Posts Tagged ‘open source’

Open Geospatial Tools Expand Their Niche (V1)

Friday, February 12th, 2010

[Editor's note: Interview with Paul Ramsey, involved with PostGIS, MapServer, and last year's FOSS4G conference keynote speaker.]

Ramsey_PaulPaul Ramsey has been an open geospatial advocate for some time and is deeply involved in PostGIS and MapServer development and project consulting. Paul was the keynote speaker at last year’s Free and Open Source Software for Geospatial Conference (FOSS4G), and teaches many workshops to help others develop solutions with this technology. He works for OpenGeo, a company that has just released the OpenGeo Suite, a productized stack of optimized open geospatial technologies. V1 editor Matt Ball spoke with Ramsey regarding this new suite of tools, and about the status of open geospatial tools in general.

V1: I’m really interested in the mission-oriented work of OpenGeo. I see that the consulting work of OpenGeo supports a non-profit that aims to create a better managed urban environment.

Ramsey: OpenGeo is a part of the Open Planning Project. The goals of the Open Planning Project have always been around social engagement in urban planning and open government. We’ve taken those goals and superimposed them on what we do, which is to develop open source geospatial technology. We are managed as a separate entity.

We’ve formed ourselves as a social enterprise, meaning a business, but a business where the variable of maximization is not value of capital. In your traditional startup you dump some capital into it and you hope to make that pile of capital as big as possible. Our goal as a social enterprise is to take that starting capital and use it to grow as much social good as possible.

Our synthesis of how to do that best is to take our startup capital and work to be financially self sustaining. We’re working to build a business around open source tools that allow people to more democratically do mapping, but building a business with an aim to self sustain the development of that software so that we’re not tied to the vagaries of funding at the end of this process.

V1: What has been the motivation for the recently launched OpenGeo Suite of tools?

Ramsey: Our take on GIS tool space is that there’s some need for democratization, and there’s a place in the market for the kind of tools that we’re putting together. The old GIS tools have real access issues for folks who aren’t already part of the GIS priesthood. It’s a pretty expensive and daunting task to understand the ESRI ecosystem, and that’s why a lot of organizations have looked at GIS and said, “the hell with it.”

That flipped in about 2005 with the rise of consumer-oriented mapping tools, but the consumer APIs have their own limitations. They only do so much. We feel that there’s a place in the middle here for tools that are as open to non-geospatial developers to access as consumer tools, but not as limited in terms of the audience that they’re able and willing to serve as the consumer tools.

Continue reading at V1 . . .

Mountain Cart and OpenGeo Conferences in 2010

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

In addition to the Association of American Geographers conference here in DC this April, there are two conferences of note over in Europe in late summer (thanks Martin):

September 1 – Sept. 5:
ICA Commission Mountain Cartography
will meet in Romania. Abstracts due by March 1. More info »

September 6 -  Sept. 9: 
FOSS4G in Barcelona.
Abstracts need to be in by April 1. More info »

I’ve attended the mountain cartography conference before and highly recommend it. It’ll be a much smaller affair then the Barcelona conference and include many mountain outings.

The “Free and Open Source Software for GeoSpatial” conference is an:

international ‘gathering of tribes’ of open source geospatial communities, where developers and users show off their latest software and projects.

The spatial industry is undergoing rapid innovations and the open source spatial community is one of the forces driving the change. The FOSS4G conference is more than a melting pot of great ideas it is a catalyst and opportunity to unite behind the many successful geospatial products, standards and protocols.

See you there!

Advanced Text Layout Framework for Flash Open-Sourced (Adobe)

Thursday, July 23rd, 2009

advancedflashtextengine1

[Editor's note: Finally, Adobe's purchase of Macromedia is bearing fruit! The fine-control that Illustrator and InDesign have over typography (text layout) is now available in Flash and Flex as an ActionScript 3.0 framework. There are even a few controls I wish would make it back to Illustrator, like where in the text container the text starts from (not always the top-left hand corner) and allowing images and graphics to be embedded in the text frame, ala Freehand. Also note the Photoshop style numerical control scrubbers!]

Republished from Adobe Labs.

Welcome to the beta release of the Text Layout Framework for Adobe® Flash® Player 10 and Adobe AIR® 1.5. The Text Layout Framework is an extensible library, built on the new text engine in Adobe Flash Player 10, which delivers advanced, easy-to-integrate typographic and text layout features for rich, sophisticated and innovative typography on the web. The framework is designed to be used with Adobe Flash CS4 Professional or Adobe Flex®, and is already included in the next version of Flex, code named Gumbo. Developers can use or extend existing components, or use the framework to create their own text components. Source code and component library for TLF are now available as open source at no charge under the Mozilla Public License at www.opensource.adobe.com.

Together with the new text engine in Flash Player 10 and AIR 1.5, the Text Layout Framework delivers multi-lingual, print-quality typography for the web, including support for:

  • Bidirectional text, vertical text and over 30 writing systems including Arabic, Hebrew, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Lao, the major writing systems of India, and others
  • Selection, editing and flowing text across multiple columns and linked containers, and around inline images
  • Vertical text, Tate-Chu-Yoko (horizontal within vertical text) and justifier for East Asian typography
  • Rich typographical controls, including kerning, ligatures, typographic case, digit case, digit width and discretionary hyphens
  • Cut, copy, paste, undo and standard keyboard and mouse gestures for editing
  • Rich developer APIs to manipulate text content, layout, markup and create custom text components.

For a complete list of features and more information regarding this beta, please see the release notes. Please help us ensure that the final release of the Text Layout Framework will be of the highest quality by installing and using this beta version and sending us your feedback on the Text Layout Framework forum.

Open Source

The Text Layout Framework is now an open source project.

Flash Wars: Adobe in the History and Future of Flash

Monday, May 12th, 2008

AppleInsider.com’s Prince McLean produced a three part series earlier this month on the Flash Wars.

Direct links to Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.

(Reprinted from AppleInsider) 

Pitted against Microsoft’s efforts to crush Flash using its own copycat Silverlight platform, open source projects seeking to duplicate Flash for free, and Apple’s efforts to create a mobile platform wholly free of any trace of Flash, Adobe has scrambled to announce efforts to make Flash a public specification in the Open Screen Project.

Will it help get Flash on the iPhone? Here’s the first segment of a three part series with a historical overview of the wars between Flash and Adobe, Microsoft, Sun, Apple, Google, and the open source community, the problems Flash faces today, and what future Flash can hope for as an open specification.

A Brief History of Flash

Flash originated at FutureWave Software as SmartSketch, an innovative drawing tool. In 1995, the software was repositioned as FutureSplash Animator, with support for cell based animation. It was pitched as a way to quickly draw and animate vector-based graphics for efficient delivery over the web, as a direct challenge to Macromedia’s heavier and more complex Authorware and its Director-created Shockwave content.

FutureWave pitched the product to Adobe, but it was Macromedia that bought it in 1996, hoping to integrate it as an approachable, entry level member of its content production tools as the company’s business was rapidly pushed from CD-ROM oriented products to the web. Macromedia abbreviated the name from FutureSplash to Flash.

It turned out that the easy to use Flash rapidly sidelined Macromedia’s existing Authorware and Shockwave. Flash made it easy for designers to create interactive content with only minimal development knowledge. The real break for Flash came when Macromedia lined up a bundling agreement with Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 5, which resulted in the Flash player software being widely distributed.

While Microsoft embraced Flash, it actively worked in parallel to stop Sun’s Java and Netscape’s web browser as threats to Windows. Microsoft’s efforts to sideline Java into a Windows programming language and its strategy to embrace and extend standards-based, platform agnostic HTML into web pages that only worked in Internet Explorer gave Macromedia’s Flash fertile ground to grow as a quick and simple alternative to the more complex and resource intensive Java as a way to create simple, interactive applets on the web.

Adobe Hates, Then Buys Flash

Adobe purchased Macromedia in 2005 largely to obtain Flash, the crown jewel of Macromedia’s web development tool assets. Prior to owning it, Adobe unsuccessfully worked hard to kill it as a competing product.

In 1998, when Macromedia and Microsoft submitted VML to the W3C as a potential web standard for vector graphics (based on Microsoft’s RTF), Adobe teamed up with Sun to push the rival PGML specification (based on Adobe’s PostScript). The W3C developed a new standard that drew from both, called SVG (Scalable Vector Graphics).

Adobe pushed SVG as a competitor to Flash right up until it bought Flash, distributing the Adobe SVG Player as a free web plugin. Microsoft continued to push its own VML, which it built into Internet Explorer. This prevented either VML or SVG from making much progress, as other browsers didn’t support VML, while the SVG open standard saw little adoption given Adobe’s weak presence in web development tools. That let Flash easily win out over both as the way to develop and present animated vector graphics on the web.

Flash continued to develop at Macromedia, gaining a scripting language based on JavaScript and other features that turned it into a full presentation development tool rather than just a way to distribute small interactive graphics. Macromedia even took swipes back at Adobe, introducing FlashPaper as an alternative to Adobe’s PDF as a way to distribute electronic documents in the Flash format.

After buying Flash, Adobe gave up support for its own weak SVG Player rival and has apparently discarded FlashPaper as a PDF competitor. However, the rest of the industry has plenty of reasons to still hate Flash, as will be presented in part two: The Many Enemies and Obstacles of Flash.

Continue reading on AppleInsider.com . . .