Africa User Conference

Date: October 31 - November 2, 2006

Place: Le Royal Hotel Amman, Jordan

InfoGraph, ESRI's authorized distributor in Jordan and ESRI Inc, U.S.A are pleased to announce the 9th Middle East and Africa Conference for ESRI Users. The main tracks will encourage focus on topics such as Transportation, Utilities and Energy, Health and Human Services, Cadastre, Education, Defense and Homeland Security and Emergency Services; many sessions will also appeal to a wider range of attendance interested in planning and resource management, communitywide mapping projects and technology in general.

You can find the full GISCafe event calendar here.

To read more news, click here.

-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.