Saturday 1 December 2012

GeoRabble Putting the eXtreme into Xmas

Putting Dec 4th on the map - GeoRabble Brisbane is kicking off a country wide celebration of mapping on the wild side.

No seriously, the first speaker is about Alex Harris was the toast of the recent Spatial@Gov conference (according to twitter #spatialAtgov) and this is an excellent opportunity see what a successful crowd source mapping project can accomplish.

For more information (and an update on speakers) check the web page or just go ahead and reserve a ticket.

Brisbane is the first of several cities to break out some mapping action this week. If you are not in Queensland, consider catching the action in Perth or Sydney.

Photos from GeoRabble Brisbane 1

GeoRabble Brisbane 1 was the highlight of the social calendar for any self respecting Cartographer. Check out the following photos, and we hope to see you on Tuesday for a little Christmas cheer.
From GeoRabble Brisbane 1

Tuesday 27 November 2012

The best thing I will write this week

I am having a great time being productive, with great progress on uDig, GeoServer and a local FOSS4G-AU un-conference.

However I missed something! The Incubation Committee has been very good about running bi-monthly meeting to collect status updates, discuss current applications, and double check projects that are ready to graduate.

And I neglected to call a meeting this month! Sad..

With that in mind, I have invited project mentors to send a status update email. Covering what progress a project is making, what are the next tasks they are looking at and if there is anything that can be done to help. Backed up by the following example:

Subject: Christmas Cheer Status Update

The Christmas Cheer project is proceeding well, the core team of eight reindeer are scheduled to make their Dec 25th release deadline. However there has been no progress on incubation tasks this quarter.

Actually we do have one small bit of progress to report Santa has kindly offered to act as project officer.

The development team has been wrestling with how to open source a key bit of scheduling software that contains a privacy sensitive white list (of who is naughty and nice). It looks like a technical solution is feasible, with information being contained on a server and an example configuration provided by the free software foundation used as a reference point for test cases.

The next task is hunting down release guidelines for the incubation checklist. The current build instructions are quite dated consisting primarily of poetry, and the team is evaluating alternatives (including Rake).

No further incubation progress is expected in December as the team is fully occupied with their current release. Progress on the data / code / documentation review has been inconsistent as the elves have gotten into the eggnog. We expect work to resume early February.

Although I am taking part of the developer list, there has been few actual questions.

Happy Holidays!

(Okay not the best writing you will read this week, only the best I am going to write)

Wednesday 14 November 2012

FOSS4G-AU Tomorrow

Alright then - with the annual conference missing in action this year, local chapters are taking matters into their own hands!

In Australia we are going for a low-key (well low organisation) approach with an "un-conference". The most famous un-confernece's is of course "Foo Camp" organised by O'Reilly. Paul Ramsey has had the "delight" of attending one of these (background reading if you like).

  1. RSVP here: FOSS4G-AU Unconference (Meetup)
  2. DIRECTIONS: QCAT facilities, CSIRO, Pullenvale QLD
  3. IDEAS:
Meetup Page showing where to RSVP and Directions

There is lots of good advice on how to run a successful un-conference, however I am going with a local source of wisdom dear to my heart. My lovely wife was part of the un-organising crew for a recent Library Camp and offers the following (from What IS an unconference?):

There aren’t really rules at an unconference, but if you need some guidelines, here they are:

1. If you’re dying to learn about something, there’s a good chance one of our delegates will be all over it. You don’t have to chair a session just because you suggested the topic.
2. Want to share your newfound knowledge or discuss a hot issue? Go for it! No papers, Prezis or PowerPoints are necessary.
3. Be considerate and allow others a chance to talk.
4. Listen.
5. If your session is going full-steam but runs overtime, consider moving the discussion to a neutral space. Alternately, arrange to continue the conversation after at the Pub.
6. Use the law of two feet – if you aren’t learning something in your current session, feel free to get up and move to a different room. No judging! :)

For our purposes we will start out with:
  • Whiteboard to collect ideas that people are interested in
  • three post-it notes each - to use as "votes" to short list topics
  • A bit of organisation over coffee to slot the results into a schedule
A couple of ideas for code-sprint work is shaping up:
Experience has shown successful teams prep a bit prior to a code sprint in order to make best use of their time.

The original plan was to hook up with the excellent GeoRabble crew which has been stirring up trouble in Brisbane this year.  Unfortunately they have been hijacked by a national "Geo Riot" and moved the date back to December 4th. You are of course strongly encouraged to sign up and attend for some good times, good people with a side of spatial serendipity.

This means I am open to suggestions for Pub (although recommend Archive).

Friday 2 November 2012

OpenLayers 3

Here is link for personal contributions: Open Layers 3.0 Indigogo

Here is the result:

Pass the link on to your co-workers or something.

Monday 29 October 2012

OSGeo Incubation the Start of Something Spatial

This is my last Latinoware 2012 post (indeed the talk closed out the conference) and arguably the one I am most passionate about. While I am comfortable talking about GeoTools, GeoServer and the ambitious OSGeo Live project they are all concrete projects, you can sing your teeth into and see an obvious benefit.

But what about the Open Source Geospatial Foundation itself? There have been a number of very good takes on the value of Foundations in fostering open source:
We also have both the Eclipse Foundation and Apache Foundation are casting their eye towards engaging spatial. Raising the excellent question (which our board has been wrestling with) on where to take our Foundation in the years ahead.
My personal hopes is we can look for ways to collaborate, as our mandate is to foster open source spatial and not draw lines in the sand. We have a precedent with our projects making use of a range of hosting services, and this flexibility offers a real appeal for projects looking for a home.

OSGeo Incubation - Start of Something Spatial

This presentation is my take on the OSGeo and it is unabashed in its "pro project" viewpoint. The basic structure is taken from the OSGeo incubation checklist, but it is really a shout out to projects about the benefits of joining a Foundation (any a Foundation) and why OSGeo should be on their list.
The presentation runs through the expectations the Foundation for joining projects and gave me a chance to talk about what we are trying to accomplish (mostly with respect to trust).

LocationTech Teaser

As part of the User-friendly Desktop GIS (uDig) project I have been watching the LocationTech industry working group set up, and was able to offer a small teaser in anticipation of the group making
its formal debut. 

Latinoware 2012

Thanks for keeping pace with this week of Latinoware 2012 blog posts, normal service will resume shortly:
Once again thanks Latinoware 2012 for having me, and to Rafael Soto for facilitating. I would really like to see a FOSS4G held in the Brasil, especially given the excellent oragisation (and enthusiasm) shown at this event. 

Also thanks to my employer LISAsoft for giving me a a chance to write up my experience. If you are looking into open source spatial, give us a shout.

Saturday 27 October 2012

QuantumGIS and GeoServer workshops at Latinoware

First up latinoware was very well attended (you can see a slice of a group shot below).

From Latinoware 2012

While I have attended a couple of Open Source Developer conferences as a LISAsoft employee in Australia, they tend to just walk the software side of the street.

Latinoware had a great mix of hardware and software hackers. I got to see a 3D printer, with the cost brought down to around $300 to the level where it can be successful in emerging economies. I understand it was using recycled soda bottles for material.

From Latinoware 2012

Another impressive showing was a one laptop per child kitted out with a robot accessory so it could walk around. Literally "logo to go" for the educational system - combing ing the joy of learning program with the ability to stomp around.

From Latinoware 2012

Most of the presentations were packed, and were not afraid to take on deep or scary topics (ie how to build your own bootloader thanks to the google chromebook team). Here is a group with TCP stack frames on screen.

From Latinoware 2012

The workshops at Latinoware 2012 were different from what I expect at a FOSS4G event. We have been scared off running workshops concurrent with the regular program at FOSS4G (as attendees would often ditch presentations for the hands on experience). For Latinoware I understand demographics lean toward a student turn out, leaving the pay-to-play workshops with sparse attendance.

Introduction to Geoserver

I managed to sneak into the GeoServer workshop and take a couple pictures, the workshop was being run by Benicio Ribeiro and Rafael Soto.

Quantum GIS

There was also a Quantum GIS workshop hosted by Luis Lopes. If you peak in the background you can see on screen as the workshop gets underway.

It was great to see OSGeo projects represented on the ground at such a varied event.

Friday 26 October 2012

OSGeo Live Latinoware 2012

Moving on from a couple project specific presentations we get onto the hard stuff. Presenting OSGeo-Live is always a challenge - simply because the project is so big! It is also a careful balance between presenting as a LISAsoft employee, and a member of of several of the projects and capturing the vendor/product neutral tone befitting an OSGeo Foundation presentation.

A couple of approaches form past presentations:
  • FOSS4G 2010: This is the original OSGeo-Live talk - with a 90 minute time slot. That was enough time to introduce the OSGeo live project, explore its history as a LISAsoft project gradually opening up to be community driven. Go through different "GIS" software categories - even in an expert crowd such as FOSS4G not everyone will be familiar with disaster relief, or navigation as a software category. Wrapping up with exploring how to use the OSGeo-Live project for education and advocacy.
  • OSGeo Live Presentation: Cameron Shorter cut down the above presentation with a stronger focus strictly on project overviews, and provided a talking script for others to run the presentation at their own events.

OSGeo-Live at Latinoware 2012

Here are the slides, read below to learn why they are really not the point of the presentation.

I was really happy with the pacing, an hour was just enough time to run this presentation. I tend to run my presentations at two levels (as advocated by Martin Fowler). The general approach is to have two streams of communication, what you are saying and a separate visual stream that supports what you are talking about.

The OSGeo slides are basically a solid wall of text, so you may wonder what on earth I would talk about? I am certainly not mean enough just to read slides.

And the answer depends on what the target audience wants to hear. For Latinoware 2012 I was faced with a developer heavy crowd (I asked them before the talk started) who did not have a background in GIS. As such most of the project details, feature lists and so on would be a meaningless snooze fest.

In introducing OSGeo-Live it is important to establish the size (massive) and scope (international) of the project. So while there is no way to read the individual contributors they can lend weight (of numbers) to the introduction.

Of course I did need to answer the obvious technical questions at a Linux heavy conference (yes it uses XUnbuntu) the important point is what the project is useful for, backed up with a successful history of releases and events.

In this context I needed to introduce what mapping and GIS was all about. As such I leaned heavily on the software categories used to organise the OSGeo-Live project. While my bullet points were mostly useless, they gave me something to show when setting expectations for the available software.

With the sheer number of OSGeo-Live projects (50!) and only an hour to present I was left with some tough choices. The individual projects still provide value to the presentation, if only by weight of numbers, but I would not be able to communicate a meaningful difference in the available time. I decided to use the OSGeo nature of this presentation to my advantage, and only provide a discussion on the much smaller number of official OSGeo projects. This gave me a chance to explore some projects in more detail and give a flavour of what the particular software category was all about.

For each of the OSGeo projects I was often able to tell a story, reflecting back on the Foundation, the project community or both:
  • For deegree I was able to talk about the importance of standards, and their involvement with INSPIRE
  • Perhaps the nicest story was for QuantumGIS where I was able to point out the OSGeo Chapters acting as project sponsors to fund specific features. This is an excellent engagement model for the Foundation and shows an amazing community
  • Speaking of engagement models, for OpenLayers I was able to talk about the recent OpenLayers 3 funding push
  • For Geomajas I was able to describe the migration from javascript to GWT (even just for technical interest).
  • For GEOS I was able to talk about what a Geometry is and what developers need to get going in this area
  • I did take some time out to talk about our criss management category, especially given the recent floods in the area.

Note this is just the approach I used for a developer focused, non GIS conference. As illustrated by FOSS4G 2010 and Cameron's presentation this material can be thrown around for an experienced GIS crowd as well.

OSGeo-Live for Advocacy and Marketing

In terms of Advocacy we need to reach back, before the OGC standards, and introduce basic GIS concepts. A point I specifically had to make to the developer heavy crowd at FOSS4G was that maps are fun and important.

In order to play in this area developers need to select both a representation of geometry, and a technique for referencing that geometry onto a real-world location. While I was able to use the GEOS project to tell this story, I keenly felt the lack of JTS as a talking point.

Suggestions: Include JTS on the OSGeo-Live project overview. I was able to write up a jts_overview page on the airplane back, and this mornings OSGeo-Live meeting is looking to schedule including the visual test-runner program pictured below.

Suggestion: The project category slides from the above presentation are a nice minimum that could be added to the OSGeo-Live documentation. Beyond that it would be nice connect with an education sponsor and arrange a couple of "intro to GIS" tracks that can be run directly out of OSGeo Live. This would be a similar collaboration to how OGC standards are described, however a strong education partner is needed to gather the basic explanation angle that projects continually fail to deliver.

On a project by project basis there are a couple important aspects that are missing from the OSGeo live story.

  • Love: Tell me about the volunteers that are behind a project. In a large part the community is what your are buying into when choosing a project. There is a vast difference between a popular project like QuantumGIS (most downloads from OSGeo servers) and specific tools as the TEAM Engine (which just joined incubation).
  • Money Tell me who is paying. It is both polite to thank sponsors for their contribution, and am important information for those considering a project. Even if a project does not meet your feature checklist out of the gates, if the project is popular in your industry it may be a good fit (as its future direction should align with your long term needs).

We also need to keep in mind that the OSGeo Foundation (and thus OSGeo-Live) needs to remain vendor and project neutral. OSGeo-Live is a tool to promoting the grand adventure that is open source spatial software.

Suggestion: List the the PSC members, followed by organisation. This is done for Eclipse Foundation projects and provides a good indication of who is involved, and who is paying their way.

Suggestion: Not quite sure how to thank sponsors tastefully in the context of OSGeo Live. The State of GeoServer talk also does an excellent job of connecting sponsor logos next to the feature they contributed to (thanks to Justin and Andrea for this classy move). This is an important story to tell and one OSGeo-Live needs help with. Idea: Ask each project overview to include a "sponsors" link much like is done for "support".


Thanks to Brian Hamlin for reviewing the slides prior to wider internet distribution. A consequence of gathering material from previous presentations was working with an out of date contributors and sponsors list.

Thanks to Latinoware 2012 for having me, and to Rafael Soto for facilitating (and being such as champion for OSGeo in Latin America).

From Latinoware 2012

From Latinoware 2012

State of GeoServer 2012

And now for the Latinoware 2012 presentation people actually came to see - the State of GeoServer 2012. Once again the content is CC by Attribution and build on earlier talks.

The talk raised a lot of questions, both directly after the talk and in the breaks between presentations. The questions all came down to catalog service web support - and what it means for GeoServer 2.3.

I also got to play the careful balancing act between representing GeoServer (as PSC) and representing the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (ie product neutral). There is still a lot of confusion around how to evaluate and select open source projects for an successful engagement.

The most appropriate course of action is to engage with the local community - a major strength of the OSGeo Chapter setup.

Once again the important status update is the release of GeoServer 2.2. This release was a long time coming and improves major headline features, and important changes under the hood.

Recent activities covered by the presentation:
  • Time Boxed Release once again this a deep change that will effect the developer community, our customers and how end users of the application work with GeoServer.
  • Catalog Service a very simple catalog service, used to publish the GeoServer contents out via CSW. This should allow for easy harvesting by full featured products such as GeoNetwork. The initial service is working, but I expect more funding will be required based on the enthusiasm shown online and at events like Latnioware.
  • Sensor Observation Service currently under construction
  • OSGeo Incubation

From Latinoware 2012

State of GeoTools 2012

Here is the State of GeoTools 2012 talk presented at Latinoware 2012. My first speaking slot was devoted to a "State of Geoserver" and "State of GeoTools status update. The slides are CC by Attribution and build on earlier talks.

The talk was well received, it is however pretty brutal to start off your conference engagement with a set of technical talks. I got the feedback that all my jokes were funny which is always nice and hopefully softened the content a bit for those present.

The big status news for GeoTools is of course the release of GeoTools 8 with all its headline features.

It is worth pointing out a few recent developments covered by the presentation:
  • Process, Process, ProcessWeb Processing Service is finally attracting funding, with it comes a lot of new process ideas, implementations and directions. Hold on it is going to be a wild ride!
  • Prep for Java 7 try-with-resource Update our API to mark which items are “Closable”
  • FeatureCollection as a Result Set For Java 5 we needed to prevent FeatureCollection extending java.util.Collections - so that iterators could be closed.
    We are completing this work by removing the deprecated method names (add, remove, etc...)
    This will allow FeatureCollection to be a simple result set.

And the change that is likely to have the most lasting effect: switching to predictable release cycles. This is already being noticed with GeoTools 8.1 and 8.2 being released in September.

From Latinoware 2012

Friday 19 October 2012

Latinoware 2012

I have put up a set of Latinoware 2012 Photos up (and a few more covering a trip to the Itaipu Dam).

I am so impressed with the organisation and sheer scale of Latinoware 2012. Over morning coffee I was introduced to the idea that they try and grow a little each year in order to be the biggest open source conference.

At over 4000 people they must be getting close! The organisers have pressed a legion of buses (drawn from the local tourist trade) to facilitate. There are people everywhere, and all very happy, this place is humming along!

I am scheduled for a couple of talks tomorrow afternoon on GeoServer/GeoTools, OSGeo Live DVD and OSGeo Incubation. Wish me luck.

Aside: I have been asked to encourage others to attend, apparently because the large number of beautiful women working in IT here. So while I will pass that on at face value, anything we can do to help balance out our industry is sorely needed, consider setting up a Girl Geek Coffee in your area.

Latinoware 2012

Dam Trip

Sunday 7 October 2012

FOSS4G-AU un-conference

The FOSS4G-AU local chapter is back (after going all out for foss4g 2009).

Ben Caradoc-Davies announced the following last week:
The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Australia (FOSS4G-AU)
2012 Unconference and Code Sprint will be held at CSIRO’s Queensland
Centre for Advanced Technologies (QCAT), Pullenvale QLD.
  • 15 November: Unconference
  • 16 November: Code Sprint
This is a participant-organised event: please add your unconference and code sprint topic suggestions to the wiki. Organisers are welcome; please speak up. 

See here for details:

RSVP essential for building access. Please sign up here:

Email: (sign up here

Kind regards,
Ben Caradoc-Davies
Software Engineer
CSIRO Earth Science and Resource Engineering
Australian Resources Research Centre

Looking forward to seeing you there.

Monday 30 July 2012

Mountain Lion Development Environment Links

As befitting a minor release there are only a few fixes if you want get things back in order when working with Mountain Lion.

Java development environment:

  • Understanding java from command line on OSX a great summary of "how it works" the command line java_home command line utility and how to get it all working again :-)
  • For reference I added the following to ~/.bash_profile:
    export JAVA_HOME=`/usr/libexec/java_home`

General development via homebrew:

Friday 20 April 2012

Generated Function Reference

Last year I had the pleasure of working with Justin on filling in the WFS 2.0 "FunctionName" information. The WFS 2.0 was just the excuse for me - what I really wanted was a data structure I could ask at runtime about functions, their parameters and any restrictions you would need to know when entering them.

While was able to put this information to use and generate a function list for the GeoTools documentation, it is only today that I got a chance to hook the information into uDig.

Update: Finished up this "FilterViewer" code allowing you to smoothly change between a couple of options.

Out of the box I just had time for a couple of options - ranging from a bit of content assist through to the enable / disable radio buttons shown above.

I also managed to get warning and error reporting working (using cute little icons which you can click to see the message).

If you would like to try this Download a sneak peak of uDig 1.3-SNAPSHOT (a tech preview is available for all the platforms).

Wednesday 11 April 2012

GeoRabble Brisbane

Australia is returning to work after a long lazy four day weekend. A bit startling to celebrate easter as an entry into Autumn - are we supposed to serve Pumpkin Pie? Oh wait this is Australia that should be rabbit pie.

A rousing success story of grass roots spatial fun and networking has been the GeoRabble events happening down in Melbourne. I am pleased to find the idea spreading to places like Sydney and far flung Brisbane.

If you would like to sign up there is a page here. It would be great to see you there - grab a free ticket to reserve your seat.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

OSGeo Aust-NZ Meetup Brisbane

I just hit the "renew" button on the There have been a couple of gatherings since I last mentioned the Aust-NZ group.

There was a bit of a different tone to the meet up in early November. We actually ran a couple of demos and feature comparisons (great work Nathan is doing on QGIS), got deep into 3D GIS issues, and people were kind enough to check over my "intro to GIS" slides.

Then we headed to the pub - as you do.

We are likely to change venue in the new year; and I am looking forward to the next gathering.

Cameron was kind enough to arrange a breakfast meet up in conjunction with Spatial@Gov. It was well attended we a people from a range of organisations present. Everyone was a bit distracted by the ongoing conference but it was good to hear a number of success stories as open source slowly creeps into wider use.

Sunday 8 January 2012

WPS Personality - Chris Tweedie

One of the pleasures of taking in the Spatial@Gov conference was a chance to catch up with Chris Tweedie. I first met Chris when he was an employee for Landgate over in Western Australia and he served as quite an advocate for open standards and open source. Chris has been picked up by ERDAS and is thus emphasising the open standards half of that equation.
Chris Tweedy
Chris was kind enough to demonstrate the ERDAS support for web processing service. As always I am impressed with the ease of use provided by integrated solutions.

The ERDAS browser client was impressive and easy to use; although Chris does not normally demo this product we were quickly able to figure out what the screens were asking of us and collect "Elevation Change Defection" results back for display.

When we got down to technical details ERDAS had reached the limits of the WPS specification. The WPS DescribeProcess data structure does not supply quite enough information for their user interface needs (example field validation).  I hope the future versions of WPS will be more helpful in this regard.

That said they were not limited to their WPS server; and had performed testing with either 52N or deegree (sorry I cannot remember which as they did not have one in their booth to test against).

I also recognised an old friend in the NDVI vegitation model, a classic we had slated for last years WPS shootout.

Aside: Thanks to LISAsoft for sending me to Spatial@Gov it was a fascinating look at the Australian Geospatial scene.