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Rich Internet Application Development Basics

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Hey Guys

Its been a background intention of mine to start working on a web interface for a Minerals Exploration Database. The database holds information on the following:

  • Drilling sites and drillhole progression
  • Planning information - landowner details, access routes, etc
  • longer term scheduling information
  • data collected from each drillhole

What I'd initially like to do is build up a web interface that shows a 'clickable' map to bring up more detail on each site, ie. click on the proposed hole and it could bring up a gant chart in a separate panel showing project progression, or bring up the drillhole log in another panel, etc, etc.

As I'm new to this, my internet research is leading to more questions than answers! AJAX seems like a good development path to bring the tabular data to the end user, but is this a feasible technology from the mapping side? Is Flash a better working environment? Thoughts & comments?

Has anyone done this sort of development before? Has anyone used the GeoVISTA suite? This seems like it holds some potential.

The most promising path to my inexperienced eye seems to be extending something such as the UDig platform - again, anyone with experience here?

Thanks in advance.



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There are many ways to go here. One could be:

First, you probably want a WMS/WFS server to produce your maps dynamically. I use GeoServer for some research projects. Then on the client side I use OpenLayers for which HTML/CSS/JavaScript knowledge comes handy. uDig is another client I use, but not so much yet.
For your gantt charts I would recommend looking at BIRT, which can produce nice reports on the server while giving you a nice GUI to design your reports.
Crischan Wygoda




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i'm a bit biased towards flex/AIR front-ends. i think you can get a more consistent & robust UI vs ajax plus it makes working w/video and/or manipulating images much easier. out-of-the-box it's charting is pretty decent though you might need to work a bit to get a gantt chart.

as far as the server goes, beyond the drill holes & their attribute data, what else do you need mapped? if you're providing your own base map, geology, etc., geoServer or Mapserver would be fine otherwise i'd maybe just run w/google maps (it's got a flex API).



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Sounds like you are interested in creating a dashboard. AJAX is one route to take. AJAX (as I understand it) is a way of sending a request to the server, getting a response (data usually in an xml format) and then updating a part of the webpage, without ever having to leave that page. Google Maps is the most well-known application of this technique. It is nice because you don't need to have the user install any plugins, because all it uses is HTML and JavaScript. The server can process the requests in a variety of service languages (python, asp.net, php) and send it back in xml, html, or JSON.

Alternatively you can create your dashboard in something like flash/flex or silverlight (java also has one called Apache pivot but I'm less familiar with it). These do require the user to install a plugin to run though. Most everyone has flash on their machines, fewer have silverlight, and every browser can run javascript. You can, in theory at least, do each of these options without having to purchase a single bit of software (javascript - notebad, flex - flex sdk + flashdevelop, silverlight - visual web developer express). If this is for an intranet, then using a plugin probably isn't a concern because IT will dictate that.

Each have their own way of creating charts: Flex and Silverlight. You might also be able to use the Google charts API (this sends back an image).

But you don't have to limit yourself to just one of these RIA technologies. I think google analytics (a good example of a dashboard with a map) uses flash and AJAX.

Hope that helps.


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