Soon it is going to be all Developer Summit all the time in the GIS blogosphere. Is there anybody going who has also been to any of the previous MapServer or Open Source Geospatial meetings? A similiar expectation seems to be building, with a relatively small group of people looking forward to less marketing spiel and more insight into their favorite platform. I would like to hear how it goes from someone who has seen how we do this thing in the open source community.
I got back to Fort Collins at 1:30 a.m. today and have tried to come up with a brief summary of the PrimaGIS and Zope 3 code sprint hosted by OpenApp last week. We did not provide much commentary during the event. You really had to be there, as the expression goes. Our colleagues on the #zco channel on IRC or subscribers to the project commits list saw only a flood of commit messages.
What is a code sprint, anyway? It is a very intensive coding session with multiple developers working at a rate that is not sustainable for long. Hence the word sprint. It works well for Python programming, and has become a part of the culture. We went at it for 3 solid days. Kai and Michael probably could have gone longer, but I was pretty cooked at the end.
This was a smaller one than the Zope 3 sprint Michael had been in last year, and fairly easy to coordinate. We started out with a whiteboard full of goals and issues, and it flowed from there. We would work together for a bit, then split up across a bunch of tasks, repeating in a cycle. With more developers we definitely would have needed a coach or two to keep us synchronized and prevent bottlenecks, something to keep in mind for the next time. I brought my iBook to the sprint, which has been more of a business than development computer for me of late, and suffered a bit. It was a bit like running multiple 400s in dress shoes.
Kai arrived yesterday afternoon, and we spent some time on strategery, but today was the first full day of programming.
That's Kai Hanninen, the PrimaGIS lead, in the background, and Michael Kerrin from OpenApp in the foreground. First thing we did today is firm up PCL's interfaces, and then began to dive into Zope 3. Before the day was through we were able to almost entirely replace the existing Zope cartographic objects with Zope 3 utilities, and enable PrimaGIS to render simple maps. Tomorrow we will attempt to get PrimaGIS back to its full capabilities, and hopefully make some progress on the user interface.
I had a good conversation with Artem Pavlenko yesterday. He showed me the improvement in mapnik labels and we agreed to think about -- and maybe even do something about -- sharing a feature model between mapnik and PCL. His comments were very encouraging, and I am eager to see more convergence.
Announcement should appear soon at http://www.osgeo.org/. There are a bunch of brand new (to me) names among the usual suspects.
Update: Damn you news-makers! I'm pulling the list, which has mutated. Let's just wait for the web site to be updated.
It has been getting read lately, so I would like to follow up on a previous post about MapServer and the P* languages. I made a few predictions about the future of MapServer language bindings, and they have been both right and wrong.
It's no longer possible to use Google to research the mapserver-users list due to the terrible decision to put the list behind a subscription wall, and the UMN listserv has a rather crippled search interface. It is Web -2.0, a big step backwards. My evaluation of trends in language usage is therefore anecdotal, but I get the distinct impression that, overall, interest in scripting MapServer went down across the board in the second half of 2005.
It's another ridiculously nice day here in Fort Collins. The second in a row with 70+ (F) temperatures. It's positively vernal. I'm back from a somewhat muddy lunch hour run on my regular route, and the ponds that were completely iced over just two days ago are clear. I even saw a snapping turtle sunning itself on a half-submerged log. Meanwhile at Joe Wright, just an hour west of here up Highway 14, we've got a well above average snowpack that should provide for a long Spring ski season.
Lee Martinez Park, my trailhead, is one of the top features of Fort Collins. It butts right up against the Northwest corner of downtown adjacent to the Cache la Poudre River. Upstream are a series of City natural areas, and an ambitious trail system that may eventually reach the mouth of the Poudre Canyon some 20 miles to the NW. As you can see in the Google (and DigitalGlobe) imagery, the Poudre River Corridor and Lee Martinez Park bring a bit of the wild right into the heart of the city. We're really fortunate that undeveloped land remains on the edge of Fort Collins, and it seems like much of it to the NW might be preserved. Southwards, towards Denver, it's a lost cause.
Another nice springtime feature of Fort Collins is the New Belgium Brewery's Biere de Mars. I don't think it's quite as spicy as it was back in the day, but it's still one of the most unique and gamey mass-produced beers on the market. As far as I'm concerned, March on the Front Range could go on forever.
The next release of PCL will include two new components: PCL-Spatial, and PCL-Data, industrial-strength geometries and an agile feature model for Python programmers. I'm going to write about geometries today, and about the feature model in a day or two.
PCL-Spatial is a Python package that wraps and extends GEOS. The Geometry Engine - Open Source is a C++ port of Vivid Solutions' Java Topology Suite, and is the open source C/C++ library for spatial predicates and geometric operations. It's used in GDAL, MapServer, and MapGuide Open Source, to name a few applications, and Safe Software and Autodesk are funding work that will eventually produce a GEOS 3.0 release.
Why not use one of the existing Python geometry modules? Good question. The short answer is that none of them are quite good enough. Everything out there right now comes up a bit short in capability, usability, or portability.
Interesting story this morning on NPR's Weekend Edition about coordinate reference systems and emergency response. Dan Charles did a nice job explaining how useful the National Grid (Hey, what do you know: Plone) is to helicopter-borne National Guardsmen, and how little use it is to someone driving a squad car or ambulance on network of streets. The conventional street address is just a better match for the topology.