The final chapter in the saga of this venerable software’s two-decade long adventure, picks up where we left off in the second installment. The year was 2011 and if you recall, our hero — the dashing and indefatigable Global Mapper — had seemingly been kidnapped by the ruthless and malevolent Blue Marble Geographics. At least that was the impression of many of the software’s most loyal disciples at the time.
“Global Mapper has been swallowed by some faceless, uncaring corporate behemoth. Gone are the days of the freewheeling, interactive development philosophy of the early years.” Or so they feared. In reality, nothing could have been further from the truth.
Global Mapper Becomes a Team Effort
While many of our detractors at the time assumed that Blue Mable looked loftily down on its customers from its executive offices atop some gleaming glass and steel skyscraper, the reality was that the company’s entire staff could have fit comfortably into one of the aforementioned building’s elevators. Spurred by the addition of Global Mapper to the company’s software offerings, Blue Marble would eventually see an expansion of its workforce but at the time it numbered no more than 20.
For you as a Global Mapper user, the most significant consequence of this transitional period and the years that followed was a rapid acceleration in the software’s development. Reaping the benefits of a supporting cast, Mike Childs was able to singularly apply his talents to the development of Global Mapper. Routine and mundane tasks, such as selling the fruits of his labor to customers, were left to a group of dedicated specialists. If the truth be told, one of the most difficult aspects of this transition was convincing Mike that he no longer needed to respond to each and every inquiry.
Needless to say, relinquishing control over something that you have caringly nurtured for many years is not always easy, but Global Mapper was becoming a team effort with each developer significantly contributing to the software’s functionality. If it were possible to quantify and graph Global Mapper’s evolution, 2011 was the year that the slope of the line began to steepen and the release of version 14 the following year proved this and served to silence the cynics.
Global Mapper Development from 2012 to Present
The bulleted list of new functionality, updated tools, performance improvements, and various bug fixes for version 14 alone was 10 pages long, a trend that has continued with successive releases. Condensing this into a manageable size for this Brief History does a disservice to the software. If you have a couple of hours to spare and you want the unabridged version, read the What’s New section in the software’s Help files. I guarantee you will be introduced to features and functions that you did not even know were included.
In late 2016, Global Mapper would undergo what was arguably the most significant update in its release history, at least from a superficial perspective. Out went the old “disco” logo, and its idiosyncratic interface design and in came a fresh new look with updated graphics, a more intuitive layout, and a bold new logo. What didn’t change was the powerful capability of the software and the continued improvements that were being made to its functionality.
While it’s fun and sometime enlightening to look over your shoulder and marvel at how far you have come, Blue Marble’s philosophy is very much focused on looking forward. Plans are already in the pipeline for Global Mapper version 20 and beyond. Thanks to the continued support of our growing customer base and their eagerness to participate in the collaborative development process that is unique to this remarkable application, we have a long list of new functionality that will be added over the coming years. Global Mapper is a project that will never be complete.
David McKittrick is a Senior Application Specialist at Blue Marble Geographics in Hallowell, Maine. A graduate of the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland, McKittrick has spent over 25 years in the field of GIS and mapping, focusing on the application and implementation spatial technology. McKittrick has designed and delivered hundreds of GIS training classes, seminars, and presentations and has authored dozens of articles and papers for a variety industry and trade publications.