Friday, May 30, 2008


Ryan has been experimenting with Yahoo Pipes and has combined multiple feeds for blogs maintained by some of us ERDAS folks.

It is (appropriately) called e-planet. Thanks Ryan!

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Raster and Vector Format Support

Currently TITAN supports raster and vector formats via GDAL/OGR by default. With an ERDAS IMAGINE plugin due out August 2008 TITAN will to tie into IMAGINE libraries, greatly extending TITAN raster format support. A user must have ERDAS IMAGINE installed for this plugin to work.

IMAGINE libraries support some of the same formats as GDAL. IMAGINE libraries can override format support by GDAL, meaning, if IMAGINE is installed then it can be used for all formats it recognizes with exception of ECW/ECWP. If IMAGINE is not there then TITAN falls back on GDAL. This will be a preference setting.

For ECW/ECWP, we have written our own fast implementation available as part of the TITAN Client download August 2008.

Formats supported by GDAL/OGR: These formats are supported to the extent which the open source GDAL/OGR libraries are capable of loading. If you would like to add your own formats or require support for trouble with an existing format, please visit the Open Source Geospatial Foundation page for GDAL/OGR.

Local Raster Support

  • MS Windows Device Independent Bitmap
  • First Generation USGS DOQ (.doq,.doq1)(old style)
  • New Labeled USGS DOQ (.doq,doq2)(new style)
  • Military Elevation Data(.dt1)
  • ERMapper Compressed Wavelets(.ecw)
  • ENVI .hrd Labeled Raster
  • Envisat Image Product (.n1)
  • EOSAT FAST Format (FAST)
  • TIFF with a world file
  • MrSid with world file
  • GeoTIFF
  • Hierarchical Data Format Release 4 (HDF4)
  • Hierarchical Data Format Release 5 (HDF5)
  • ERDAS Imagine (.img)
  • JPEG2000 (.jp2,j2k)jp2ecw
  • JPEG2000 (.jp2,j2k)jp2MrSID
  • Multi-resolution Seamless Image Database (MrSID - 2000)
  • National Imagery Transmission Format (NITF 2.1)
  • USGS Optional ASCII DEM (and CDED)
  • Portable Network Graphics (.png)
  • Graphics Interchange Format (.gif)
  • FIT Image
Local Vector Support
  • ESRI Shapefile
  • Mapinfo File
  • Microstation DGN

Formats supported via IMAGINE plugin (August)

  • DTED
  • ERDAS 7.5 LAN
  • ERDAS 7.5 GIS
  • ENVI
  • EROS-A1 Level 1A
  • RPF Frame
  • RPF Overview
  • ER Mapper
  • TIFF
  • GeoTIFF
  • HDF
  • IMG
  • JPG
  • MrSID
  • NITF 2.0/2.1 (classified data)

Formats supported via Defense Productivity Module extension to ERDAS IMAGINE (August)

  • TFRD (.tfrd) (classified data)

Saturday, May 24, 2008

New ERDAS Video

Check out the video Introducing the New ERDAS: geared towards the GeoInt community and a nice job covering the myriad of new solutions provided by ERDAS supporting the entire ‘geospatial business system.’

TITAN is a small part of this presentation (near the end around time marker 7:20) Erin presents TITAN as a ‘connection tool’, acknowledging that TITAN falls under the Connect category of the broad, 4-part geospatial business system solution that ERDAS now offers.

I really like this slide the Defense teams made for’s hard to sum up TITAN in one slide and they’ve done an excellent job.

A couple of points I’d like to clarify however: At one point Erin states that:

‘The base for TITAN is a 3D globe, however the uniqueness behind TITAN is not the globe, but the Geospatial Instant Messenger.’

The TITAN Client is comprised of two components: the Geospatial Instant Messenger (GeoIM) and the TITAN Viewer (the 3D globe), both carrying tremendous value. Depending on the application, either component may be of greater importance to a particular user. In Defense, the Viewer carries a heavy weight. Not to diminish the utility of the TITAN Viewer, but I make it a point to describe the GeoIM as the heavy-lifting mechanism of ERDAS TITAN. The GeoIM is the component where you publish data, set permissions for access, search, discover, chat with other users, manage connections to unlimited sources of data, and ultimately retrieve data into the variety of applications you use on your desktop. This is a pretty powerful proposition.

The TITAN Viewer has exceptional capability in that you can amass a variety of geospatial data and location-based content and, with the click of a button, share that ‘geospatial presentation space’ with others on the TITAN Network, with permissions. After saving your ‘MyWorld’, you can invite others to switch to your MyWorld and participate in this 3D presentation space. That’s pretty amazing technology too.

One other point that Erin makes that I’d like to clarify:

‘Users can view each other’s data, but they’re unable to access the data from one system to another.’

This is simply a case of semantics: What Erin is describing above is that TITAN does not yet enable true download of shared raster and vector datasets. Currently in TITAN requested raster and vector datasets either get converted to WMS, encoded tile URL (for Virtual Earth) or KML (for Google Earth) before they are delivered. I’ll argue that this is in fact ‘access’ to data. But in my argument I recognize that Erin's audience (Defense realm) may argue right back that it does not.

But soon, Erin will not say that at all, because in 2009 TITAN will enable true download of data. So...any argument over what access means, at least for TITAN, will become a moot point.

Friday, May 23, 2008

TITAN the Proxy

Someone recently asked me:

"Could I have Image Web Server create an ECWP, have TITAN ingest the ECWP and then have TITAN create a WMS that could be ingested into ArcMap?...Kind of a way to get between barriers of different applications. In other words, TITAN would be a proxy.’"

This is correct. In general, TITAN empowers 3rd party applications to ingest any data that TITAN supports. For example, uDig doesn't read IMAGINE (.img) files, and Google Earth default is KML…In TITAN, many different file formats are transformed through a translation layer and can be subsequently loaded into a variety of applications like UDig, Google Earth, ArcMap, GeoMedia, AutoCad…the list goes on.

Consuming local geospatial data: generally speaking, data coming from different sources into TITAN is handled through an open source spatial bridge library called GDAL/OGR.

GDAL/OGR is responsible for abstracting the different formats and providing TITAN with a single representation for reading data and coordinate system information. To see the list of GDAL/OGR supported raster and vector formats go here: TITAN also supports KML/KMZ models which may contain DAE/Collada models as well. In August, TITAN will also tie into ERDAS IMAGINE libraries, increasing support for even more raster files (note: must have ERDAS IMAGINE for this to work). Also for August we’ve developed our own custom plugin for ECWP using the ER Mapper SDK, and it is really fast.

Consuming web services: The TITAN Client currently consumes WMS, WCS and ECWP. If you want to, say, load a WCS or ECWP into ArcMap: TITAN will transform the WCS or ECWP data into a WMS layer. TITAN can make any random LL request and the pixel data will be fulfilled in the request. This is how the WMS connector works. Other proxy actions:

  • WMS, WCS and ECWP consumed by TITAN can be loaded natively into the TITAN Viewer, with no translation
  • Loading a WMS layer through TITAN into a WMS compliant application: no translation is applied. It directly accesses the service using the existing URL.
  • Loading a WMS, WCS and ECWP layer through TITAN into an application that takes a particular format (i.e. Google Earth consuming KML): TITAN transforms that layer into a KML and then loads it into Google Earth

In August TITAN will enable users to search a catalog of web services (otherwise known as CS-W...think OGC and ERDAS Image Manager), discover and retrieve a list of map layers from the server, retrievable in both WMS and WCS.

Monday, May 19, 2008

The 'Publicization' of Geodata

Check out the commentary to this recent post by James Fee, a revealing and informative thread.

The post comments on Google and ESRI joining forces to allow indexing of ArcGIS Server services by Google, ultimately exposing those services to anyone who crawls the web. James Fee asks the question: “how do you monetize your information in such a world?”

Responses are mixed, from:

1. things won’t change too much:
‘I suspect that we won’t be seeing much change and silos such as the Geospatial One Stop will continue to exist.’
‘The majority of data is not public and will not be published for free….ever.’

2. to feelings of scarcity:
‘We’ve been squeezed by Google (and Microsoft) with their free data layers already. There isn’t any juice left to give away.’
‘Selling data is only possible if you are the one selling to Google. Everyone else expects it to be free. Shame really because it devalues expertise.’

3. to icky feelings regarding new business models:
‘Sell ads, is that what we’ve come to these days?’

5. to the possibility that this is a good thing, and considering opportunities within a new system:
‘Why shouldn’t I be able to use Google to find data, even if it returns links to non-freely available data?’
‘…Working with Google or other distributors to set up a one-click purchase system for geodata together with free samples and an open format.’

The ‘publicization’ of geodata is definitely a hot topic worldwide. In the US, so many of our government organizations already have mandates to make geodata public. This is not so for much of the rest of the world. Europe has set the stage with the INSPIRE Directive, established to create a framework for sharing geospatial data between member states. It emphasizes environmental reasons to share data between policy-makers in member states, and target-users also include citizens of those states, thankfully.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Base Imagery in TITAN Viewer

The base imagery that is seen in the ERDAS TITAN Viewer is coming from a GlobeXplorer data store located in the Bay Area of California. GlobeXplorer, a DigitalGlobe company, is a leading geographic data integration and publishing company, providing online access to the world’s largest commercial library of geographic information.

How it works: When you pan or zoom in the TITAN Viewer, a web request is sent to the GlobeXplorer data store. Image tiles located on those data servers are retrieved and served directly to the ERDAS TITAN Viewer. No GlobeX imagery travels through or caches on GeoHubs at all, but instead goes straight to the clients, and caches locally. Local caching relieves the user from continually having to reload basemap data, a process that would slow things down considerably.

Later this year TITAN will also support the designation of alternative basemap and terrain sources by GeoHub administrators, thereby providing the means to improve upon base data available to users within a GeoHub community. Correspondingly the user will be empowered to browse and select from a list of basemaps provided by participating GeoHubs. The user will be further empowered to select from any local data, other users' shared data, services, or data returned from a search to be used as the basemap in their TITAN Viewer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

It sure sounds like P2P...but is it???

Is ERDAS TITAN built on a peer to peer (P2P) network technology?

Not today. Although the ERDAS TITAN user’s experience resembles a Peer to Peer (P2P) network experience (sharing, discovering, accessing data within a network of users), by definition it is not. In ERDAS TITAN, clients rely on a proxy server – an ERDAS TITAN GeoHub - as a middleman for all communication, indexing, access and data streaming. In a P2P network clients interact directly with one another in some fashion, for activities like communication, data access and download.

GeoHubs process requests, index, stream and cache data, but do not host any data. Instead, data is maintained locally and the GeoHub acts as a relay mechanism, processing requests and streaming data between users. This inherently is an added security feature, as the GeoHub is able to manage the channels between users.

Also to note, ERDAS TITAN has no true download capability (besides the sharing of KMLs) and instead advances the notion of streaming data as a service to clients through GeoHubs.

Future plans for TITAN include enabling optional download capabilities and also P2P sharing for GeoHubs.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

What is the ERDAS TITAN Network?

The ERDAS TITAN Network is a secure, online, collaborative network of authors and consumers sharing data. Both individuals and organizations can participate: Individuals start by creating a login to the Network. Organizations start by implementing a TITAN GeoHub.

You (the individual) can join the ERDAS TITAN Network by downloading and installing the free TITAN Client and ultimately creating a unique login (a ‘Passport') to the Network. When you create a login, you are also creating your first subscription to the ERDAS TITAN default public GeoHub.

Consuming data on the public network is unlimited for all users, and you can publish and publicly share up to 10GB or 10 files for free.

Here is a diagram showing the architecture of the TITAN Network, and short descriptions of the products below.

ERDAS TITAN Client is a geospatial data bridge that enables users to publish and consume geospatial data, web services and location-based content with others on the TITAN Network. Users can search and access data into the variety of applications they use on their desktop.

ERDAS TITAN Master Server is the master registry for the entire Network. The Master Server handles all GeoHub and individual user registrations and takes all login requests for the entire Network.

ERDAS TITAN GeoHub enables permission-based data distribution, both internally and externally for an organization. With a GeoHub, an organization participates as a 'community' on the TITAN Network.

ERDAS TITAN Web Cache Servers provide scalability, enhancing performance of a GeoHub.

Sunday, May 4, 2008


I’ve just recently returned from ASPRS 2008 in Portland, Oregon, overall a good show. I was generally busy presenting ERDAS TITAN: at the UGM, in the booth, and in my own session presentation... but I did get a chance to catch part of the panel on ‘Airborne Digital Mapping Camera Systems: Manufacturers' Perspective.” When all of the major aerial camera makers are in one room at ASPRS discussing current systems and future developments, you can imagine it is standing room only.

Our UGM was a great success. I grade success by the following factors:

  1. audience interest (based on general responsiveness and thoughtful questions)
  2. very positive commentary
  3. seeing over 90% of the same people that came in before 8 am staying til the end after noon, after eight sessions and with only one break.

Our president Bob Morris gave the opening presentation entitled ‘We are ERDAS.' In case you have not yet heard, Leica Geosystems Geospatial Imaging division recently rebranded itself as ERDAS Inc. ERDAS is a name that carries weight in the geospatial industry and has deep roots in data authoring tools, specifically those for the analysis, processing and visualization of geospatial imagery. Yet, this name-resurrection signifies not only a revival but also a great renaissance and transition for ERDAS. ERDAS now provides solutions that encompass the entire ‘geospatial business system.’ Tools in the ERDAS product portfolio now include those for authoring data, managing that data within the enterprise, connecting users inside and outside of an organization and enabling rapid data sharing, and ultimately delivering value-added content to a variety of business applications, via a variety of services.

A hot product in the ERDAS booth was IMAGINE Objective, providing a robust set of tools for feature extraction, update and change detection. IMAGINE Objective is brand new and is detailed within this white paper covering feature extraction solutions from ERDAS. ERDAS will shortly be launching a Beta program for IMAGINE Objective which will be open to anyone under a SWM contract. Please visit this web site to apply in a few weeks: .

On a touristy note, this was my first time in Portland and I’d like to recommend two great places:
  1. Powell’s Books: the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world
  2. Jakes Famous Crawfish Restaurant: a historically-significant bar and restaurant a block from Powells. I recommend Jake’s Live Crawfish Boil.

Friday, May 2, 2008

What are geospatial web services and why should we use them?

Geospatial consumers need to easily ingest geo-data into a variety of desktop, Internet and 3D virtual globe applications they use in their daily work. Impediments in data delivery brought on by access or performance issues are thorns in the side of GeoJoe trying to be efficient…

On the other end of the pipe, data authors and publishers want to rapidly distribute data to their consumers (i.e. their customers, clients, users, purchasers, general public, etc.). These folks, from aerial data providers to national mapping agencies to the one-man geo-shop, need to deliver data in varying complexities and want to guarantee that the data can be immediately absorbed into applications in use by their customers.

To answer the demand for real-time, interoperable solutions for data sharing, the industry responded with the development of geospatial web services. Geospatial web services enable web-based access to quality geospatial data in varying formats and degrees of complexity. For example, a WMS, or Web Map Service, delivers a ‘portrayal’ of geographic information presented as a static map, rendered into picture formats such as PNG and GIF and useful for display and viewing purposes. Much more robust is a WCS, or Web Coverage Service. WCS supports ‘intact’ delivery of rich and intelligent raster data sources, in formats such as GeoTIFF and DTED, and usable in client-side rendering and as input into scientific models.

Also available are highly-specialized web services that allow for unique processes such as transformation of geographic coordinates, catalog querying, editing vectors and much more. An example is a WPS, or Web Processing Service, which defines a standard for publishing many and various geospatial processes, and also enables clients to find and bind to these services. A WPS can be any process, examples being change detections, measurements such as NDVI, and complicated models. The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) just approved the WPS standard this past February.

In streaming data via geospatial web services, actual datasets remain in one place while specific bits of information varying in complexity are streamed directly to requesting individuals across vast networks. For consumers, this means that data quality is increased as geospatial web services provide immediate access to the most current data stores. Moreover, data distributed via web services require no format translation on the client end, ensuring direct and hassle-free delivery into various applications (note: client applications must be able to consume web services). Data authors and publishers benefit as actual datasets may be updated in one place and streamed to multitudes of end user clients. In this model data is no longer duplicated and out-of date across various organizations. Furthermore, data ownership remains protected while data sharing is optimized. For both authors and consumers of geospatial data, the general flow of information across networks is exponentially improved, and faster data delivery means work gets done faster.

Note: the OGC leads development and implementation of standards for geospatial content and services, like those mentioned as examples in this post.