Welcome to GIS 502. This course is part of an online certificate program on Mobile GIS Application Development.


In this course, students learn the essentials of application development using an object-oriented programming language. The course addresses three main areas: coding with functions, objects, and data structures; learning application programming interfaces for GIS libraries; and accessing geographic databases using SQL and other query systems. Students complete frequent programming assignments that emphasize rudiments but mimic real GIS applications.

Essential information

Prof. Christopher League, Ph.D.
– please include course number in subject.
chrysleague (AIM), league@contrapunctus.net (MSN), chrisleague (Skype), cleague@gmail.com (GTalk/XMPP)
+1 718 488 1274 (office), +1 646 450 6278 (Google voice)
Office hours:
(for ad-hoc synchronous discussion and assistance) Monday 17:45–18:45, Thursday 15:00–16:00 in the America/New_York (Eastern) time zone, or by appointment. See the schedule page for occasional changes.


Web site:
We will use the Java Software Development Kit from Oracle and the IntelliJ IDEA Community Edition from JetBrains. See the orientation instructions for configuring your machine.
Text book:
Think Java: How to Think Like a Computer Scientist by Allen B. Downey, an edition customized for this course. See the Resources section on Blackboard to download the PDF.


Your performance in the course will be scored on a 1,000-point scale. There are three categories of activities that contribute toward your final grade:

There will be 10 programming assignments (one per week), worth 80 points each. The lowest assignment score will be dropped, so only 9 assignments count, for a total of 720 points. Exception: the final assignment, because it will tie together all the skills and objectives of the course, cannot be dropped.

There will be 5 time-limited online quizzes administered throughout the term, worth 50 points each. The lowest quiz score will be dropped, so only 4 quizzes count, for a total of 200 points. The purpose of the quizzes is to ensure you are following along with the readings and concepts introduced.

There will be 4 check-in opportunities throughout the term, generally held on weeks without a quiz. The format can vary, but these are meant to ensure your participation and interaction with the instructor and other students. Examples could be an online discussion, contributing to a wiki, or online research about some technology. These check-ins are worth 20 points each, for a total of 80 points.

On the 1,000-point scale, you can expect an A if you earn 930 points or more, an A– for 900 points, B+ for 870, B for 830, B– for 800, etc. In the end, the instructor may adjust the scale slightly, but such adjustments would never lower your grade compared to these designated standards.

Time commitment

The Mobile GIS certificate program consists of four ten-week courses of three credits each. The time commitment within a course is intense. New York State defines one credit as a total of 15 hours instructional time, plus 30 hours of student preparation. Thus, a three-credit course will amount to 45 hours instruction plus 90 hours preparation.

In the online format of this course, we interpret the New York State guidelines as follows. Students should expect to spend about 3.5 hours per week with instructional resources such as the text book, online tutorials, and video screen-casts. An additional two 2 hours per week will be spent actively preparing for check-ins or quizzes. (On quiz weeks, the quiz itself will take half an hour of that time.) Finally, programming assignments will take roughly 8 hours per week; perhaps less time in the beginning, and more time as the program complexity steadily increases. Please plan accordingly! The sum is 3.5 + 2 + 8 = 13.5 hours per week, for 10 weeks, totaling 135 hours.

Warning: because the productivity of programmers varies tremendously, the numbers above are meant only as guidelines. Some students may need to spend more time, while others can get by with less.


No late assignments will be accepted, because I want to be able to post solutions and discuss and evaluate your work promptly after the deadline.. This helps to ensure that everyone receives timely feedback, and that you can learn from mistakes while they are still fresh in your mind.

Plagiarism is the use or presentation of ideas, words, or work that is not one’s own and that is not common knowledge, without granting credit to the originator. Plagiarism is a practice that is not only unacceptable, but which is to be condemned in the strongest terms possible on the basis of moral, educational and legal grounds. Under University policy, plagiarism may be punishable by a range of penalties from a failing grade in the assignment or course to dismissal from the School of Business, Public Administration and Information Sciences. All students are required to read the handbook on avoiding plagiarism by visiting http://bit.ly/lVShWN

Cheating includes, but is not limited to the following: falsification of statements or data; listing sources that have not been used; having another individual write your paper or do your assignments; writing a paper or creating work for another student to use without proper attribution; purchase of paper or research work for one’s submission as his/her own work; using written, verbal, or electronic or other sources of aid during an examination (except when expressly permitted by the instructor, depending on the nature of the examination) or knowingly providing such assistance to aid other students.

Participation is essential to learning and fulfilling the outcomes of the course. In the online format, that means tracking and responding to posts on the web site, and staying consistently in contact with the instructor.

Long Island University seeks to provide reasonable accommodations for all qualified persons with disabilities. This University will adhere to all applicable federal, state and local laws, regulations and guidelines with respect to providing reasonable accommodations as required to afford equal educational opportunity. It is the student’s responsibility to register with Special Education Services (SES) as early as possible and to provide faculty members with the formal communication from SES for suitable accommodations. All accommodations must be approved through SES. Contact Information: 718-488-1221 or 718-488-1044.

Topic schedule

There will be a programming assignment due each week, and online quizzes scheduled every second week.

  1. Orientation, tool configuration, chapter 1.
  2. Chapter 2: variables and types.
  3. Chapter 3: methods.
  4. Chapters 4 and 5: conditionals.
  5. Chapters 5 and 6: methods.
  6. Chapter 7: iteration.
  7. Chapters 8 and 9: strings.
  8. Chapters 10 and 11: objects.
  9. Chapters 12 and 13: arrays.
  10. Chapters 14 and 15: OOP.
  11. Chapter 16 and appendix A: graphics.