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 Technology&more

T

he expression “One Size Fits All” doesn’t work for wrench-
es, seat covers or t-shirts. It doesn’t hold for surveying 
software, either, where differences in workflows and 

requirements force commercial software developers to make 
some difficult choices. They can aim down the middle and try 
to provide functionality that meets the widest practical range 
of users and needs. Or, they can focus on a few niche applica-
tions and provide highly specialized solutions. Either way, users 
may be left with a system that is a close, but not ideal, solution 
for their needs. 

A promising solution is emerging from new trends to customize 
and expand the functionality of existing software and systems. 
Rather than writing completely new software, developers can 
create customized add-ons and extensions to existing com-
mercial packages. 

Customized field solutions have demonstrated an ability to 
improve overall production. Because they can provide simpler 
workflows that focus on a specific task, specialized applica-
tions increase speed and reduce errors throughout the work of 
collecting and processing field data. By checking field observa-
tions and recorded data, the applications prevent problems in 
the office that are caused by wrong or incomplete fieldwork. It 
eliminates the so-called “Garbage In – Garbage Out” cycle and 
the clean field data directly contributes to reduced office time.

In order to support customization of its field surveying sys-
tems, Trimble provides a software development kit (SDK) for its 
Trimble Access field software. The kit enables programmers to 
create customized applications that run within Trimble Access. 
The applications use the Trimble user interface and have the 

look and feel of fully integrated software. In addition to creating 
the software development tools, Trimble can help to facilitate 
customization and provide support to qualified developers. 

Improving the Workflows
In Holland, surveyors collect field data using coding systems 
that are defined by the most popular office software packages. 
To support this, the Dutch company Geometius collaborated 
with Trimble to create a customized application called “At-
tributen Survey.” According to Geometius Account Manager 
Wim Egberts, the application has delivered significant benefits 
in cadastral surveying, topography and other disciplines. “The 
system eliminates unneeded steps in the field,” Egberts ex-
plained. “It enables the surveyors to work in the manner they are 
accustomed to, but they work faster and with cleaner results.”

Software customization is helping to bring surveying technol-
ogy to a wider set of users. For example, archaeologists in Spain 
need to capture precise position data during the excavation 
process, but they often lack needed surveying skills. To solve 
this, developers created a specialized system to handle the 
positioning aspects of the archaeological and paleontological 
work. Instead of working among a grid of string lines, research-
ers can use a Trimble S-series robotic total station to measure 
the 3D positions of objects and features. The software records 
positions and attributes as objects are uncovered, creating 
data in compliance with protocols for archaeological and 
paleontological excavations. 

Beyond the Surveyor
With the increasing use of GIS for asset management, a new 
opportunity lies in combining positioning with other types of 

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