Wednesday, November 09, 2005

GIS Day, Tech Fair, & Hanging Out on Friday Nights

While I have not seen a lot of buzz this year surrounding 'GIS Day', next Wednesday is indeed the day. Like the previous three years, GIS Day activities on campus are overpowered by the UTA Tech Fair. This year, the Tech Fair is exactly on November 16. So, all of us departments that are demonstrating GIS technologies during the fair (library, geosciences, & urban planning) are going to have our own corner with a banner announcing GIS Day.

Well, our booth (library GIS booth) will showcase our Friday Night Hangout application. This entirely web-based application performs a basic suitability analysis (based on reclassifying layers and calculating the weighted average) that calculates the ideal location in Tarrant County, TX, where they should hang out on Friday Night. Users fill out a quick form online, the suitability analysis is performed, and their location is showed via Google Maps API. The best part is that it records everyone's results in the geodatabase, and so it shows you where everyone else is hanging out and if you anyone else will be hanging out in the same establishment as the user. I think it is pretty cool and I hope that it will serve as a good hook to pull folks into thinking about mapping in a new and fun way.

So, this project has been revamped and improved upon since I first developed it earlier in the semester for the Library Technology Round-Up. There are two big changes.
  1. The original Python geoprocessing script has been replaced with .NET. This has done wonders as I am much more comfortable programming in .NET than Python, and am much more comfortable working with geoprocessing functions than ArcObjects. Once I found the appropriate article on the ESRI Knowledge Base, HowTo: Use IGPDispatch in .NET, I was all set. The working code can be viewed here. This is the first .NET application that primarily used the IGPDispatch connection as opposed to the more traditional ArcObjects and this is opening up whole new worlds for me.

  2. The application is entirely web-based now. Originally, there was a .NET windows form that passed parameters to the Python script using the Shell() command. Now, the ASP calls the .NET geoprocessing code (discussed above) and everything is so much more robust.
I am still working out some kinks in the application, and of course who can resist fiddling around with an application 1 week before its big unveiling? If you would like, you can check out the user form here and the results here. Of course all of the current results are testers (mostly me) and all entries existing on the morning of November 16 will be wiped clean. It is probable that it will go down periodically before next Wednesday, as I am tinkering. Oh, and note that it takes about 60 seconds to process.

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