It’s getting late and my eyes are starting to feel a bit heavy but I wanted to let everyone know that Geocortex Optimizer 1.1 has been released and we’re really happy with the results. Most of the improvements are centered on the reporting module, although a significant amount of work has gone into a number of other areas as well. Navigation within the reporting component has been improved considerably. We created a new dashboard area and have added more data points on our charts, significantly improving the usefulness of those charts when viewed at different time scales. We’ve also included a number of new reports that really add value to the application. All in all, it’s a really great package for managing your ArcGIS Server investment. Stay tuned, there is still more to come in the months ahead.
Archive for January, 2009
This is another of a several part series on using Sharepoint
One of my favorite out-of-the-box features of Microsoft’s Sharepoint is connections between web parts. Sharepoint web pages are designed with “web parts” – drag and drop boxes that have some purpose. A web part might be images or content or even a spreadsheet. The connections function allows you (in seconds!) to connect one web part to another based on data they contain.
This is particularly useful if you have a lot of data with a parent-child relationship. For example, if I am displaying a list of Customers, I might want to click on a customer and know things like what products they’ve purchased or if they have any open support calls or even contact information.
I can create a web part to display the list of companies, one to list support calls, one to list products, and one to list contact information.
I can then link them so that when I select a company, all the other web parts on the page (using a linked field like Customer ID) will automatically filter their data to only show me relevant entries. I can now select a customer and see various details that will help me do my job more efficiently – and if things change and I want to add more data or take some away, I can do that just as quickly!
Dynamic content has been around for a while, but dynamically linked dynamic content after a few steps and no programming skills? You can see why it’s one of my favorite features.
When delivering technical presentations, and particularly those which include a live demonstration, I often find it a challenge to direct users to the area of the screen I’m currently discussing. I usually resort to the following tactics:
- Alternating between mouse/keyboard and a laser pointer
- Moving the mouse pointer in quick little circles around the area of interest
- Highlighting text or images on the screen (this one is always a little confusing)
- Walking over to the projector screen and pointing (this sometimes involves jumping if the screen is very large)
Jade previously blogged about a MXD to AXL converter script, which is a great tool that I use all the time. We also recently discovered the ”GDK ArcTools” script which enables you to convert the other way – AXL to MXD. While it isn’t perfect, it saves a lot of time by setting all of your data paths, layer names, max and min scales, and successfully converting simple symbology, such as solid fill polygons, and basic points and lines. Value map rendering, grouped layers, raster marker symbols, and labels usually need to be redone or tweaked, but if you are dealing with a lot of data it can be a great start.
More on the 2009 Geocortex User Conference… we had a planning meeting back in December, and the topic of mascots/motif came up (2006 was the Blue Heron, 2007 was the Orca, 2008 was the Glaucous Winged Gull ).
Someone joked about selecting Vancouver Island’s iconic Black Bear, and everyone quickly agreed that given the current state of the economy, it was probably about the worst motif for a conference happening in 2009. But then we all decided that to address the ‘elephant in the room’ head-on and in a humorous way would be very Geocortex.
So we picked it. Because no matter what happens in life, we don’t want to lose our sense of humor. Besides, we’re designing a 2009 Geocortex User Conference that’ll represent an even smarter investment given the prevailing economic winds.
Now that Optimizer 1.0 is released, we’re heads down working on Optimizer 1.1, scheduled for release at the end of this month. A big part of Optimizer is its reporting and like any visual feature, it is necessary to capture screen shots for marketing materials, user manuals, and bug reports. A good tool to do this kind of thing with is TechSmith’s SnagIt. I’m pretty happy with their product and have used it on and off over the last number of years and it works well.
Like all popular products, there are often open source or freeware tools that are comparable. SnagIt is no exception. I ran across a useful screen capture utility other day called MWSnap. With MWSnap I was able to capture screenshots of the entire desktop, a user-defined rectangular area, as well as Windows menus. It also has a few options for drawing borders around the captured image and placing cursors on it, which I’ve found useful when I was capturing images for user-guides.
MWSnap is not as polished as SnagIt and does not have the comprehensive feature-set that SnagIt does, but for what most people want to do with screen captures, it is awesome. It’s small, super easy to use… and free.