Log of development process for Miley GIS, and beyond

28 June 2000
This file is meant to contain the ruminations of the constructors [mostly Hugh Blackmer and John Blackburn] of the user interface for Miley GIS. We recognize that we'll have to try out a lot of things, some of which will turn out to be blind alleys. It may be useful to others to consider what we've tried.

This document is in some respects a successor to HAB's logfiles of GIS development, which will also continue to accumulate.

"Finding Data" needs some thinking about, to make a flexible and sensible interface. The basic problem is that each user is looking for a different thing: a coverage, a geographical region, a topic, etc. Provisionally I've created the categories "on Miley", "on the WWW", "by discipline", and "by location", and for the moment these could be handmade lists of what wehave and where it resides. I suspect that we'll want to develop .asp versions of these, connected to some sort of Access database that will allow us to (a) manage and (b) make searchable our potentially enormous holdings of data, .apr, .shp, .e00and other formats.

10 Jul
A field trip to UVa Geospatial and Statistical Data Center, and a couple of hours with Patrick Yott suggested a number of future possibilities, including SPOT data for VA (which UVa can distribute) and imminent DOQQs. We should attempt to license the LSU Boundary Files of US counties. And Patrick has been working on a search interface: fisher.lib.virginia.edu/gnis/ This looks like something we might emulate, and Patrick offers to come to W&L on Aug 21 to help us explore further.

24 July
Added the SchoolTools extension to ArcView 3.1 and 3.2 (documentation at this location, and see www.esricanada.com/k-12/ for tutorial). Also added ESRI's Redistricting extension... but I'm not sure that it took.

Summer 2001
19 July
Among our tasks for the Summer is a cleanup of Miley/gis/ and Miley2.Both have developed chaotically, and contain two different sorts of material:

'Working files' are a practical necessity for anybody using GIS in the classroom. The problem is one of disorder: I certainly don't cleanup after myself, so there's a lot of my stuff taking up space that is either obsolete or essentially archived against the day when it might be useful. Likewise, Dave Harbor's course generated a lot of student files (5.5 GB)which probably should be backed up somewhere, but don't need to be kept ready for use in the /geolgis/ folder. And projects like converting TIGER files (16 GB at the moment) come along to eat up disk space. We need to devise sensible procedures for offloading seldom-used data to CD-ROM (and curating the resulting disks) and for re-loading onto Miley upon request.

We also need to encourage users of GIS data to avoid copying data into their own file space that could be linked to projects via stable drive letter mapping. This means that we need to decide on drive letters (P: and Q: seem obvious choices) and arrange lab machines appropriately. It may eventually be possible to get around this via ArcSDE, but for the foreseeable future we're stuck with letter drives.

It seems to me that Miley/gis/ (P: in Parmly 302 at the moment) should be the location of read-only material such as that found in folders now named

These need to be cleaned up, the only problem being that their contents may be linked to existing projects --so changing the folder names or otherwise rationalizing the data holdings has potential hazards. They also need to be documented with how-to material and finding guides (e.g., for topo quads).

More to the point, we really need a collection development policy for folders that we'll make read-only. We should provide a good array of basemaps and other materials (DRGs, DEMs, DOQQs) that many users will need to use, along with clear documentation to simplify finding the needed resources. With the menu link to geographynetwork that is implemented in ArcGIS 8.1,we can probably rely upon external sources to provide some resources we might otherwise have stored locally.

25 July
A few things from the ESRI Users Conference that need to be followed up:

1 October
Skip's work with .asp and ActiveX seems to clear the way forward for ArcIMS in instructional settings. He suggested a 'construction kit' which would allow a faculty user to identify POINTS on a basemap (seen in a Web page --so that the instructor's click on a point is harvested to the database as an x-y point, with which a page URL can be associated) and then assign TEXT and/or IMAGEs which permit viewers (classmembers, say) to click on map links, look at images and text, and then enter comments on a THREAD which would be stored in a database and visible when subsequent users click on the map links. The question is, what other features would we like to have? The instructor should have to know nothing more than the URLs of images and text pages to be linked, but the 'kit' would need a couple of levels of security: the Administrator would probably need to put the basemap in place (because it would be an extract from one or another larger basemap --e.g., Italy from Europe-- and would require ArcViewe skills); the instructor should be able to specify links on that basemap, but otherwise wouldn't have to know much about ArcView; and students should be able to browse the map and then make entries into discussion threads associated with images.

Ideally the instructor's links would be on one layer of the map, and other layers could also exist, to be turned on and off at the end user's wish.

Scale dependency should be settable by the instructor --so that a range of links would appear at some zoom level, and not clutter the view at others

A sizing rectangle would be a nice feature (zoom in and zoom out is a bit confining)

The images, text and discussion thread should open in a separate window, so that the user can go back and forth between the map and the images/text without closing either

5 Oct
MapDawg's GIS Data Site is organized by country

Ethnic Territories of Russia GIS Project Dr. Robert J. Kaiser (a fine example of clear presentation for users)

Australian Centre of the Asian Spatial Information and Analysis Network (ACASIAN) is "an academic and applied research institution specializing in Geographical Information System (GIS) databases for Asia and the former Soviet Union"

UNEP Grid datasets

11 Oct
Resources for Creating Public Health Maps from CDC

12 Nov
Map libraries and spatial librarians (a collection of links, compiled in the wake of a very productive weekend meeting of ACS GIS people in Richmond, which resulted in articulation of demand for a utility to improve access to spatial data holdings --answers to the "what do we have and how can I get it?" question)

2 Jan 2002
Transforming Libraries (Issues and Innovations in Geographic Information Systems No. 2 February 1997)

MAGIC at UConn

4 Jan
Southeast US coastal spatial data from NOAA (NC, SC, GA, FL data layers)

Geographic Information Systems and Interdisciplinary Sciences Computational Laboratory at UCSC

Remote Sensing for Regional Environmental Impact Assessment of Land Conversion for Biomass Energy Production (Princeton GIS project, NE Brazil data)

GIS Project Electronic Portfolios from Unity College

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/geo/links.html Mt. Holyoke Dept of Earth and Environment (see also GeoProcessing Lab)

16 Jan
National Geologic Map Database from USGS