Here’s a summary of my thoughts after attending Monday and (half of) Tuesday at the ESRI Petroleum User Group (PUG) conference.
The Interp/GIS Gap
In the Operation Database panel, Bill Burroughs described the gap between geologic Interpretation and GIS as being one of the big challenges for developers of software tools. I think a tool like SketchUp – but for Geologists – would go a long way towards this goal. Instead of extruding floorplans to make buildings, you would extrude between horizons to create formations. Here’s an interesting writeup about using SketchUp for Geology. Specialized tools to support, for example, palinspastic reconstruction would be useful IMO.
Instead of putting geology into Googles’ 3D Warehouse, I think an academic institution should host it, like UT’s Plates Project. (I just don’t trust an organization that locates its HQ atop the San Andreas fault.)
Note that SketchUp uses OpenGL. While Silverlight is gaining traction among PUG attendees, it is unfortunate that Microsoft has no plans for support OpenGL within Silverlight. Heck, they don’t even plan to support DirectX from what I can tell.
So You Wanna Be a RocknRoll Star…
Keith Fraley of Shell offered this advice for those seeking GIS rock star status: provide data through web services instead of CDs. The vendors I spoke with want to do that, but are having trouble figuring out a licensing mechanism.
ESRI continues to improve on ArcGIS Explorer. The give-away-the-shaver-charge-for-the-razor strategy is paying off. As ArcGIS Explorer spreads, ArcGIS server becomes more attractive. If you have a tool that you’d like to deploy to the web, you can wrap it up as a custom Geoprocessing Tool, then publish it using ArcGIS Server. It can then be consumed by an ArcGIS Explorer add-in. My only disappointment is that OpenGL hooks were deprecated in recent builds.
Speaking of licensing, ESRI is working on a pay-as-you-go pricing for running ArcGIS in the cloud (Amazon EC2). I really think we need to encourage ESRI to use a license model that allows developers to take an ArcGIS AMI, load extensions on it, register it with DevPay, and split the revenue with ESRI.
I didn’t stick around for the reading of “The List”. I wish I had, it’s kinda like the Festivus airing of grievances. I would like to see this added to the list: ESRI needs to add support to the REST API so that Polyline measures can be returned. I hope someone publishes this list.