GISuser Expert Feature – Go To FOSS4G!

FOSS4G  is only a few weeks away and I hope you are making plans to attend. Brian Timoney  and others  have been making very effective cases for attending the conference, which is being held in Denver this year. FOSS4G might be the most important geospatial event this year. That statement is the kind of hyperbole that’s easy to overlook but I stand by it.

There is something for everyone at this conference. Managers and consultants can learn more about how open-source tools can work in a business model. Users can get real information to help them move past myths about the usability of open-source geospatial tools. Developers can learn more about the power and diversity of tools available for integrating open-source geospatial tools into systems.

Even if you are a die-hard user of commercial proprietary geospatial tools, there is something at FOSS4G for you. For starters, take a look at the sponsor page and you’ll see the logo of a big commercial vendor or two. The reason for that is simple; they use open-source geospatial tools as well. Open-source drives some key capabilities of commercial GIS tools, such as data translation. The reason for this is also simple: these tools are stable, powerful and they work well. Come to FOSS4G to learn how well these tools work on their own and how they can expand your reach.

A few years ago, I began delving more deeply into open-source geospatial tools and the end result is that it’s made me a better developer and consultant. As a consultant, I now have a wider array of tools that I can recommend to my customers. Depending on project requirements, they can augment commercial tools where there are capability gaps or replace the commercial tools entirely where they don’t meet performance or technical requirements. The freedom of open-source licenses provides unparalleled flexibility in making such detailed technical decisions.

As a developer, access to source code has expanded my understanding of processes and algorithms that had previously been locked away inside DLLs and other binaries. As someone who did not come from a geography background, this has been invaluable and has actually helped me diagnose the behavior of some implementations inside those DLLs. Also, the wide varieties of programming languages used by the FOSS4G community (Python, C++, Java, .Net, Ruby, JavaScript, and any others you can imagine) have kept me nimble.

So I strongly recommend attending FOSS4G. A lot has changed with open-source geospatial tools since the conference was last held in North America in 2007. I only recently booked my travel and there are still plenty of affordable rooms in, and flights to Denver. I hope to see you there. 

 

See http://2011.foss4g.org/

 Bill Dollins has been a Sr. Vice President and Partner at Zekiah Technologies in Maryland since 2001 and has been developing GIS applications since 1993. He is a programmer with diverse experience in geospatial information systems, relational databases, and application development. Follow Bill on Twitter @billdollins

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