FOSS4G 2019

4 Minute Read
Addresscloud's highlights from FOSS4G 2019.

The Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference has become the go-to meeting for developers and practitioners working in the "open geo" space. This year's conference in the magnificent city of Bucharest did not disappoint. The conference featured updates from key open source projects, and discussion of emerging platforms, data formats and best practices from across the industry.

The standard of talks was very high, and you can watch all the presentations online at Read on for my personal highlights, focusing on the tech that we'll be following-up on over the next year.

Raster Is Cool Again

Raster processing, delivery and visualisation was definitely a popular topic at this year's conference. Fabian Schindler gave a great presentation about the recent renaissance of the GeoTiff, and took a deep dive into the format whilst demonstrating the new GeoTiff.js library to render huge rasters, on both the client and server. I'm looking forward to testing the library out (v1.0.0 is in the works) and benchmarking it against rasterio for server-side lookups. For COG fans the GDAL project did not disappoint, and in his review of the state of GDAL Even Rouault highlighted that v3.1 will include a new GeoTiff driver for more efficient COG generation and data access. Even also outlined lots of other driver improvements, and the move to use Proj v6.0 in GDAL version 3 and later. One of the biggest updates from the GDAL team has been a re-design of the project documentation which is now much more user friendly.

Scaling to terabytes of imagery, Joachim Ungar showed some great examples of using Mapchete for chunking large vector and raster data-sets - this is really exciting work and something we'll be digging into it with a view to using it in a serverless environment for big geospatial ETL jobs.

Somewhat dauntingly the venue for my own presentation was scheduled on the main stage of the National Theatre of Bucharest - a bigger stage that I'm used to! I presented the latest updates to Addresscloud's raster service - taking a deep dive into our work to build performant back-end queries against really large raster data-sets. We had a great Q&A after, and there's clearly a lot of interest in both the raster space and developers seeking to use serverless for their own geographical applications.

"A COG In The Machine - Using Cloud Optimised GeoTiffs to Query 24 Billion Pixels In Real-Time". Tomas Holderness, FOSS4G 2019.

PostGIS (still) Rocks

Darafei Praliaskouski from the PostGIS maintainers team gave an engaging presentation on the forthcoming updates in PostGIS ahead of the release of version 3. If you're a big PostGIS user his talk is definitely worth a watch. Amongst other things, we'll be looking forward to improvements in MVT outputs for live vector tile generation and to GiST index creation. Darafei also clarified the reasons behind moving postgis-raster to a separate extension, principally to make packaging and dependencies for the core PostGIS extension simpler.

Vector Tiles Go National

Hot on the heels of Ordnance Survey's Open Zoomstack release earlier this year, Steven Ottens gave a great walk-through of the process of building and releasing a vector tile basemap for the Netherlands. Steven's talk contains some gems for vector tile creators, particularly his review of different tile creation engines. Steven also noted that along with Zoomstack and Open Map Tiles, there are now three different schema for basemap data-models - hopefully something that can be collaborated on in the future to work towards a unified open data-model for seamless basemap vector tiles spanning multiple countries.

Here Launches Open Web Platform

Oliver Fink used his presentation as an opportunity to announce that the stack behind HERE XYZ, a tool for online mapping, would soon be made available under a free and open source license. The live demo demonstrated the power of the XYZ platform for collaborative mapping. It certainly looks like this technology set could be really useful for organisations who have a need for distributed collection and centralized visualisation of geospatial data.

Next Stop Edinburgh!

FOSS4G continues to be one of the best technical conferences, and the team in Bucharest are commended for such a well organized conference. With barely a fortnight in-between, this week Addresscloud is headed to FOSS4G UK in Edinburgh. We're looking forward to sharing our learning from the UK open geospatial scene in a future post (and hope to see some of you there)!

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