On 13/6 I had the opportunity to attend the MapInfo Professional v9.5 roadshow. For me the key new feature in this release is WFS-T support, I think WFS-T is going to be the key new technology in the future of GIS and as far as I am aware MapInfo is the only major vendor to introduce support in their desktop product. For comparison ESRI have announced that the new version of ArcGIS Server will support WFS-T, I can’t see that extending to the desktop any time soon though. For those that are not familiar with WFS-T it is the same as standard WFS expect for the ‘T’ part, which stands for transactional and means that the WFS service is able to be edited.
To me this is a big deal for 2 reasons:
- most importantly it allows for almost total interoperability between different file and database formats, which has casued headaches for many years, and
- secondly WFS-T allows for data to be edited remotely while still having all the advantages of having all your users editing the same dataset.
The WFS-T announcement barely raised a whisper during the roadshow, so I don’t think the user community are aware of the possibilities it will bring. I think that will change in a hurry though as it is cool stuff.
Other big things for me in the 9.5 release were the new CAD tools for data creation and editing, we had a few of these demonstrated to us and they really felt like a big step forward from previous versions. Also announced was .NET created dialogs in MapBasic, this is definately a step in the right direction but MapInfo is still miles behind ESRI in this area. The other new features in this release mostly involved tinkering on the margins of the product, there are a lot of ‘nice to haves’ such as the ability to select a layer and then have a right-click option to make the layer editable. None of these features are particularly groundbreaking, but there are a number of them and they all add up to a nice productivity improvement.
Overall 9.5 feels like a more substantial release than any of the previous 3 or 4, there are a few really important improvements combined with a number of other nice bits and pieces. In reality though the WFS-T support alone would be enough to get me to upgrade.
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