So way back in the day when I actually went to church, about the only thing that ever stuck was “You aren’t promised tomorrow”. I always like that one idea that it might all just blow up today and that’s it. Lends a bit of excitement to it all.
I get up one morning after a several meetings with a client and shuffled over to the email and pop it open and get the “We need to talk about the Google Maps Engine Option….” email. My clients are wonderful and different. Some days I do get a bit troubled when you read about (insert giant company here) and they’ve just landed the (insert number with multiple 0s after it). I want the small clients though – I enjoy those because we can do amazing things with tight budgets most of the time. Of course it would help if they were flush with liquid cash.
The worst job I think I ever did was for a client that had made a lot of phone calls and talked to some salesperson and bought about 40k of software. I got a call to “make some analysis” and it was pretty bad because they really had bought about 37k worth of the wrong software. I made it work. Once they had signed off on it I ran. That’s been close to 4 years ago and it still bugs me. The software they have bought if they are even still using it has flipped multiple times – I’m not even sure if it’s still offered as a desktop product.
The last client I picked up is starting at 0. I made the decision to go with QGIS for starters. Once we figure out what they want/need then we start looking at other options or we keep running with QGIS. The one thing we had sorta decided was this was probably going to roll into Google Maps Engine. Luckily we’ve both been a bit slower than normal.
I get up one morning and Google Maps Engine is no more. It’s Dead. Luckily one of the person’s helping on this job is AppGeo. We talked. There are options for moving forward. There are a ton of options.
There are two that stick out:
I went to go meet with another prospective client and the last words out of our collective mouths were “I’m not worried about Google going anywhere”. They won’t. Their products might though. Google Wave. Google Buzz. I’m slightly concerned about Google Plus. Google Maps Engine has another year of life support. I think since my career in this field has started I’ve learned AML, Avenue, some VB, ArcPy, Python, and last night was Python for QGIS/Plugins, and I’m just now dipping my myself into Spatial SQL with PostGIS up to my eyeballs.
It’s the problem with the giant companies. You aren’t a priority. Your money is though. You might get billed for a lot of software for someone making a sales quota. The software might just die off one day..or Change. It’s a lot of the heartburn I have on ArcGISOnline. I’ve hardly ever offered that as an option because you get too invested too quickly. Maybe one day I will – who knows. I hate to toss someone off to that and then there’s suddenly a change….and I’m left going “Well – you know – that’s just (fill in the blank) software company”.
I’d rather the process be bullet proof. Build a process so flexible off standards that it can’t die off easily. With my forestry client I’ve developed a process that’s fairly bullet proof. I need to explain it better and write directions but we’ve not had any problems over 2014 with data if we stick to the process. They are happy. I’m happy. Their clients are happy. I get paid.
So what am I doing? Looking at both options. Right now I’m leaning to CartoDB because it’s simple and powerful and I think it fits with the requirements of the client. I can explain it. ArcGISOnline is an option – but I got a bit turned off by the sudden Google/ESRI Love fest. No matter what – it’s the clients decision at the end of the day. I’m just providing a path and options for them to get what they want and not promising 40k worth of software in the interim.
Nothing is Bullet Proof….or promised. Poof. Dead. This software is no more.