[OSGeo-Discuss] Small projects

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Wed Mar 1 09:59:44 PST 2006

Ari Jolma wrote:
> Is there any idea in promoting projects, which develop small,
> well-defined, interoperable tools? Is my impression correct that the
> process that's been thought of for projects to join the foundation is a
> bit heavy and perhaps not suitable for small projects? I believe
> promoting interoperability is one of the foundations aims.


I have been asking myself this question too.  The "Project" infrastructure,
requiring a PSC, an incubation period, committer agreements, web sub-domain
and so forth seems pretty heavy.  So, I am doubtful that it would be
appropriate to handle more modest sized project that way.   I have been
asking myself a similar question about things like libtiff, libgeotiff,
PROJ.4, MITAB, AVCE00 and Shapelib.  My conclusion so far is that they
might be better handled as a sub-project of an existing major project
(such as GDAL for the above file translators).   I am assuming that a
sub-project would not need a PSC, but would be subject to the PSC of
the project it is part of and mostly would just act as a part of that
project as far as the foundation is concerned.

However, even that approach does not really map to your toolset which
is not really a sub-part of another project.  I'm not sure how to handle

One approach is to not have it be formally a foundation project.  The
foundation is primarily useful for providing projects with infrastructure,
promotion/visibility, a neutral venue for control, and some degree of
organizational legitimacy.  Infrastructure is available from lots of
sources (ie. SourceForge).  I don't think a neutral venue for project
control is all that important for a small project.  Organizational
legitimacy is not necessarily all that important for a small project
though the promotion and visibility aspect could be nice.

I do expect the foundation to do some degree of promotion of quality
projects that are not directly part of the foundation, but that
build on foundation projects, or interoperate with them well or even
that just fit in with the foundation philosophy well.  An obvious
example of this is PostGIS.  It isn't a 'foundation project' but it is
clearly part of the 'foundation stack' and the foundation can be
expected to talk about it quite a bit.

Ultimately, I think it is important to realize there will be a large
number of open source geospatial activities that are not foundation
projects, and that is good.  The foundation is here to provide
organizational and institutional support and stabilty to projects
that need that to achieve their full capacity.  But there are still
lots of projects doing all sorts of interesting things.  We can
point to them (as freegis.org does already), and work with such
projects in a variety of fashions.  Certainly you have an association
with GDAL and possibly other environments that existed before the
foundation and can well grow.

-- changing gears slightly --

One thing identified in as important in Chicago was for the foundation
to provide "ready to use" binaries or package environments.  This is
to make the life of users easier and to promote wider use of foundation
projects.  It has been my idea that the foundation ought to get involved
in support, and promoting projects such as Debian-GIS, FGS, MS4W and
or easy to use binary builds.  One thing common to these efforts is
they try to make a variety of tools (mapserver, grass, gdal, etc)
available in a ready-to-run environment for users.

It might make sense to have your package set included in one/some of
these efforts.

I could also see the possibility of forming language oriented interest
groups within the foundation.  Somewhere that PHP, Perl, Python, Java
or even c# users might get together and that would help prepare
packaged binaries with language bindings for many foundation projects.

Hmm, this has gotten quite long, and without any really clear point.  I
had better stop.  I would encourage you to join the incubator mailing list
to help us consider the issues of smaller, or more aggregated projects
when coming up with criteria and process for projects joining the foundation.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | President OSGF, http://osgeo.org

More information about the Discuss mailing list