Thursday, May 19, 2011

How to understand those integrity checker error codes

One of the things I like most about travelling to conferences is seeing the new and innovative applications that are available for Smallworld users. One such innovation that particularly caught my interest was the Data Quality Toolkit by Realworld ECHO. This tool picks up where the core Smallworld integrity checker leaves off and provides a better interface for identifying data quality issues in the database. If you have ever been overwhelmed by the cryptic output of the integrity checker, then you owe it to yourself to review this product.

A few years ago, a PNI customer asked me to review his PNI integrity checker log files and make recommendations about ignore/fix for each error type. It turns out that there was absolutely no documentation available for understanding the error codes. The only way I could understand the codes was to use global text searches or even print_users_of() to find the place where the code was raised and then try to deduce what the actual data condition was. Well, that was good for me as a billable consultant, but not so good for the customer.

If they had had a tool like the Data Quality Toolkit, this problem would not have been as acute. What I find particularly nice about the Data Quality Toolkit is the associated QCDB Knowledge Database. This is essentially an on-line wiki that has been keyed to those cryptic error codes. So now, when your integrity checking process encounters an error code, the Data Quality Toolkit gives you a link to the appropriate web page in the Knowledge Database which provides you with a detailed explanation of causes and fixes for that error type. And because this wiki is a living document, if you ever encounter an error code that has not yet been documented, let Realworld ECHO know and they will update the relevant page. The nice thing about that is future users of the service will now automagikally have access to the same analysis. No need to wait for a TSB to be issued with updated documentation. What we have here is a slick use of online tools to improve the data quality of the entire PNI/LNI/Office community.

Good job folks! Keep up the good work.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

MrSID files on Smallworld - another approach

While Smallworld SOMs provide a plugin for reading LizardTech's MrSID format files, I wanted to let you all know of another approach. LizardTech has a product called Express Server that lets you take one or more MrSID (or JPEG2000 or ESRI Image Server data) files and place them on a server and then serve them up as a single layer for a WMS-compliant layer. The nice thing about this is that the Express Server does all the georeferencing/tile-stitching for you. So you no longer need to configure a MrSID SOM with things like multiple path names, coordinate system, etc. You can use the GE WMS SOM to simply connect to the Express Server layers and you get all the imagery stitched together. Very cool!

And if you want to try something other than the GE WMS SOM, you could give the Web Maps Connector a try. Have a look at the demo below to see an example of how seamlessly MrSID data is integrated with Smallworld using Express Server.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Smallworld in iPad (Part 2)

Paul Meester from Realworld ( - Booths 8,9 & 10 @ Smallworld EMEAI) pointed out to me that a trend in Smallworld-on-tablet development is moving towards using Smallworld GSS as the server solution. The tablet client can then be developed as a web page that uses Smallworld data served by GSS.

Realworld has an iPad demo at their booth. If you haven't caught the demo this week at the conference, then be sure to contact them after the conference.

Smallworld on iPad

Being a bit of an iPadphile, I couldn't help but notice that a few of the vendors at the Smallworld EMEAI 2011 Users Conference had iPad-based solutions.

breakoutimage (Booth 12) has an iPad app

ubisense (Booth 21) has a product, myWorld, that works on any web browser, but looks very nice on the iPad. Check out a picture of Peter wearing myWorld here.

If you know of other Smallworld-on-iOS apps out there, please let me know and I will amend this post.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

SVG export from Smallworld

I met Robert Schweikert from SEPM at the Smallworld EMEAI Users Conference today. He told me about his X-Translator product. I was particularly interested in the SVG (scalable vector graphics) export format. While I know that various products have existed over the years that export Smallworld data to SVG, it was good to see that X-Translator handles that as well. You could use SVG to allow a user to have vector-based interaction with data in web browsers or other 3rd party readers. It looks very interesting and would be worthwhile for anyone who has an interest in improving user/data interaction to look at.

Please find Robert and ask him to show you what products he has to offer. If you don't know him, you can use the picture here to help you find him.

Check out MDT (Eclipse Plugin for Smallworld)

On Thursday, 12 May from 14:40-16:10 in the Doppler Hall, Astec will be presenting MDT (Magik Development Toolkit) in a session where they show a full end-to-end project workflow.

I have to admit that I haven't tried MDT for quite a few years. I tend to think of myself as someone that is quite content with Emacs. But some of the stuff I briefly saw at the Astec booth tonight at the SW EMEAI Users Conference piqued my interest and I plan to be a the workshop. I really like how they have integrated Mylyn context management, SVN and bugzilla to provide and easy way to manage development tasks within the IDE. I also heard that they will be demonstrating how to use the Eclipse UML modelling tools to generate Magik code. I can't wait to see that!

I wonder if the UML modelling can be extended to help visualize complex hierarchies like the configuration XML files in Smallworld?

See you at the demonstration on Thursday afternoon.

Presentations on Smallworld and Web Services

There are two interesting Smallworld-and-web-services presentations at the SWUG and Smallworld EMEAI Users Group meeting this week.

Both on Thursday, 12 May at 09:00

"OpenStreetMap und Co. im Smallworld GIS? Kein Problem mit der Smallworld GIS Integrationstechnologie" by Oliver Löken 09:00-09:25 in Europa Hall

"Business process automation – Do web services help" by Dr. Gillian Kendrick 09:00-09:40 Mozart Hall 4 & 5

Sunday, May 8, 2011

At Smallworld EMEAI 2011

I started my trip to the Smallworld EMEAI conference in Salzburg this morning. I'll be in Salzburg by Monday night and ready to conference the next day. According to @botezmi (, close to 800 delegates will be in attendance! No wonder it took some effort to find a reasonably priced hotel room near the conference venue. I imagine that the large delegate number is due to the inclusion of the SWUG annual meeting with the GE event.

I will be based at the Realworld booth and will be demonstrating some new Web Maps Connector features. Please come by to see how you can integrate Bing, OpenStreetMap, Google, DigitalGlobe, MapQuest, ArcGIS and various other region-specific data providers directly into your Smallworld environment.

If that doesn't interest you, my colleague Graham Garlick (author of the internationally popular Dialog Designer) has loaded me up with some of his latest cool products so ask about those and I can show you examples of how we are pushing Magik to the edge.

Finally, to all you tweeters out there, please tweet conference events on the hashtag #swuc.

Bis Dienstag!