Open Source Computing and GIS in the UK

Travels in a digital world

FOSS4G Final Round-up

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Slightly delayed round-up on the last day of FOSS4G (I was on holiday!), and some thoughts on the conference as a whole…

In the morning I attended a tutorial on GeoNode, which I’m very excited about. It’s a new project from the OpenGeo team that links together Geoserver, GeoNetwork, and Django. The aim is to make it easier for people to work with geospatial data and metadata, providing a content-management-system AND social network approach. This might sound weird, but I can think of lots of ways in which it might make the use and discovery of geospatial data more easy and interesting. We’ll see!

There was a lot of interest in the “alternatives to PostGIS” stream of talks, especially around CouchDB and SpatiaLite. Perhaps at some point we’ll need to have a database shoot-out to go with the WMS server one! When we have more packages supporting SpatiaLite and RasterLite, I foresee a great future for them- even if it’s just as a data transfer format, or for facilitating the storage of spatial data in a CMS.

Then we were on to OpenLayers-related talks- I particularly enjoyed Andreas Hocevar’s talk on performance configurations- and talking to other people who saw it there were some light-bulb moments!

Then on to the final Keynotes from Raj Singh and Tyler Mitchell, and notices- congratulations to Helena Mitasova for winning this year’s Sol Katz award!

So, on to final thoughts. It’s interesting to come back to FOSS4G after a 2 year gap while it’s been in unaffordable (for me) parts of the world, but also because the world is a very different place financially to how it was in 2007. In between 2007 and now, my conferences have been limited to mainstream UK GIS such as the AGI, and to OSGIS. I was surprised at how much self-confidence and excitement there was this year- in contrast to the slight introspection that I often see at the AGI (no one was worrying about whether they were Neo or Palaeo in any of the talks I went to). There was as much professionalism, research, development, and business strategy as at any other conference, but with the added excitement that came from people simply doing things they really enjoy. Many thanks to the conference organisers, and here’s to Denver next year!

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