Reflections from Romania

Jo Walsh jo at
Wed Dec 13 11:29:36 PST 2006

dear all, 

I just spent an interesting couple of days in Romania, at a conference
track of data-collecting agency representatives who are preparing for
the forthcoming INSPIRE Directive on European SDI. I got a few
insights into INSPIRE's background and what it contains now (the final 
version should be published "within a few days", said Hugo de Groof.)

I was there to give a talk about "An Open Source, Geospatial Web
Approach to implementing INSPIRE". This was during a day's worth of a 
mixture of vendor presentations, and agencies explaining their focus
and their problems. Everyone got a glossy Autodesk magazine produced
by the local affiliate distributor which had an article about MapGuide
Open Source in it written by the presenter that day, he also plugged
the Foundation a couple of times in his slides, which was nice, and
otherwise talked up Map3D and Topobase a lot.

There was an Oracle talk that was just an endless stream of acronyms that
I had never run across before. BAM, BPEL...? It seemed incredibly baroque
and quite disconnected from the problem space there. The ESRI
representative gave a very generic, "Hey, GIS is great! and useful!
and we're all in it together!" type presentation which struck me as
condescendingly inappropriate for an audience of GIS professionals. 
He heckled every local speaker and had a near as stand up row with the
person from InterGraph, whose talk I didn't really absorb as the
slides were in Romanian. IONIC's business development manager was
there with a very solid story based on OGC standards orientation which
looks the most like OSGeo's story to me. 

I gave a talk about OSGeo, about open source involvement in the
collaborative development of complementary specifications aimed at
lowering the bar to participation, my hopes for developments of that
kind in the area of geospatial metadata and "discovery services", the
benefits of connecting more with non-geodata-specific web-oriented 
standards, the fact that this approach only really works properly if
geodata is open, and a few cases helping to support that stance. contains the slides and some quite full notes.

I felt it got a very positive reception, that people have become so
used to hearing dry or abstract marketing type material, that a display
of enthusiasm and exploration is surprising. There is a lot of
receptiveness to open source GIS and a good scene there in Bucharest;
Vasile, through whose FOSS4G acquaintance I was invited to
participate, and his colleagues are launching a Romanian-language open
geospatial / cartography portal soon, and they have some beautiful
work in it. 

There were several requests for, and expressions of interest in 
helping to translate an open licensed Open Source GIS book -
something really directed at the deep professional, way deeper than
the O'Reilly level but more user- than developer- oriented. has been in the pipeline
for a while but i have lost track of what is happening with it. 
I wonder how far it would be possible to get by compiling all the user
oriented documentation from the foundation projects, and seeing what
we end up with. 

that's about it,


More information about the Discuss mailing list