[OSGeo-Discuss] Next 5 years for OSGeo

Peter Batty peter at ebatty.com
Fri Oct 2 07:32:08 PDT 2009

A good discussion and one which is important for OSGeo's future. I agree
with Cédric's initial statement that "The OSGEO is very developer centric
and probably need more input from management, end user, marketing etc..."
and I think that the responses to this thread reflect that. Most developers
in my experience are skeptical of the value of / need for marketing (in the
open source and closed source world), and we've seen a lot of that in the
responses. I used to think that way too, but over time have come to
appreciate the value of marketing more. Unfortunately the software business
has many examples where a company became dominant despite having software
that was inferior to its competitors, Microsoft and ESRI being two of these.
Ultimately I think that a primary measure of the success of OSGeo has to be
in the number of people using its products, and it is surely in the
interests of developers to get more users too - which should result in more
funding for further development, etc. I think that improved "marketing"
would actually have much more impact in terms of getting more people using
OSGeo products than anything we can do on the development front - there is
always a long list of things to do, of course, but in general the current
functionality of most OpenGeo products is very competitive, the main thing
holding back broader usage is just that most people in the broader
geospatial industry don't know about them (and/or they have misconceptions
about open source software, etc).

And thinking of marketing as taking people to fancy events etc is wrong (in
this context at least) - I would say that better terms for what OSGeo should
be doing in this area might be outreach and education (in various senses).

One thing we are weak on in general is documentation on user projects /
success stories. For example, last week I talked at the AGI conference in
the UK and afterwards got an email from an attendee which said:

"During your talk you mentioned that you use PostGIS a lot and I was
wondering if you could let me know about your experiences with it? At the
moment we have our data on different servers and in different formats and
I’m trying to get it all into one place.  We have recently got SQL Server
2005 so I don’t think we will be going for the 2008 spatial version for a
few years.  Therefore I have been looking into PostGIS which seems to be the
perfect solution…however, I’m struggling to find people who have used it on
a regular basis."

We need to make it easy for people to connect with existing OSGeo product
users, not a "struggle".

When I chose to use PostGIS for my startup a couple of years ago, a critical
factor in that decision for me was attending FOSS4G and talking to others
who had used it. I think that the direction that FOSS4G goes in is another
key decision in terms of OSGeo's marketing strategy. I know there are people
in the community who want to keep the event small and intimate and focused
on the existing development community. There are others who think it is a
great opportunity to expose more new people to OSGeo products (me included),
and that we should do more to grow the conference (and I think there are
ways we can do this and meet the concerns of the development community, as
we talked about in the Denver 2010 proposal).

I think that programs to encourage greater use of OSGeo products in
universities would be a great idea too - ESRI dominate in this area at the
moment, but this would be another way to get the word out to a broader

I think that all these things I have mentioned are better done at the OSGeo
level than the project level.

So anyway, I don't believe that marketing is evil, I think it's really
important if you want reasonable numbers of people to use the cool software
that you're developing, and I think it's important that OSGeo continues to
work on this area. And that the type of marketing we are talking about is
really outreach and education, which hopefully are more acceptable terms to
most :).

I will sign up to the marketing committee as Tyler suggested, and encourage
others who are interested to do so too.


On Wed, Sep 30, 2009 at 12:20 PM, Tyler Mitchell (OSGeo) <
tmitchell at osgeo.org> wrote:

> "Jacolin Yves" <yjacolin at free.fr> wrote:
> > Hello Cédric,
> >
> > I think more people think same as you relating this point of view :) :
> >
> > Le Wednesday 30 September 2009 16:28:20 Cédric Moullet, vous avez écrit :
> >> The OSGEO is very developer centric and probably need more input from
> >> management, end user, marketing etc...
> Thanks for the great discussion,
> I can relate to Yves and Cédric's comments.  Cédric's comment is the
> primary
> feedback I get from end users, local chapters and developers alike.  They
> ask for more information and material to share with others at events or
> meetings, etc.  They don't tend to point out technical barriers to their
> projects success, they already know and love a project and just want to
> tell
> others about it.  Of course we all have our software feature wishlists of
> functionality but I don't think most of us expect OSGeo to be the venue for
> developing them.  Like Frank says, don't tell the projects what to do ;-)
> Not to say there aren't some powerful synergies to be gained at more
> technical levels through OSGeo and some projects are certainly getting used
> to depending on OSGeo services, but aside from requests to our systems
> admin
> group, I rarely hear end users, advocates or even developers say OSGeo
> needs
> to do anything further at a technical level (except maybe more
> benchmarking,
> live demo disks or binary package development).
> I'm sure there will be some more good discussion over the upcoming months
> as
> to focus and effort.  I see the education side as an obvious common goal,
> and marketing as well, but I'm curious to hear more about some of the more
> 'developer centric' ideas people have in mind. I'm keen to hear further
> ideas along Cédric's line of thinking too.
> By the way, the Marketing Committee has a mailing list, all are welcome to
> join to share ideas and volunteer.  It's been pretty quiet lately, so don't
> be shy and come and share your thoughts:
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/marketing
> Best wishes,
> Tyler
> _______________________________________________
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> Discuss at lists.osgeo.org
> http://lists.osgeo.org/mailman/listinfo/discuss

Peter Batty - President, Spatial Networking
W: +1 303 339 0957  M: +1 720 346 3954
Blog: http://geothought.blogspot.com
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