UPDATE: Shortly after submitting this post, up popped another from Paul Ramsey that does a really good job of explaining why things are done they way they are. I recommend you read it! Via Paul Ramsey, this post popped onto my radar the other day and got me thinking. My initial impressions about the post were quite negative, and to be honest some of the points still mystify me, but after further investigation, at least some of the issues do make sense, so perhaps there is some room for improvement in our favourite spatial database.
Earlier this week I did a couple of presentations for the Association for Geographic Information (AGI) Welsh Group, along with my colleague Matt and a couple of people from Dotted Eyes, another company doing a lot of work with Open Source here in the UK. I did an introductory presentation on open source and the OSGeo “stack”, and then one demonstrating the capabilities of Quantum GIS. You can see my slides here and here.
It has been a while since I posted, and while I’m probably the only person bothered by that, I thought I ought to put an update together! The blog has been going for over 5 years now, and in that time, in the UK, the attitude towards open source software has changed completely. There are now a lot of people who “get” open source, and are quite vocal in combating the FUD which we still unfortunately see from time to time.
I imagine I’m not alone in having parents and grandparents who don’t really understand what I do for a living. “I work in computing and do stuff with maps” is the easy approach (in fact it’s easier now that I don’t have to tag on the bit about being an archaeologist but not actually digging, and no it’s not like Time Team or Indiana Jones). Sometimes people ask why we don’t just “do everything with google maps”, which is the cue for a sit down and a longer chat about how (deep breath) you can’t do everything with google.
Woefully out of date now, here’s a quick run down on theOSGIS 2011 conference, 3rd in that series, held at the University of Nottingham Centre for Geospatial Sciences in Nottingham over the 21st and 22nd of June. The 21st was a day of workshops, under the banner of Interoperability and the OGC. My new colleague, Matt, and I did a workshop on using Ordnance Survey Open Data and Mastermap with Mapserver and PostgreSQL, using the OSGeo Live DVD.
A short case study into flexibility, collaboration, and why open source software is so damned cool: At my new place of employment, we’re doing a lot of work with Ordnance Survey Mastermap data, so one of my colleagues built a quick python wrapper around the ogr2ogr script to easily pop the data into postgresql, or shape file, or whatever support format you like. This is now available on Github (caveat- it doesn’t do change-only updates yet- we’ll keep you posted on that).
So, I’m late to the game and only just learning about the coolness that is python. To be honest, for years the need to keep the indents in the code neat and tidy put me off, but I figured I’d better have a proper look at some point. I spent some time over Christmas going over some tutorials (more below) and more recently I’ve chosen a python-based approach to problems where previously I would have used a different method.
So, it’s 5 years since OSGeo was formed- that’s pretty cool! Spurred on by this post, I thought I would say a little bit about my involvement with OSGeo, and also rather clumsily segue this into an announcement about my impending change of job. It’s true- after years of not really thinking of myself as an archaeologist any longer, but rather ‘someone who works in an archaeological unit”, I’ve finally gone and got myself a real job.
Over Christmas I came across a couple of extremely useful publications for those people needing to promote open source to business users. The first is a report on the International Status of Open Source Software, from the Cenatic Foundation. As well as providing an overview of the state of Open Source adoption around the world, the report looks at various factors that might explain differing “maturity levels” (their term) or levels of adoption.
It seems like all I’ve posted about recently is very quick updates on conferences that I’ve been to, and not a lot about what I actually spend most of my time doing. The principal reason for this is being too busy, but that’s getting a bit lame. Once upon a time I used to post lots of tips and tricks about things I’d figured out- sometimes just as a aide memoire after days of trawling through mailing lists and forums.