Monday, May 25, 2009

Digital field mapping enhancements

Last week we did a couple of days of digital field mapping with BeeGIS and the students of the University of Urbino.

It has been a quite cool time and good places to see, but it also triggered some bugfixing and enhancements, which is good. Let's have a look at them.

1) the gps tool was not dummy proof

People not used to the tool tend to push every button very often and break things.
So I reviewed the gps tool bar a bit and it looks like that:

That means that no button is enabled until the gps is not logging.

If you push the logging (first from left) button without having connected the gps, it will prompt you for it:

and after properly having set everything you can start to use the tools you like:

2) the layer creation was not gis-dummy proof

When asking people to create a new layer on which to record gps point, line or polygon shapes on, people often got lost by that task. I agree that a person using the tool should know what he is doing and whioch projection he would like to use, but anyway, when you are on the field, things need to go much faster than usual.

That's why I added three new buttons:

Those actions create new layer ready to work with. The user is only asked where (i.e. to which shapefile) to save the layer. The layer is then created with the current's map projection, loaded into the catalog and map on top of the other layers. The created layer contains only two field, both of type string, called name and description. The user is assumed to use these action only at the begin, afterwards the layer creation tool can be used.

3) Give a look at the embedded database

A new view is available in JGrass and BeeGIS.
Go in the window menu:

select the other entry:

and take the database view.

This view connects and performs a login to the embedded database using the database preferences path, user and password:

and gives you a simple yet powerfull tool to browse the embedded database. This browser is usable only when you are using the H2 database, since it is the H2 itself that supplies this great tool.

4) sync your pictures

Whenever the gps is logging, the points are saved in the database with the gps's utctime and position. This information can be used to import a set of pictures taken during the field trip and put them on a map in the proper position wrapped by geonotes.

To do so go under File -> import

and choose import photos.

Tomorrow I will be on a field trip again. I will continue this afterwards, when I have taken tonns of gps points and images, in order to be able to show something real. Stay tuned.

5) unable to load map

We were not yet able to solve that, but finally we have a real error thrown that directed us to the part of code. If you have a map or a crs (seems to happen more often when Italian crs are used) for which the unable to load map always happens, please send it to us, since currently we are not able to reproduce it. But we are very near.

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