FOSS4G 2010

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FOSS4G is the annual meeting of the tribes. In 2010 it took place in Barcelona, Spain.



Lorenzo opening FOSS4G
Mapnik moves people


Martin Daly's remote work assignment for Mateusz Loskot during the WMS Benchmark shoot out

At the end of the benchmarking test Iván Sánchez Ortega got on stage to intonate the OGC WMS hymn. See the bootleg video and get the lyrics right here:

When I need aerial images, I've got to download some files
Oh, what a mess, WMS.
And that weird image format, doesn't load in my GIS
Oh, what a mess, WMS.

Get rid of this mess, WMS.

OGC then decided life should be easier for everyone
Standard interface, WMS
So lots of official data could be shared all over the 'net
Standard interface, WMS


Now we've come together and, will see how well we perform
Let there be tests, WMS.
It's a friendly competition but the best will get free beer
Let there be tests, WMS.


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FOSS4G is a great success again, this is a sure thing way before the end of the conference. This year has again seen growth on all ends, more paper submissions, more attendants, more sponsors, more software and so on. Interestingly the general impression is that the conference has a rather visionary edge compared to other events. FOSS4G has a perfect mix of users, developers and businesses making the program highly diverse and attractive. And fun. Which for most of the geeks is at least as important as the commercial viability to the businesses.


Selected presentations from FOSS4G 2010 in Barcelona, Spain

Keynote: The State of OSGeo

A somewhat metaphysical introduction to State, Money, Worlds, Universes, Participation and helper electrons.


Press Coverage

From Directionsmag

Arnulf Christl closed the plenary with a somewhat disjointed but humorous presentation, leveraging a myriad of social media and geospatial websites to drive home his point that the power of FOSS4G comes not from any one genius or scheme (think Bill Gates and Microsoft), but from the collaborative power of the collective. Think of his point as the Borg Collective of Star Trek - TNG fame. Not so much the "resistance is futile" schmuck, but more of the synergistic value of empowering individuals to act in a moral and socially productive collaboration to achieve something much more powerful than the sum of their individual parts. Not exactly preachy, but certainly calling upon the listener to think beyond his or her own personal gain, and a call to action for the larger good of the group. This, then, is the message from the founders of FOSS4G - we speak with one voice (through open standards), we believe in the power of GIS to address societal challenges for the betterment of humankind, and our time has come.

The article Typification of Open Source web mapping client software and frameworks has moved to the Metaspatial Wiki at:

Please update your links.

Applied SDI - INSPIRE in Germany

This presentation runs completely off the Web starting with the following links. The accompanying presentation just shows a few diagram and gives a brief legal licensing insight.


Spatial Data Infrastructures (SDI) have been around for several years. But it appears that SDI have not kept what they have promised. With INSPIRE a legal framework is now emerging that aims at leveraging SDI to implement interoperability at a very high level of abstraction. Chances are high that INSPIRE will fail just as badly as SDI did. But is this really true?

Best practices solutions for geospatial data based on Open Source software have emerged on all levels of administration. Those that are based on the same core protocols automagically form part of a global distributed architecture. This architecture has recently be described as the Resource Oriented Architecture (ROA). It is not an up-front planned and designed architecture but the sum of well designed representations of standardized resources that run on top of the application protocol HTTP.

We will show in this presentation that this is not an abstract theory but pragmatic reality. We will trace one geographic resource (zoning ordinance plan) and show how it propagates through all levels of the INSPIRE architecture. For each level special representations of the resource address the needs of the specific users of that level. The following levels are specifically presented:

  • Municipality of Landau (40.000 inhabitants)
  • City of Mainz (200.000 inhabitants)
  • State of Rhineland Palatinate (4 million inhabitants)
  • Federal Agency for Cartography and Geodesy (Germany, 81 million inhabitants)
  • INSPIRE (Europe with 700 million inhabitants)

The perspectives are not half as bleak as they sometimes appear. But in order to become the glue that binds geospatial data from all levels into a comprehensive whole, INSPIRE must stay an open process and not become a static legal corset.

Link list


Metadata Reloaded

...and how to profit from INSPIRE. This promises to be a fun talk about Metadata.


INSPIRE sets the scene for metadata by relying on catalogs – or so it seems. Modern metadata catalogs use ontologies and thesauri to create hierarchical and polyhierarchical indexes. But catalogs still seem to miss the needs of both consumers and producers of geospatail data alike. The talk will focus on how to address INSPIRE and at the same time improve access to spatial services and applications in an Open Source environment.

To better understand the concepts behind traditional metadata management a concise introduction is given. In this context it can be be helpful to look into semiotics (a linguistics discipline) and derive the meanings of syntax and semantics. The third discipline of semiotics is pragmatics. It describes "the relation between signs and their effects on those who use them". This is exactly what we are missing in catalogs, there is no meaningful relation between the metadata created by producers and potential users.

The potential of digital metadata becomse apparent when we look into the three levels of order that apply to matter (first level of order), alphabetical catalogs (second) and digital data (third level of order) are explained.

From this outlook it is easy to understand why second order catalogs can never fathom the potential of digital data. The solution to this problem is to first allow metadata to automagically permeate from geospatial data and then to link it together. This metadata can provide a platform to empower communities to interact with, derive their own meaning and from there build their own user-centric repositories.

Combining existing concepts for metadata management and automized metadata generation in an agile environment will allow collaborative development. This will in turn create a new level of order that will add value to spatial data infrastructures we have been waiting for so long.