Can GIS be easy, for sure. You can do so much with so little and get some great results. But anything complex becomes cumbersome. This is because there so many forks in the road you can take during analysis and get the same answer. We could agree on one way to do things, but we all know how much we care about those GIS best practices documents. No, it’s this freedom to take our analysis any direction is what makes GIS so powerful. But it is also what makes ArcGIS
and anything else complex. You can become an expert at any of those products and they become easy, but the process is not.
We pride ourselves on showing how complex we can make our analysis. I remember sharing AMLs
with people to show how crazy our maps could be or seeing an FME Workbench have so many connections all over the place you can’t even read it. We love the complexity; we love the documentation of what we did. Proof that what I just did is amazing, and nobody does it quite like I do. Twitter and blogs are littered with people showing how easy something is. Just 3 lines of SQL and you can do what takes Jack a month to do in 15 seconds. Those blog posts are intimidating. Just because I tell you I can do something amazing just using Turf.js
As I said, I’ve built my career on making the complex easy. And for those small jobs on rails that can be solved by a simple drop down, I do a damn good job. But most GIS, even the parts I hide are complex works of art that shouldn’t be discarded because they aren’t written in Go
or use a JSON object for storage. No, they need to be embraced and loved, because they are how we all learn. I used to consider GIS very hard and I did some of my most amazing work back then. The tools and libraries have become easier for sure. I just watched a video of ArcGIS Pro and was impressed with some of the design choices. And I the future is only going to get better.
So, embrace GIS being hard. Spatial isn’t special but GIS is. It really has driven the world into a new frontier, one where location is important, and analysis is a pillar on how important decisions are made. You can be assured if someone asks me what I do, I’ll tell them I do something hard, but simply amazing.