Thursday, August 13, 2015

GTViewer Add-On Apps Revisited / Query Builder Update (version 1005)

Six sample GTViewer Add-On Apps were introduced with GTViewer version 14.  Many of you have not tried them yet for various reason.  Some of the tools are novelties, users haven't found the need for them, or users just haven't had the time to try them.

The sample add on apps are:

  • Query Builder
  • Feature Tooltip Builder
  • GTSpot Importer
  • Show Google Maps
  • Where Am I?
  • Search Redlines

I am making this post for a couple of reasons.  First, there is an update to the Query Builder that contains a few fixes.   You can get it from:     (password:  gtviewer)

Second, I don't think enough people out there realize how useful these tools can be.   They are more than just samples.  For example, nobody has made more Query Definition files that I have; however, over the last couple of years of exclusively using the Query Builder to create query definition files, I don't even remember the syntax of the definition files (nor do I need to).   Granted, the Query Builder may seem a little quirky at first, but it does what it does, and it is a lot easier to use a GUI to create a query than do it old way (find a similar query definition file, make a copy, open in Notepad, open up GVData.doc, try to figure out which entries you need, compile query, see if it works, rinse, repeat).  So, if you are still using Notepad as your Query Builder, give the Query Builder a try.

The Feature Tooltip Builder is another under utilized app.   Creating Feature Tooltips is not really hard, but it is very tedious and you may have to do a lot of them.  Also, if you get something wrong in the definition, they just don't do anything and then you have to sift through the logfile to see what is wrong.  Feature Tooltips can also add a lot of value to your data in terms of easily seeing useful information, making this information available to your users is really what this is all about.     So, if you are not using Feature Tooltips, start using them.  If you aren't using the Feature Tooltip Builder, start using it to create them.

Show Google Maps has always been one of the more popular Add-Ons.  Probably because it is so simple in what it does (open up Google Maps and show the same area you are looking at in GTViewer).   However, I use it for a different purpose.  If you are configuring your Coordinate System, it is often difficult to know if you have it correct, but with this Add-On, you can just find an area in your data that is somewhat recognizable (funny looking intersection, water body, river, etc.), then run Show Google Maps.  If the center of what is in the view in GTViewer isn't what you are looking at in Google Maps, then something is wrong with the Coordinate System setup.   Generally, the Coordinate System is either right or really wrong and this method will help determine which category you are in.

Where Am I was so popular that it was just incorporated directly into GTViewer and GTWeb. There may still be users who want to use this app (source code is available) to do very specific or complex Where Am I functionality, but it's usefulness has probably usurped by GTViewer.   A good question would be "Where is the Where Am I Builder?".   This tool doesn't exist yet, but it might one day.   One hack that may help you out in the meantime is that the Feature Tooltip Builder can help you define the difficult to create parts of the syntax (Features Strings, Expressions).   It will also let you pick a boundary feature, and you can see what values are populated, etc.    So, just build a Feature Tooltip of the shape you want to use with Where Am I and borrow (cut and paste) the parts of the definition that apply.

The GTSpot Importer it only useful to those who have GTSpot, but you can use it with our test server to see if it would work for you.

Last but not least, Search Redlines is probably only useful to users with a lot of redlines (session graphics), and those redlines need to have text or embedded data in them to search.  Don't forget that anything highlighted can be easily converted to Session Graphics (Tools/Convert Highlighted to Session Graphics).  Highlight/Thematic Queries and Feature Counting highlight things that you might want to search too.   Also, Dynamic Graphics can be converted to Session Graphics (Tools/Dynamic Graphics to Session Graphics).  Granted, this is only what is in your current view, but GTDGExport is delivered with GTData and it can create a .GTG file for you whole dataset using a DG Action (you can import a .GTG file into Session Graphics using Draw/Import).   Lastly, FME can easily create .GTG files from many different sources, and you can embed data on the graphics (which is also searched by Search Redlines).

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