Next week is the first FOSS4G held in North America since 2007, and it promises to be exciting, important, and action packed. Regardless of primary geo-brand preference, there are very few organizations that do not, in some way, directly or indirectly, make use of the free and open source software produced by the individuals and companies who will be presenting in Denver.
For example, I know that Frank Warmerdam, father of GDAL, has long had the goal that the GDAL libraries would be part of every major GIS product. Today, if you make use of pretty much any geo-application that involves imagery, it’s an excellent bet you’re making use of GDAL. To Frank I say: Mission Accomplished.
(Little known bit of trivia: Frank spent 2 weeks at Safe’s office’s years ago, helping us craft the raster support in FME — it will be great to catch up with Frank again at FOSS4G and find out if the Googleplex is as nice a place to work at as Safe’s spacious suburban Surrey offices).
Recently, GeoPlace did a poll on “What brands of geospatial software does your organization use?” The results were mostly what you’d expect, but the follow-on poll about open source software usage and its results really made me think.
These polls highlighted a point around FOSS4G that is easily missed. There is another brand of geospatial software out there – it doesn’t get the marketing sizzle of many other brands, but it is an important and powerful brand nonetheless.
These polls highlighted a point around FOSS4G that is easily missed. There is another brand of geospatial software out there – it doesn’t get the marketing sizzle of many other brands, but it is an important and powerful brand nonetheless. It is a diverse and decentralized brand, with little central control and or dominant leadership. But it wields great influence, and if the GeoPoll results are to be believed, more than half the market knows they are using it (and I suspect a large amount of those that answered “no” are using it but don’t realize it). This open source Geo brand brings together a diverse, widely used, and highly respected group of geo tools including the ever popular PostGIS, GeoServer, MapServer, OpenLayers, JTS, GEOS, and many, many more.
FOSS4G is this brand’s equivalent of the Esri Developer Summit, and is a one-stop shop to find out about the latest in dozens of technologies directly from the creators of those technologies. If you’re in that 57% percent that knows you’re using FOSS software for geo, you won’t want to miss it. And if you, like me, work for a proprietary vendor playing in the geo-space, you owe it to yourself to view this chilling segment of Paul Ramsey’s powerful keynote from FOSS4G 2009 in Sydney (see also the photo below), and then book the flight out to Denver to see that killer rabbit in action first hand. (True peace-loving Canadian that I am, I’ll be looking for ways to continue working with that rabbit and avoiding the futility of hand-to-hand combat.)
I’m also looking forward to buzz that will be on the floor with so many talented folks enjoying a free and open exchange of ideas and technologies. And it will be fun to catch up with so many friends, both old and new. I’ve even been invited to be part of Tuesday afternoon’s panel on An Introduction to Geospatial Open Source, and will also be talking about Overcoming Open Source and Proprietary Data Interoperability Challenges on Thursday.
See you next week in Denver!