Saturday, April 11, 2015

Could Google Purchase ESRI Straight Out?

Ever since Google announced this past December the eventual depreciation of Google Earth API, then the Google Maps Engine, and now the ending of their related BLOGSPOTs list, I have pondered what madness this could be?

 The Death of the 3D globe.. sinking to obscurity like the encylopedia?
To me the Google Earth is what the www is all about. Is is now really "Oh, the places you might have gone?" 
Why depreciate value added design and direct obvious intuitive use by literally "billions"? Google Earth deserves a Nobel award as a digital-age information access to everything via the Globe that shifted geo-sciences to the core? Worrisome stuff?

The response to why is a signal from Google that due to legacy design and security issues Google Earth's 'fusion engine" will increasingly disadvange future value of the current design. So what you now see is all of Google's geography newness and goodness is going down the track of Google Maps and its related 2D and 2.5D map API ecologies. 

What about 3D and 4D goodness that Google Earth had/has? Is StreetView only to be flat, never to be experienced in Occulus? When pushed, Google Geographers only confirm the remain deeply committed to 3D. So what might be going on?

My bet is that Google is hard at work rebuilding(?) the next generation of a 3D world that will provide an immersive experience that will take you anywhere to meet new friends and have a reach-out experiece? You know a index of every thing anywhere at anytime for billions of digital explorers and virtual tourists? And for free....

Then you have the nearly 40-year old industry that Jack built - ESRI and its ArcGIS. Cartographically and spatially elite in methods and tools, some are critcial of its monopolistic positoning and its domination of GIS sciences,  it is owned by the singular Jack and Laura Dangermonds.  ESRI remains in their private ownership of ESRI which ranks them in top 1,000 most wealthy as defined by the Forbes list of the World's Billionaires. Who or what could possibly take ESRI - meaning buy out Jack and Laura, in one swat?

Google Inc Balance Sheets

The Google and Esri Surprise

So there I was sitting comfortably happily writing a blog post post entitled Enabling Jack Dangermond’s GIS Vision commenting on Jacks excellent ArcNews lead article when bam the following stops me in my tracks:

What is the Esri/Google relationship?

Google and Esri are working closely together to provide replacement software and training to all of Google’s enterprise customers and partners who have implemented Google Earth Enterprise and Google Map Engine technology. Esri will be providing the new 10.3 version of ArcGIS for Server and related client/app technology to all Google Enterprise customers and partners.

How will this collaboration effect the business continuity for Google customers and partners?

Many customers are both Google and Esri customers. Migration for these organizations will be relatively straight-forward. They will simply consolidate servers and introduce new clients. For customers who are new to Esri, this will be an opportunity to expand capabilities with a broader GIS platform technology.

For Google business partners it will mean new business opportunities in the geospatial marketplace with more extensive platform tools offered by Esri as well as new business programs for leveraging and extending their work.

Last week we asked Is Google were getting out of the Mapping Game?. Now we read Google and Esri are working closely together.

Google is a consumer focused company. Its primary income is from advertising. That is the space it knows best, and its core. In contrast Esri have a quite different user base. Google’s Map Engine was direct competition to Esri’s ArcGIS. It’s launch shook Esri, and made for a certain degree of paranoia on both sides. Competition can be good, but not in this case. It was making two innovative companies focus away from their areas of strength.

We hope this announcement means a truce. Harmony and not opposition. If that is the case we all win. At the end of the day, as a location focused technology company, we are always looking to provide the best and most appropriate solutions for our clients. We are not in the consumer space, which is why we are an Esri partner. The rivalry between Esri and Google we found a distraction. These companies moving forward in parallel, and not in opposition, we see as presenting exciting possibilities.Curiouser and curiouser.

See our reflections on this news in Esri Google and Drawing a Line in the Sand

And now the rest of the news....

Thanks Joe!!

Gmap4 is an enhanced Google map viewer I developed that can (1) display user-specified ArcGIS MapServer layers and (2) display all the attribute data when the user clicks on MapServer geometry.

Any public-facing ArcGIS MapServer layer, along with its attributes, can be displayed. One Gmap4 map can have a combined maximum of 25 ArcGIS overlays and basemaps. All the standard Gmap4 features are available when MapServer data is being displayed. This includes an automatic touch-friendly interface on mobile devices (mouse interface on laptop/desktop), geolocation, Google aerials, highest resolution USGS topographic maps (basemap “t4 Topo High”), search, UTM grid, USNG grid and more.

The following simple syntax is all that is needed. Any necessary reprojection is handled by ArcGIS Server on-the-fly.

Method 1 - Specify GIS data as part of the Gmap4 link

This method is best if you have just a few GIS layers to display. Here is a map showing stream gages across the USA. Click a stream gage to see its attributes including a link to a very nice graph.,-90.311523&z=7&t=m,Stream_flow&rest=

Method 2 - Specify GIS data in a text file

Use this method if you want to include more than just a few GIS layers on the map. Here is a link to a simple text file that specifies the stream gage layer. Anyone can have a free account on Google Sites where they can host text files.

And here is the map produced by passing the GIS specification via this text file. Note that this map is identical to the map produced with the first method.,-90.311523&z=7&t=m,Stream_flow&q=

Anyone is welcome to display GIS data with Gmap4 for non-commercial purposes. The Gmap4 documentation describes how to locate GIS servers and identify MapServer layers.

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Joseph Elfelt

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