Last week I attended my first-ever ESRI conference in San Diego. Although the "star of the show" was version 9.3.1 and the upcoming version 9.4 of the ARCGIS series of products, I most enjoyed the presentations about the new ESRI MapIt product. This product is a collection of tools and toolkits to allow import, preparation, and usage of spatial data in SQL Server 2008.

The tools include:
A data import and encoding tool, Spatial Data Assistant, that enables you to import data from .shp files and ARCGIS Servers. I especially liked that the tool can reproject the data as it imports. You can also geocode address fields with either the ERSI or Bing Services geocoder.

A REST-based service that allows serving SQL Server spatial data. This allows integration with the webpart and the API.

A Sharepoint Webpart that lets you produce layers from MAPIt, ARCGIS Server, or Sharepoint lists that contain lat/long or address data.

The ARCGIS Silverlight/WPF API now allows input from the MapIt service as well as ARCGIS Servers, Bing Maps, and GEORSS. It's used to produce some amazing applications.

I like the product a lot and installed and worked with the evaluation during and after the show. It simplifies staging and producing brilliant looking maps and apps, but also puts all the power of Silverlight at your disposal.

Actually, the "stars of the show" were the users that attended. ESRI users got a great deal of exposure in the plenary sessions as well as the Map Gallery and elsewhere. I got to meet James Fee and Morten Nielsen. Morten is known for his work with Shape2SQL, SharpMap and other utilities and he now works for ESRI on the Silverlight APIs. Good choice on their part. I also made a lot of new friends at the conference, as always.

Of course I had to sing for my supper as well and presented a talk on Analyzing SQL Server 2008 Spatial Indexes as well as a couple of impromptu sessions and demos at the booth. Because ARCGIS can use SQL Server as a geodatabase and products (including MapIt) automatically define spatial indexes during operation, there was a good deal of interest.

Thanks for a fun time…