SpatialWiki is a GO
What is it?
SpatialWiki is a free public-facing Silverlight web application where users can contribute to a growing library of map drawings. It is in a Beta testing period we hope will introduce the public with the free tool, in an early effort to collect feedback (seriously, send your scathing critiques to firstname.lastname@example.org) on how we can make the SpatialWiki better (there is already a growing list of ideas from right here within IDV).
We had noticed that other online map drawing tools are more akin to blogging, where users author content and share locked-down versions of it with the world. SpatialWiki takes less of a read only approach to map sharing and allows the content created by anyone to be edited and expanded by anyone else. This free market approach does mean that early content will be incomplete or odd, but the perpetuated value of a Wiki environment is the suppression of extremes, and the accrued validity of content as the user base expands and the collaborative investment matures.
What Technologies Does it Use?
IDV Solutions has built the SpatialWiki from the ground up using Microsoft’s Silverlight rich web application technology. The new navigation scheme allows users to geographically pilot the Virtual Earth map service as well as fly to any of the millions of place names in the Virtual Earth gazetteer, then draw draw draw.
Drawings are archived as KML files along with metadata in Microsoft’s new SQL Server Data Services cloud based storage system.
Any drawing can be branched and saved as a separate KML file, or as a spatially-enable SQL Server 2008 script (the little export arrow next to each drawing in the library).
This means that SQL 08 database administrators who want to try out the new spatial capabilities don’t have to hunt around for just the right shapefile (DB Admin: What’s a shapefile??) with just the right coordinate system and the requisite hangers-on files then find a conversion utility to export that shapefile as a SQL 08 script.
Frankly, we hope folks who use and like this free public version might entertain the notion of buying the Enterprise version where credentialed users can create, edit, and share map drawings within an organization behind a firewall. But the reason I like SpatialWiki so much is because it is the easiest way I have seen to create and edit geographic feature sets. I am going to send the link to my Mom and see what she makes of it.