[postgis] The Next Level

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Fri Jul 27 06:54:17 PDT 2001

Paul Ramsey wrote:
> Gentlepeople:
> We here at Refractions have been discussing how to take PostGIS to the
> "next level" as a spatial database, and the general consensus is that a
> few things are needed:
>   a) add most/all of the OGC Simple Features Spec (union,
>      intersection, xor, etc)


In this area, there is a broad set of work on supporting tables for spatial
data referencing spatial tables, spatial columns within those tables, and
coordinates systems associated with those columns that hasn't been done in
PostGIS.  In fact I am not quite sure how we would do it.  I see this as
more important to building an interoperable SFSQL solution than adding support
for exotic spatial operators (though they would be nice). 

>   b) bundling of binaries (RPM, WIN32 Setup) for easy install

What are the chances of us getting postgis available from the normal PostgreSQL
sources as an option for the standard install of PostgreSQL?  Have you been
in contact with the postgresql developers about such a thing?  If not, I happen
to know Marc 'Scrappy' Fournier (core maintainer) who used to get a UUCP feed 
through me.  I could approach him.  

Basically, I think PostGIS is a credible spatial extension to PostgreSQL and
we should be looking at having it conveniently available with PostgreSQL rather
than as a separate installed option from downloaded from somewhere completely
different.  Companies like Oracle put alot of effort into providing spatial
extenders to their database as an easily added feature because there is lots
of spatial data out there in regular enterprises.  I would like to see postgresql
also address this. 

What I am not so convinced we want to do is get deeply buried in figuring out
the correct way of installing extensions to PostgreSQL on many platforms.  

This might also relate to possibilities of geoinnovations cofunding.  Great
Bridge and Red Hat are both pushing PostgreSQL now for "enterprise" solutions.
Perhaps one of them could be convinced to provide a little seed funding to
a geoinnovations project.

There might also be government agencies in Canada of the type that would 
like to buy something like CubeSTOR but find it too expensive that we might
be able to talk into providing some seed funding. 

>   c) full install / tutorial documentation to go with
>      bundled software
>   d) client access by some kind of viewer/editor tool
>      commercial or otherwise

Any thoughts on what client you would target?  A few options:

 o OpenEV: really, it already supports reading from PostGIS due to it's use
   of OGR.  It would be nice to add write support as well - currently OpenEV
   can only save to shapefiles. 

 o Geotools: It would seem like it should be easy to add PostGIS support using   
   the JDBC link.  I am not all that Geotools savvy, but it seems like a strong
   multi-platform client application for vector editing and visualization. 

 o ArcGIS: I have been doing a bunch of work making OGR data sources accessable
   as spatial data sources in ArcGIS via OLEDB.  However, using this mechanism 
   to access PostGIS would be kind of clumsy due to the layers of translation
   that would be going on.  Also, access to OLEDB datasources in ArcGIS is a bit

 o Geomedia: Geomedia is releasing an OGDI reader.  If we wrote an OGDI driver
   for PostGIS we could get read access in Geomedia. 

 o FME: What would we need to do to have clean read and write support for 
   PostGIS in FME?  I know you guys have been using some sort of customized 
   stuff with FME to load PostGIS but could we build a proper reader and writer
   for FME?  If we contributed it for free, I think there is a decent chance that
   Safe would distribute it.  I have lots of experience doing readers (and one
   writer) for FME, and could do a chunk of this work. 

In my opinion OpenEV could be a decent option for folks willing to install a big
application, and Geotools is great because it runs anywhere (that Java runs).  
Of course, both are also open source and easily modified. 

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    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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