If you are an avid AbaData Academy user you may have noticed a small change to our video player recently. We are excited to officially announce that we will now be offering Closed Captioning across all of our AbaData Academy videos as well as any future videos we produce. We feel that this feature is important whether you may be hearing impaired or are just sick of hearing our voices (we don’t blame you!). To enable the subtitles simply click the CC button on the bottom bar of the video player and select English, it couldn’t be any easier than that.

At Abacus Datagraphics we value customer feedback and strive to create solutions to any problems or concerns they may have. This extends across all of our products. If you have a suggestion or comment for us you can contact us through any of our social media accounts, by email or through Get Satisfaction and we would be glad to help!

Click here to head to the AbaData Academy and start learning today!

In late 2003 the AbaData Internet mapping program made its first appearance on the AbacusDatagraphics.com website. Originally designed as a mapping tool to be used internally for Abacus employees to access information to assist in One Call management, line locating and facility mapping, AbaData was soon released to the Abacus client base and eventually to the entire energy industry. As you can see from the 2003 screenshot above, the original AbaData login page has little in common with our current home at www.abadata.ca. Early versions of AbaData had datasets limited to Alberta pipelines, wells, some roads and hydro and the survey parcels, whereas the current version features dozens of datasets sourced from multiple provinces covering many industry segments.

The only things that have stayed constant throughout AbaData’s 10-year existence are the price and the service and support provided by Abacus. Despite the massive increase in data and functionality added in 10 years, the $1,250.00 price you’ll pay for an AbaData subscription now is the same as you would have paid when the program was first released. And on the service side, we continue to work to help our clients make the most out of AbaData and appreciate the customer feedback that has helped us improve the program every year.

Click here to start learning today!

Over the course of a day, our AbaData support staff get all sorts of questions from our users.  From the simple stuff like ‘How can I change events when I open up a well in AbaData 2.0?’ to more complicated questions like ‘ How can I generate a report of all pipelines that company ‘A’ has that fall within Brazeau County?’

With so many different people working within so many different disciplines in so many different industries all using AbaData, it’s no wonder there are a lot of different questions that come up.

And while we will always be happy to answer your questions, we are also hoping that more users will take advantage of our AbaData Academy training program.   The newest course in the Academy library – AbaData 2.0 Surface Layers – has just been released.  This brings the total number of courses available to six and we will continue to bring new lessons onboard.

By signing up for the Academy, you can watch videos and take quizzes on your own schedule, gain proficiencies in the various features of AbaData 2.0 and earn points along the way.

AbaData Academy points can be redeemed for several items, including Klean Kanteen water bottles, maps and USB chargers.

Oh – and Tim Horton’s gift cards.  As one user put it, ‘That’s all I need.’

If you have been keeping up with the Academy courses, take a look at the new Surface Land course and get familiarized with the Environment, Facilities, Terrain and Utility layer groups in the Map Display menu.

If you haven’t signed up for the Academy yet, consider taking a look at what is has to offer.

This year, AbaData made the decision to sponsor a local amateur athlete in his pursuit of qualifying for and competing in the Ironman World Championships. Craig Schmitt is a physio therapist in Red Deer and going into the 2014 season had already completed 3 Ironman distance triathlons, including one pervious trip to the World Championships.

In order to compete in the World Championships, athletes must first earn a spot by finishing high enough in their age group to earn a spot. Craig was able to qualify in Ironman Coeur d’Alene back in June of this year by finishing eighth in his age category. (On a side note, the top female professional in the event was a Canadian, Heather Wurtele).

The Ironman World Championships took place in Kona, Hawaii last Saturday, October 11. I was lucky enough to be able to travel with Craig and his wife Nicole to Hawaii to watch the competition. It was an incredibly hot day, with temperatures around 30 degrees at the highest. The theme of the race was H0′omau (the Hawaiian word for perseverance) and that is exactly what was demonstrated by all the racers. 140.6 miles is a long distance to cover in the best of conditions, but when it is that hot and humid, it feels like it must become even farther.

Craig crossed the finish line in 10 hours, 21 minutes and 24 seconds. It was not his best time at that distance, but we were incredibly happy for him and honored to have been able to support him throughout the year.

Pictures of Craig from Kona

Pictures of Craig from Kona

We often have our customers tell us how much they enjoy our mascot Magellan but few actually know who he is or where he comes from.

Our Magellan mascot is based on the real life Ferdinand Magellan, a fifteenth century Portuguese explorer who led the first expedition that sailed around the Earth. As a boy, Ferdinand studied map-making and navigation which led to his passion for exploration.  He is also responsible for naming the Pacific Ocean (the name means that it is a calm, peaceful ocean). We share those same passions at Abacus and thought that Magellan was a perfect candidate to represent us and our AbaData 2.0 Software.

The development process was a joint effort between the minds at Abacus Datagraphics and the very talented Mark Lester Jarmin. When searching for the perfect artist to bring our vision to life we wanted someone who could make Magellan both personable yet professional. We ended up going with Mark based on his amazing portfolio and extremely approachable attitude. He has been crucial to this whole process and has continually wowed us with his work.

Below is a video timelapse of Mark’s process into character development and creation. If you are wanting to know more about Mark click here to see his personal website!

To take the newest course in the AbaData Academy click here!

AbaData 2.0 is utilized by people from various industry segments as a quick and efficient way of accessing all sorts of data.  From Alberta Energy Regulator data to environmental restrictions, AbaData is a powerful reference tool for finding out what is happening at a site.

Part of the value of the program comes from the ability to do markup on the map, inserting user-specific information on top of the industry data already there.

The fifth installment of the AbaData Academy learning series deals with the drawing and buffer tools in AbaData 2.0.  While the original AbaData program features a full slate of drawing tools, AbaData 2.0’s more robust mapping engine gives us more options and features for the drawing tools, making customized markup even easier and more powerful.

The drawing tools can be used to identify an area on the map, draw in a future lease site, or even plot a potential pipeline route and generate an elevation profile for that line to determine any elevation issues that may arise.  The handy right-click feature for drawing and text tools means moving, editing and enhancing the drawing tool objects is an easy process in AbaData 2.0.

Buffer tools let a user create point or line buffers on the map and can be used to generate reports – for example to figure out what companies are operating within 300 metres of a proposed pipeline route.

If you are already signed up for the Academy, check out the newest course by clicking on the AbaData Academy link at www.abadata.ca.

If you haven’t signed up yet, consider how the learning series can help you become more proficient in using AbaData 2.0.

And if you have any ideas on what the next Academy course should feature, please feel free to contact us at abadata@abadata.ca or 403-346-7555.

We all know that Western Canada is home to one of the most plentiful oil deposits in the world, and the 100th anniversary of the beginning of production of the Dingman No. 1 well near Turner Valley has reminded us of the long history of the energy industry.

We thought it would be interesting to document the progression of well development in British Columbia, Alberta and Saskatchewan over the last 114 years to see how – and when – the cycle of exploration went up and down.

The following video displays a timeline of wells drilled in the three provinces based on the licence dates recorded by the BC Oil and Gas Commission, the Alberta Energy Regulator and Saskatchewan Energy.

The fourth AbaData Academy course was released this week with the hopes of making AbaData 2.0 users familiar with the critical layer type of Surveys.

Especially because of changes in the way survey information is accessed in AbaData 2.0 compared to the Original AbaData, we thought it was important to release a survey course in Academy early in the game.

Many of the survey-type layers in the original AbaData were accessed via their own checkbox under the Map Display menu which appeared high on the left-side menu of the screen. Dispositions, registered plans of surveys (parcels), title mapping, Crown Mineral agreements and Saskatchewan Survey Plans each was identified separately, making it very obvious which ones were turned on and which ones weren’t.

As part of the redesign done to create AbaData 2.0, we looked at using space more efficiently – particularly with an eye to eliminating the huge text area that the left-side menu of the Original AbaData had become.

Because of this many of the layer types are bundled together in AbaData 2.0.  When you click on Map Display at the top and click on the Surveys Layer, you will see all the distinct types of survey layers show up to the right, each with its own checkbox.

Our thinking was to streamline the menus significantly, and put similar items together to make finding them fairly intuitive.  But we know it is different and that for some users very familiar with the Original AbaData, it will take getting used to.  That’s where the Academy is supposed to come in.  By watching some videos and taking some quizzes, you can get familiarized with the features and functionality of the program and hopefully be able to log in and use the features right away.

Academy registration has been growing at a steady rate and we are hoping that it’s helping our users get more comfortable in the new program.

Now we would like to hear back from you on how you are finding the Academy courses so far, and what courses you think should be coming next.

Don’t be shy.  Tell us what you think.

Part of the excitement of having a new program like AbaData 2.0 is that it is changing at a rapid rate, with new functionality and data available on an ongoing basis.

Part of the frustration also happens to be that it is changing at a rapid rate.

The excitement, of course, comes from being able to see what the new program can do and get a glimpse into how in many cases AbaData 2.0 can do the job better than the equivalent task can be done in the Classic AbaData program.

The frustration can come from having a bit of a moving target when describing the features of our new flagship product.  It was recently pointed out to us that the AbaData 2.0 documentation section of our website has a lot of images that no longer match the AbaData 2.0 screens that currently come up throughout the program.  This is somewhat expected, but given that the documentation is only a few months old, it shows how fast things are changing.  Of course we will be going in and updating that documentation to keep it current to what is happening in the program.

We know that our customers have work to do, and they are not going to use the new program until it gives them the information they need.  That’s why we’re improving it daily.  We’re taking the feedback and adding the data and features that our users are telling us they want.

In some cases, users will go in AbaData 2.0 and if they are missing something they need, they will head back to the familiar ground of Classic AbaData.  It may be weeks or months before they go back to AbaData 2.0.  Then they say ‘Oh, I didn’t know this was here.  I didn’t know I could do this.’

It can be hard to find a good way of communicating the changes that are taking place, so we thought we could try and list some of them out here from time to time.

Here are some of the newest things in the AbaData 2.0 universe:

  • The third course (Wells) in our AbaData Academy was released on May 14
  • AGRASID soil data is now accessible through AbaData 2.0 under the Environment layer
  • There is a new layer heading under map display which features:
    • Telus trenches
    • Fortis Boundaries
    • Fortis Lines
    • Fortis Poles
    • Fortis Street Lights
    • Alberta Survey Control Markers are now available under the Surveys layer
    • Crown Mineral Agreements are now available under the Surveys layer
    • The Terrain layer has been expanded to include Native Reserves, Urban Areas and Lakes & Rivers
    • The new Get Directions tool lets you get turn-by-turn driving directions to any legal location, coordinate, well or address and have the route plotted on the map
    • Some points and linework can be exported out of AbaData 2.0 as GIS data that can then be brought into other mapping

The point is, things are moving ahead quickly and we want to continue to encourage all those die-hard Classic AbaData users to log in again and take another look.  If it’s been a while, chances are things have changed from the last time you were in there.

And we think you will like what you see.

Almost three months and 64 clues later, the AbaData 2.0 Treasure Hunt contest has wrapped up with all 50 prizes being claimed.

Some of the prizes were nabbed just minutes after the first clue was released in AbaData 2.0, while others stayed up for grabs for days and even weeks as users scoured the map for a sign of the elusive treasure chest icon that meant they had won. There were several ways for clues to be offered, from the picture of the huge truck at Sparwood, BC (that prize was won just minutes after the clue was released) to more riddle-like hints that sometimes took a lot of thinking and some Googling to figure out.

With $10,000.00 in prizes, the Treasure Hunt contest was a great way for AbaData subscribers to be rewarded with some fun map sleuthing and great items. Prizes included Android and Apple tablets, a good range of wireless devices for the home (thermostats, smoke detectors, light switches etc.) and lots of fun stuff to use indoors and outdoors.

We had put a one prize per person and five prizes per company limit in place for the contest and we were happy to see the prizes spread around quite a bit. McElhanney was the only company to hit the five prize limit, with Navus Environmental, Caltech Surveys and PennWest Exploration each winning four prizes. Winners came from all sorts of firms, from surveying, engineering, environmental, irrigation, municipal, producing and consulting companies.

For us at Abacus, the contest was our way of kicking off the release of AbaData 2.0, our new flagship mapping program. We’ve got thousands of loyal users of our Classic AbaData program, and we are looking to introduce those users to AbaData 2.0. Now that the Treasure Hunt contest is over, we are hoping that the hundreds of users who have logged on to AbaData 2.0 will keep taking advantage of the new interface and mobile capabilities of the new program.

We’re also hoping that – Treasure Hunt or no Treasure Hunt – AbaData users keep moving across to the new platform so they can get the benefits of new features just not possible in the previous AbaData, like drag and drop file input, and the newly released direction/routing feature that features turn-by-turn navigation.

Congratulations to those of you who won in the Treasure Hunt contest, and a big thanks to all our users who are giving AbaData 2.0 a try.

For those of you who have not logged on to the new program yet, we encourage you to do so and see what the future of AbaData mapping looks like.

AbaData is a premium mapping tool developed by Abacus Datagraphics, Western Canada's leading supplier of maps to the petroleum industry.