GIS for Web Developers write up

GIS for Web Developers: Adding Where to your Web Applications
by Scott Davis
The Pragmatic Publisher, Raleigh, NC
ISBN-10: 0-9745140-9-8
ISBN-13: 978-0-9745140-9-3
October 2007

The book GIS for Web Developers: Adding Where to your Web Applications by Scott Davis offers a hands-on and free (in terms of software and data) approach to getting started with geospatial technologies and the web. From the first page, Davis set out on his mission to get web developers quickly up and running with many of the open source geospatial software packages, and at least a few of the geographic concepts that can help you make a better mapping application. Several apps and sites are used throughout this book including OpenMap, ArcGIS Explorer, QGIS, OpenLayers, and uDig with significant focus on getting PostGRE/PostGIS and GeoServer (v1.4) set up.

For the most part I would guess that many in our audience can skip Chapters 2-4 discussing Vectors, Projections, and Rasters respectively in terms of concept, but even in these early chapters there are still informative hands-on examples to follow. Chapter 5 offers a crash course in PostGRE/PostGIS that will be of use to many who are new users of this Open Source spatial database. Chapters 6-8 discuss Creating, Using and Viewing OGC Web Services respectively and offer a heaping helping of GeoServer installation and implementation information. Chapter 9 comes along and wraps everything up with an example project that walks you through data finding through implementation.

All that being said, when going through the text I did find a few topics that made me scratch my head since they were just kind of there. The section (4.4) on Temporal Analysis is the best example as change detection isn’t necessarily a common process in GIS. It can be done, but is more often performed by Remote Sensing software, which isn’t the focus even though the chapter focused on raster imagery. There are a few things I would add, but that may be the Geographer in me adding information and spatial concepts to the ‘neogeography’ perspective of the book (not sure it is neogeo but that is what the author calls it).

I had the PDF version which offers tons of links to the web and related pages in the book. Unfortunately the associated web site at http://www.mapmap.org is down currently. I have to think that is a short term outage, but it means I can’t really talk about the associated materials for the book.

Overall, I think Scott Davis did what he set out to do, write a GIS book for web devs, and in the process made it accessible to folks coming at the content from the other side, a web dev book for GIS folks. There is some content that you can fly through or even skip over, but there are a few gems that offer up the always sought ‘a-ha’ moment of realization when you realize how to do something that you just hadn’t thought of. You can check it out at the Pragmatic Bookshelf site or your favorite online bookseller.

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Jesse is Instructor in Geography and a PhD candidate in Geography focusing on the integration of phenomenology and geospatial technologies to study prehistoric cultural landscape. He is a GIS Professional and Registered Professional Archaeologist and holds an MA in Geography and a BS in Anthropology with a concentration in archaeology.