[Aust-NZ] Are there any thoughts on how organisations can work with OSGeo projects?

Bruce.Bannerman at dpi.vic.gov.au Bruce.Bannerman at dpi.vic.gov.au
Thu Sep 27 01:58:18 EDT 2007

<sorry for cross posting>

I have been involved  in a number of discussions over the last year or so 
where people representing organisations have expressed an interest in 
extending Open Source spatial products and projects but are unsure or 
sceptical as to how it could be done.

I'm interested in other people's thoughts on this.


Typically in Government and other larger organisations, funding is Project 
based with a clear definition of business requirements, end deliverables 
and time frame.

What I have seen of OS projects over the last seven years or so is that 
they are typically run by a group of committed individuals who have a 
desire for a particular type of product. Focus is often on delivering a 
quality product that is released 'when it is ready' rather than to a 
marketing department's timeframe. While there is often an end goal and a 
set of requirements for a release of a product, it is sometimes difficult 
to find people interested in spending their own time on the less exciting 
aspects of a project. 

For some context:

#1 - I recently attended an workshop that contained representatives from a 
significant number of government departments from around Australia. There 
was a general consensus that we liked what we saw with GeoNetwork as a 
potential 'National' Metadata entry tool and Catalogue. There was also 
some discussion as to the types of features that we'd like to see 
developed longer term to support an 'Australian' metadata toolset. If this 
was to proceed we'd no doubt end up with a program of works that we'd like 
to see implemented.

#2 - I have also been involved on the periphery of the GeoSciML efforts, 
part of which is a desire to use GeoServer to support GeoSciML and 
'complex' objects. The GeoSciML work involves a number of Geological 
Survey organisations from around the world. This could also result in a 
program of works that people would like to see included into GeoServer.

Some initial examples of issues that I can see (excluding funding) are:

- Communication and liaison with the relevant open source community. We 
may have a block of work that we'd like to see developed, however this may 
potentially take a project in a direction that the community does not want 
to go in. How do we address this?

- A shortage of developers with the required skills in a particular 
project. While we could put resources towards this problem, it will take 
time for the developers to get an understanding of the products and build 
the necessary credibility within the community. In the meantime, we have 
the problem of getting some early wins to ensure sufficient funding for 
the longer term.

- Project based funding is typically focussed on a deliverable. The 
deliverable may well be an enhancement to an OSGeo project. How can a 
development team get that enhancement accepted into an OSGeo Project's 
code base in a timely manner? Can they be confident that the enhancement 
would not be removed at a later iteration of the OSGeo Project?

- Where is the best place to discuss issues relating to a program of works 
that may span several OSGeo projects?

  + If the discussions were to take place on individual projects' 
development lists, then the overall 'Program' context may be lost. Also 
other OSGeo project developers may not be interested in the additional 

  + In the first example above where it relates to a National program of 
works, it may be better to discuss these issues on the country's local 
chapter mailing list. At least this would still be visible to interested 

  + In the second example where it relates to an international program of 
works, perhaps a dedicated chapter could be established under OSGeo? 

  + what would be the best way to coordinate the aims of a program of 
works and the aims of various OSGeo communities.

I'm sure that others are thinking of these issues. 

They don't just relate to large programs of works, they also relate to 
smaller projects.

Perhaps you would like to share your thoughts.


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