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Friday, June 17, 2005

Toru Mori, President and CEO of Orkney, Inc in Japan discussed the place of open source GIS in that country. While ESRI dominates the desktop in Japan, no one dominates on the Web. That’s an opening for open source. Further, Oracle Spatial is not very popular and ArcSDE is only used within ESRI world. Finally, proprietary GIS is 2 to 3 times the cost of US versions. (That means MapXtreme + Oracle Spatial runs up to US$90,000 per CPU! Mori used to be with MapInfo in Japan.) So, basically, there is no choice but to use open source. (Japan typically does not see much pirating of software.)

Predictions? FOSS GIS Web apps will be widely accepted in government and commercial areas. FOSS GIS desktop software will remain in academia for another six months. Orkney is committed to promoting FOSS/GIS in Japan. It’s got some pilots slated based on its relationship with DM Solutions.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 09:09 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Perry Casson, from WayPoint (based in Ottawa) covered the “pragmatic choice for new software business.” He argues there’s a spot in between the free maps (Google Maps) space and the heavy powerful desktop GIS (ESRI). The time is right for hosted GIS, he feels, but didn’t really elaborate on that. He did elaborate on the rise and fall and sale of Northwood Technologies (the makers of Vertical Mapper, a MapInfo add-on). That led me to ask about the current state of third party developers in the geospatial world. His comment? Many are now appearing at open source conferences!

Some questions for existing third party developers of commercial software vendors: Is it time to jump ship? Will you be acquired? Or will the vendor implement the same sort of functionality, effectively putting you out of business?

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 09:09 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

Kevin Flanders showed off the latest updates to his MapServer implementations (Maps Online) for small towns (and states) in (and beyond) New England. His theme: “it’s not about abutters lists anymore.” Instead, “it’s about access.” By that he means making the available data accessible to those who need it (residents and others) via a simple interface, and then enabling different players in the community (real estate agents, chambers of commerce) to use that same data. “It’s time to share these maps.”

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 09:08 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

This is a great idea - give some of the key project leaders five minutes to spew forth on a topic of their choice. Some used it to speak of their works in progress. Allan Doyle described EOGEO, a non-profit aimed at supporting NGOs with open source geospatial software. Daniel Morissette and a colleague updated attendees on maptools.org and Ka-Map two of DM Solutions offerings to the open source world, Norman Vine demoed an open source ArcGlobe-type app, osgPlanet built on OSSIM. Frank Warmerdam shared the going’s on with GDAL and OGR. One highlight: the use of SWIG (a tool for making generic wrappers that allow support for multiple languages to use key libraries) on GDAL. There was an overview of newly release uDIG 1.0 from Refractions Research, Tyler Mitchell speaking about why he wrote his just released Web Mapping book, and Sean Gilles speaking to MapScript and asking for help.

The coolest five minute talk was from Schuyler Erle, one of the co-authors of Mapping Hacks. He decided not to speak about the book, nor about the Locative Media Toolkit (among other things, a way of linking photos to locations on maps) but rather argued why we need a distributed WMS cache for data. Recall that NASA World Wind is an open source version of a “Keyhole-like” flythroughs using satellite imagery. The demand on it has been intense, prompting Skyler to offer that the answer is a distributed peer to peer cache to pull the data from a single server and distribute it. Eventually, he suggests the original WMS need not even be on the NET! “Now,” he concluded, “we just have to do it!”

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 02:05 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share

The keynote was from one of the key GRASS developers, Markus Neteler. He made it clear that he’s a geographer first and still not a programmer. The history and functionality of the program is quite rich and it runs on many, many platforms. The big news for the end-user community is the use of QGIS, the new open source darling of the desktop, as a “front end” to GRASS. One big challenge in open source GIS is creating pretty output. GRASS has always had powerful, but challenging to use layout tools and postscript support. Now that’s accessible via QGIS.

The new interfaces make GRASS ready for everyday use for the non-professional. It supports the most platforms of perhaps any GIS. The downloadable install CDs make the software easy to install, too. The vector engine was just rewritten, he suggests that it may be time to update the raster engine, too.

by Adena Schutzberg on 06/17 at 02:05 PM | Comments | Bookmark and Share
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