[postgis-users] rasters in PostGIS...

Jeff D. Hamann jeff.hamann at forestinformatics.com
Thu Sep 29 10:14:34 PDT 2005

Paul Ramsey said:
>>  I know it's a daunting task (the docs for Oracle spatial are over
>> 600 pages!) but there has to be some effort otherwise PostGIS looks
>> like another "hey look what I did, isn't it cool" tool that has no
>> real staying power and application.
> That's just silly, and a little insulting.
> P.

It was insulting and I apologise. I'm not so sure about it being a silly
statement though...

There are many open source tools that come very close to being a complete
replacement for non-open source tools, but they all have just the right
amount of limitations that prevent many users (at least in my community)
from adopting the tools and sending a clear signal to traditional software
vendors that state, "hey, we're tired of hearing 'that's a good idea, why
don't you purchase the next release of our software and see if that
feature does what you want'". For example, I use (and contribute) to the R
project and have done plenty of work in GRASS (analysis and software
development) to know that with a little bit of spit and polish, they could
replace most of the tools that my field uses for analysis. Most people
(read organizations in Forestry) make use of ArcView 3.2 and data
management is pretty bad if existant at the organizational level.
Shapefiles rule the day and raster images are simply picture backgrounds.
R is a great tool because of it's simplicity from the user perspective (I
know I'm getting a little off topic) and GRASS has a ways to go before
many people trapped in organizational bureaucracies can even suggest to
their organizations that GRASS is a meaningful alternative or
accompaniment to ERSI products. I'm not trying to suggest that GRASS (or
postgres+postgis) is a potential replacement for ArcGIS, but should a tool
that can easily handle data in both raster and vector formats that doesn't
require an entire workstation and system admin to perform simple analysis,
then people would seriously look at as a tool they could adopt for
everyday use. So far, postgis doesn't even come up on the radar screen
becuase it doesn't have nearly the functionality of ArcSDE or Orcale
Spatial. If it became possible to simply view vector and raster data using
a tool similar to QGIS (another story) then I think there are lots of
students, researchers and forward looking professionals that would start
to adopt those tools and even recommend those tools to clients and

For most purposes, it wouldn't need to be fast or super efficient or even
idiot proof, but it would need to be functional for many basic tasks such
as those tasks that are common for many evironmental and research
applications. From what I can tell, Postgis is a great tool (and when I
say great, I mean just the ticket that the field has needed for the last
20 years) for managing vector data. the simple shapefile dump tool has
plenty of practicle applications and can be used by someone with limited
experience and skills. And right now, postgis isn't so... I can't
recommend it to clients or colleagues for those reasons.

Thanks for listening though and again I apologise for sounding insulting.


Jeff D. Hamann
Forest Informatics, Inc.
PO Box 1421
Corvallis, Oregon 97339-1421
phone 541-754-1428
fax 541-752-0288
jeff.hamann at forestinformatics.com

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