At the OSGeo Board meeting in Barcelona, we discussed many things, but one of the topics of special interest to me is the simple question: “What is OSGeo all about?”
The first place to look for that, of course, is the website; although many parts of the website address many specific problems, there is one place that we define what OSGeo is really about: the mission statement. It says that the Mission of OSGeo is:
To support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software, and promote its widespread use.
When we started our board discussions, there was one word missing there: the “collaborative” is something we voted to add, something I was very supportive of. There are many organizations (Sencha being a significant example in the space I work in) where organizations are developing Open Source software that is not openly developed. OSGeo is not about that: instead, it’s about encouraging exactly the opposite.
One of the most important things that OSGeo incubation does is ensure that a project is collaboratively developed. We seek for projects with a reasonably broad base of support, in terms of both developers and users. We seek to encourage community; our default project setup uses open, widely available collaborative development tools.
We host dozens of mailing lists. We have a single login account that gives access to the bug trackers for more than a dozen projects. We seek the broadest interaction between projects possible in order to foster a collaborative environment.
OSGeo is a really interesting case for this type of foundation work, because we have such a broad collection of projects despite the narrow scope. Databases. Web servers — both Map and other GIS related. Clients. Data manipulation libraries. Metadata catalogs. All of them interact at almost every stage of the process. Interoperability of this software is a key way to make the Open Source geospatial world more successful, and something we do relatively well.
So, if anyone ever asks you: What does OSGeo do? The answer, at its heart, is: “Support the collaborative development of open source geospatial software.” And I’m pretty thrilled with both the goal, and the success so far.