GeoPrime... BrownDog... Why more than one GIS mapping app? Which one should I use? Does one have more current data than the other?

Common questions I get lately, along with short answer plus a bit more explanation for those who really want to know more detail:
  • Why does Brown County offer more than one GIS mapping app? 
  • Are the map layers the same?  Is the data current on each?
  • GeoPrime ... BrownDog... Which one should I use? 
The short answer is:  Technology continues to evolve and we are doing the best we can to keep up without causing interruption to service.

Both GeoPrime and BrownDog use the same data source, so parcels and other information are up-to-date on each and in sync. 

However, we will have to retire GeoPrime (probably in 2018) because it is based on technology that is going away. Also in 2018, the Property Search page will be replaced with a new web portal for searching land records.  The new property search site will not link to GeoPrime for the GIS mapping.

If you want a more in-depth answer on the evolution of our online mapping sites, here is a brief history that might help explain:
  • In about 2001 or 2002, Brown County launched it's first online GIS mapping site. I don't think it had a name other than the generic "GIS mapping site"; All I can tell you is that was very clunky. But, it was better than nothing.
  • In 2008-09, "Adobe Flash" was all the rage when it came to internet graphics & web sites.  Around this time, we launched GeoPrime based on Flash technology to replace the old' site. The Flash software made our maps nice looking and made for smoother interaction. GeoPrime has been our flagship online mapping site for almost 10 years now.
  • Also around this time (2008-09), Apple released the iPhone and soon after iPads etc. The smart phones & tablets quickly became ubiquitous.  However, the Flash technology does not work well (or at all) on these devices.  A lot of our users began to complain that GeoPrime does not work for them. There have been security problems and other issues with Flash that have prevented many users from using GeoPrime at all.  Adobe has announced they will be killing Flash and discontinuing support for it.  Following suit, the company we purchased GeoPrime from also notified us that they are no longer supporting GeoPrime.  GeoPrime is not the future.
  • In response, Esri (our primary GIS software vendor) released "ArcGIS Online" several years ago. ArcGIS Online allows us to publish GIS maps and apps in a new way using modern, open internet technology.   It is on this platform we launched BrownDog and other online mapping apps that are designed to work within any browser or on any device including smart phones & tablets.
We have been putting time into building up the BrownDog to meet--and exceed--the capabilities offered in GeoPrime.  The BrownDog isn't quite there yet, but as of Dec 2017 we are getting close.  For example, just this week a new mailing label generator was developed since this capability began failing on GeoPrime.

We rely on our software vendor (Esri) to provide us with the tools and widgets, and they continue to release new and enhanced capabilities. From time to time I receive comments about the design, or questions like "can you change it to ....".  For this I rely mostly on the programmers and software design provided by Esri.

P.S.  Why is the site called "BrownDog"?
  • Long ago, our internal GIS had a custom button that helped our users do common GIS tasks more quickly.  To make this button stand out among the other ones, I gave it a unique icon that was in the form of a little brown dog.   Folks here in the office started to refer to it as "the dog".
  • When it was clear that GeoPrime needed replacement, we wanted to give it a name that was catchy and referenced Brown County somehow.  However, there isn't much we could do with "Brown".   "Brown Map" ...nope.  After kicking around other bad ideas and boring acronyms, we just decided to put our friendly puppy online.  We love our dogs, and of course I think my brown-ish dog, Sunny, is the best dog ever :)
One of the goals of this blog is to create a "user guide" to the BrownDog. Click the label "BrownDog" on this blog for articles about it. You might also be interested in some of the other news & information provided here.

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