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Report of the Dutch OSGeo event 2008

Yesterday (June 17th) I visited the OSGeo event in Delft (The Netherlands). It was one of the first events in The Netherlands concentrated solely on open source GIS. (Although apparently this was already the second edition of this event.)

Keynote speaker and “celebrity guest” was Paul Ramsey. After some jokes on current events he gave an enthousiastic and humorous overview of the tools and software of the open source geo-world. Not a trace of his reported performance anxiety — I think he did a great job informing people about open source GIS and making them enthousiastic about it. Sure enough presenting it as “the One True Way to Enlightenment” helped with that. :-) His performance was easily the most energetic one.

In one of the other talks that morning, Henk van Cann raised the issue that he found that a lot of companies like to (mis)use open source and open standards as a hype word to promote their products, but don’t have a lot to substantiate it.

In his presentation, and also in an article (in Dutch) I found on his company’s website, he gives a few questions you can ask these companies to find out if they’re “serious” or not, such as: “what licenses do you use” (is it a real OSI-approved license?) and “do you give code or services back to the open source community”?

A member of the audience added yesterday: “Where can I download the source”? I think this is a really pragmatic and direct way to find out if a product is really open source or not.

To the question if open standards are used I would like to suggest the question: “Can I connect to your product/service with third party software?” And if it’s publicly available: “Give me the url!”

In the afternoon I attended a workshop on OpenLayers hosted by Bart van den Eijnden and Richard Duivenvoorde of b & d Natuuradvies. They had enough material to keep you busy for a whole day, but because there were assignments for every level of experience, there was something useful and interesting for everyone.

Of course, apart from learning a bit more about OpenLayers, it was also a nice chance to take a peek at what other geodevelopers are working on!