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An Overview of Pitney Bowes Software’s Server and Web Technology for Geospatial Applications

Wednesday, July 11th 2012

Summary: Pitney Bowes Software’s legacy is rooted in MapInfo’s desktop solutions, but the company offers more than that. Its server and Web-based applications aimed at a broader set of users are worth a closer look. Editor in Chief Joe Francica describes the architecture and packaging of these solutions.

Spectrum is Pitney Bowes Software’s modular platform for master data management1, data quality, data governance, data hygiene, analytics, geospatial data integration and business services such as geocoding. It is an on-premise server solution.  Think of Spectrum as a container in which all data management functions, including spatial ones, can be accessed.
 
Spectrum Spatial, formerly Spatial Server, is one of the capabilities of Spectrum that serves as a hub of an enterprise GIS. It utilizes standards for Web services and is based on a service oriented architecture (SOA) to support user interfaces.  Spectrum Spatial's core geospatial functionality includes point in polygon, routing, etc., and is accessed via Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP) interfaces.  Administrators can manage users and capabilities all through the Spectrum technology platform. Spectrum’s heritage is that of the Group 1 side of the Pitney Bowes business, which is known for its robust geocoding platform.
 
The Spectrum Management Console is used to specify options for services, database resources, data sources, user account management, logging, tracking and reporting. Spectrum Spatial is deployed and runs with its own open source (Eclipse licensed) container, called Jetty. It provides the platform within which modules can be deployed, developed and managed.

Spectrum Spatial supports load balancing and failover and is configured through either a virtual environment or through multiple installations on a single server machine. Multiple instances can be deployed and configured to connect to a central data store. Spectrum Spatial can issue calls to a spatial database like Oracle or Microsoft.

Spectrum Spatial is a superset of MapXtreme Java and Envinsa, but will allow users to do much of what they have done previously with these solutions. These capabilities include: finding maps, rendering maps, controlling map formats, searching within a feature, searching at a point or within a fence, measuring geometries, creating geometries and searching by SQL statements including geographic operators.
 
Those migrating from one of the older server environments should reference the chart below:  

Migration path
Product MapXtreme Java Envinsa Spectrum Spatial
Code Base Jave .NET and Java SDS .NET and Java Samples
Supporting Standards WMS WMS, WFS WMS, WFS, CSW
Compliance XML OpenLS Web Service WS-I Compliant SOAP
Application Development Interface (API) Application Builder   REST, Rich Internet Applications (RIA) Controls and Enterprise Designer2

2Enterprise Designer is a model builder-type environment in which functions can be grouped into a specific workflow, saved and reused for batch processing.
 
MapInfo Stratus is an SaaS-based Web mapping application that is multi-tenant and is the first implementation of Spectrum Spatial (see http://www.pb.com/stratus).  For users of MapInfo Pro, projects can be pushed to a Stratus environment and deployed to several types of users. GIS analysts as well as those less familiar with GIS applications can use Stratus. Depending on how the administrator configures each application, certain types of functionality and browser-based tools can be exposed. Functionality of Stratus includes:

  • data editing
  • reporting
  • query management
  • setting of user permissions
  • data management
  • "find my nearest"
  • scale based display
  • transparency
  • insertion of water marks

MapInfo Stratus Release 34 was released at the end of April with a new SaaS infrastructure, rich Internet application (RIA) controls and a new account management feature with automated tenant provisioning. Release 35 is expected to ship at the end of June with measuring tools, improved printing quality, iPad compatibility, support for OpenStreetMap, and localization for Brazil, Portugal and The Netherlands. Releases 36 and 37 will have an improved user interface, redlining, self-service branding, Japanese localization, user group provisioning, customizable symbols and fonts, RIA address search method, custom base maps and raster image support.
 
A new product, Stratus Analyst Version 1, will be based on the capabilities of Spectrum Spatial and include Stratus' basic features from Releases 34-36 as well as thematic mapping, geometric analysis, data access, toolbars and report generation.
 
1Wikipedia: a set of processes and tools that consistently defines and manages the master data, i.e. non-transactional data entities of an organization; removes duplicates and creates an authoritative source of master data.

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