The Impact of Open Source


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  • I work for Oxford Archaeology as an IT Support and Development Officer, and also as a Geospatial Consultant for our spin-off consultancy OA Digital. Oxford Archaeology are the largest commercial archaeological unit in Europe, employing around 400 staff in 3 British and 2 French offices. We use GIS a great deal in all areas of our work, as almost all of it has a spatial component. We made a decision to go open source about 3 years ago, and haven't imploded yet! I was going to talk about cost savings and licensing, and boring things like that, but decided instead to look in a light-hearted way at the impact open source GIS has on the gis space, and might have on your business
  • Open Source provides three main advantages, outside of ideas such as cost These are: Interoperability, Modularity and Control With these in mind, it's possible to use open source within your business to expand what you can do in a flexible, fairly risk-free way
  • Interoperability is in basic terms the ability to share and interact. Open source GIS programmers have no financial reason to lock you in to a particular file format, or indeed to force you to change to a different format with every release of their software (Boeing) They have no reason not to make their file formats open, so more people can use them What this means is that without open standards, and the ability to share data between applications and users, there would be no Neogeography, no Where 2.0, no mashups
  • Open standards are the bed-rock of interoperability, and in the GIS world they derive directly from the open source software The Open Grass Foundation, founded in 1992 to look after GRASS, evolved into the Open Geospatial Consortium in 1994 In 2009 OGC and OSGeo signed a memorandum of understanding, partly around open source GIS packages being used as reference implementations of OGC standards
  • Open source GIS programmers are not trying to sell you a monolithic package that tries to do everything, or only works within their “stack” They don't subscribe to Zawinski's Law- that “every programme expands until it can read email” There's no 3 year license deal locking you in Open source gives you the chance to pick and choose the components that you need to do the job, changing as you need to
  • This means there's no need to change your existing work-flow if you don't want to You can slot modules into your “stack” as you need to, and can change individual components if necessary Regardless of what Steve Ballmer thinks, the open source licenses don't prevent you from using them with proprietary software. Open source is not cancer, or communism Modularity gives you the choice to pick the software that's right for you and your business, not what a salesman tells you is right
  • The open source license gives you the control over your software. You are not at risk of losing your software, or facing increased costs because the software vendor changes the terms of the license. The open source license is about providing freedom and fair use, not about restricting packages to people from particular countries, or on particular hardware platforms, or on a limited number of pcs/processors
  • If you accept that there is a place for open source within your organisation, what might this mean? I would argue that it gives you the freedom to try out new things without worrying too much about the cost- try before you buy! You can rapidly prototype new ideas, and diversify into new products without massive prior financial investment You can ensure that you get best value from your software- and your software vendor!
  • Thanks again for listening, this talk is available online with notes, should you wish to replay it in the comfort of your own office.
  • The Impact of Open Source

    1. 1. The Impact of Open Source AGI Northern Group- Where 2.0 Now? November 2009 Jo Cook Senior IT Support and Development OA Digital [email_address] +44 (0)1524 581431
    2. 2. Why Open Source Matters Interoperability Modularity Control © Here's Kate
    3. 3. Interoperability © psd
    4. 4. Interoperability GIS standards derive from Open Source
    5. 5. Modularity = Agile flexibility © EJP Photo
    6. 6. Modularity = Choice © donteatmenow!forreals!
    7. 7. Control You're in charge © Massimo Valiani
    8. 8. What could all this mean to you? Freedom Rapid prototyping of ideas Diversification Best Value
    9. 9. Examples GvSIG Mobile: Mobile GIS for linux, windows, mobile phone, with on and off-line database synchronisation
    10. 10. Examples MapChat: interactive mapping with real-time or asynchronous discussion and feature editing
    11. 11. Thank You! This work is licenced under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 UK: England & Wales License. To view a copy of this licence, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 171 Second Street, Suite 300, San Francisco, California 94105, USA. Jo Cook OA Digital [email_address] +44 (0)1524 880212