Friday, August 26, 2011

What's Been Going On Lately?

It seems that as soon as everything is updated and running reasonably smooth along comes another wave of updates.  That's certainly the case with the GIS Hub.  Here's a brief listing of what has been going on lately and an even briefer preview of what's coming.

Recently the GIS Hub moved from using Esri's ArcGIS Server v.9.3.x to using v.10.x for delivery of data services.  For the most part, folks using the data services should see no big difference though some services appear to run a bit faster.  As with any software, a few things are broke in the newer version but an Esri service pack coming this fall should tidy those up and in general most users won't notice anything. 

During this ArcGIS Server upgrade the servers were upgraded to Windows 2008 and believe it or not, we are now using virtual servers.  Virtual servers have pros and cons compared to physical servers but in general using virtual servers should give us a number of advantages such as being able to more quickly add memory and processing power during peak usage.

In the oven but not quite ready to take out are the upgrades of the Hub Data Portal and the Hub Explorer.  The existing Hub Data Portal is based on Geonetwork Opensource. We have upgraded the Hub Data Portal to use the latest version of Geonetwork and are currently testing it.  This new version will have a new map interface based on OpenLayers. More information about this will be made at the North Dakota GIS Users Conference

 The Hub Explorer has been upgraded just once over the years.  It started out with Esri's ArcIMS-based JavaScript/HTML-based viewer and later on that was upgraded to an ArcIMS-based application using Latitude Geographic's Java Server Pages (JSP) viewer that we have today.  The current viewer is extremely powerful but the ArcIMS software that powers it and the JSP application that provides the navigation tools are both legacy technologies that are no longer developed by their respective vendors. 

The new Hub Explorer has gone back to its JavaScript/HTML roots but uses Esri's JavaScript API and it uses the GIS Hub's ArcGIS Server data services.  The new Hub Explorer is under development by Houston Engineering, Inc. who was selected from the State's Professional Services Contract Pool.  The majority of the functionality is in place but there are a substantial number of additional features that will be added over the next several months.  We believe you will like using this new tool because it has a clean interface and is fast. More information about this will be made at the North Dakota GIS Users Conference

So what's coming next?  We should soon be on a new data storage system that should provide increased performance and provide greater redundancy.  The data download services will undergo a major upgrade but we will continue using Safe Software's FME products.  At some point in the near future we hope to begin providing mobile data services, so stay tuned...

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