Archive for September, 2007

FOSS4G 2007: Plenary Session

Posted in FOSS4G 2007 on September 25th, 2007 at 11:31:49

ow at the FOSSS4G Plenary:

Paul Ramsey is talking to us about the conference — how it’s grown over the years. Last year’s conference theme as ‘have fun’, and he thinks that this is a great one this year too. He’s also saying that open source is about community: with that, we should go out and build more community. It’s not about the “license, version control, subroutines or macros: it’s about the community”. He says to make an unexpected connection: more connections makes us all more effective.

Simple walkthrough of all the upcoming conference things, and introducing Autodesk’s Geoff Zeiss as the first keynote speaker.

Geoff is talking about how the world is moving, and how Open Source can help solve the problems. Worldwide challenges affect a ton of things around the world — things like sustainable development, aging workforce, aging infrastructure, etc.

Some of the steps forward that Open Source can provide can be led by the Web 2.0 style participatory information gathering into all kinds of large organizations — utilities, telcos, etc. MapGuide, FDO, Fusion used to do dynamic editing from the field, etc.

Geoff also adds that Autodesk aquired a company (Mentor?) that does map projection software and will be taking the software, open sourcing it, and moving it into OSGeo’s hands.

Battery dying… more later.

Arrived in Victoria

Posted in FOSS4G 2007, Locality and Space on September 23rd, 2007 at 18:41:53

Now in Victoria. Actually, I was in Victoria something like 2 hours ago — I was able to make it from my A14 gate flight to S16C at SeaTac in record time, by my estimation, in only something along the lines of 12 minutes (including riding the silly little train), and was therefore able to get on my puddle jumper flight 3 hours early by flying standby. So, I got to skip the layover, and have been chilling by registration.

If you’re coming by, I’m sitting against the wall for the next hour or so probably, and then heading out to the Sticky Wicket after that.

Conference Time a-comin

Posted in FOSS4G 2007, Locality and Space on September 22nd, 2007 at 23:11:53

FOSS4G Conference is all this week, and I’ll be posting a ton of stuff as it happens in an effort to keep people not at the conference as in the loop as possible.

This means that if you don’t care about Geo, it might be a good time to drop me out of your feedreader temporarily 🙂

Flying all day tomorrow, so expect to hear more from me late tomorrow night.

(Anything fun to do with a 3 hour layover at Seatac?)

FeatureServer at FOSS4G: What do you want to know?

Posted in FeatureServer, Locality and Space on September 22nd, 2007 at 14:10:39

Anyone planning on making it to the FeatureServer presentation at FOSS4G? What would you like to hear about?

OGC Investigates REST, Forks out Cash

Posted in Locality and Space, OGC on September 22nd, 2007 at 08:07:18

Recently, a discussion about the OGC Tech Plenary looking to do RESTful WMS came up on some mailing list I was on. I chatted about it for a bit in IRC, and came to some conclusions from my point of view — things like “tile management via REST seems silly, but layer management via REST seems to make more sense” — and even offered to implement it in TileCache if anyone cared to spec out what their requirements were.

In the same conversation, i pointed out that:

Talking about REST is … just meta-meta-wankery. Is FeatureServer RESTful? maybe. And it’s a 30 second talking point. But more important is not how RESTful it is, but whether it works or not. WMS works for the things it solves. If there is a problem that it doesn’t solve, then it might be solvable with REST — for example, “Too much CPU usage” can maybe be solved by using correct caching headers, and describing the type of data it’s best at serving (a la WMS-C) in a way that machines can read is useful… But implementing REST *anything* is not solving a problem.

In the past 24 hours, I’ve seen a half dozen people offering to implement REST as part of their involvment in the OGC… but only if the effort is funded. This is meta-meta-wankery for the *purpose* of meta-wankery. “I’ll implement $new_shiny_thing if you pay me! But other than that, I don’t really need it.”

Now, I’m not one to claim that everything should be done off the skin of an open source developer’s back: certainly, I’m happier seeing OGC moving in the direction of RESTful web services than, say, taking an existing community developed spec and using it as marketing fodder to gain new members. Still, the approach of “Yes, I would like to do that, but only if you pay me to” seems like the wrong approach. The whole point of implementing new technology is to explore how it can be useful! If you don’t have a business reason to implement REST, then why are you bothering?

I think this type of problem is exactly why OGC specs — and indeed, many other standards organizations as well — turn out the way they are. Someone gets a buzz-word in their mind, then they pay a bunch of people who don’t actually need it for anything to go out and ‘implement’ it, and they get back half-cooked ideas based on experimentation rather than real world development and deployment.

You want real REST? Talk to someone who’s using it. Go out, and offer to pay Charlie Savage some amount of money to document some best practices for you — he’s using REST + GeoAtom as the way his client and server talk to each other. Talk to the MapGuide folks, who are looking at doing RESTful management of their server side data. Talk to people who *actually have reasons for using REST* — not just people who want to milk the OGC cash cow.

I see these developments, and think “Wait, someone’s going to get paid for something I helped do for free?” RESTful WMS… isn’t that TMS? Why is someone getting paid to package that up and hand it to the OGC? What level of effort are people expected to put forward when the creative part is already done?

Now, admittedly I’m biased here, since I don’t have an employer that does mapping and therefore have no OGC membership — I have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. Sometimes I don’t even pay attention to what goes on outside of them — geospatial standards tend to only be useful to me as a way to find out what *not* to do. I do know that there are a lot of people out there working with the OGC to do interesting things with Geo on the web — the KML OWS-5 work seems interesting, for example.

At the same time, it seems to me that limiting your innovative developments is never a good idea. From my limited perspective, it seems like OGC does this almost deliberately, possibly due to the positions of its member organizations. Most of the people you’d want developing standards don’t have time or funds to fly to Boulder, CO for a week and sit in boring meetings about standards creation. The KML effort seems to have gotten the right people moving in the right direction… but the new REST direction seems to have taken a step back from involving the larger community, and is instead pulling from the OGC’s existing pool of developers, which is a mistake from my point of view.

OpenLayers 2.5 RC1

Posted in Locality and Space, OpenLayers on September 17th, 2007 at 00:14:11

OpenLayers 2.5 RC1 has been released. Bug reports are, as usual, solicited from any and all users. More links in the OpenLayers Blog Entry.

Here’s hoping there’s a final release before the end of FOSS4G…


Posted in FeatureServer, REST, RESTClient on September 16th, 2007 at 19:44:26

RESTClient: “RESTClient is a simple, Python + wxWidgets Desktop application for talking to RESTful web services. It is designed to fill a gap in existing offerings by offering support for GET/POST/PUT/DELETE, making it a useful tool when exploring RESTful web services which use a wider range of HTTP verbs.”

Simple. Stupid. It Works.

OSGeo: Boston Users Group?

Posted in Locality and Space, OSGeo on September 1st, 2007 at 16:44:08

From an email I’ve been sending around:

As part of an effort to seek out Open Source Geo people in the Boston area, I’m canvassing the local community for interest in a regular open source geospatial interest group meeting.

For those of you who don’t know, OSGeo is a non-profit organization which is seeking to fulfill an umbrella organizational role for a number of Open Source Geospatial software projects, including projects like GeoServer and OpenLayers. It is currently entering its third year of operation, and has a number of projects undergoing incubation currently to become "OSGeo projects", including everything from uDig and QGIS to GRASS to GeoServer.

Site for optical communication

The goal of having regular meetings would be:

  • Create Networking oppourtunities: allow users of open source geo software to meet with creators of open source geo software where possible.
  • Share knowledge: meetings could have a presentation from a particular person on everything from how to use a certain tool, to types of data available, to anything else.
  • "Chill out": spend social time with other like-minded individuals — either users of open source geosoftware, or just people interested in learning more about it.

Essentially, I personally envision this as being very similar to a Linux Users Group meeting: go someplace, here a 45 minute presentation with 15 minutes of questions on a particular related topic, then head out, get beers someplace, and relax.

If such a thing were to take place in the Bostonish area, would anyone in the area be interested in attending? Anything in particular that strikes your interest?

Looking forward to hearing from anyone interested in creating a local group of OS Geosoftware users…

Broader OSGeo Contributor

Posted in GDAL/OGR, Locality and Space, Mapserver on September 1st, 2007 at 08:36:41

In the last couple weeks I’ve contributed to two other OSGeo projects, besides OpenLayers:

Even though they are minor changes, it feels nice to participate outside the OpenLayers/MetaCarta bubble.Site for optical communication

New in OpenLayers 2.5

Posted in OpenLayers on September 1st, 2007 at 00:15:17

For the past week, I’ve been working on OpenLayers 2.5, which has been rewarding, though exhausting. I’m looking forward to getting our first RC out the door — maybe even sometime next week, if I can get enough attention from other developers. Check out the post for an overview of some of the cool stuff coming up in the next release: GeoJSON, better vector feature editing support, better commercial API interactions, and more.