Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Gaia WFS-T Extender Now Available

I'm very pleased to announce that the WFS-T Extenders package for the Gaia SDI platform is now ready! This Extender includes the world's most powerful tools to digitize, edit or delete data on any vendor's Web Feature Service Transactional (WFS-T). Some key features include:
  • Vendor Neutral SDI - Gaia WFS-T is designed to work with any transactional Web Feature Server (WFS). Use services from CubeWerx, Intergraph, GeoServer and more.

  • ESRI ArcGIS Server 9.3 - Gaia WFS-T supports ESRI WFS-T using ArcSDE and ArcGIS Server 9.3.

  • Easy Enhancement to Gaia - Gaia WFS-T Extenders are easy to use, as with most Extenders no installation is required and any other Extenders can coexist with no problem.

  • Save Your Work Anytime - The feature edits are done 'offline' and can be saved to a GSF. When you're ready these changes can be committed to the server in a bulk transaction that includes all insert, update and delete operations.

  • Schema Parsing - Configure your WFS-T layer with a one-click operation that reads and analyses the schema behind the scenes.

  • Transaction Templates - Each transaction template generated from the schema is configurable and allows validation rules and selection of used properties, thus client enforced data change rules.

  • Feature Locking - Some transactional services require a lock operation, others do not. Gaia WFS-T automatically adjusts its process to answer both scenarios.

  • Security and proxy tools - Gaia WFS-T supports proxy configurations and secure OGC services.

  • Geometry Snapping Tools - A set of snapping tools is included, adding the ability to snap edit nodes and edges to existing geometries in the session.
And more...all developed with the Gaia Extenders API and CarbonTools PRO. More details and examples are available on the Gaia WFS-T Extender info site. If you want more info or a demo please contact

- Jeff

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Obama describes "interconnected world" problems - now what about geosocial solutions?

Yesterday at the UN President Obama described an "inextricably interconnected world" where each country's problems can become the problems of others. "In the year 2009 — more than at any point in human history — the interests of nations and peoples are shared."

One can argue about which problem is most challenging - climate change, nuclear proliferation, persistent poverty or pandemic disease but Obama is correct that these problems are multinational and none can be solved by a single country. Furthermore, since the problems are interconnected the solutions must also be interconnected.

Honestly, I don't expect President Obama to ever discuss "geosocial" information - but developing collaborative, interconnected solutions to the problems he describes will require access to consistent, reliable and local information about both places and people. In fact, it's essential for understanding cross-border dynamics. In many situations, geosocial data provides one of the most important keys for referencing and accessing a variety of other information needed to understand and solve problems. But if we do seriously move towards developing interconnected solutions to problems information sharing should happen using global spatial data infrastructures that aren't controlled by any one organization or group - just like the UN.

- Jeff

Monday, September 21, 2009

FGDC Status Checker, GOS Dashboard and the "pulse" of NSDI

The FGDC Status Checker is a new web service that offers a simple but powerful interface to obtain the status information for WMS, WFS and other services in the NSDI - meaning you can get a near real-time picture of thousands of services in the NSDI and beyond. The Status Checker uses the list of services maintained by, the federal government's information service for maps and data - and is implemented in the new open source GOS Dashboard. The result is the geospatial community can now get a near real-time "pulse" of what services are online today, their reliability and connect directly to them with applications like the Gaia platform.

How do the Status Checker and the GOS Dashboard work together? Simple - The service accepts a document containing the identifiers of the services you want to get a status for, and returns information regarding those services. The document must submitted to the service via an HTML POST, using the application/x-www-form-urlencoded content-type, and the results are sent as an XML document. For our implementation the request is submitted as AJAX.

Here's a Javascript code sample of how our team at The Carbon Project request the 'Status' and reliability 'Score' in the GOS Dashboard gadget. Note that because gadgets only run in a Microsoft environment, this code is tailored to a Microsoft environment (apologies to Linux and Mac folks, we're working on it).

function getStatus(guid) {
_xhrStatus = new ActiveXObject("Microsoft.XMLHTTP");"POST", "", true);

_xhrStatus.onreadystatechange = function() {
if (_xhrStatus.readyState == 4 && _xhrStatus.status == 200) {

var xmlDocument = new ActiveXObject("MSXML2.DOMDocument");

var response = xmlDocument.getElementsByTagName("response")[0];
var service = response.getElementsByTagName("service")[0];


var request = "requestXml=brief";
request = request + "{" + guid + "}

_xhrStatus.setRequestHeader("Content-Type", "application/x-www-form-urlencoded");
_xhrStatusTimeout = setTimeout("getStatusTimeout();", _ajaxTimeout);

The result is displayed in the graphic above. You can get more information on the NSDI Status Checker web service by visiting the information page and source code for the GOS Dashboard is available. Community feedback on the GOS Dashboard is welcome through upcoming workshops (here is info on the first one), or you can contribute anytime at the GOS Dashboard discussion forum.

- Jeff and Mark

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Gaia SDI Platform Now Available for Linux and Mac Users

Gaia on Ubuntu - accessing Bing Maps, Yahoo!, OpenStreetMap, WMS and WMTS

The Carbon Project today announced the beta release of Gaia 3.4 for Mono, a powerful free platform designed to support Spatial Data Infrastructure (SDI) users. The software was developed with the Mono Project open source framework, allowing Gaia to be used on any Linux or Mac desktop.

You can visit the Gaia site to download the free beta of Gaia 3.4 Mono today. Technical information and forums for the Gaia 3.4 platform are available at

Gaia 3.4 for Mono beta is a geospatial network platform that provides seamless synergy between Microsoft Bing Maps, Yahoo! Maps, OpenStreetMap, ESRI ArcGIS Server, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) KML, GML, GMLsf, WMS, WMTS, WFS, Filters, WCS, ESRI Shape, Autodesk and MapInfo formats, and more.

Gaia for Mono is part of our commitment to help all SDI users meet tomorrow's infrastructure, transportation, environmental and national security challenges. Some of the most powerful desktop programs produced for Linux in recent years are built with the Mono open source .NET framework, and I’m very proud our team is able to bring Gaia to a new community of users.

Gaia 3.4 for Mono platform is built with the latest CarbonTools PRO open-geospatial development toolkit and its source code is available to CarbonTools PRO developers. The Gaia for Mono package is compiled to comply with the Mono Project multi-platform framework, allowing Gaia to be used on any Linux or Mac OS.

Initial Gaia development was sponsored by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP).

We welcome community feedback on Gaia 3.4 for Mono beta. If you would like more information please contact
- Jeff

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

INSPIRE Download Service implements OGC WFS

INSPIRE is a Europe-wide initiative launched several years ago and developed in collaboration with Member States. It aims to make geographic information available to support formulation, implementation, and monitoring of European Community policies. A key INSPIRE requirement is defining a web service that can be implemented across Member states to provide the ability to download pre-defined datasets or pre-defined parts of datasets.

To support the "Download Service" requirement, INSPIRE defined a draft Download Service Technical Guidance to ensure that online services of Member states are compatible in a trans-boundary context - and a look into the guide yields some interesting similarities with the ISO/DIS 19142 (OGC Web Feature Service edited by Peter Vretanos from CubeWerx). Specifically, the Download Service "Get Spatial Objects" is implemented by the GetFeature operation of WFS, "Describe Spatial Object Types" is implemented by the DescribeFeatureType operation of WFS, and other operations of WFS like Capabilities and Filter Encoding are represented as well.

Why did INSPIRE base elements of the Download Service on WFS? I suppose INSPIRE coordinators believed a pan-European framework should be based on spatial information infrastructures created by the Member States, and that such infrastructures should be designed to ensure spatial data is stored, made available and maintained at the most appropriate level. I suppose they also wanted to ensure that it's possible to combine spatial data from different sources across the Community in a consistent way and share them between users and applications.

To do this, they turned to an international standard for pan-European interoperability - WFS.

- Jeff

Monday, September 14, 2009

USGIN - Cyberinfrastructure for Earth sciences

The US Geoscience Information Network (USGIN) is a new system of state and federal geological survey online data providers and user applications linked together by shared web services and interchange formats that help users find, access, and use geoscientific information.

The objective of the GIN project is to develop standardized services to make data resources of the state and federal geological surveys accessible online in a distributed network - using a few standards and protocols, and to work with data providers to implement these services. Some of the standards include Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) Catalog Service for the Web (CSW), Web Map and Feature Services (WMS and WFS).

The network is open to all providers and users and the stated goal is to become a core component of the emerging cyberinfrastructure for the Earth sciences.

- Jeff

Friday, September 11, 2009

Gaia 3.4 certified for Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC)

The Federal Desktop Core Configuration (FDCC) is an OMB (U.S. Office of Management and Budget) mandate requiring that all Federal Agencies standardize the configuration of approximately 300 settings on their Windows XP and Vista computers. The reason for this standardization is to strengthen Federal IT security by reducing opportunities for hackers to access and exploit government computer systems.

Gaia 3.4 is now certified to be fully functional and operate correctly as intended on systems using the FDCC. This includes Windows XP and Vista. The standard installation and operation of the software shall not alter the configuration settings from the approved FDCC configuration. Some of the successful tests included:

• Configuration of the systems with the latest FDCC settings
• Use of a SCAP-validated tool with FDCC Scanner capability to baseline initial configuration
• Product installation and successful testing of common use cases
• Using an FDCC Scanner to ensure the FDCC settings and patches are intact
• Application uninstall, reboot then successful scan of the system using an FDCC Scanner to ensure proper FDCC settings and patches are still present.

Gaia 3.4 is a geospatial network platform that provides seamless synergy between Microsoft Bing Maps, Yahoo! Maps, OpenStreetMap, ESRI ArcGIS Server, Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) KML, GML, GMLsf, WMS, WMTS, WFS, Filters, WCS, ESRI Shape, Autodesk and MapInfo formats, and more. Gaia 3.4 is part of our commitment to help SDI users and developers meet tomorrow's infrastructure, transportation, environmental and national security challenges.

The Gaia 3.4 platform is built with the latest CarbonTools PRO assemblies and complete source code is available to CarbonTools PRO developers. Gaia 3.4 also provides a robust, open API that allows any programmer to develop Gaia Extenders with or without a CarbonTools PRO license. Gaia Extenders are light, easy to deploy and can enhance Gaia's functionality for simple and complex GIS and SDI tasks.

Initial Gaia development was sponsored by the National Spatial Data Infrastructure (NSDI) Cooperative Agreements Program (CAP).

- Jeff

Monday, September 07, 2009

Cascading and Brokering in Geospatial SOA

Cascading WMS from USGS, ESRI, NASA on the "Cloud" - using Gaia 3.4, CubeWerx Cascading WMS and Web Services Security software

Open-Geospatial Web Services were developed around the concepts that 1) it's easier to reuse existing services than deploy new ones, 2) if you want to reuse services interoperability is needed, and 3) if you have interoperability you can broker many services to create applications. The advantage is simple - it's much easier to reuse and chain existing services than deploy new ones.

In this environment the ability to "cascade" services is vital. What does it mean to cascade? The OGC standards say a Cascading Web Map Server (WMS) is a WMS that behaves like a client of other WMSs, and behaves like a WMS to other clients. For example, a Cascading WMS can aggregate the contents of several distinct map servers into one service. Furthermore, a Cascading WMS can perform additional functions such as output format conversion, coordinate transformation and role-based access control on behalf of other servers. The cascading feature of the WMS specification is optional but for those vendors like CubeWerx who support it there are a lot of things to consider and which make the cascading WMS and WFS very valuable.

A Cascading WMS works like this - an SDI Broker defines the layer resources accessible by the WMS as part of the standard metadata requirements of a WMS server - but can also refer to a WMS service as a remote resource. When he/she runs a Get Capabilities request against the Cascading WMS the data resources defined in the remote WMS are included with a cascading indicator (cascaded attribute). The nesting level is recorded in the cascaded attribute in the Capabilities XML document and, given that the remote service could also be another cascading service which could in turn refer to local and remote data services, cascading could theoretically continue indefinitely. So the originating cascading WMS server can access all the layers defined in the local services as well as the remote or cascaded layers via the cascading WMS.

When a Get Map request (OGC WMS operation) is processed by the WMS server, the requests are sent to the appropriate resource such that any request for a cascaded data layer is handed off to the remote WMS to respond. To the remote WMS server, this is a just another WMS request which it fulfills and returns the resultant map image back to the calling WMS server. This requires no additional provisions at the standard WMS level to support a cascaded request. The Cascading WMS will then make sure that the returned image is compatible with its client request and return it to the client integrated with all the other data layers.

One of the really nice features from vendors like CubeWerx is that they support all OGC WMS versions. This means their Cascading WMS can cascade to ANY version of an OGC WMS server - and they correctly translate the incoming request to the version of the cascaded OGC WMS server. This allows a client tool to not worry about the WMS version of the cascaded servers.

Cascading opens up many other efficiencies like reusing remote services and applying a security layer - and a Cascading WMS can be deployed on a "Cloud" server so it's fully techno-buzzword compliant. But what users see is simple - you point an application like Gaia 3.4 at just one service and get the benefit of many.

- Jeff

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Success at GOS Dashboard Workshop

This week we conducted our first online workshop for the open-source GOS Dashboard - the beginning a community dialog on the functions of the dashboard with NSDI users and developers.

As we've discussed, the purpose of this 2009 NSDI CAP project is to develop an open source dashboard for, the federal government's information service for maps and data. The GOS Dashboard is designed to help integrate search functions into GIS desktops and make NSDI data and services more open and transparent.

The agenda covered an overview of the GOS Dashboard (see above), demos (thanks to MassGIS for awesome WMS and WFS) and group discussion. We had folks from a variety of federal, state, local and private sector organizations online and the breadth of experience was evident. We showed how the GOS Dashboard can quickly find data and services from, integrate with the NSDI Status Checker and link to desktop GIS applications. The response from the group was the GOS Dashboard is useful and folks seemed to like the design. Comments ranged from suggestions on UI adjustments to thoughts on "widgetizing" it for web pages so the functions are usable by folks not running Windows Vista/7. Thanks to all for taking the time to contribute!

The GOS Dashboard is now available as a free download and please feel free to share your comments online at the GOS Dashboard Forum.

- Jeff