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#1
bboughton

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Hello,

New to the forum, I have a couple burning questions.

My situation is I have had an academic version of ArcGIS for a year and in a few weeks will no longer be an academic but will still need to be working on GIS. I got a quote for ArcGIS + Extensions which was over AUD 10 000. Very much out of my price range.

I have done some GIS courses at uni but these were only electives. I have no programming skills. I really value Spatial Analyst and Model Builder in ArcGIS and use it to automate a lot of long tasks. My question is, is there a tool similar to Model Builder in Manifold or any other desktop GIS for that matter to automate tasks in such a way?

I also dont have much comprehension of scripting either. Is it object orientated like model builder but just uses text rules instead of visual flow diagrams??

Thanks for your time,
Ben

#2
Hans van der Maarel

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My situation is I have had an academic version of ArcGIS for a year and in a few weeks will no longer be an academic but will still need to be working on GIS. I got a quote for ArcGIS + Extensions which was over AUD 10 000. Very much out of my price range.

I have done some GIS courses at uni but these were only electives. I have no programming skills. I really value Spatial Analyst and Model Builder in ArcGIS and use it to automate a lot of long tasks. My question is, is there a tool similar to Model Builder in Manifold or any other desktop GIS for that matter to automate tasks in such a way?

I also dont have much comprehension of scripting either. Is it object orientated like model builder but just uses text rules instead of visual flow diagrams??


Other than scripting, Manifold doesn't offer any way of automating, certainly not something that can be compared to ModelBuilder. Getting into Manifold scripting (which can be VBA or C#) is tough if you don't have programming experience.

I don't know what kind of budget you have, but I would recommend giving FME a try. Great, flow-charty, GUI to the process, automates everything, can basically do any GIS task that does not require interactive editing or selecting. I've used it for many years now and I find the combination of FME with Manifold and Global Mapper to be almost unbeatable. Plus, depending on the license type, it can be had for a lot less than AUD 10k. You'll want to look at a FME Base or FME Professional. There's a good reseller in Australia: Lagen Spatial
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#3
bboughton

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Thanks, will check it out. I think ESRI are smart in offering their products to universities cheap - getting us used to them and then when we are in the 'real world' it is all we know how to use.

#4
frax

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Ben, maybe you can get a deal with your local ESRI reseller to lease it? I am in the same boat as you, but I am set on buying it - I just need to assemble some buffer first, to avoid being in debt. The price is not such a big deal - it will be written off anyway.
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#5
cartobendigo

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Hi there,

You might like to consider joining the IMTA (Asia Pacific) whereby members are offered significant discounts on ESRI Arc Editor software. From memory it was $1,500 USD for a single user Arc Editor license.

For more details visit www.maptrade.org

Regards,
Damien

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www.demap.com.au
Damien Demaj
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#6
James Hines

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Other than scripting, Manifold doesn't offer any way of automating, certainly not something that can be compared to ModelBuilder. Getting into Manifold scripting (which can be VBA or C#) is tough if you don't have programming experience.


More employers are in fact looking for programmers or at least employees that are capable of learning it in the future. So I would say even if Ben gets hired as a technician he will need to start learning in order to have any chance of job & pay advancement, but where he would be starting out I would suggest for him to take his time & work at it at his own pace.

y situation is I have had an academic version of ArcGIS for a year and in a few weeks will no longer be an academic but will still need to be working on GIS. I got a quote for ArcGIS + Extensions which was over AUD 10 000. Very much out of my price range


For the vast majority of the market that is at least 40% of the yearly income, & in some cases almost as much as buying a new but what they call cheap car. For the starting freelancer it's not a very fair market, & there are products especially ESRI that seems to like to bloat their prices two or three times more than what they should. In other words ESRI caters to much to the big business while they should be doing a better job with small business & freelancers then what they have.

Now I like Hans's idea of Manifold -- strongly recommend Universal edition. FME -- what limited use I got out of it I had found useful especially when you create a dxf or a dwg file to be outputted for use in Illustrator & then when you try there's an error, FME corrected that error & allowed me to import the dxf which was exported from Manifold. Global Mapper is good for GPS & has some additional options for Google Maps from what I have been told but even if say he went for the are minimum of these products Ben is still looking at close to $1500 & that is assuming he's working straight out on GIS projects.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#7
Hans van der Maarel

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Other than scripting, Manifold doesn't offer any way of automating, certainly not something that can be compared to ModelBuilder. Getting into Manifold scripting (which can be VBA or C#) is tough if you don't have programming experience.


More employers are in fact looking for programmers or at least employees that are capable of learning it in the future. So I would say even if Ben gets hired as a technician he will need to start learning in order to have any chance of job & pay advancement, but where he would be starting out I would suggest for him to take his time & work at it at his own pace.


Not sure about that to be honest. I think it's more important to have a solid understanding of the processes involved ("what you want to do to the data") than learning any particular programming language (with the risk of having to learn another one if you change jobs or the GIS vendor decides to discontinue support for that language).

Just my 2 cents. Or 1.8 eurocents if you please ;)
Hans van der Maarel - Cartotalk Editor
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#8
paul

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I love Manifold, but have not used scripting in it (yet). I use ArcMap a lot as well, and do use a lot of VBA/ArcObjects, which I taught myself from the ground up. I am NOT a programmer! But there is a lot of good documentation and examples for scripting in both Arc and in Manifold, so I think it is a worthy endeavor, even if you have no programming background. Worst case scenario, you could learn enough to copy/paste and modify existing code into Manifold to automate things. Once you learn one language, the others are easier to follow as well.

Regarding the IMTA membership, you can get the ArcView license of ArcGIS for around $500. However, you will still need to pay maintenance (~$450/year) to keep the version current. Manifold costs about $50/year to maintain. So you're talking total software costs of around $500/year, which is pretty easy to cover if you are contracting work regularly.

IMO, if you have Manifold Universal or Enterprise ($400 - $600), plus ArcView ArcGIS, you can perform any GIS task without breaking the break. It's a great way to set up a small GIS shop. They work well in tandem with other; if ArcGIS can't do something, then Manifold can, and vice versa. Also, you can perform most 3D/Spatial Analyst tasks with Manifold Surface Tools, so those extensions aren't really needed.

Finally, if you are NOT planning on setting up a for-profit GIS shop, but just want to keep LEARNING ArcGIS and playing around with it, you could just buy the book the "Getting to Know ArcGIS" book, which includes a year-long trial of ArcGIS, as long as you use it for education and not profit. Might want to consider that, if your only goal is learning.

#9
bboughton

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Thanks, all these comments have been very constructive. Ideally I would like to learn a programming language as there have been times already when it would have helped a lot.

Ben

#10
James Hines

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Actually you can a business acquaintance of mine gave me this PDF of over 400 pages of script material for the Manifold system. However I'm not sure if it makes any difference whether you use a language like VB.NET any different in Manifold then in ArcMap.

"There is much beauty that we fail to see through our own eyes teeming with life forms that give us that perception of our reality.  Leaves on the trees blowing gently in the wind, or scarily, the waves pounding through high surf, or lightly on a warm summer’s day; that opportunity to sit or swim in the water on a white beach.   That comfort to shout, “The universal conscious do you hear me?  I am alive, guide me dear logos towards the path of rightnesses.”  Earned what has been kept, no longer to be absorbed into a life filled with cold damn winds and  that stubborn fog clouding  my vision with nothing but darkness."


#11
rudy

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If you're looking to do any serious cartographic work in Manifold (i.e. text placement) be prepared to be frustrated and disappointed. Having said that, for all else Manifold is a very affordable option.

#12
dsl

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You definitely don't need a GIS to learn programming (know this isn't part of the original topic). If you learn some on your own prior to using it in a GIS environment then you will be one step ahead. Personally I like visual basic. It's a very easy language to read since it is so verbose, practically like reading a sentence. I also feel it is fairly portable considering there is VB.NET, VBA, and VBScript. Since ESRI is tied pretty heavily to Microsoft, and Microsft seems to be giving plenty of support to visual basic, I would say there will be continued support for the language. MapInfo is also jumped on the .NET bandwagon as well. And at present there are a number of programs that have VBA environments (Office 2003, AutoCAD, ArcGIS)...

Regardless of the language you use, there are a number of free development environments to make things easier. Check on Microsofts Visual Studio Express Editions, or Eclipse if you are interested in JAVA. If you understand Classes Objects and Interfaces, then programming in a GIS will be easy.

You might look into GvSIG (Plus extension secant?) or SAGA GIS for raster processes. They are opensource options. I was pleasantly surprised by GvSIG. It's sort of like ArcView 3.x.

Also look at PostGIS or MySQL or Microsoft SQL Server 2008 express if you want to learn more about relational databases and spatial data...

Hope that helps,
David

#13
GISRox

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You have been given some good advice thus far. I'll throw in my 2cents regarding the development end of things. Both Manifold and ESRI are heavily tied to Microsoft, so going with a Microsoft language, long term, will be a good investment. I would bypass VB.NET and go with C#. The language and syntax is not any more difficult to learn and will provide much great flexibility in the long term. The language will work well with both desktop and web based development.

That said, if you want to look at things from the scripting side, go with Python. Actually, I think all GIS types should learn a bit of Python for automation and text processing. It is a simple language, free, and robust for it's purpose. When I need something simple and quick, I reach for Python.

Taking into consideration cost and needs, I would use the approach given by another poster. Purchase ArcView and a copy of Manifold. If you plan on staying in the GIS field, it will be important to stay current with ArcGIS, since nearly all organizations continue to use that platform for develpment and analysis.






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