2011 Code Sprint


Fellow LizardTech developer Kirk and I just got back from the third annual OSGeo Code Sprint; this time in Montreal, Canada. Daniel Morissette did a great job of organizing this event and has already posted an excellent review of the sprint (here) including pictures (here), so I’ll simply add that that it was great fun to meet personally with the guys who build great libraries like PostGIS, libLAS/libPC and GDAL.

Kirk and I worked on adding MG4 (MrSID Generation 4) support to the new libPC. The “PC” stands for “point cloud”. libPC is the next evolution of libLAS and aims to be the GDAL of point cloud formats. We didn’t finish, but once this work is done it will enable decode support in libPC for compressed LiDAR data in MrSID format. For more info, see http://libpc.org/notes/goals.html.

Fun fact:  The pronunciation of GDAL is the subject of some disagreement. It seems obvious to me and Kirk that “GeeDAL” is correct (like “Vi”, the editor or “Unix”, the OS).  I was amused to hear that in French-speaking Montreal it’s sometimes “J’DAL.” For reasons that are not clear to me some of the inner circle (Frank W and Hobu) usually pronounce it “GuuDAL.”

MrSID in Linux

Enjoying a break after sprinting. Image courtesy of OSGeo Code Sprint 2011.

On a more serious note, much of the GIS industry’s foundation code depends on some of these libraries. That’s good for all of us: quality libraries allow us all to write valuable applications quickly with high confidence in the underlying stability and reliability. They allow us to focus on what we’re good at and (hopefully) what is important to our users. That’s really valuable and it doesn’t cost very much to give a little back.

  1. If you work around a limitation, return the patch to the community. You don’t need to be a committer, just send it in. It’s in everyone’s interest to consider your patch.
  2. If you can’t work around it, offer to pay the community to fix it. Some of these guys make a living doing this and our experience is that the costs are often quite reasonable.
  3. Consider direct financial support of key projects and/or the OSGeo Foundation (http://www.osgeo.org).

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