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FOSS4G 2014

September 15, 2014

Jason and I were in Portland, OR last week for the annual FOSS4G conference. FOSS4G (Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial) is the largest global gathering of developers, users, decision-makers and observers focused on open source geospatial software.

FOSS4G 2014

General Observations

  • FOSS4G has been held all over the world and draws attendees from over 40 countries. It is truly an international conference.
  • Portland was a phenomenal host city and the conference organizers deserve a ton of credit for an incredibly successful event.
  • Conference venues and meals were impressive. From the Oregon Convention Center, which hosted the sessions, to the Welcome Reception at the Natural Capital Center and the Gala Reception at the World Forestry Center, the venues did not disappoint and the food & drink were exceptional, even by Portland standards.

Conference Buzz

  • CARTO topped the buzz list with the launch of their Developer Program and Partner Network, conveniently coinciding with $8 million in new funding to advance their mission. As a CARTO business partner, this is great news for Fulcrum and our users. We are actively working on tighter product integration, so stay tuned for more on information regarding this partnership.
  • Mapbox announced the release of Mapbox Studio on Wednesday. Mapbox Studio is the successor of TileMill, so we are closely following this project with regards to MBTiles and building offline layers for Fulcrum.
  • ESRI’s Portland & DC R&D teams were out and about, touting some popular open source initiatives, such as the esri-leaflet plugin. The major ESRI buzz focused on their recent breakup with longtime business partner Applied Geographics (AppGeo), purportedly over AppGeo’s use of “competing products”. For a company that once commanded loyalty in the industry, they apparently must now demand loyalty, and are willing to give the boot to longtime partners who dare to provide their clients with the best solution rather than the standard solution.
  • Sessions featuring UAV/drone technology were extremely popular. Interestingly, most of the talks were given by amateur hobbyists and hackers, who were doing some amazing stuff, while trying to comply with current FAA regulatory uncertainties. It’s clear that once the regulations regarding the commercial use of this technology are finally sorted out, there is going to be a big market for this technology. The folks currently tinkering with drone hardware, software, and workflows will have a decided advantage over those waiting for the policymakers to catch up with the technology.

Key Takeaways

Star Power FOSS4G continues to attract some of the most influential folks in the geospatial industry, including Frank Warmerdam, Vladimir Agafonkin and Paul Ramsey. Attendees are drawn to their talks and are rarely disappointed.

Networking & Social Events While the general sessions were interesting, the primary goal of any major conference is networking opportunities. FOSS4G allows plenty of people who have established online relationships, through Twitter or GitHub, to finally meet in person. This is a good opportunity to finally “buy that guy a beer” or personally thank someone for all the time they’ve contributed building a product you may well be using daily.

Notable Quotes “Born as a protest against bloat, clutter, and complexity”@mourner on the birth of Leaflet “The future of geo isn’t a single app with hundreds of buttons. The future of geo is hundreds apps with a single button.”@carto on The CARTO Marketplace

Fulcrum At FOSS4G

We met with several of our business partners, current and potential users, and had the opportunity to demo many of Fulcrum’s newer features. ‘Big data’ continues to be a popular topic, but analysis, visualizations, and maps are ultimately only as accurate as the data used to build them. While remotely sensed, global, raster datasets are impressive, the need for precise, structured data collected from the field is stronger than ever.

Attending events like FOSS4G reinvigorates our creative approach, helps us personally connect with our clients and colleagues, and reenergizes our commitment to building the best mobile data collection platform available. Stay tuned for more exciting initiatives we will be announcing in the next few weeks.