[GRASS5] Update from Chicago meeting

Markus Neteler neteler at itc.it
Tue Feb 7 13:05:25 EST 2006

Dear GRASS Community,

after returning from the Chicago meeting I'll summarize below some relevant
points of the meeting discussions there which were supported by IRC chats.
25 people attended the meeting, a peak of 50-60 people were listening/writing
in the dedicated IRC channels. Comments from IRC were picked up [1] and
discussed, a couple of people also followed via telephone.

Here key points from the meeting:
   * Attendees represented over 17 different groups/companies and over 20
       different open source/free software geospatial projects
   * Foundation name: "Open Source Geospatial Foundation" or just OSGeo.
     Domain will be: http://osgeo.org (already registered, but not yet set up)
   * Initial membership started with attendees who met in Chicago
   * Initial/Interim board elected (from a longer list of proposals):
       - Arnulf Christl - Mapbender/ccgis.de, Germany
       - Chris Holmes - GeoServer, Open Plans, U.S.
       - Gary Lang - MapGuide, Autodesk, U.S.
       - Markus Neteler - GRASS, ITC-irst, Italy
       - Frank Warmerdam - GDAL, OGR, etc., Canada
   * Adding more members and board members will be discussed shortly
       after having set up the infrastructure.

New "OSGeo" mailing lists and Web site will be set up shortly, also the
minutes and results from the meeting will be posted there. This will take 
a couple days to get this together. We had 10 hours in the meeting room
and yet very little time to actually post documents.

For me it was a very successful and productive meeting. While being very
skeptical before, I am now confident that the "migration" from a Mapserver
oriented foundation to a global "Geo" foundation happens. Looking at
the interim board, we see that various different projects are represented
from (currently) two continents.

Initially, I was skeptical as I wanted to avoid a Mapserver/Mapguide centric
foundation, and only limited to software issues. The scope of the new OSGeo
foundation is much wider and includes also GIS (not only mapping), promotion
of Free geospatial data (for parts of the world outside North America) and
education issues such as a GFOSS core curriculum. Of course these ideas are
still templates which have to be filled by the communities.

The goal is to establish the new foundation as reference point for all
relevant GFOSS communities. It was discussed to make the new web server a
"one stop shop" for the participating projects. This would help to avoid that
people have to seek many different web sites etc. But also a sourceforge
style shall be avoided.
An idea is to migrate projects to the foundation to homogenize the look and
feel while getting provided all necessary infrastructure (Web server, Mailing
lists, bug tracker, compile farm, whatever else). Things are inspired by the
successful Apache Foundation. However, the new foundation will not strictly
follow their principles which would not make much sense either. For example,
a transfer of the copyright does simply not work for many projects and is
also not desired by everyone. But I see many benefits in migrating the
project hosting to a single server (network):

- harmonized look and feel ("branding" of the GFOSS projects to appear
  as well established and cohesive suggestion to users and clients)
- less work at our end of maintaining the infrastructure
- possibility to easily redirect issues/bug reports across communities
- if possible, compile farm to generate packages for various operating
- more...

However, this will certainly take time and details have to be worked out.

For now, a couple of projects were suggested to be initial projects in
the new foundation:

- Mapbender
- MapBuilder
- MapGuide

The Mapserver project is currently doing a poll in their community
(probably to avoid the November/December problems).

Since copyrights are not touched, my suggestion is to get GRASS into
the foundation. It plays an important role as the only complete free GIS.
So it should become a visible part of the open source GIS product stack.
Unless the question appears to move software/communication channels to a
foundation infrastructure, not much will change for now. But GRASS will
be recognized as key project in this initiative. This may be a good
opportunity to get out of the niche. Cohesion and transparency are
also desired to avoid parallel development of identical algorithms.

I see a major advantage in improving the cohesion between the various
GFOSS projects out there, the Saturday meeting changed my skeptical
opinion into a favourable one. Since I was suggested and elected into
the board, we'll have some influence to get things into the right

There are various blogs about the new foundation:
 ...and more...

Images (for now still on the old server since the osgeo.org isn't set up yet):

Hoping for comments,
best regards


[1] http://logs.qgis.org/geofoundation/
     -> #geofoundation.2006-02-04.log
     -> [Community] [Funding] [Governance] [Legal]

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