FOSS4G Day 3
Day three of the conference continued with a large number of presentations starting first thing in the morning. Unfortunately my duties at the OpenGeo booth meant I saw relatively few of them.
I caught the tail end of a “not PostGIS” spatial database track, with Carsten Venemen’s review of alternative databases, in particular the JASPA implementation of a spatial type in PostgreSQL, using PL/Java and JTS to achieve a parallel functionality to PostGIS via an alternative pathway.
Pirmin Calberer then reviewed the SpatialLite add-on to SQLite, a talk entitled “SpatialLite, the Shapefile of the Future?” A prominent community member remarked to me on the way out that it was “not the talk he was expecting” and I agreed. The title implied a discussion of the use of SpatialLite files as a format standard, but the talk was about the functionality of the SpatialLite tool set (which is, let’s be clear, impressive). The topic is not an idle one, since the geospatial community needs a modern common format, and FGDB is unavailable to anyone outside the ESRI ecosystem. SpatialLite is an obvious alternative candidate, but only if the changes to the format are made judiciously and in cooperation with all consumers of it. Thus far the format has changed more-or-less at the whim of the SpatialLite developer, so the rest of the community is loath to spend development effort on supporting it. There is a big opportunity here for SpatialLite to become the central format for the whole open source community, but it will require that the SpatialLite team give up a little control to the rest of us. </harangue>
After lunch, team OpenGeo was all over the place, with Tim Schaub, Andreas Hocevar, and David Winslow talking to packed rooms (I am told), but, sadly, I was rooted to the exhibition floor. Perhaps someone else can report on those talks.
In the final session block, I had an opportunity to exercise my “curmudgeon” muscles, playing the grizzled PostGIS vet (has it come to that?) on a panel discussing spatial databases and cloud computing. My fellow panelists were Craig Taverner (Neo4J graph db), Volker Mische (CouchDB geo), and Mike Malone (Cassandra geo via SimpleGeo). I think it is clear that data sizes are growing fast, so the number of people with “more data than fits on one big machine” problems is getting larger and solutions for them will have to be found. In the proprietary space, Netezza and Teradata have added spatial to their OLAP offerings, which can handle some use cases in the ultra-huge data realm. In the SAAS space, of course SimpleGeo is aggressively pursuing their opportunity. And in the open source world… there is still a void! This topic promises to be a very interesting one over the coming year.
At the closing plenary, Tyler Mitchell shared some statistics on the continuing growth of OSGeo, in terms of members, community participants, and code contributions over the past year. The numbers are great to see, since it is hard to mentally encompass all the projects and people that now work in OSGeo projects.
This year Helena Mitasova received the Sol Katz award for contributions to the open source geospatial community. As a member of the selection committee, I was very impressed by both the number of years she has been working in the community (two decades in the GRASS community) and the diversity of the people who brought her name forward as a candidate, ranging from developers to teachers to users across two continents and multiple software projects. Congratulations to Helena, and thanks for all the hard work over the years!
Tomorrow is the code sprint day, and I’m looking forward to discussing the PostGIS 2.0 development plan with my fellow project members.