[OSGeo-Standards] In what ways do you feel you are restricted from working with OGC today?

Allan Doyle adoyle at eogeo.org
Wed Aug 22 11:44:25 EDT 2007

One of the organizations I used to be involved with (WGISS - http:// 
wgiss.ceos.org) has volunteers that provide bi-directional  
connections between various organizations and the WGISS members.  
There's an OGC Liaison (or rather there was when I was it...), an ISO  
Liaison, a CODATA Liaison, etc.

The job of these people is to collect a list of new items coming from  
the outside organization and either present that at each meeting or  
other intervals and also to do a bit of interpretation about what's  
going on inside the organization.

Some examples:

However, given the OGC "Pay to Play" issue, coupled with the OGC  
policies and procedures that prevent things like live-blogging an OGC  
meeting, it's a bit difficult to know how much can be said and how  
much must be left unsaid.

There's also the other direction. In the case of WGISS, we actually  
set up the Earth Observation Working Group within OGC to provide an  
avenue for pushing things important to WGISS inside OGC.

So how would this all work for OSGeo? I think OSGeo is a lot like  
WGISS, it's really an organization made up of constituent groups, and  
thus a Liaison would be more appropriate than a Membership. Of  
course, OGC doesn't have a formal category called Liaison. The way we  
finessed that was to have WGISS members who were also OGC members  
support the inside-OGC parts (setting up the working group, etc.). So  
it's possible that OSGeo members who are also OGC members could set  
up an Open Source Working Group. Autodesk and the MapBender people  
(what's Arnulf's current organization called?) are Principal members.  
They could use their clout to get this formed.

Then the trick is to develop a line of communication back out of OGC  
that flies under the radar screen. Whoever the OSGeo OGC Liaison  
person is would have to attend meetings and report back to OSGeo.

Note also that there's no reason people on either side of the fence  
can't voice opinions of their own about specs. Saying "xyz is dead",  
"abc is great", etc. does not violate any agreements I know of.

I sort of remember a long time ago, when I still had a voice inside  
OGC, of calling for the formation of a membership category that  
basically counted work as money. Back then, in the Days of CORBA,  
UCLA was doing most of the implementation work of OGC specs but never  
got a vote. That led to some rather strange situations. Maybe it's  
time for someone who has a high-level voice inside OGC to raise the  
issue again. Without FOSS projects implementing OGC specs, there  
would be far less acceptance of those specs. In fact, the specs with  
no serious open source implementations are more likely to be in the  
"dead" category.


On Aug 22, 2007, at 11:08 , Landon Blake wrote:

> Jody wrote: "Pay To Play"
> This is definitely an obstacle for most open source projects. For
> example, at the JUMP Pilot Project we have an annual operating budget
> of... wait a minute, we don't even have an annual operating budget. :]
> All joking aside, a lot of our contributions at the JPP come from
> developers that are employed by universities, or who are involved with
> GIS at some level in their secular employment but work on OpenJUMP in
> their off time. I can understand that the OGC wouldn't want to have
> companies setting up an open source GIS project to avoid paying
> membership fees, but I can't imagine this would be a huge problem.
> Imagine for a minute asking your wife if you could send a check for
> $500.00 to the OGC and trying to provide an explanation. :]
> I would really love to see a avenue or mechanism for open source
> developers to participate in the OGC process. I think the OSGeo  
> might be
> able to serve some role in this. How this can be done in a fair manner
> may be another question. It is important to remember that most open
> source developers do not receive direct financial gain from their  
> work,
> nor would they do so from their involvement in the OGC.
> Jody wrote: "Hard to see when a standard is being worked on."
> Let me give an example of the difficulty in this area, just to back up
> Jody's comments. Let's say I'm brainstorming on some functionality I
> would like to add to OpenJUMP. Maybe I want to add support for text
> labels, linear referencing (route stationing), or image hotlinking.  
> How
> do I find out if there is an OGC standard that I can work with? How  
> do I
> find out if there are plans for an OGC standard?
> Maybe we could have a coordinator that announced plans for OGC  
> standards
> under development at the OSGeo Discussion Mailing List.
> Jody wrote: "Hard to see when a standard is DEAD."
> Why does a standard die? Is it because there isn't enough interest in
> developing the standard, or is it because the technical challenges are
> too great? This is something I would be interested in hearing more
> about.
> The Sunburned Surveyor
> -----Original Message-----
> From: standards-bounces at lists.osgeo.org
> [mailto:standards-bounces at lists.osgeo.org] On Behalf Of Jody Garnett
> Sent: Tuesday, August 21, 2007 6:10 PM
> To: standards at lists.osgeo.org
> Subject: [OSGeo-Standards] In what ways do you feel you are restricted
> from working with OGC today?
> There are a couple of restrictions:
> - pay to play
> - hard to see when a standard is being worked on
> - hard to see when a standard is DEAD
> Until very recently I did not have any "above the table" access to ISO
> Specifications. So I spent my time coding against GeoAPI interfaces,
> teasing meaning out of OGC interpretations of ISO standards and  
> sifting
> through summaries provided by others on the email list. Tiring.  
> Whenever
> "under the table" access was presented as an option I always said no -
> wanting to be sure that the interfaces and work I was doing was
> verifiable...
> Is this OGC problem? Nope. They are starting to refer to ISO standards
> however; and the more they integrate the further the door closes to  
> good
> open source implementations.  Making some geometry implementations to
> mirror GML for example is only happening *now*, even though GML is a
> nice open standard - without reference to ISO 19107 you have a hard  
> time
> implementing it.
> The other way my work is hindered with the OGC is the usual delay
> between releases. SLD 1.0 vanished into a black hole for years. It  
> would
> be nice to contribute to a host of standards (SLD, WMS,  
> and so on) but not for $500 out of pocket, and even if my pocket is  
> that
> deep we tend to play the open source game as collaborators - I cannot
> tax my development community with $500 each just to see what a working
> group is (or is not) up to.
> Finally it is hard to recognize from outside when a standard is  
> DEAD. We
> spent a lot of time on a "Grid Coverage Exchange" standard only to
> realize much later that it was dead. What was are hint? When other
> related standards (like WCS) started referring directly to the ISO
> document for coverages - dodging the OGC;s earlier attempt at the same
> ground. Oh wait was that was an  ISO number again - looks like a good
> coverage api will be delayed again.
> Solution?
> Being an observer on a working group mailing list or some such was  
> often
> *just* the right amount of involvement. It allowed both communities to
> profit from the relationship (we could see what was going on, and a
> working group could have us try out some of their wild ideas and get
> early feedback).
> Cheers,
> Jody
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Allan Doyle
adoyle at eogeo.org

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