The Web Map continues to get better and better each and every year. Improvements in data, browser technology, cloud services continue to change the game. In 2011 we saw the rise of the tablet, a solid mobile foundation, wider adoption of HTML5 and greater use in cloud technology. So what is coming in 2012 you might ask? Will there be a huge paradigm shift in the world of web mapping and geospatial technology, or will it just ride on the back of 2011? With the current pace of mapping technology I only expect that any prediction made will be a bit of a crap shoot, but hey, what is the end of the year for but a time to predict.
So Here it goes.
1. We will see a mass movement from Google Maps to OpenLayers and the OSM tile service
The Google free lunch is over and many are going to have to pay the piper. The question is with what. A lot of these websites that use GMaps are just breaking even as it is and will not have the funds to meet the additional cost. Organizations are looking for other solutions and are finding it with Crowd Sourced data and Open Source software. The data exists, the technology is there and the entire package is ready for you to switch.
2. We will finally ditch the 1995 Store Locator style map and jump into content
A point on the map is so 1995 and organizations are starting to take notice that a good web map can make the difference to the overall user experience and return rate of their users. There are so many cloud based companies that can help you along the way it is a shame to limit your possibilities. Make a new year’s resolution to revisit that stale map and if you need help seek it. Your competitor is not sitting around nor should you!
3. UI improvements will meet the needs of the new consumer
The new consumer is now Map Savvy and understands how to navigate a map and, dare I say, read one. Organizations are starting to get the geospatial picture and will dump that old GIS’er map and replace it with a consumer friendly map experience. GIS terms will be wiped from the UI and replaced with consumer friendly terms. The new consumer wants their answer now and with as little UI complexity as possible. Applications will move away from the all in one generic gis style map and become focused on a particular subject so the consumer can get right down to the answer with little interaction. I predict that 2012 will bring GIS back to the consumer and they won’t even know it ;)
4. The further adoption of cloud technology will free the "server hugger" to build great product
We will see a wider adoption of cloud technology and less “Build It Yourself” mentality. It is difficult to be an expert in all parts of the technology that it takes to host and build a great web map. With the web mapping bar as high as it is, it is very difficult to focus on all the different technologies and still build a great product. 2012 will see more use of WMS and Cloud based services to not only get access to great data but also power behind the scene GIS technology. This will free the needed resources to focus on your buisness logic and not the nuts and bolts of a web application.
5. HTML5 (Duh)
Ok we have all heard that HTML5 is the greatest thing since slice bread, a statement that I am not 100% sure of but what are our options? With the developer needing to think not only about his/her browser based application and all its flavors (s)he now needs to take into consideration the UI limitations of the tablet and mobile devises. With the support of Flash and Silverlight still on the fence we need to look elsewhere. We will see more and more companies embrace HTML5 in 2012. If you haven’t already started to develop using HTML5 you had better start every day you wait is another day lost.
6. Hard to get data well continue to become more and more accessible
In the past decade one of the biggest hurdles with any GIS/Map development is getting the data. Data can be one of the biggest drains on your meager budget. 2011 started to bring us very focused data companies that are experts on only a few subjects. Their data is top notch and in most cases the best you will find. As the cost gets shared by more and more people using the services the price continues to fall and will become the way to source great data for your apps. The best part of all of this is that these companies are eliminating the entire maintenance headache that comes with the traditional approach leaving you the time and resources to build killer product.
I predict that 2012 will be a banner year for Crowd and Open Source data and software. Niche data vendors will continue to provide hard to get data sets at a price point that just makes since. The store locator's style map will be buried with the time capsule and the deadly web mapping UI will become a place where the new consumer will feel at home. Let’s not forget HTML5 a cross browser, plug in less, language of the Tablet, Mobile Devise and works wonders on in the big screen browser.
These are mine predictions I would love to hear yours!
Now, go make a map and put it on a web site for all to use, it will make the world a better place!
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My Web Mapping Predictions for 2012! A Post - @SkipCody http://bit.ly/tuRAk9 #GEOSPATIAL #MAP #GIS