Saturday, December 22, 2007

Pydev and Python

I am not a software developer and I have no wish to be. However, I am young and being able to customize stuff in GIS is a very marketable skill. Python is an excellent language for this. It's been adopted as the primary scripting language of the industry leader (ESRI), it's popular, easy to learn, easy to maintain, and open source. The only downside is it can't access everything ESRI has implemented in their API - for instance, I am having to basically rewrite the Utility Network tracing tools so I can do some analysis on SRP's water system - but ESRI may not be the industry leader forever. In terms of simple viewers/online mapping it is getting mighty competition from NASA's WorldWind, Google's offering, and an increasingly good package of independently created but easily interoperable open source solutions. Any way it goes however, Python seems like it would help for scripting (unlike the alternative in VBA). JavaScript would be useful too, but I learned Python first and thus I've been spoiled rotten by a language that isn't jam-packed with issues (it is also two big scoops of ugly). Getting to the point, PyDev is an addon for Eclipse that gives you a superb platform for writing stuff in Python. I've been messing with it for barely an hour and it by all appearances is sleek, organized, and fast. It is probably overkill for my one-off scripting needs, but I'm loving the tabbed views, on-the-fly error checks (that are not the annoying crap you get in VBA), and the Outline view. It also does a bunch of other languages as well.

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