Jul 09

PLAN Project GIS tool

I have been working in the GIS tool prototype for the PLAN project.

Here are some of the considerations around it:

The user interface (the view layer) is done in FLEX

The source of data is meant to be from our ArcGIS server instance.

Other sources of information are thought to come from different feed channels with GeoRss included.

PLAN GIS tool screen

Live Demo


Jul 09

ArcGIS Server problem? Not working

After the installation and some days working without problem, my ArcGIS Server instance start having problems:
first a message start appearing on the Manager website saying that the service was unavailable.

I reinstalled the whole application including the IIS (since this is a developing Server it is not a problem), but then another message start coming say:

I hate ArcGIS

“This is a marker file generated by the precompilation tool, and should not be deleted!

After many headaches and internet surfing time I found the solution here.

Now it seems to be working again.  😀 !.

Jun 09

ArcGIS Server installation and FLEX prototypes

The last days I have been trying to figure out a possible architecture for a GIS web application that we want to create for the PLAN project.

Since I’m just getting into the GIS programming mood, I try to start from scratch, so then I said, ok the first thing we will need is a map, that is basically an image, therefore we will need a source from that image, but wait a second, that image is actually a image of a place around the world, so what if we create a huge picture of the world, an then I just ask to an specific program to give me just the section I need to show to the user.

Then I realized that actually that is the general idea behind Google Maps, Google Earth, yahoo maps, Microsoft virtual earth, etc. But even when that is the main idea behind those systems there are more issues to implement in order to get those systems to work.

Supposing that I have to show to the user an image of a specific place, I will think that my architecture has to implement a image/map handler.

Then I was thinking that the user would like to do some queries on information related to places, that makes me think that some how I will need a source of information for places and a entity (program) that has to take care of the queries process. Even more the user could get the results of the queries as graphics on top of the images that represent places in the world (the big picture of the world).

Schema GIS framework PLAN

But then wait a second, that means that a can have a base image of the world, and then I should be able to draw thing on top of that image.

Since the software must run on Internet, I will need programming languages that allow me to create web applications.

I found out that many of the mapping tools like Google maps, Google earth, yahoo maps and so on, provide different type of APIs for different programming languages as JavaScript and Action Script. These API allow the programmer to manipulate the images that represent the maps. But it is not only thing that you can do with the API’s, programmers can draw different types o geometric figures on top of the map, add locations with information in popup inside the map, get events related with the interaction of user with the map, establish different types of base maps (something like different types of  “pictures of the world”, for example a picture that show only the streets, or another one that shows the elevations in the terrain, etc).

From all the mapping technologies that I researched and tested, I really liked Google maps and Google earth. Google maps because the different API’s that they provide for different programming languages, and because the growing developers community around these technologies. Google provide a plug-in for the browser that allows people to run Google earth on a browser. This is fantastic because you have all the power of 3D maps, run KML files and other cool features all in your browser.

However in our project, I have to ensure a fluid communication between geographers, planners and programmer, therefore I should find framework that allows us to interact as efficiently as possible.

The geographers have been working with ESRI technologies as ArcMap. So my next step was to figure out what they (ESRI) could provide to me to implement in my framework. I found out that the have a technology very interesting called ArcGIS Server, actually people in the project tried the software before. Jimmy is one of my colleagues. He got, after many bureaucratic issues, to install an instance of ArcGIS Server for the project.

I personally found a great potential in the FLEX API that the people of ESRI offer for free to use in combination with ArcGIS Servers.

I started to check the possibilities of using FLEX for GIS applications, and without any doubts FLEX is a perfect tool to create RIA.

Even more, ESRI is using FLEX for their projects and they recommend using FLEX to increase the productivity when creating web-based GIS applications.

At this point what I did was to start going around asking for the possibility of installing a development server instance of ArcGIS Server. Once I got it I started the installing process.

When you install ArcGIS Server, you have two options: you can install the .NET or the Java platform.

At the beginning, I decided to install the Java platform, however I regretted this decision and I changed the installation to the .NET platform.  The reason was that the Java platform was a bit trickier to install and because our ArcGIS Server is installed in the .NET platform, so I wanted to be consistent with the software engineering process (development and production environments should be the same).

Installing ArcGIS Server

Installing ArcGIS Server

Ok, so I got to install the server and I have started publishing maps, but now I tried to step forward and now I have created some prototypes using FLEX combined with ArcGIS Server.

Query Test using FLEX and a public ArcGIS server.
Changing the source map in FLEX using a public ArcGIS server.
Queering a Map with FLEX in our own ArcGIS development Server.

This post was created from my office in Bergen, Norway


Cheers! :)

Jun 09

ArcGIS Server and Flex

Today has been a very productive day.

Lynn came from Oslo and she, Virginia and me were discussing about the expectations and ideas around the GIS tool that we want to create for the PLAN project.

Great ideas came up to the stage and I am looking forward to start implementing prototypes according to everything that we have discussed.

This week I wanted to start playing with the Flex libraries for the ArcMap Server in order to connect with a map using Flex, This libraries have excellent examples online and they are pretty easy to use, however we have to set up our own ArcMap Server properly.

Here is a dummy example of how it actually works.

ArcMap Server Flex Screen

Enjoy it.

Jun 09

Webcatalog: a second GIS prototype

This is another prototype from the GIS group to the PLAN project.

This prototype is a web catalog for maps.

The application is develop in Flash (ActionScript) and uses a XML file that store the structure of the data that the program in ActionScript use for searching.

The user can change the search parameters to get specific maps.

Check the application here.

Scenario catalog

Scenario catalog

Jun 09

InfoMaps first GIS prototype

This is an initial approach to informative maps using flash (ActionScript) and XML files.

Using an XML it is possible to define hotspot areas in the map image and open information and media about that area.


View the full prototype at:


Jun 09

Getting started with the “PLAN” project

I have the honor to start working at the PLAN project with the geography department at the University of Bergen.

PLAN (Potentials and Limits to Adaptation in Norway) is a research project that studies how can Norwegians  get adapted to the coming clime changes.

Here you can find more information about the project.

My part in the project consist in providing web based GIS tools for planners and civilians.

I will start publishing some experimental tools and prototypes in order to approach our goal as the GIS group for this project.

I am very excited with this job.