Wednesday 16 September 2015

FOSS4G 2015 Day 1

Navigation: FOSS4G 2015 | Workshops | Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | CodeSprint

The first day of a FOSS4G conference really sets the tone for the event, in this case arriving at the extensive K-Hotel venue - and then being helpfully directed by orange shirts through registration and into the main "Ballroom B" for the keynote.

Exhibit Area

The exhibit area at the event is nice and bright and cheerful - and draws from both the FOSS4G conference (think t-shirts and smiles) and the Smart Geospatial Expo 2015 conference (think suits) which is running concurrently.

The Boundless table is moving a lot of LocationTech "stickers" - providing a great opportunity for outreach. Although I notice whenever we leave the table any promotional stickers or mugs tend to vanish!

This is a great opportunity to meet everyone and catch up with open source colleagues.

Activities we are highlighting this week:
  • GeoServer 2.8-RC1 is out! Thanks to Kevin from the Victoria office.
  • The gsconfig is now set up for collaboration and we are enjoying working with the GeoNode community on this one. The gsconfig project is a python wrapper on the GeoServer REST API.
  • In a similar fashion the qgis-geoserver-plugin is in the process of being set up - please talk to Victor for more details.
  • Gabriel's vector tiles community module for GeoServer is available, and makes for an impressive demo.
  • OpenLayers is demonstrating vector tiles this week as well (kind of like we planned it that way).
  • Composer is out of beta and included in OpenGeo Suite 4.7 - stop by for a demo and see what our development team has been hard at work on.
  • GeoGig continues the long slow march through LocationTech incubation. We have our first round of incubation feedback and are rewriting our local storage from BerkeleyDB to sqlite. 


Presentations were very relaxed this year, with the occasional hour long coffee break! This calmed the whole conference down relative to previous FOSS4G conferences. The only "glitch" was that each session room did not keep to the same schedule - often running ahead. This left a few attendees disappointed (when they tried to bounce between rooms to pick up an important talk).

I am assured (via twitter) that videos will be made available on the conference website in case you were unable to attend, or missed a presentation you were interested in.
  • Geo4All: Open Education using FOSS4G - Prof. Venkatesh Raghavan (General Chair of Academic Track Committee, Osaka City University)
    Geo4All is a real OSGeo success story setting up labs worldwide and providing instructors with course material so that open source software can be used in our education system. This gap has been one of the longest standing, and most heartbreaking, faced by our community.
  • FOSS4G in Korea: Challenges & Strategies Dr. Byungnam Choe (President, Korea National Geographic Information Institute)
    This keynote was an address from a local government which struck an odd tone (at least for me). The national mapping agency had a long thought out presentation (with crop circle diagrams) showing how to fit open source into their procurement model. Sadly this still seemed to be taken from the perspective of "open source is not supported" (he should come by the Boundless booth).
    There are a number of approaches seeing success worldwide. Australia has had a strong open data push (with open source software sneaking in once the door is "open"). I would like to see governments join software foundations, double check their policies allow civil servants can take part in and start open source projects, and in general be part of the community rather than feel excluded.
    I expect this represents a failure in FOSS4G worldwide outreach. It is a good thing we are having the conference here and I hope the local community can these ideas further into the Korean government. IMG_0723
  • New Geoprocessing Toolbox in uDig Desktop Application Framework - Minpa Lee (Mango System inc.), KiWoong Kim
    Was totally impressed with the wide range of functionality on display, indeed I hardly know where to start. I must catchup online and congratulate Minpa Lee for his hard work.
  • OpenAerialMap: A Distributed Commons for Searching and Hosting Free Imagery - Kate Chapman
    A talk so popular Kate had to do it twice - the session was running ahead of schedule, so people who arrived on time were disappointed to see they missed it. Kate did an excellent job, both times, of describing what this initiative is working towards. I liked the story of the QGIS plugin produced out of a HOTS diversity initiative. There was a number of good (i.e. hard) questions on policy from the floor.

  • How Simplicity Will Save GIS - Vladimir Agafonkin
    Inspiring story of leaflet development (perhaps the same talk as foss4g-na?) Animated GIFS (well, internet cats) are always a nice touch. Sadly this one was cut short on time.

  • Turning Data into Information with Geo-Ontologies - Justin Lewis (TerraFrame), Nathan McEachen
    A quick crash corse in ontologies to set the stage for "geo" (a state is a member of this class of features). the demo was very impressive, ended up coming a cross as a smart version of CartoDB.
  • ISA Server - An Indoor Spatial Data Server - Ki-Joune Li (Pusan National University), Taehoon Kim, Joonseok Kim
    Indoor GML application running in the the limitations of GeoTools  (Complex feature read-only, no 3d operations- just data structure). They managed to bridge to a C library for the extra spatial functionality. Made a point of hunting this crew down for the GeoTools BOF as they are doing some impressive work. 
  • Using Spark in Weather Applications - Tom Kunicki (The Weather Company), Charles Maalouf
    Tom once again breaks my head with sheer volume of data the weather company processes on a daily basis. A couple strong takeaways on the difference between Hadoop and Sparc scalability - and yeah, 18 billion requests a day with all those cell-phones checking the weather. Should make a map to take a picture of the sky and tell the user if it is raining.
  • Citizen science and Smart cities, the evolution of GIS - María Arias de Reyna (GeoCat bv), Jeroen Ticheler
    A real find this conference has been the enthusiasm of María and learning more about the GeoCat team in Spain. The demo of GeoNetwork really shows how far the application has come, and how much easier it is to use now.
  • PostGIS Feature Frenzy - Paul Ramsey (CartoDB)
    Paul is a force of nature at these conferences, and I learned a few things in this mad dash through PostGIS goodness.DSC00605
  • State of GeoServer - Jody Garnett (Boundless)
    So much to say, I will just have to put up the slides.
  • Temporal Maps leading to new views in Spatial Analysis - Andy Eschbacher (CartoDB)
    Andy did a great job of explaining what Torque does as a project, and demonstrating functionality. I wanted to ask a few more technical/community questions but that will have to wait for another time.
  • Visualizing geographical data made extremely easy by SLD Editor! - Hanna Visuri (National Land Survey of Finland)
    Hanna was here for her first FOSS4G and her first day speaking! This was her second talk of the day, showing the crowd an impressive SLD editor written with Node.js.

GeoServer / GeoTools BOF

We had a good discussion at the GeoServer / GeoTools BOF meeting - it was pretty quick:
  • Some great numbers out of the "performance" workshop, trying out Java 7, Java 8 and the Marline Rasterizer
  • We discussed how Torben could replace all the tabs with spaces (this is a developer BOF after all)
  • Some impressive performance numbers Tom Kunicki is getting out of JAI-Ext operators. We need to catch up with Tom and get the details.
  • Discussion about how GeoTools community modules works, in the hopes of attacking the ISA Server team to share some of their RnD with the wider world.
  • A bit of high level planning around "Beyond JTS" since the ISA Server team needs more expressive geometry data structures
  • A bit of discussion around replacing JAI, and some of the angles we could use to get that work both scoped and funded.

Gala Dinner

Excellent food, impressive drumming - but rather expensive at $110 USD if you bought your own ticket (by contrast the Korean BBQ after the workshops was $90 for a table of four).

The other conference, Smart Geospatial Expo, had some kind of awards ceremony that Jeff was dragged into. Lucky Jeff :) The important part, as always, was the conversations! And the stand-up format allowed for everyone to wander around, search for napkins, and interact with more people than we would have if we'd been sitting down.


FOSS4G 2015

The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial was held in Seoul, South Korea in 2015 (see round-up blog post). Thanks to my Boundless colleagues for such an enjoyable week and the Open Source Community for giving  us so much to celebrate with this lovely conference.

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