Get some REST!

Get some REST!

With the GIS industry acceptance of ArcGIS Enterprise and Online (whether you like it or not) as a location for data sharing and display. We at Cloudpoint Geographics regularly grab REST endpoint of important services that are publicly facing and put them on out internal websites. As well we have an ongoing collection of ArcGIS Online Organizations homepages an Open Data sites as we come across them.

The Escapades of Erin the Engineer: UC Edition

The Escapades of Erin the Engineer: UC Edition

ESRI knows how to put on a show and San Diego seems tailor-made for conferences.  If you get a chance to go – do it! The sheer number of sessions and demonstrations assures you will walk away having learned something.  The number of people there (18,000+) from around the world guarantees you will meet new people (and not once have to explain what GIS is). At the same time, it is small enough that you can meet up with people you already know and by the end of the week recognize a handful of new faces. And last but not least, San Diego is a fabulous host city. There’s more to do than you will have time for. And the party at Balboa Park is something you have to experience yourself. 

Are You ArcGIS Pro-Ready? Check Your System Settings.

Are You ArcGIS Pro-Ready? Check Your System Settings.

Are you ArcGIS Pro-ready? System Requirements Lab has provided a tool (available here or at the system requirements page for ArcGIS Pro)  that produces a detailed report in a matter of seconds showing how your system stacks up to the minimum and recommended requirements for running ArcGIS Pro. Please watch this video for more information on how you can easily check your system requirements for Pro.

Using Esri's Story Maps to Map out Team USA!

As the first month of 2018 comes to a close, the sporting eyes of the world turn to PyeongChang, South Korea for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. I wanted to be able to show where members of Team USA come from so ...

Tracking your projects with Esri's Operations Dashboard For ArcGIS

Tracking your projects with Esri's Operations Dashboard For ArcGIS

Given the wide scope of work that GIS professionals complete, it's important for organizations to stay on top of the progress of various projects that are going on. No tool allows you to do this better than the Operations Dashboard application from Esri. The Operations Dashboard allows organizations the ability to monitor work, track field work crews, and view the status of tasks related to specific projects.

Three New Technical Certifications

Three New Technical Certifications

Cloudpoint Geographics Inc. is proud to announce that Paul Stephenson, Matt Junker and Micah Williamson have all recently been awarded Esri Technical Certification which recognizes superior skill levels utilizing Esri’s software for geographic information systems (GIS). Paul and Matt were awarded the ArcGIS Desktop Associate Certification. Micah was awarded the Enterprise System Design Associate...

Using Mobile GIS to Get Big Bucks

Using Mobile GIS to Get Big Bucks

It's no secret to anyone who knows me, that when the temperature drops and the leaves start to change color, it's time to get into the woods.  Chasing whitetail deer through various counties of Illinois is something that I long for and a passion that helps me rest and recharge the batteries of life.  There is nothing that equals being able to silently enter the woods and have the wild slowly wake up around you. Hearing the first birds chirp in the soft morning light, followed by the crunching of leaves as two .....

Prairie State Playlist: A Story Map Music Tour Through the Land of Lincoln

Our travels here at Cloudpoint take us to many places throughout the state of Illinois (as well as many other states). In the spirit of our connections to the Prairie State, as well as our varied tastes in music, here is a Story Map that focuses on a selected set of songs that contain Illinois place names in their titles-The Prairie State Playlist.

The Prairie State Playlist is constructed using Esri's Story Map Journal template. Maps of each location comprise the "Main Stage", while information and a link to the song are in the "Side Panel." The maps for the Prairie State Playlist were created in ArcGIS Online as webmaps, and then converted to apps using Web AppBuilder, which allows for a better interface and the inclusion of widgets such as a Legend, Basemap Gallery, etc. The webmaps alone can also be included as content in the Story Map, as well as videos, images, and web pages.

Please browse the Prairie State Playlist and enjoy the music tour through the Land of Lincoln. Along the way, you might pick up some information about Bob Dylan, Tornadoes, and an EPA Superfund site.


Extend your Apps with Custom Widgets in Web AppBuilder

Extend your Apps with Custom Widgets in Web AppBuilder

Cloudpoint has successfully upgraded a number of Flex mapping applications to Javascript applications in the past year using Web AppBuilder (WAB). Some of the components that make these apps stand out are widgets that improve the user experience with the app. . Esri packages a number of basic widgets in WAB, but some developers have designed custom widgets that extend the functionality of these applications. A number of these custom widgets were available in the Flex apps and we wanted to honor our client's wishes to provide the same tools and functionality. Here we highlight a few of the custom widgets we configured for our clients.

All of Illinois Geocaches in One Map*

All of Illinois Geocaches in One Map*

I work for a living, but in the off times I still play with this technology, so I have a Premium Geocaching subscription. This allows me to query their data in circular buffers and return a GPX file. After about 27 of these queries, I was confident that I had all of the cache locations I wanted. Running a few geoprocessing functions, I dropped any duplicates and union-ed these points to county polygons to get the number within each county. This data are reflected in the Classified inset map. What am I talking about? Geocaching of course. If you're reading this tech blog there's a pretty good chance you already know what geocaching is... 

Mapping March Madness in Illinois

Mapping March Madness in Illinois

The Illinois High School Association are purveyors of America's Original March Madness, holding basketball state finals since 1908 (Peoria High was the first champion). The University of Illinois had a longstanding tradition of hosting the boys basketball tournament, and the Assembly Hall provided the backdrop of my first memories of watching March Madness on television, as well as the first time I attended in ...

Zoom to your Room.

ArcGIS Online has released a new update for November. 

Here is a list of what was expected. 

Among them is a hidden gem that hardly got noticed or mentioned but will change the way we do GIS on the Collector App. 

  • World Imagery, World Street Map, and World Topographic Map will be updated with additional levels of detail in the tiling scheme to support display of larger scale data in or on the basemap. 

Did you see it? No neither did anyone at our office. That was until Paul stumbled upon it while using Collector this week during a data collection project. He kept zooming in and zooming in until all the valves were individually visible.

If you have never come across this, it's a BIG stumbling block for utility folks!  Lots of these guys have oversized hands and clicking on a bunch of tiny dots can really get frustrating.  

This is the difference from an ArcGIS Server Cache to the Esri imagery Basemap

This is the difference from an ArcGIS Server Cache to the Esri imagery Basemap


In the past we have created a tile caches down to 1:500 for ArcGIS online (Or 1:250 if they have ArcGIS Server) this allows our clients to zoom in close enough to see the different features. Possibly click on several and hope the one they want got selected. 

No More!

Esri updated Three Basemaps (4 if you count Labels) World Imagery, World Street Map, and World Topographic Map that now zoom-in to an unbelievable 1:71 !!! I cannot overstate how awesome this IS. Sure the imagery and maps are a little fuzzy but WHO-CARES at that scale you just want to be able to see the features separately. 

If you look into this on ArcGIS Online web map, you can see that it's actually called "Room Level"

**Note if you Don't see this change on the Webmap interface, SAVE your map and try opening it again. AGO is a SAAS, but still needs to update the capabilities of the Webmap. 

Now, get out there you large-handed-gorilla & Zoom-Zoom!


Is your GPS taking you the wrong way?

One day as I was working in my county engineer's office at Stark County, IL, a delivery driver stopped in and said "Why are these roads labeled incorrectly on my GPS map?"  At first I blew it off thinking that's something beyond my control and I had more important things like ongoing construction projects.  After all, we as the local agency were the knowledge experts on local names and places and if these big companies wanted our data they could "come and find us" with their "incorrect" GPS navigation devices.  But then I realized what a tremendous benefit this would be to not only the local deliver driver but also emergency response, tourism, and many others.

 So how do we get these basemaps updated?  First of all, these basemap companies are BIG and there are only a few key players.  By basemaps I mean the foundation for GPS navigation on consumer-grade electronics.  

There's not exactly a 1-800 hotline that you can call as a one-stop-shop to update everyone in the universe (although that would be nice).  There are however, tools that allow you to edit or update the information on your own.  This is called crowd-sourcing, where anyone / anywhere can contribute to updating basemap information to benefit the traveling public.  Here are some ways to do this for some of the bigger basemap providers out there:

A sample of an Esri basemap

A sample of an Esri basemap

  • Open Street Map is a crowd-sourced application that allows to edit and update street map information used by consumers around the world.  All you need is to create a login and learn their simple editing tools.

  • HERE, A Nokia Company, who recently purchased acquired Navteq is also a major provider of basemaps.  With HERE you can go to their site:  Map editing tool sign up for an account    Data upload portal (Upload GIS data here)

  • Google Maps has a Base Map Partner Program that allows agencies to submit their data in vector format with specific instructions regarding format.  In addition to vector data, Google also allows users to contribute to their collection of Cities in 3D, Imagery, and parcel data.

Remember, sometimes it takes some time for it to become active.  Yes, real people typically look at the information you submit and actually take time to verify its accuracy.  

If you have more ideas, thoughts, etc. please leave them in the comments below.

ArcGIS Pro Demo-nado

OK. The GIS World has had the much anticipated ArcGIS Pro for about 3 months now, and everyone is still using ArcMap. Why? Because change is hard. 

Geo-Professionals should really change that, because ArcPro, Pro, ArcGIS Pro, AGP whatever-we-call-it is actually a pretty good product. YES, it has some shortcomings, as most first versions do. However, in a very unofficial tally from a group of 12 GIS professionals, the good outweighed the bad 8-5. Not a blowout be any means, but a positive result nonetheless. 

It's no surprise that we (Cloudpoint) are behind the product. Ok, I am. I recently doubled my RAM in may MacBook in-part to be able to devote more speed to Parallels to run ArcPro. It runs well too! Drawing does slightly stutter when in 3D but that doesn't matter because I have yet to be convinced that my clients want or need 3D GIS.

I digress. This morning I created the two videos below in order to demonstrate ArcGIS Pro and several of it's best qualities (not 3D). The videos are fast paced, packed full and I kept them between 6 & 7 minutes. This is not GIS training, you can't train any person GIS in 7 minutes, let alone on a new piece of software.  I hope you enjoy them and then download your copy of Pro to try it out. 

  • In this first video of a two-part series, We simply walk around the interface and perform some SIMPLE actions. Opening a Map, Editing map notes and understanding what happens.

  • In this Second video of a two-part series, we will talk about importing an ArcMap MXD, Editing and touch briefly on navigating layouts. 

Please leave a comment on YouTube if you like it. 

FalseNorthing Blog Re-Visit: Open Source Elite

I use to have a personal Blog (Like 90% of Westerners) that I maintained regularly with rants and revelations. This post is a copy from an Archive of that blog dated Feb 3, 2012. It was written during my capacity as GIS Manager at Peoria County but the sentiments are the same. 

Watch out! The gloves are coming off!

Old boxing gloves to fight against Open Source GIS elitism. 

I’m really tired of GIS Professionals who brazenly tout their own wares, talents and data while demonizing much ((Much) MUCH) larger companies for selling theirs. Listen, It’s awesome and cool that you do what you do for our Geospatial Industry. I won’t deny there is a little part of me who sorely wishes I was like you; on my own, working when I want, where I want… but please, ease off the hate.

You can use all the Open Source software you want, it’s cool, really. I use some myself. But please don’t make those of use who primarily use Esri products out to look like drooling buffoons blindly paying maintenance and scarfing down every crumb off Redland’s table. I imagine a select few of you sipping on imported wine laughing through their nose about some idiot who uses ArcMap at a small county to update the zoning shapefile (Esri’s formerly proprietary file-type which they opened up). “Ah-ha, Ah-ha. and he actually continues to pay maintenance!” “Har-har. Doesn’t he know he should put that into a fusion table and edit with Q-GIS then replicate to PostgreSQL for enterprise distribution?!? -For Free*?! What a buffoon!”

Our industry must have balance, competition and choices to thrive. I’m cool with Open Source GIS having a strong community around it. Sometimes I even feel like part of that community. I really like the philosophy and idealism behind it. What gets under my skin is the constant railing against certain companies just because they’ve been successful or they have a different business model. Or, when that venom is directed at the purchasers of aforementioned proprietary software. It makes me feel like I don’t ever want to work with/at/for certain open source elitist-GIS Consultants. It is simply unprofessional. But then again, We’re an Esri shop. So, I probably won’t have to.

Ahhhhhh. There I feel better.

HA! I used to be funny!

Story Map of a Work Trip

During the week of March 22-29th I had the opportunity to go back to Reynosa, Mexico. The first time I made this trip, I took only my son and 11 others. This event was larger with 24 folks from my church and I took my entire family (6 of us). 

I had been looking for an opportunity to create an Esri Story Map for one reason or another. Just to get the professional experience (configuration, coding and what-not). This trip finally provided good reason to do that and maybe some explanation to our customers of why I was completely off the grid for 7 days.  Reynosa Story

Story Maps are the latest iteration of your Uncle Ted showing your family slides of his trip to the Badlands on your cousins bedsheets over TV Dinners. It's a nice display when the data calls for a map but awkward of it doesn't. If you look at images and ask, "OK where is this now?", that's a time for a story map.  As you can see below, It's cross-platform and responsive. 

If you would like help in setting up a story map, let us know. After having do one I can see all kinds of applications, local government as well as private. 

And if you'd like to ask question about my trip to Reynosa. I'd love to, but lets keep business out of it;

ArcGIS Collector App- Reviewed

It's no secret that Cloudpoint is an Esri Shop. Being in the Business Partner Network, receiving the AGOL Specialist  status ... we drink the kool-aid. I've been like that since forever.

So What? Get over it. 

Still, as skeptical consumers and technologists, there is still a part of us that wants to test. Make sure we're progressing rather than regressing. We want to make sure we know and understand the different options for our customers and what has been released. One of the worst things is to spend 100s of hours with your head down working away on a solution only to find out something very close was released for free or very cost-effectively months ago. (True Story)

Thus enters ArcGIS Collector. If you haven't used Collector and you have an Android or iOS device, go download and try it out. I don't have the time and you don't have the attention span to  address all the merits of the app. It's good. If you're in GIS, You should use it. 

Initially released as a Native iOS iPhone only app, Collector has had an upgrade recently and I want to compare new vs old:

New (10.2)

  • Optimized for iPad
  • Less Menus
  • Set GPS Accuracy Tolerance
  • Edit Lines!!
  • Addition of Bookmarks
  • Easier Basemap Switching

Old (10.1.12)

  • Quicker Menus
  • Further "Zoom" Ratio
  • More simple interface
  • Better Battery life
  • Map Icons Larger
  • Legend (albeit Buried)

Spoiler: I have the Old App here as a Zip file, Install it through iTunes & turn off Automatic Updates. 

Admittedly, there's no benchmarks for the battery life, and it could be that the iPads hare just older.  But the Zoom-In thing is real, because you have to 2x the app since it was built for the iPhone, that magnifies everything, icons, imagery etc. Sure if you go back to 1x or native resolution, everything is the same, but try explaining that to 10 burly Electrical Workers complaining about the update. 

Menus. This might seem like a 'small thing' as well but it takes a few seconds longer to enter information. You have to move across the screen to close the box or choose a drop-down. A few seconds times 10,000... now wer're talking real productivity. 


The Newer iPad app may have some problems and quirks, but so did the old app as well does the Android. The perspective we keep is that it's a great tool. And outweighing all of these issues is the fact that you can Edit Lines!!! Seriously that's huge. Aerial imagery is crucial. The GPS is never accurate enough to use in collection, but it'll get you to the right side of the street to click on the map. 

----- Update for Android Device -----

This is from Paul. Using the Android out on a Sign Inventory:

So the Android didn't work out so well. I went to use it when the iPad was getting low... Right off the bat I noticed the GPS was taking longer to settle. I found that I could complete taking a point but it would not submit. After messing about a while I figured I was starting to kill time so I used the inverter I had with me (thanks Jon!) with the iPad for the remainder of the day. It was a pain to keep it on life support, but it worked out.

I planned on doing some research this evening but found the Samsung acting erratic - locking up, powering down and giving internet access problems warnings. So I would say its the definitely something with the device...I did get it to act normal again after powering it down and back on, so I'll give it another go tomorrow and report back.

And here's the review-to-date. It's certainly not a fair assessment at this point but there are a few things I noted today:


  • Switching between saved users instead of entering username/password each time
  • Zooms in closer


  • Doesn’t work
  • GPS Location less responsive
  • Must reach across screen when adding more than one picture
  • Must reach across screen when submitting a feature
  • Portrait-only mode
  • Screen seems less responsive (may just be the case type)


I will really miss the strap on the LifeProof case. It allows you to hold the tablet securely without a constant grip

Jon Made a video on how to use Collector:

Getting Back Bing Maps is a great online GIS tool. Earlier this year, Esri had to remove the Microsoft Bing basemaps that were previously available to users. All conspiracy theories aside, this was a huge blow to online data collection. The Bing imagery is crystal clear and while second to Google in overall coverage, In a few areas the quality is actually far superior. As well, Esri does not have a good imagery-plus-streetname basemap similar to Bing's hybrid map. 

There is some attempt to explain all of this on Esri's online resource page, but it doesn't get into the "why". It's worthy to note here that you should keep your MXDs with Bing Maps already added. While you can no longer add Bing imagery to a new ArcMap document, You will be allowed to keep existing layers. Also, you will be able to use Bing Maps in the free ArcGIS Desktop Explorer, which leads me to thing it's a MS licensing issue and not a Us vs Them problem. 

At at any rate. Bing Maps are great, and we all still want them on our maps. You can still do this by using a Microsoft Bing Maps Key. The video below explains how to do this in a short 4 minute tutorial.

Cloudpoint Joins the Esri Business Parnter Network

The Staff at Cloudpoint Geographics Inc, is pleased to announce that we are now a part of the Esri Business Partner Network! 

,The Esri Partner Network is a worldwide community of companies that develop and deliver cutting-edge geographic spatial solutions and services based on Esri technology. Together, Esri and its partners collaborate to support end users through successful GIS implementations and repeatable solutions.

With this partnership, Cloudpoint will have continuing access to the latest Esri software and ideas to benefit our customers. This notch in our belt is just another example of our desire to succeed and stand out as the go-to geospatial consultant in the Central Illinois region. 

If you have any questions or want to know more about this exciting opportunity. Contact Us

About Cloudpoint:

Cloudpoint is a dynamic geospatial solutions provider specializing in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) consulting for a wide range of geospatial needs and services. These needs could include mapping, GPS data collection, field inventories, utility mapping, land & parcel management, and GIS consultation for state & local governments, transportation agencies, utility companies, engineers, surveyors, contractors, facility and land managers.

About ESRI:

Founded in 1969, ESRI ( is the world leader in the GIS software industry. ESRI offers innovative solutions that help users create, manage, analyze, and display information to make timely decisions and solve problems they encounter every day. ESRI’s comprehensive product line ranges from desktop GIS to GIS for the enterprise.