HxGN RadioPodcast

What’s new in provider and platform suites

In this interview, we will hear about the latest innovations from ERDAS APOLLO and WebGIS.

BK: Welcome to HxGN Radio! My name is Brian. And today we are talking about new features in the Provider and Platform Suites, with the release of Power Portfolio, set to debut in October of 2019.  I’m joined by Marek Brylski,  product line director for WebGIS Products, and Alain Kabamba, training manager. Marek and Alain thank you so much for joining us today.

MB: Thank you for having us.

BK: Yeah, appreciate it. All right, Marek, let’s start with you. Give us a little bit of an overview of what’s new with the Platform Suite. 

MB: Yes, so, for this upcoming 2019 release, we worked closely with our customers. We spent a lot of time talking with these guys, checking the ideation boards, and finding out what they really need. With a product of this nature, full of features, it makes a lot of sense to interact with people and make sure we do these enhancements that they really need in their everyday life when theyimplement solutions based on our software.

The first thing is Consumer Portal. Lots of little enhancements -some additional texts, which map composition is active, showing coordinates at the bottom of the screen, the way we interact with the properties of features in the web application and on the mobile device. I could talk for about an hour just about all these little things.

BK: Yeah.

MB: There are really lots of them. Stay tuned. Check our website, check our updates when we release things. All of that will be listed there. It’s really a great job. Thank you to our customers for providing feedback. I appreciate that.

Some bigger things that we received from our partners and customers, the GeoMedia WebMap metadata, typically stored in either Oracle or SQL server database, but people were asking for PostgreSQL and PostGISsupport, and so we are bringing that to the market with the 2019 release. It’s actually available already with one of the updates of our software. Then something about the server stability, we call it MapServer polls. It’s an idea that came to us from one of the region’s big customers using our software. They noticed if they have many, many web services on one server, one service that is failing may actually affect a complete server. So, we introduced a new feature that allows engineers to configure priority web services in a way that some of them are always on. They are always working. There’s no way you disrupt the server.

BK: That’s fantastic!

MB: It’s the stability of our software I believe people are going to love. We did some user interfaces in the admin console to configure this stuff correctly. Super cool stuff! Then we worked again in the Consumer Portal trying to make sure that the search engines available really do what people need. One of our customers gave us a hard time, asking how do we search for cadastral parcels. That was a customer in Poland who popped in to search these cadastral parcels by name, by ID number that they use internally, which wasn’t so easy to do, but we implemented this with location, a utility web service, and it’s working great. We are making that part of our release.

BK: Good!

MB: And finally, Mobile MapWorks. That’s a big deal, really, the integration of mobile application into WebGIS. That’s a super cool feature.

BK: Okay! Well, tell us about how the repacking of Mobile MapWorks into WebGIS is going to help users to create stunning mobile applications, for field inspection, for example. 

MB: The product, called Mobile MapWorks, is already on the market. We sell it. Some people use it. It’s successful, I think. But it’s a generic product. You can do really multiple things. With the 2019 release, we are making sure that it works super efficiently with GeoMedia Desktop and GeoMedia WebMap. We are introducing a new configuration tool in GeoMedia Desktop. Click, click click. 5 minutes. Your field inspection is configured. You pick your feature classes, attributes. You decide on the symbology. Everything is intuitive, and no development work. You don’t need to use our SDK, it’s just a little bit of configuration and you’re ready to send to your field inspectors.

And then, in the app itself, we are trying to make sure and working really hard to have that done — that the user interfaces are carefully designed for those people who are going to use the app. This is the key point. If you’re out there in the field and there is sunshine, the colors on the app must be adjusted so that you can see the information clearly. We use different symbology on features, we adjust fonts, we reposition things on the screen, do everything we can for this application to be easy to use and so that people can see clearly when they do field inspections. It’s all part of the 2019 release.

BK: Excellent!

MB: You like it?

BK: Oh yeah, I’m loving it! So it’s releasing in October, but have you done any beta testing? Any feedback yet on this so far, to see how people are liking it?

MB: It’s unbelievable how you sense things that are upcoming. Yes. We call it a sneak peek. The software is partially ready even today, and this week or next week we are sending it to some individuals for beta testing, asking partners and customers to evaluate the software and tell us whether we have done a good job and maybe they will see some improvements.

BK: Good. Well, and the best part of that is you get the kudos feedback, but then if something is not entirely right, you can fix it and it’s ready to go. 

MB: Yes, we will fix it. Sure. Yes. We ask for feedback.

BK: Yes and it sounds like, and you were mentioning earlier, about how important that feedback is. All right! Excellent Marek! Thank you! Appreciate it! Alain, thank you for being here again. Why don’t you give us a high-level overview of what’s new in the 2019 Platform Suite?

AK: The new Provider Suite release that will be released in October as well for the Platform Suite will bring a feature that’s mainly one that our customers and partners have been waiting for a very long time. Which is a new web client, a modern web client, that we based on LuciadRIA, that will improve drastically the user experience, I believe. That web client will be shared with LuciadFusion, that is another application that we have, allowing our customers to actually integrate data from both the APOLLOcatalog and the Luciad catalog. So, you would for instance be able to overlap your raster data with 3D data or with point cloud data in a very modern and new interface.

We have features like new administrative reporting tools that will allow, for instance, our customers to have greater insight into who is using the solution and how they’re using it. The number of downloads of data from the platform, for instance. All cataloging information, as well, would be available for the organizations.

We have also drastically improved the performance of solutions in many ways. We have introduced a new format, which is called the cloud optimized ECW, that I will maybe talk a little bit more afterward about that.  We have also brought back the famous ECWP streaming protocol. Yeah that’s a very, very famous protocol of ours that we basically stopped advertising the in last years because of this restriction on browsers, you know? Most browsers decided to remove plug-ins from browser support. So, thanks to the new technology, that’s called WebAssembly, that is now allowing browsers to basically support some more advanced features like streaming, we can happily have the ECWP back.

BK: Right! That’s good news.

AK: This is really great news for our customers, and especially for people who are using our software in countries where bandwidth is a problem. ECWP allows you to really serve your data very, very quickly even if you have Internet issues. It allows you to cache the data on the browser so you can basically improve the user experience of your end users, I would say.

BK: Okay. Yeah, that’s a great thing, because you see that, where technology keeps going, you’ve got new, like you said, extensions, and just things just keep getting bigger and bigger and bigger, and it just slows everything down. The fact that you’re actually making it more efficient and optimized that they can actually use it, like you said, with the low bandwidth, that’s fantastic! And I’m glad you get to bring it back, so congratulations on that.  Well, tell us a little bit about how this enhanced solution is going to help to optimize common data management workflows? 

AK: Well, the new web client will allow our customers to have a solution that can now filter its multiple catalogs. Which is another very new, nice feature that our customers have been waiting for many, many, many years. Thanks to the new client, you will have the possibility, for instance, to have your local data combined with some other data that you can find from some instances on the Internet, or from some other catalog based on the LuciadFusion, etc. This is a feature that our customers have been really waiting for many years, and we are really happy to bring this. We will also have the possibility to improve, I think, the performance by over 15%, I would say, with this new release. I mentioned already the cloud optimized ECW format. One thing that is important to mention about that format is that it allows you to save up to 50% of cloud storage, which means that you can save up to 50% of the money you would pay on the cloud platform basically.

BK: Yeah, this is great.

AK: This is really great, yeah.

BK: So, a little bit more on the improved user experience then with the new ERDAS APOLLO web client. And then you mentioned the cloud. So a little bit more on cloud enabling of Hexagon’s Geospatial division’s image compression technology as well. I’d like to hear more about that. 

AK: Okay! Good! On the client side, just talking about the web client, the new modern web client as I was saying. I can summarize the experience in 3 words:

BK: Okay!

AK: Modern, simple, and integrated.

BK: Excellent!

AK: It will be modern. It will be very simple to use, and to be integrated. You will have the possibilities, as I said before, to combine your raster data, with point cloud data, with 3D data, even with real-time data. Since it will be built on top of LuciadRIA, which is one of our products that comes with a very nice API. Our customers will have the possibility to actually customize it to their organization. So it can basically make your really nice client that will be fully customized for your organization, and very user-friendly. And talking about the streaming capabilities, as I said before, we will have a RESTful less stressful footprint. I mentioned that already. And that, combined with this streaming capability thanks to the WebAssembly technology in the browser, will really, really improve the user experience, as I mentioned as well already.

BK: Okay! Now, can you give us an example of the old way of doing it now with this new way? Maybe a little bit of a contrast between “this is what it would have been” and “this is what it’s going to be” sort of thing. 

AK: Okay! You have to see that as divided in two parts. You have the server part, which is storing all the data and basically sending the data over to the client. And in between the two, you have Internet.

BK: Of course!

AK: And Internet, when it’s working fine, is perfect. Right? When it doesn’t work then you are really in big trouble. And we all know, depending on the place in the world where you live, you could be using 3G Internet for instance, or you could be having, for some reason many users using the system at the same time, and that will basically change everything.  If you have nice conditions, if you have nice Internet, nice bandwidth, then you would not really notice the difference between that WMTS, which is the protocol we use traditionally for serving our data, with this ECWP streaming protocol. Because both are fast.

BK: Sure.

AK: But the issue is when you start having problems with your network.

BK: Yes, which happens!

AK: Which happens. And when you have problems with your network, you will see a big difference in using ECWP, and that will basically make your user experience really, really great. We have even made tests where we just completely dropped Internet, so you are out of Internet. Because with the ECWP, we are information in the browser, you can still continue working.

BK: That’s great!

AK: And even not notice that the Internet is down.

BK: That’s great! See, that’s important, you know? I mean, how many times are you doing your thing, you’re working, Internet goes down, what are you going to do? 

AK: Exactly!

BK: You know, people have to stop their work. You lose productivity. 

AK: Yes, that will allow you to continue working.

BK: That’s fantastic! All right. I appreciate the example. Thank you very much for that.  All right, Marek, anything else you want to add?

MB: Well, just I would repeat again the same thing. Interaction with our partners and customers is key. And the product is rich with features, so all these smaller and even bigger things, if there are any, please contact us and let us know what you need, guys. We will do it.

BK: Share your thoughts! Absolutely!  All right.  Alain? Anything?

AK: Yes, just like to add besides what I mentioned, the other big features that we have added, we also have an incremental platform update. It seems like a small thing, but it is important because that ensures that our product maintains our security footprint. It’s important for our customers to know that, and of course we have various other small improvements and bug fixing that will also come with the release.

BK: Okay. Excellent! All right. Marek, Alain, thank you so much for your time today. Really appreciate it. Great information, and thank you for being here! 

MB: Thank you so much!

AK: Thanks Brian!

BK: Absolutely! For more information on this, please go over to hexagongeospatial.com and of course to learn even more and listen to additional episodes head over to hxgnspotlight.com. Thank you so much for joining us here on HxGN radio.