I’ve decided to post this here and not on my personal blog, even though this problem arose because of the awesome holiday I had planned. This has turned into a little personal project, so I tried to approach it from an end user point of view, instead of an enterprise GIS point of view. I scheduled several places to visit, and wanted to optimise the routes to these places based on my preferences, not time or traffic etc.
- I created a collection on here.com and diligently added each place, along with a note describing which date the place would be visited and in which order.
Naturally, I forgot that saving a custom route to a collection in Here maps is an absolute pain, and I can’t save it offline anyway.
- I then searched if Google Maps can do it. Moving on.
- Next, I tried Bing Maps. To my surprise, and similar to how here maps surprised me, Bing Maps allows you to add places, create polys and lines, set styles and export to KML or GPX! Colour me impressed.
With my Microsoft account signed in, I added two places and selected the route I wanted. I then launched Maps on my Windows Phone to see the fruit of my labours. Of course, nothing happened.
A quick Google search (sorry Bing, but it’s really never going to happen for me) confirmed that places would synchronise between Windows devices, which I can verify as places I added in the Windows 8 Maps app do appear on my phone. However, they do not synchronise with places added through the web interface, even though it’s the same Microsoft account. Sigh.
- This is how I ended up back in ArcMap, using the Find Route functionality, and converting the route graphic to a feature class so I can GIS it up nicely. However, generating each route and converting for each feature class did not appeal to me, even by writing a script to do it for me. Ultimately, it would still leave me with pretty jpegs, and I am not setting up an ArcGIS Online trial to load in my phone just for this.
The tasks are getting more advanced, and I’ve learned a lot about using ArcGIS Online. To be honest, I’m not even looking at the videos anymore, but that’s not to say that the videos are not good, it’s just that I don’t enjoy watching videos online, particularly lecture videos, unless I have searched for them for a specific reason. I prefer to read lecture slides and notes, where I can highlight, underline and reread as much as I like. It’s the same reason why I would routinely miss class while I was at university – I would rather self study the week’s lessons in my room than listen to a lecturer talk about it.
Overall, the MOOC does feel like it’s found a good pace, and I am looking forward to finishing it.
I should probably change the titles of these posts as I’m guessing ESRI will be offering more MOOCs in the future, so this could get confusing. Week 4 was much better content wise, and provided the opportunity to really use some nice tools available in ArcGIS Online. I like the fact that case studies from various disciplines are being used, to show everyone (especially the newbies) how GIS can be applied no matter what your field is.
I have found that sometimes when the analysis is complete, the newly created layer will disappear from the web map, which leads the user to believe that the analysis has failed because it appears that nothing has been created. When running the same operation again, a “layer name already exists” error proves that the layer was in fact created, but was not added to the map. This leads to the cumbersome process of having to add that layer again manually. I have also found that searching to add layers often returns no results when the whole layer name is used, but will return results for a partial match e.g. typing in “Intersect LA Crimes_cindywilliams” returned nothing but “Intersect LA Crimes_” brought up everyone’s layers and I had to scroll through it to get to mine.
Week 3 has been going OK. I’ve found the exercises to be less than challenging, but I am enjoying the opportunity to learn more about using the ArcGIS Online interface. It really is quite different to Desktop, but I’m not sure that enough is been done to explain to the newbie GIS users, or even non-GIS end users who would be using AGO, about how critical it is that you know your data AND understand the limitations of it.
I’m also not too enthusiastic about the naming convention of the tools not being consistent with Desktop. I know that these now have more “user friendly” names, but that’s exactly my point – the user is clearly not supposed to be a seasoned GIS Professional, but more like an engineer, or town planner whose primary, or even secondary field, is not GIS. Clearly, there are many more factors to consider before deploying an integrated ArcGIS Online/Mobile enterprise solution for use in various projects.
This week we started the first “exercise” in spatial analysis. It was quite basic in terms of GIS analysis. What I found interesting was the availability of tools and functionality in ArcGIS Online. I remember when it launched and it was just a barebones web app that could show your map and layers you’ve uploaded…and that’s about it. Now I can see how “non-GIS” people could be “doing” GIS through this interface without even realising it.
Seeing as I am part of the Enterprise GIS team, this intrigues me and worries me at the same time. We are looking to integrate more with ArcGIS Online now that our GIS system architecture is being “officially” put into place, so my main reason for sticking with this MOOC is to learn more about the capabilities of AGO.
I started ESRI’s first MOOC today, “Going Places with Spatial Analysis” on Udemy. It looks very promising, and although I don’t really do analysis anymore, it will be interesting to complete this course and learn more about the capabilities of ArcGIS online, as I will need to understand more about it for my work.
I just wish there was a download button on the videos. Not everyone is in North America ESRI – it’s faster for me to download the videos and watch it offline than to stream it using my home uncapped account.