Managing Editor & Chief Operating Officer
I find the words of Linus Torvalds inspiring even today: “We’re back to the times when men were men and wrote their own device drivers.” Today, I feel Geospatial Professionals and the organisations using GIS are closer to writing their own custom application. Be it using APIs & SDKs or starting with embedding simple maps in their web applications through Mashup.
What is the relevance of SDKs and APIs for a GIS Professional who is not even remotely associated with software programming?
Logically thinking, none! But, it is important to be aware of the tools and their benefits, even if we are not to use them at any point of time. The importance is heavily underlined by the fact that, when the usage application starts maturing the boxed products starts giving way to some easy to use and powerful, customised software applications each for a specific domain. This leads to the statement that down the lane we will have application specific for the various verticals like electricity, agriculture, forestry, etc. Not that, these segments do not have domain specific software today, but even if they are, they would start becoming more robust and prevalent. The nature and colour of this domain specific customised software would in all likely-hood be an integral part of the enterprise application software.
The software components are already reaching a stage where a small customisation of software application can be done in few months. This coupled with new methods like ‘Agile’, should increase the comfort level at both the ends: the service provider and the client for whom the customised application is being developed. Hopefully this would also reduce the apathy of the developer and the client. For often the client gets to know what he wants only after he has seen the ‘first cut’ of the software application. By that time the developer is far beyond the design stage and is the process where he is not willing to make much change, least to affect the fundamentals of the base design.
Tools are not only for the technician, but for everybody. If not as a user, you can certainly contribute more by little understanding about these tools around us.
Just as they say, to drive a car you need not be an automobile engineer. But with little understanding of the tool box, which is lying in the boot, lot of pain can be avoided. Certainly, one should draw a line here and not get into the working of engine and transmission of power.
Technology is like our life, very simple and easy to understand if we have a simple approach to it. It can also become complicated like rocket-science, if we start asking what, when, why, where, whom, whose etc. Factors leading spiderweb is beyond the scope of the current discussion. What I know is many a times we get stuck in understanding the automobile engineering rather than keeping our focus on driving the automobile.
In the present context it is important that we understand that there are options of customised software application which beyond the ‘Out-of-Box’ software we are familiar with, like ArcGIS, Microstation, Autodesk Map, PB MapInfo etc. These solutions based on geospatial API’s and SDK’s are available from ‘Brands’ which you are aware of, and some them being mentioned above. This means you just have to explore the very ‘stable’, which you are so comfortable buying from!
It is time we now explore the product portfolio of our GIS vendors for they do have something very interesting!