Flutterby™! : GPX in Google Earth

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GPX in Google Earth

2012-02-08 01:43:07.69885+00 by meuon 5 comments

Being subversive is so much fun. I'm working a night shift at the utility I am working at, doing some data importing. Met "Teo", who was playing with a Garmin GPS and trying to play with some data. he was transcribing lat/long by hand from waypoints into some expensive ArcGIS based stuff, but also Google Earth.

I gave him a MicroSD card adapter. 5 minutes later he is clicking on the GPX files he copied from it in Google Earth and he is just freaking amazed.

He already did 400 points by hand today..

I also introduced him to OpenStreetMap.. His eyes are open.

[ related topics: Work, productivity and environment Maps and Mapping ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-08 02:11:23.857365+00 by: Dan Lyke

Wait 'til he discovers PostGIS and GeoServer!

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-08 05:20:25.135348+00 by: Dan Lyke

Oh, and before that: gpsbabel and Perl can be an easy way to extract waypoints.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-08 11:20:59.751828+00 by: meuon

He's not at the coding level, yet. What is blowing my mind is he also has an expensive Trimble Nomad from the GIS company, but is locked away from all general purpose uses. He's doing planning.. he's an engineer, and was trying to play with pole locations and possible line routing to serve new customers. For playing around, Google Earth is pretty good, but I think he'll grab onto OpenStreetMaps quickly. The kewl part was him finding existing usable data from OpenStreetMaps. The really kewl part was he understood the value proposition: I can upload and share my data with others that are sharing data. The edit tab tells him a bit about who these people are, and I hope (it's a small community here) that they meet-up. Oh.. and he's doing this all on a clunky personal laptop with missing keys, after hours on his own time/dime.

I'll tell him about PostGIS and GeoServer today.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-08 14:43:03.243631+00 by: Dan Lyke

Thinking about it in the harsh light of day, PostGIS and QGIS is probably a better place to start. GeoServer is a pain in the tuchus to configure.

QGIS can be a pain, but if you can figure out a data set for a base layer and get your projections right, running cool queries on PostGIS is a mind-blowing experience.

#Comment Re: made: 2012-02-09 21:30:56.972451+00 by: ebradway

Huh... My post here is gone. I must have walked away before clicking "comment" and the browser crashed...

It never ceases to astound me how ESRI manages to get away with such crappy support for such common things - like loading data from a GPS. I mean, WTF Jack Dangermond? It's been over a decade since Selective Availability was completely turned off making consumer grade GPS quite usable for many scientific applications. People aren't depending on the software that came with their Trimble DGPS to post-process the data before sending it to the GIS...

GeoServer can be a PITA if you aren't a java fan. But it's also a quick way to stand up a web-mapping application. It works best if you can start with a fresh install of Linux and aren't trying to load it on a running system. I highly recommend playing with it on Amazon EC2 or using a virtual machine.

PostGIS is rarely necessary if you aren't working with large amounts of data data. And if you are already running PostgreSQL, installing PostGIS may or may not be a bigger PITA than GeoServer. That is, it'll either just work or you'll spend forever trying to get it to work. SpatiaLite provides a meaty step up from shapefiles and doesn't involve managing an SQL server. Since it's based on sqlite, you can work with attribute data with a stock Python setup (even the b0rked Python ESRI installs with ArcGIS).

If QGIS seems too "messy", start with uDIG. Even lighter still, just upload the data to Geocommons.

For hard-core spatial analysis without actual programming, Google's Fusion Tables rocks. With a little programming and Spyder, you can take that analysis about as deep as you can go (and much, much deeper than is possible with ArcGIS).

And EVERYBODY who does GIS needs to get to know GDAL/OGR. GDAL is the glue that binds ALL GIS together. Search your ArcGIS installation or the license in the manual. ArcGIS depends on GDAL/OGR (but still manages to screw that up). I'm dumbfounded by the number of people who suffer through the slow, slow, slow (buggy, crashy) ArcCatalog and ArcToolbox when most basic data manipulation can be done with ogr2ogr in less time than it takes ArcGIS to check if your over-priced license is valid.