Open Source

Migrating to Open Source GIS on the Desktop

I keep seeing more evidence that many people and organizations are migrating to open source GIS on the desktop. In many cases a mix of proprietary and open source GIS is in use. I’m wondering about other’s experiences in this area. To gain some insight, I’ve created a poll (right margin). Please take a second and vote.

No Java, Please Pass The Python

After a rather long lapse, I had the occasion to write some Java code recently (mainly because it didn’t look like Howard’s PySDE was functional). I didn’t like it. Not to start a language flame war, but after using Python almost exclusively for 6 months, I found Java to be cumbersome. I kept thinking “if it were Python I could do it this way”. Sending an email from Java–frightening. From Python–simple.

QGIS Workshop at FOSS4G2007 - A Done Deal

Well, the QGIS workshop at FOSS4G2007 is history. We had a capacity crowd and covered a lot of ground in a short 3 hours. Rumor is there are some pictures and heaven forbid, audio from the workshop floating around. Maybe they’ll surface at some point this week. I have a few LiveCDs left over and some of the coveted QGIS carabiners. If you run into me at the conference and want either, just ask.

FOSS4G2007 - Day 0 Wrapup and What's Next

Day 0 - Things are hopping in Victoria. Yesterday I helped a big group of volunteers set up 160+ PCs for the Workshops and the Labs. People filtered in all day and the process of putting faces to names was interesting. Workshops start at 0900 today (Day 1) and run till 1600, then the OSGeo Annual General Meeting begins at 1630. I imagine by the end of the day, nearly the full contingent of conference attendees will be stalking the streets of Victoria.

JUMP Start

This is an experience report–your mileage may vary_ I decided to give JUMP another try today. So I downloaded the latest release (1.2) and unzipped it into a directory. Looking at the JUMP Installation Guide reveals the document is written totally for Windows users. No problem, but I’m using a Mac. Looking in the bin directory there is a shell script named OK, make that executable and give it a go:

Running QGIS for Windows on Linux

Why would you want to run the Windows version of QGIS on Linux? Because its there. Actually, it may be a useful way to test the Windows version without firing up the dusty old Win32 box. I did this more out of curiosity than anything else. I installed Crossover Linux ( on an Ubuntu Dapper box. During the install process you are given the option to install Windows software. Of course QGIS isn’t in the list of supported software, but there is an option to install Unsupported Software.

Diminished Expectations

I’ve had to lower my expectations of the Open Source GIS user community. Now that I have your attention, I’ll explain. The OSGIS user community by and large is composed of a great bunch of folks. Its the few that have soured my outlook a bit. I repeatedly see posts to mailing lists blasting one application or the other (usually not to the project’s own list but another). The software stinks, doesn’t work right, the developers are stupid, its not as good as X, Y, or Z, and so forth.

Hail the Command Line

In this day of GUI GIS, sometimes you can’t beat the good old command line for getting a job done, regardless of whether you use Linux/Unix, Mac OS X, or Windows. This may sound strange coming from someone heavily invested in a GUI project but its true. Case in point - I recently needed to create two seamless regional layers from over 100 individual shapefiles. The source shapefiles were stored in individual subdirectories two levels deep.

Free Support for Open Source GIS

One of the often overlooked support mechanisms for Open Source GIS applications is Internet Relay chat, better known as IRC. Many OS GIS projects maintain an IRC presence. Often times you will find the project developers hanging out on the channel and willing to answer questions (more about that in a bit). Speaking personally, the Quantum GIS project has used IRC for project coordination, communication, and user support for several years.

Should MapServer join OSGeo?

The MapServer Technical Steering Committee today approved an RFC that calls for MapServer to join the newly formed Open Source Geospatial Foundation. A poll has been put up on the MapServer site (login required) to collect the responses from the community. So far the vote is unanimously in favor of joining, although the poll has only been open for about an hour. Some thought it interesting that MapServer didn’t join immediately, given it was at the center of the failed MapServer Foundation attempt at the end of last year.

Open Source Geospatial Foundation Meeting - Review

This is an unofficial recap of the OSGF meeting, based on my recollections having spent 10 hours on IRC and the phone. I’m sure the foundation will release an official version of the day’s events, so take my comments with a grain of salt. As I stated in an earlier post, the name was chosen early on and without an excessive amount of debate. OSGF rolls off the tongue rather easily and has a nice ring to it.

Open Source Geospatial Foundation

Well, I have been participating in the “GeoFoundation” Meeting since 5:30 am local time this morning. We’re two hours into the meeting and so far a name for the foundation has been agreed upon: Open Source Geospatial Foundation. The domain has been registered. I suppose most folks will refer to it as OSGF from this point on, although the term OsGeo was also mentioned in the discussions. I was concerned that the name of the foundation would become a major stumbling block in making progress during the meeting, however the groundwork and informal polll seems to have paid off in that regard.