[Thuban-list] Viewer or GIS, a future perspective

Bernhard Reiter bernhard at intevation.de
Wed Mar 10 13:53:43 CET 2004

On Wed, Mar 10, 2004 at 10:04:32AM +0100, Moritz Lennert wrote:
> Daniel Calvelo said:

> > I think that question should be answered by looking at the
> > current status and future directions of current free software
> > GIS-related systems. 

This is an important and interesting question.
I also pounder it from time to time.

> > I find two trends in application (not library) development
> > lately: one is building user-frienldy interfaces to leverage
> > powerful GIS libraries, the other is to start from a well
> > interfaced viewer/presenter and move towards GIS functionality.
> > I currently have explored JUMP, OpenEV, TerraView, QuantumGIS
> > (and thuban of course) in the latter category. I'd put GMT,
> > GRASS, PostGIS rather on the former.

I also see those two trends.
But you can also make orthogonal categories, 
like use of technology and user communities.

> > Now (freegis.org maintainers please correct me) it seems all of
> > these projects are headed towards GIS proper. 

I agree to the thought, but it highly depends on the defintion of GIS.
Using more focussed terms like 
	interactive viewer
	analysis library
	cartography tool
will help the discussion.

> > JUMP lacks raster support, but has JTS.  
> > QGIS is flirting with GRASS and PostGIS.
> > OpenEV is slowly adding features.  TerraView only interfaces a
> > small part of the underlying powerful terralib.  Refractions,
> > Inc. states that PostGIS is a step towards a GIS. GRASS is being
> > rewritten to extend vector capabilities and interfaces.
> >
> > Where do we want to go? What are distinctive features of thuban
> > (regardless of technical specifics: cross-platform,
> > Python-based, fully free,...) with respect to its potential
> > uses? Is it headed towards an embeddable library?

I do not see it heading towards an embeddable library.
The technical specifics shape its potential uses.

Answer to your questions lie in the was Free Software works
in general. I believe it to be centered around a community 
of developers and users. The communication structure is very important.
Also the knowledge each of the participants have.

In Free Software it is natural that people will extend the solution
they know and are accustomed with. Thus each component can possibly
grow in many directions. After a while the function will overlap,
they might be coupled in various , too.

This process constitutes a search for the 
best separation between components and the best solutions
for the developers and users.

> > Is it a testbed 
> > (e.g. I'm exploring using it for anamorphic cartograms)?  

Yes, you can use Thuban as a testbed.

> > Which of the above projects are we concurrencing?

It depends. Expect OpenEV, they are all not crossplatform
and ready to run on a completely Free Software system.

> > Making thuban a single-user (desktop) front-end to PostGIS or other
> > features server may be a long-term goal. 
> > We are currently targetting a viewer for spatial data, 
> > but I'm afraid more and more complex things will be getting in
> > the way and make thuban more and more GISish... 
> > The cut doesn't seem very clear to me.

True, the cut is not clear.
But this seems to be an advantage to Free Software.
Diversity will lead to better solutions for the users.
If users and developers want it, Thuban will have some analysis
features. Certainly some analysis features 
like distance or area calculation are more considered 
cartography then hard GIS.

> > Thoughts? Will to think of restating or extending the roadmap?

We always think about changing the roadmap, 
if we find out more about the world.
This is why we like your thoughts and your contributions.
The roadmap of Thuban will be written by its community.
Intevation is only one part of this community.

> I had always seen Thuban as a tool for cartography, which should sooner or
> later be interfaced with GIS systems (the roadmap already states access to
> the GRASS database as a goal). So, as an example, someone could actually
> replace the current tcltkgrass menus of GRASS by an equivalent in Thuban
> and thus create "ThuGRASS" ;-), combining the GIS features of GRASS with
> the cartography features in Thuban. Add a better integration with Skencil
> and you have a complete chain of tools.

This is the main goal that motivated us to start Thuban:
Complete the tool chain.

> This should be possible with other GIS systems. So, I don't think that
> Thuban should develop its own GIS features, but rather try to be as open
> as possible to allow integration with existing or future free GIS systems.

We will keep Thuban open.

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