FOSS4G Reports

(This post was written at 2:39AM Eastern Time, 8:39AM localtime.)

At times, this weblog has been the source of information about Symbian-Python hacking, RDF hacking, and geohacking. This week is going to be a lot of the latter, as I’m travelling to Lausanne, Switzerland to attend and present at the Free Open Source Software for GeoInformatics conference, FOSS4G.

I’m typing this from gate D6M of Schipol-Amsterdam airport, as I wait for the connector flight from here to Geneva, Switzerland, where I will meet up with my coworker, Schuyler Erle, and we will take the train from there to Lausanne. This afternoon, we’ll be attending the open portion of the Open Source Geospatial Foundation face to face meeting. Tuesday and Wednesday are workshop days, during which we will probably recruit available OpenLayers hackers — Tuesday night there is a dinner gathering for OpenLayers users, developers, etc., although I don’t know that we’ve been real clear on where that is yet 🙂

My participation in this conference is being graciously sponsored by my employer, MetaCarta. MetaCarta has supported the development of OpenLayers, one of the up-and-coming tools used in the Open Source world as an alternative to the Google Maps API. OpenLayers is a stable and well-developed API, released under the BSD license, and originally developed by MetaCarta for business reasons, but was released to the public as it was obvious there was a need for such a tool in the open source world. The OpenLayers presentation will cover some basic history of the project, what it currently supports with demos and code examples, where the project is heading, and hopefully time for people to bring up questions about OpenLayers. This presentation will be at 8:30 on Friday morning, in Auditorium C.

I’ll also be talking a little bit about the MetaCarta Labs GeoParser API. The GeoParser API is a publicly available interface which demonstrates the functionality which MetaCarta tools can provide: namely, the ability to extract from documents the geographic locations referenced within them. This functionality is used in Gutenkarte, an application which allows you to browse books while referencing their locations to a map. The presentation for Gutenkarte and the GeoParser API is at 11:00 on Friday morning, in Auditorium C.

At the same time, we will be working with many of the people that we often work with, but in person, rather than online: this will be my first chance to make face to face contact with a number of important members of the geospatial community, and to repeat contact with some who I knew and met at Where, but didn’t understand the significance of. 🙂

If you’re interested in learning more about OpenLayers, Gutenkarte, for the GeoParser API, or would like something specific covered in a talk, please drop a line to MetaCarta Labs is the public R&D face to MetaCarta, and we would love to use tools which MetaCarta has to make more useful public APIs available. The only way to improve things is to receive feedback. What services would you like to build on top of the GeoParser API? What more could it do to make your life easier? MetaCarta is devoted to expanding the information available via public APIs, and helping open source users to build new cool tools on top of its APIs. If there is some limitation that is causing you to be unable to implement a service, we’d love to hear about it. MetaCarta is extremely supportive of Open Source projects, and the Labs branch of MetaCarta is the place to bring any ideas for what should be changed, or what new features could be added that would cause the services offered to be more useful.

Schuyler and I are attending this conference not only to present, but to converse: to find out what kind of tools MetaCarta can share that will benefit the community at large. We’d love to hear from anyone who wants to use these tools about how they can be made easier to use — and how you’re using them already.

You can find us in the FOSS4G IRC channel, at #foss4g2006, on, or email This is your chance to make yourself heard. We encourage you to take advantage of it.

One Response to “FOSS4G Reports”

  1. Climb to the Stars (Stephanie Booth) » Surprise Meet-Up Last Night Says:

    own! He had been here all week for the FOSS4G conference. He works for MetaCarta, who were sending him there. Half an hour and a park name confusion (my mistake) later, we were mee […]