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A scrapbook of GIS tricks, with emphasis on FOSS4G.

Google Maps for Flash/Flex: Dead Man Walking

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“When life gives you lemons..”

Let’s just review the signs:

  • First, the Google Maps Flash/Flex API had not been updated for quite some time.
  • Meanwhile, some developers were sharing a hack to bypass a nasty initialization bottleneck in the Maps Flash/Flex API that stalled map loading in AIR apps.
  • At the other end of the yard, Google lifted its registration key requirement for the Maps JavaScript API V3; yet, the Flash/Flex counterpart remained unchanged in this respect (curiously, it was key-hashing that caused AIR apps to stall).
  • Finally, and though unrelated, Pamela Fox, one of the higher-profile support engineers attached to Maps developer relations, left Google for other pursuits.

In spite of the above indicators, I started an eBook titled: Google Mapping the Shapefile with Flex, PHP, and PostGIS. After four or five chapters, I threw in the towel to enjoy what was left of the summer ..but, maybe that was a good thing, because lo and behold, the Maps Flash/Flex API was a dead man walking. In their defense, Google saw comparatively less consumption of the Flash/Flex API vs the JavaScript flagship, so they pulled the plug on the Flash stuff. It’s an understandable reaction ..but I do wonder if that inertia will eventually affect StreetView, which (I believe) remains in Flash.

I had planned to return to my book over the winter, and I was optimistic about re-approaching O’Reilly with the finished book and a suggestion that it be released as a print title. So clearly I was disappointed by the deprecation announcement. Also, I really like Flex! If I want to make an interactive web map, I’d rather do it with Flex! Where does this leave me?

“..make lemonade.”

That was lemons. But it turns out, there’s a chance to make lemonade. It’s called OpenScales, and it’s a Flex mapping API with some real potential. While investigating OpenScales, I had some difficulty finding examples of raw implementations, where the Flex client UI has a direct line (PHP) to vector GIS data stored on a PostGIS-enabled PostGREsql database. Fortunately it wasn’t difficult to setup. So, rising from the ashes of my failed eBook, and primed by the excitement of finding OpenScales, I decided to start this blog as a place to post OpenScales examples. And that’s exactly what I’ll do.

In the next few months, I’ll post several OpenScales examples here, with the goal of touching upon the following topics:

  • Publish Shapefile or Personal Geodatabase data to an OpenScales map by converting it into usable flatfiles or migrating it into a spatially-aware database and pulling it from there.
  • Load geodata into OpenScales from the following formats: XML, JSON, GML, and KML.
  • Load data faster by enabling AMF support with AMFPHP, et cetera.
  • Pull WMS and WFS data from 3rd-party sources (I’m imagining a weather map).
  • Prepare custom basemap tiles for an OpenScales map and either load raster tiles direct from the filesystem or pull them from a PostGIS database.
  • Publish OpenScales-based applications to Android devices.

If I can do all that in a handful of months, I’ll be a happy camper, and with a little luck, a few people will stumble across this site and they will be too.

Wild! Stallions!

Written by elrobis

October 16th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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