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I'm a recent Computer Science graduate who prides himself in his knowledge of software development and problem solving, but has no idea how gis systems work. (Read: I'm a programmer)

I've been charged with developing (ie. coding) a new webmap from scratch using software called GeoMedia Professional Web Maps.

I am attempting to get support on developing the application, however it has been like trying to find gold in a pitch dark cave. I swing my axe wildly and sometimes get some gold dust (it's all trial and error, because of the lack of decent documentation).

So barring that my attempts to use this software succeed, what would be a very developer friendly GIS software I could use? I would prefer anything that does not lock me into software (ie. Prefer not Microsoft), however if people have found one GIS in C#/asp.net happened to be the most intuitive, I would bite the bullet. (Preference: PHP, C++, or Python) [Btw I do have a GIS professional working with me on the project, but they know nothing about programming]

A little more background:

The reason I'm thinking I may need to find new software, is that this GeoMedia stuff has all of their documented code as ASP/VBScript and only shows examples using access. I refuse to use ASP/VBScript (I already did some edits in it and I wanted to throw up as I was developing) and our data appears to be in oracle and in Geomedia's proprietary smart store DB. Surprisingly, Geomedia's documentation doesn't cover how to connect to there very own databases.

I tried to search for books, or online help, or documentation and found nothing. When I called there tech support, they referred me to the local help files and the demo, which I already looked at, which again uses access.

My only saving grace for this software is that it was written using COM objects, which means I can program in any language that has bindings to COM. So I've been writing in PHP, but still the COM objects returns errors that I'm not using them correctly, and the errors aren't descriptive enough to give me tips on troubleshooting the problems (The specific objects have issues, not using COM... I've gotten a bunch of the GeoMedia COM objects to work in PHP).

EDIT: Although unimportant to the question, I found out COM exceptions could be tapped into to get better formatted information using exception. So that last point is a little less correct [still the errors could be more informative].

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Jason Welcome to GSe. Have a look at osgeo.org –  Brad Nesom Aug 22 '11 at 15:12
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geomedia poor you... keep swinging that axe! –  Mapperz Aug 22 '11 at 17:46
    
Thanks for the references. I'm looking through everything now... –  Jason McCarrell Aug 22 '11 at 18:14
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See also gis.stackexchange.com/questions/8032/… –  Mr_Chimp Aug 23 '11 at 9:51
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5 Answers 5

up vote 17 down vote accepted

Fortunately for you (and all of us!), there are plenty of available (and mature!) options in the FOSS4G world!

Following your technology preferences here's some examples:

For a more complete reference please visit OSGeo.org. It's an umbrella organization for the most popular FOSS geospatial projects out there.

Maybe if you're in the neighborhood you can visit the annual FOSS4G conference in Denver this year. Here's a list of workshops happening there regarding web mapping technologies:

As for my personal experience developing web mapping applications based on pure javascript/html/css frameworks (OpenLayers/jQuery) can be really straightforward.

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Thanks for the information Pedro. I'm new to this organization so I'm wary to suggest they change technologies, especially considering they changed recently from another map technology that was even older, however I plan to just create some proofs of concept to them, and hopefully that will convince them. These resources should come hugely in handy. –  Jason McCarrell Aug 22 '11 at 18:24
    
Thanks for the extensive list. Just one more, which I think should certainly be in the list, although you will most likely use it in combination with other projects (like openlayers): mapserver.org –  johanvdw Aug 23 '11 at 11:14
    
@johanvdw, Of course! :) I just listed projects regarding client side development. Map servers (Geoserver, Mapserver and few others) would be an all other list that makes sense in Jason's question. –  Pedro Mendes Aug 26 '11 at 10:19
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If you are interested in Open Source projects, you'll find the answers to this question helpful: What are the FOSS equivalents to these ArcGIS products?

There are quite a lot of different options how to build an OS web mapping stack. Without knowing your use case it's a little difficult to suggest one over the other.

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I appreciate the additional information. –  Jason McCarrell Aug 22 '11 at 18:31
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I use GeoServer and connect to an Oracle Database (plugin required for geoserver) this happens to be old Geomedia Datastore that was reprojected into a better coordinate system.

Then use Openlayers to be the map interface of that data (data is pulled from Geoserver by WMS (Web Mapping Service)

Good documentation for this is

http://workshops.opengeo.org/stack-intro/openlayers.html

(you have greater control on this and can customise it as much as as you wish so.)

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I would recommend checking out the OpenGeo Suite.

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Why would you recommend it? :) –  Nathanus Aug 22 '11 at 16:07
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If a Java solution is an option, have a look at Geomajas. This is a framework for integrating GIS data which gives you a uniform way to handle and display GIS data. Geomajas excels especially in the integration aspects giving powerful end-to-end security, good performance etc. For the client side development it helps by allowing you to work in Java only thanks to GWT. For non-java shops there is a JavaScript API in process, but I fear this is not yet sufficiently mature to use at this moment. That should get better in a month or two.

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