GeoServer Blog

Coming Attractions

While lots of talk here has been about software releases and work that’s already been completed, I thought that it might be nice to mention some of the work that’s in progress. After all, the GeoServer community is just that, a community, not a closed-door office, and while congratulations are often in order, the people have a right to know what’s going on as it happens. With that in mind, I put on my press credentials, got out my tape recorder and microphone, and have been interviewing some of the GeoServer developers to see what they’ve been up to recently.

I first talked with David Winslow, who has been working on what is known as KML regionating (via a grant from Google). When working with large amounts of data, not only can it take a long time to plot all those points/lines, but it is not always necessary or even useful to display all of those them (say, when fully zoomed out). Filtering data by zoom levels is now accomplished by the use of SLDs (style layer descriptors), a handy but abstruse XML document that can easily become unmanageable. There exists a need for a tool to simplify this, and that’s where regionating comes in. Regionating, despite the possibly questionable name, allows the automatic splitting of features via zoom level. Features with (say) high values would be displayed at higher zoom levels, while features with lower values wouldn’t show up until zoomed in. Regionating is expected to be able to automatically filter by data type or size of feature (say, large polygons versus smaller ones). As someone who has generated SLDs that have run to thousands of lines (most of it semi-duplications for each zoom level), this will be a help indeed. Note that for the time being this work is for KML output only, so it will benefit users of products like Google Maps and Google Earth.

Through the wonders of Skype, I then phoned in on Andrea Aime in Italy who discussed with me plans for per-layer security. Currently, security in GeoServer is very rudimentary. Per-user properties exist, as does a sensible user/role/service relationship, although passwords for the moment are stored in plain text. However, as one can only lock down via user or service, if a user has access to (say) WMS, the user has access to all data served using WMS. This isn’t always optimal. Per-layer security will add more granularity to the security subsystem by allowing or disallowing based on namespace or layer, and even specifying read/write access as based on predefined roles. This system, when implemented, will be backwards compatible with previous versions; that is, security will be open by default, so users who upgrade won’t find all of their layers suddenly inaccessible! The conventions proposed, such as giving priority to more specific rules over generic rules, seems well-thought out, and will be a nice step forward. The plan as it stands now is to implement this as part of version 1.7.0, but this could easily change.

There has also been lots of talk about the upcoming code sprint in Bolsena, Italy, where, among much else, work will commence on a new user interface for the admin console. The new UI is an issue close to my heart, being more of a user than a developer, and I’m very much looking forward to their advances. I’ve also been starting to hear rumors about a version number that begins with 2, but my press credentials will only get me so far.

I should remind everyone that these features are not yet released, stable, or in some cases even coded. And issues may come up that prevent some of these new improvements from ever seeing the light of day. GeoServer, though a robust product, is still a work in progress, one that is helped enormously by contributors. I encourage anyone who is interested in seeing these features (or any others) come to life to get involved, join the mailing lists, meet us in IRC, edit the documentation wiki, or submit a patch. The more people involved, the better GeoServer will be. As for me, I’ll just continue to try and get my copy in before the deadline.

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GeoServer 1.6.4 Released

The GeoServer development team would like to announce the release of GeoServer 1.6.4. Primarily a bugfix release, it contains over 30 patches and improvements since 1.6.3. This version contains better support for the GeoWebCache plugin (if you haven’t checked out GeoWebCache you very much should.) There is now better default formatting of KML output, including including support for paging. The Windows installer has been updated and now has better compatibility with Windows Vista. Also, support for Freemarker templates for coverage layers has been added.

You can view the full changelog for more details. Thanks to everyone who submitted patches! Please keep them coming. I’ve been hearing rumors about the features planned for future releases, so exciting developments look like they are coming down the line. Stay tuned! (Or better yet, get involved!)

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GeoServer and Google's Geo Search

A quick announcement, that we’ve been showing off at Where 2.0: OpenGeo is building GeoServer 1.7.0 to be automatically crawlable by Google’s Geo Search. David and Arne have been working on trunk, and we’ve stood up a working prototype at This has been crawled by Google’s crawler, and is now findable from Google Maps or Google Earth. The dataset we’re standing up is Benzo(a)pyrene emission levels around the Great Lakes region, so now you can search for those levels directly on the places in the PostGIS database, like ‘Benzo(a)pyrene Carbit Paint’. That link shows the search results on Google Maps, with the blue marker at the top of the list containing data coming straight from GeoServer. You can also constrain the search to just and browse through the results. Try clicking on the various links, which will take you to visualizing the whole dataset in google earth, using GeoServer’s traditional KML output, or you can click on the glc:glin_benzo link to see the KML in Google Maps.

Though it’s not incredibly flashy, this feature to me is one of the most exciting things to come in awhile.  It speaks to the future of the geospatial web, where your data is just available on a variety of platforms.  Instead of making a specific mapping application and putting some metadata on it, your geospatial data - the actual data - is crawlable and available on the geospatial web.  Our dream is that GeoServer is like Apache for the geospatial web, the standard open source way to get your information on the web.   Google and others can then crawl and figure out better and better ways to return and rank the results.

At Where 2.0 John Hanke and Jack Dangermond just announced that ESRI ArcGIS Server 9.3 will also support all content being crawlable, which is great to see as well, to get all the people who already have their server set up to easily expose their data to the geospatial web.  Though Jack seemed to almost gloss over that fact, he was eager to get to the point that these are real services that offer real GIS analysis.  John twice had to bring it back to the availability of this data to be easily found and used by other people in new ways, which to me is the much bigger point, that anyone will be able to do new analysis, even if they aren’t ‘GIS Experts’.  The geospatial web is not about the GIS analysis (though it’s an interesting aspect for sure), it’s about getting many more eyeballs on the problems facing us today.  GeoServer and ArcGIS Server 9.3 will both be great ways to open up vast amounts of existing geospatial data to be found and used by everyone, to be combined and reused in ever more interesting ways.

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Meetup at JavaOne / Where 2.0

Chris Holmes and I are at JavaOne in San Francisco this week, and Chris and Justin will also be going to Where 2.0. We are wondering whether there are any GeoServer users here, or in the bay area in general, that would be interested in meeting for lunch?

Tentatively around noon tomorrow, Thursday the 8th, near the Moscone center. Just an informal chat and a great opportunity to meet other users. Please email if you’re interested and I’ll be in touch with the details.

Also email me if you’re going to Where 2.0, we’ll try do something similar there as well.

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GeoServer: It's Not Just For English Speakers

I just wanted to give a quick hello to those in the wider world working on GeoServer. The GeoServer website recently got a bump in network traffic, and when we investigated, we saw it was directed by a group in Russia called GIS-Lab, who have an introduction to using GeoServer on their site. (Google translation)

Also, if you are a faithful reader of this blog, you’ll notice that Fernando Quadro often paraphrases some of our posts in Portuguese. There is a GeoServer mailing list in Portuguese as well. Earlier this month, the GeoServer website was “slashdotted” by Slashdot Japan regarding a company which is using OpenLayers, GeoServer, and GeoWebCache.

We currently have local translations for our web interface in Japanese, Chinese, French, German, Portuguese, and Spanish. We’re always looking for people to write more localizations as well (please see our website for information on how to localize GeoServer). We’re eventually looking to have the core of our documentation translated as well.

This is all very promising, as it shows that the need for an open-source mapping framework is a worldwide desire, transcending the boundaries of nation and language. We have set up a page denoting these international resources. If you know of other GeoServer blogs, mailing lists, or other websites that we may not be aware of, please add them to that page, as we would love to know about them.

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