myWorld 4: a significant step forward for myWorld integration with Esri (and more)
17 November 2016
Peter Batty, CTO geospatial, Ubisense
A key theme of our myWorld geospatial platform has always been “simple, smart, fast”: we have brought the simplicity and performance of Google Maps to web and mobile geospatial applications in large enterprises, focused on utilities and communications companies up to this point. This theme remains a key focus for us, but the scope of what we are doing has significantly expanded.
At our recent myWorld Meetup in Denver, we showed myWorld 4 for the first time, and launched the latest evolution of our vision: any data, anywhere, any device. We have been working on all these themes for a while, but feel that this is a good summary of what myWorld is all about. I’ll be talking about this vision in a lot more detail in our upcoming webinar on November 22nd .
We also introduced the term geomobility to describe what we do. While there are both web and mobile aspects to myWorld, and both are key parts of our solution, we choose to emphasize the mobile aspect because what we are doing there is more clearly differentiated from what we see other vendors providing. We don’t see others addressing the scope of our “any data, anywhere, any device” vision.
Let’s explain those three things in a bit more detail. I’ll take them in reverse order in this case, as this flows better in terms of explaining what myWorld 4 is all about.
myWorld 3 delivered most of the “any device” part at the beginning of this year, by adding iOS to our existing support of Android and Windows (7 and later). Another angle on this is that myWorld runs on laptops, tablets and phones, and the user interface adapts automatically, displaying common map layers, forms and more in a way that is appropriate for each device.
When we talk about “anywhere”, we are primarily talking about being able to run offline as well as online – and being able to seamlessly combine and switch between online and offline data. We have supported a robust offline capability for a couple of years, but have been significantly evolving this to provide a very flexible range of options for how data sync is done.
There are two main strategies for accessing existing data, as shown in the following diagram: one is to periodically import or sync data into the myWorld spatial database (which uses PostGIS), and the other is to directly access the data via a web service, when a suitable service exists or can be set up.
There are pros and cons to both the import and direct connection approaches, and the best one to use in any given situation depends on a variety of factors. I’ll talk in more detail about these in the webinar, but they include performance, load on the external system, spatial indexing, data volume, data currency, administration effort and functionality.
myWorld 4: any data meets anywhere
When we began work on myWorld, we were primarily focused on working with data in the myWorld PostGIS database. You can call this our native datasource: we control the format of the data there, which makes it easier for us to provide certain advanced capabilities like our high performance one box search. We supported direct data connections to some other data sources from the beginning too, but initially just for limited functionality, such as basemap display and search from Google, or WMS (Web Map Service) map display. Over a number of releases, we have added more and more capabilities to these direct connections (what we call external datasources), to the point where they now offer most of the same capabilities as accessing the myWorld native database.
Until myWorld 4 though, our offline data capabilities worked with data that had been imported or synced into the myWorld native database, but not with directly external datasources. We have implemented solutions that sync with all the main GIS products, including Esri, Intergraph, GE Smallworld and spatialNET. Some of these systems have common mechanisms for tracking data changes across all implementations, but others do not which means that there may be some custom work involved in setting up sync in some situations.
At myWorld 4, we have introduced the ability to take data offline with external data sources. The approach that we use for this is what we call “on demand extract”, which does not require the ability to track changes. This means that we can implement an offline solution out of the box with the datasources that we support. These include Esri REST Services, which are used by ArcGIS Online and ArcGIS for Server (soon to be renamed ArcGIS Enterprise), and the industry standard OGC WMS and WFS web services, which are supported by all major geospatial vendors.
This greatly increases the number of datasources that we can take offline with myWorld, and significantly reduces the effort needed to do this. Unlike most mobile geospatial solutions, myWorld is extremely open in being able to work with all the main geospatial vendors, either online or offline.
Tune in to our webcast for more details!