Monday, January 7, 2008

zigGIS 2.0 Official Announcement

Obtuse Software is proud to announce the upcoming release of zigGIS 2.0.  For over two years zigGIS has enabled ArcView to view and analyze PostGIS layers.  New to version 2.0 is the ability to edit PostGIS data as well as support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

Originally developed against ArcGIS 8.3, zigGIS 1.0 was a means to directly connect to and view PostGIS data. Over the past few years many hundreds of hours have been invested into improving and advancing the capability of zigGIS. Such improvements include ArcGIS 9.2 updates, proper handling of renderers, and support for on-the-fly reconciliation of spatial references.  Lastly, to be introduced with zigGIS 2.0, is editing of PostGIS data from within ArcMap.  In short, zigGIS exposes PostGIS to the full capability of ArcMap.

ArcMap provides arguably the most complete set of cartography and data editing tools available on the desktop today. Its advanced capabilities have been recognized by its commercial and open source competition. PostGIS and PostgreSQL are a common database underpinning of many open source server stacks.  Marrying the two allows small to medium sized shops to affordably migrate from file-system-based data management to centralized, standards-based RDBMS data management without sacrificing cartographic and analytical capability.  In addition, shops that are already serving data via an open source stack can now take advantage of ArcMap for direct data editing and map production.  Furthermore, zigGIS works identically at all licensing tiers of ArcGIS Desktop.

PostGIS editing from within ArcMap has been a long-standing goal of zigGIS. To date, we have been unable to achieve seamless integration with ArcMap's native editing tools.  So we compromised.  We now utilize a proxy scratch workspace during the user's editing session.  It works particularly well and should eventually be a seamless experience.  This strategy not only provides zigGIS edit capabilities, but includes other benefits as well:

1.  Scratch workspaces are already well integrated with ArcView (it's native technology after all).  This fact has enabled us to more affordably and efficiently push out version 2.0.
2.  An intermediate editing-cache is necessary regardless.  Scratch workspaces do just this, relieving us from inventing our own edit-cache system.
3.  As-is, the zigGIS source code is complicated enough.  One might assume complexity would at least double if zigGIS directly handled editing. However, gut feelings tell us the increase in complexity is more likely parabolic than linear.  The less complex the better.  And, as anyone familiar with software engineering knows, less complexity directly translates to fewer bugs.

(view a screencast)

In addition to PostGIS viewing and editing capabilities, zigGIS 2.0 will bring full support for Microsoft SQL Server 2008.  Following SQL Server through its beta period will require periodic zigGIS updates, but expect the same experience as PostGIS. Intially, support will focus on the geometry data type. We will defer handling the geography data type until Microsoft implements its recently announced change to X/Y ordering for WKB and WKT for geography.

Obtuse Software releases zigGIS 2.0 sometime 2008 Q1.  There is still much to be done so expect it later than sooner.  Corporate licenses sell for $279 per seat.  Personal and educational licenses are free.  The source code will remain open.

Obtuse Software is a newly formed, privately held, international company.  We make fun & friendly GIS software.