ANNOUNC: GRASS OGF activities moved/User survey (long)

Carine O'Neil coneil at
Wed Jan 11 15:05:38 EST 1995

 Announcement of interest to the GRASS GIS community
       GRASS support functions being assumed by Rutgers University
        Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA)

The Rutgers University Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) 
is pleased to announce that, effective Dec. 1, 1994, we are assuming the GRASS 
support and distribution functions that were formerly being providedby OGF, the 
Open GRASS Foundation (later Open GIS Foundation) of Boston Mass. 

The open computing in GIS philosophy that is the spirit of GRASS and OGF has 
inspired an extremely significant new initiative. OGF has founded a non-profit 
trade association, the Open GIS Consortium (OGC), to organize resources and 
community support for development of the Open Geodata Interoperability 
Specification (OGIS).  This activity, along with a reduction in funding from 
federal agencies to the Foundation, has made it impossible for them to continue 
to provide support to the GRASS community, and they have decided to stop all 
GRASS-related activities. The Board of Directors who met on Nov. 30, 
1994, voted to pass all GRASS-related activities to Rutgers University. 

The three main GRASS-related activities at OGF were 1) GRASS CD-ROM and manual 
distribution and the fielding of telephone and fax queries, 2) production of the
 "GRASSClippings" quarterly newsletter, and 3) the arrangement of the annual 
GRASS users meeting. 

As you may know, these support activities were originally provided by the U.S. 
Army CERL lab, original developers of the GRASS software. In 1993, with the 
support of the GRASS Interagency Steering Committee, the non-profit Open GIS 
Foundation (OGF) was formed to manage GRASS distribution, support, 
documentation, and user meetings and to help for-profit companies integrate 
GRASS into their commercial activities.

The transfer of GRASS responsibilities to Rutgers promises to bring a number of 
benefits to the user community.  First, GRASS fits well in an academic setting. 
The Center is staffed by people who understand GIS, image processing, UNIX, and 
a wide variety of application disciplines.  

Scott Madry, Director of the Center and a member of the boards of directors of 
OGF and OGC, is a long-time GRASS proponent.  He teaches GRASS courses at the 
Center and at other sites, and he is enthusiastic about sustaining the GRASS 
community. Financially, a new approach is necessary.  Income from sales of 
documentation, videos, and GRASS CD-ROMs has not been enough to fund OGF 
activities. While GRASS continues to grow in the academic and international 
areas, with a few notable exceptions such as LAS, commercialization of GRASS 
has not been successful. Government agencies that supported GRASS development
in the past are reducing the amount of funding directed towards GRASS. At the 
same time, GRASS continues to be an extremely popular GIS and image processing 
software package and development environment. We would very much like to see an 
open discussion and debate about where we as a community want to go, what 
services we want to have provided, how the services that cost money can be 
funded, and how we can best achieve these goals. 

First, let us tell you what we at Rutgers are planning to do in the near term. 
The GRASS CD-ROMs and manuals will continue to be available, now through 
Rutgers instead of OGF. We will take over the general telephone and email 
queries as well. We will coordinate with CERL the next major release of GRASS 
(version 5.0) now scheduled for late 1995. We will provide a CD-ROM and 
documentation for that release, which will be available through us, as well as 
on-line from the CERL server. We will try to put as much of the GRASS related 
information presently provided by OGF on-line. GRASSClippings, the magazine of 
the GRASS user community, will not be continued in the current color format 
seen in recent issues.  GRASSCLIPPINGS will now be offered as a Mosaic home 
page magazine, a window into volumes of GRASS-related information contained in 
linked files residing on servers around the world. There will be a URL 
directory of GRASS-related user sites, projects, data providers, meetings, 
training courses, etc. The goal is to take the GRASSClippings into the future 
by making it a "virtual" GIS magazine. This will both reduce the actual cost 
and broaden its distribution. 

As for the GRASS User's meeting, we have not decided what to do.  What do WE, 
the GRASS user community want to have? Do we want or need an annual meeting? 
Should it be dropped? Are there universities or others out there that would be 
willing to host and organize a GRASS meeting for 1995? Could we combine the 
GRASS meeting with an existing program like GIS/LIS, ASPRS, or URISA? We hope 
that we, together as a community, can provide an answer to this issue that will 
meet our needs. 

There has been a great deal of discussion about the future of the GRASS GIS 
software and community. Some feel that GRASS is dying, overtaken by events or 
"beaten" by the commercial packages. Many others (like ourselves) feel that 
GRASS is a vital and organic environment, and that there is an important need 
for a high-quality, public domain GIS and image processing environment to 
compliment the commercial models currently offered. In the end, the future of 
the GRASS software and user community is what we make of it together. We at 
Rutgers want to work together with you all in making GRASS, and more 
importantly what the grass community stands for, a viable 
force in the future of the international GIS community. 

Carine ONeil is the CRSSA staff member that currently handles our distribution 
and support activities for the GRASS Global CD-ROM project. She will assume the 
task of taking your phone calls, taking orders for GRASS products, providing 
basic technical support, and putting you in touch with people who can help you 
in other ways. We hope to have the Mosaic CLIPPINGS operating in January. 
Contact her at:

Carine O'Neil
Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
Box 231 Cook, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0231 USA
tel. (908) 932-1582/3  fax (908) 932-8746
coneil at

To begin our discussion, the following is a questionnaire designed to get us 
all thinking about the issues, and to provide you with a mechanism to provide 
your feedback on who you are, and what you feel about the important issues that 
the GRASS community faces. It takes time, but please consider filling out a 
questionnaire. We will post the results on the GRASS-L discussion group and 
GIS-L. We look forward to reading your comments and ideas and working together 
with you all.
GRASS Community Questionnaire

The Rutgers University Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis (CRSSA) 
has assumed the GRASS support and distribution functions that were formerly 
being provided by the Open GRASS Foundation (later Open GIS Foundation) of 
Boston Mass. In order to more effectively serve the GRASS user and development 
communities, we are asking that current or potential GRASS GIS users provide us 
with information about their activities and their vision of the future of the 
GRASS software and community. Please fax or email your response, as well as any 
additional comments or suggestions, to:

Scott Madry or Carine O'Neil
Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
Box 231 Cook, Rutgers University
New Brunswick, NJ 08903-0231 USA
tel. (908) 932-1582/3   fax (908) 932-8746
madry at    coneil at

Name Organization________________________________________






Country______________Postal Code ____________________________

Tel. ____________________________Fax.________________________

Name of Person Responding____________________________________

Title _______________________________________________________


Mosaic URL of Organization____________________________________

Type of Organization: University________  National Gov't agency________ 
Individual ______State Gov't________  Local Gov't________ 
International  agency_____Commercial_______ Non-Profit________ 

GIS Software Used (please indicate number of seats or licenses) GRASS________
Arc/Info________ ILWIS________Idrisi________ MGE________
AutoCad________MapInfo_______ Genasys________

Hardware environment used for GIS/remote sensing/GPS work
(please indicate general number of computers for each)

DOS________ MAC________ WINDOWS________SUN________ DEC________ 
Silicon Graphics________LINUX_______ Intergraph________ 

IBM Risc 6000________Other____________________________________________

GIS/Remote Sensing Applications

Archaeology________	Biology________	Coastal Studies________
Park Mgmt_______ AM/FM________ Transportation_______ Utilities________ Wildlife
Mgmt.________ Other__________________________________________________ 

What version(s) of GRASS do you currently use? _______________
How did you find out about GRASS?  Magazine (name)_________________ Friend____
Mosaic_________ University (name)__________________ Other_____________________

How did you acquire GRASS? CD-ROM_____ Internet (moon)_____ Tape______
Friend_____Agency_________  Other_________________________

How would you prefer to acquire GRASS in the future CD-ROM_____ Internet_____
Tape_____  Friend_____ Agency_________  Other_________________________
Tel. ____________________________Fax.________________________

Do you want:    
Source code Y___ N___ 
Compiled code  Y___ N___  which compiled code?_________________   
Both Y___ N___

Why do you use the GRASS GIS? Please rank from 1 to 10, meaning most important
(1) to least important (10)

Cost_____   Open Programming Environment____ Customer(s) use GRASS______  Ease of
use______ Agency or company mandates its use_______
Specific capabilities (list)__________________________________

What kind of general uses for GRASS are there at your site?

University teaching __________research_______applications______
code development_____contracting________short courses_____

If you use GRASS for teaching, what kind of

What other GIS/RS software do you teach

How would you rate GRASS as a teaching GIS (on a scale of 1-10 with 1 the best
and 10 the worst)   ____________

What do you like about teaching using GRASS?___________________

What do you not like about teaching using

What developments would you like to see that would help you the most in teaching
using GRASS?____________________________________


GENERAL GRASS CAPABILITIES What do you see as the best general features of



What do you see as the worst features or greatest limitations of



GRASS MEETINGS How should the GRASS user community address the issue of meetings?
These cost money, and require significant administrative effort to plan and host.
We would like your ideas about how (or if) we should do future meetings.

Should there be future GRASS meetings? Yes___No___

What would most influence your decision to attend a GRASS meeting in the future
(put a number in order of importance, with 1 being the most important)

cost____location____ What is your preferred location?________________
content and quality of papers_____Vendor booths____Seeing friends___
"Birds of a feather" meetings___Fun__ Hearing Scott Madry Sing_____

When would you most prefer such a meeting (month)______________

Would you consider hosting a future GRASS users meeting? Y__N___


Would you prefer a: (please rank 1-7, with 1 being the best)
Stand-alone GRASS users meeting_______ Regional mtgs.____
Joint meeting with URISA_______ASPRS_____GIS/LIS_______
European meeting_______ Asian/Pacific rim meeting_________

GRASSCLIPPINGS ISSUES In the past, there has been a color newsletter/magazine
dealing with GRASS, funded partly through paid advertisements.  Rutges wants to
produce a "virtual GRASSCLIPPINGS" as a mosaic home page on the internet. Your
comments are requested.

Do you like the idea of a Mosaic-based "Virtual GRASSCLIPPINGS" magazine on the
Internet? Y___ N___

Do you currently have a Mosaic home page URL that could be "connected"?
If yes, please list it:____________________________________________

Provide the email address of the person responsible for it

Would you be willing to provide articles/papers/news/etc. via Mosaic for the
Virtual Clippings? Yes____  No____ Explain__________________________

Do you have a better name for the new electronic

How do we serve those without Mosaic

GRASS USERS GROUP ISSUES In the past, the official functions of organizing GRASS
activities have been handled by the Open GRASS Foundation. Now that the OGF is
gone, we should discuss the future of the grass users group.  We want to propose
that we create a new organization to coordinate GRASS-related activities. 

Should there be a new GRASS Users Organization? Y___ N___

Do you have a suggestion for a name for the new GRASS users

Should this new organization be :          

a legal entity (non-profit corporation, etc.)? Y___ N___ 
a loosely organized user group Y___ N___
other structure____________________________________________           
Don't really care _____

Do we need to form a new GRASS users group Steering Committee 
Y___ N___

Would you be willing to participate in a meaningful way (meaning time and effort)
by serving on a Steering Committee? Y__ N__

Can I put your name on a list that will be posted on grass-l to be voted on by
the community within the next month or so. Y__ N__

It costs money to provide many of the services that have been available to the
GRASS community in the past. How should we (or should we) consider raising funds 
for future GRASS activities?

Would you pay individual membership dues? Y____ N____ 
How much would you be willing to pay per year  $_________
Should ther be a group or organizational membership? Y___ N___
How much would your organization be willing to pay per year ? $______
Should we try to get grants to fund GRASS activities from standard granting 
organizations Y___ N___
Which ones?______________________________
Other ________________________
Don't feel the need to raise funds_____


GRASS currently resides in the public domain, with free access to source code 
available on the internet. This is one of its great strengths. CD-ROMs and 
documentation are available for nominal cost from Rutgers, and there are 
commercial spin-off versions that are available. Primary development and release 
coordination costs are significant, and are still provided by CERL (and others). 
If this model changes, how would you like to see GRASS distribution and release 
coordination (which costs real money and staff) handled in the future after the 
5.0 release (please rate 1-10, with 1 being the most preferable, and 10 being
 the least).

___ As is, in the public domain, with source available on the internet for 
free, source and compiled code available on CD-ROM and manuals available for a 
small fee.

___Stop public domain status with 5.0, and transition GRASS to an "IDRISI" like 
model, with Rutgers providing all support, new development, documentation, new 
ports, etc. for a reasonable fee per release.

What is a reasonable fee for each new release for such a complete 
Academic US $ 100_________    Commercial US $ 100_________
Academic US $ 300_________    Commercial US $ 300_________
Academic US $ 500_________    Commercial US $ 500_________
Academic US $ 1,000_________  Commercial US $ 1,000_________
Other US $ _________________

Other proposed model___________________________________________________

GRASS DEVELOPMENT ISSUES The GRASS community includes a large number of 
technical development sites around the world. The issue of how (or if) we 
should coordinate GRASS development in the wider international community along 
with the two primary development sites (USA/CERL and USDA SCS) should be 
considered, especially if or 
when they reduce their development activities significantly. 

Should future GRASS development be coordinated? Y___ N___

What are the five most important GRASS development areas that need to be 
addressed (what does GRASS most need that it doesn't have now)?


Would you or your facility be interested in participating in a new GRASS 
development consortium or group that will serve as a clearinghouse for 
coordinating and sharing development activities.  Y___ N___

How should such a consortium be aranged to produce future GRASS releases beyond 
version 5.0 if CERL/SCS no longer supports future releases? How can the 
responsibilities and costs be shared?_________________________________

Would you be willing to support a site at your facility that would be 
responsible for grass ports and configuration maintenance for a particular 
HW/OS configuration? Y__ N__ 
If yes, what configuration? _______________________________

CERL currently maintains the "moon" server that contains the GRASS source code, 
documentation, etc. While there is no immediate intention at CERL to stop, it 
is realistic to assume that this arrangement will not continue indefinately. If 
CERL decides to stop maintaining the server in the future, what would you 
suggest as an alternative?

_____Find a new site to maintain the public domain server            
(Apx. 1 full time system manager time and cost, plus equipment)
How would such a site be funded?______________________
Would you be willing to provide (and fund) such a site at your                  
facility? Y__ N__

_____Find a new site to maintain a server that would charge some access fee. 
What charge would be acceptable? US$ _____________

_____Stop the maintenance of a centralized server


Thank you very much for your input into this process. We at Rutgers are very 
excited about beginning this new chapter in the GRASS story, and we will do 
everyting we can to make it a success. We will be collecting your responses and 
putting them on grass-l in the near future. Feel free to contact us at any 

Scott Madry, Associate Director
Center for Remote Sensing and Spatial Analysis
Rutgers University
tel (908) 932-1581/2  fax (908) 932-8746
madry at
Carine O'Neil, GRASS Coordinator
same address
tel (908) 932-1582    same fax#
coneil at

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