Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Too much of a good thing?

Slashgeo reports yet another new Open Source GIS tool, noting "Open source GIS software is crowded with options: QGIS, uDig, gvSIG, OpenJUMP, MapWindow, GRASS, OSSIM, etc."

Yes, it is - and the question to me is: "Why so many?" - I understand the arguments for a diverse software ecosystem, and I even agree with them. But with the possible exception of GRASS, most of these packages implement the same basic functionality without implementing the advanced functionality that is necessary to seriously take on ESRI. Plus, the UIs are almost always terrible, which makes the problem even worse.

So, in that spirit I'm listing a few things that I think are missing from most, if not all, OS GIS software, in no particular order:

1. Topological data model (the only exception I can think of is GRASS)
2. Editing, especially centralized, version controlled editing.
2a. Which means you need a topology model in your database
3. UIs not designed by software engineers. (Well, at least ESRI has this problem, too.)
4. Quality cartographic tools.
5. COGO tools
6. Metadata editing tools
7. Scriptability (GRASS, being command-line based is fairly scriptable, I know of no others that are.)
8. Runs on my Macs.
9. Comprehensive interface for building extensions

Well, those are a few that come to mind right away. Make more suggestions - maybe we can turn this into a manifesto.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Open Publishing & Cartography 2.0

The new issue of Cartographic Perspectives is available for free as part of a test of going all digital and open-access. Three Cheers for NACIS on that one, let's hope they keep it up.  The lead article is by David DiBiase and makes the case for more open access. David and I organized a session at the AAG Annual Meeting in 2007 on "Envisioning a post-proprietary Geography" – sadly we were somewhat poorly attended, no doubt in part because of the free wine being given away by publishers at the same time. (The more conspiratorially minded among us might think that a bit *too* coincidental...)

The issue also features the introduction by some of my former classmates (go Anthony), of the Cartography 2.0 website – an online source book for dynamic mapping.

You guys are embarrassing me with all the awesomeness. Keep it up - time for me to get working, too.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Announcing: PDXBikemap

I'm pleased to announce the first public release of -- it's a street routing tool for finding optimal paths while on your bike, where optimal is defined as "balancing speed and safety."

The application is still very much in beta, but please report any issues you run into, and especially send suggestions. But before you do, check out the FAQ and the known issues.