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May 24, 2007 / Steven Pousty

Interesting times to be a Java Spatial Developer

Following up on James’s post about my IM ping – it is a good time to be a Java developer if you deal with spatial problems (for other problems as well but I am just going to talk about spatial today.

There is the ESRI Stack. So if you want to go down that route with the full support and need to use ESRI technologies you are good to go.

Here is the stack that is available to you today for free (as in beer and speech) with some brief personal experiences tacked on…

IMS server: geoserver – super easy to set up, performs well, does WFS, WMS, and KML, and reads a bunch of formats

OpenLayers: not specifically Java but works perfectly fine with it and some of their demos hit against geoserver.

Datastore: PostGIS with PostgreSQL – not much experience using but a large user community, a plugin to use with ArcGIS (oh if I didn’t have billable goals), an interface to geoserver, uDig, and geotools, and a JDBC driver that can talk spatial talk

Desktop : uDig, Jump, OpenJump, and a couple more that I can’t keep track of. They are not at the level of ArcGIS but they can do quite a bit of stuff and are open so you can extend the code however you like.

Virtual Globe: WorldWind Java – easy cheezy to get running, runs really fast, and in very active development with a friendly user community.

Toolkit: Geotools and OpenMap– spatial toolkits that have been around for at least 6 to 7 years maybe longer.

IDEs: Eclipse and Netbeans – both excellent IDEs with large user communities and active corporate support.

So there you have it, a huge stack of Java spatial applications and libraries – running on all the major OS’s – running server side and desktop side.

Do you know what your cost as a consultant or developer is to entry into this space? $0 in actual startup costs. Buy yourself a laptop, leech off your neighbors wifi connection (not that I would condone such behavior), and dig in.

Java is taught in most of the CS and IS programmings as the programming language of choice so it is also easish to find developers or learn yourself. You would be in good company with firms such as Fedex, NASA, and Motorola to name a few.

Open source and proprietary solutions all with the same language. I just think it is an interesting proposition to those who want to start developing and building spatial solutions.

Its a Party!



Leave a Comment
  1. Java Guy Doing .NET / May 24 2007 9:42 am

    Yes, lots of choices these days. There is a lot you could probably elaborate on regarding any caveats with the ESRI stack…

  2. Vector One / May 24 2007 10:15 am

    Great picture. Which birthday was the dog celebrating there?

  3. thesteve0 / May 24 2007 10:18 am

    Just a random dog party on Flickr (in a pool for antique dog photos though I do think that dog looks like a Java developer should feel right now. And those kids would be your clients and your boss – how is that for interpreations?

  4. thesteve0 / May 24 2007 10:20 am

    Java guy:
    As with all things in life – choices come with positive and negative consequences. I think the nice part is that Java developers can make an informed decision and then go with the best stack for their project.

  5. jasonbirch / May 24 2007 9:36 pm

    MapGuide also offers a web API which is essentially identical between the Java, PHP, and .Net implementations.

    There are some issues ( ) around our Java support, but it is another option for the web layer.

  6. Oracle Spatial User / May 25 2007 5:50 am

    Oracle Spatial has a very nice Java library as well.

  7. thesteve0 / May 25 2007 11:07 am

    Jason and Oracle user:
    Thanks for those additions. I have never really used either but it nice to have 2 more to consider. One proprietary with an open ADF (Oracle) and another choice in the OS stack (MapServer).

  8. Joel Badinas dot Com / Nov 7 2007 8:03 pm

    Are you guys Java developers? I’m having a hard time learning programming in Java. Any suggestion to make my learning curve shorten?

  9. mapportalbloggergisguy / Nov 9 2007 11:25 am

    For good java code samples with ArcGIS Server check out

  10. fjp / May 20 2008 1:56 pm

    Very interesting. You can also have a look to gvSIG ( + Sextante ( Hope you like it 🙂


  1. Buenos tiempos para el desarrollador de soluciones espaciales con Java « Dirección de proyectos de Gestión de Información Geoespacial

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