Though they’ve been with us for awhile, I realized the other day that some new developers in the GeoServer community never got introduced properly. They started working for The Open Planning Project (TOPP) a couple months ago, and have been working on some great stuff since then. Their primary goal is to combine TOPP’s two main software projects - GeoServer and OpenPlans, a free (and ad free) collaborative platform providing wikis, email lists, task trackers and blogs, built entirely on open source software. It’s been evolving nicely lately, so feel free to try it out and give feedback.
But the part that should be of great interest to this crowd is that the newest tool is going to collaborative mapping, allowing groups to do wiki type editing on maps, and eventually to be able to make and improve new base layers. This will be built completely on GeoServer and OpenLayers, with the new versioning WFS improvements. This should push the bounds of GeoServer and bring stability to the new features. We’ve just put up an early demo, which lets you create and edit pop-ups, and also comment on them in a sidebar. The base map on the demo is also all served by GeoServer, with a huge debt of gratitude to the Portland’s TriMet, who shared the SLD files from their new map (which we should do a full post on soon, as it’s some great work).
Tim Coulter and Sebastian Benthall are the ones who have done most all the work on the front end, building the application on top of OpenLayers. Eventually we hope to turn it in to a more generic tool for others to make similar maps. They’ve been working against a nice specification from TOPP’s great interaction designer, Mouna Andraos, which should evolve to full on wiki editing (current target just tracks history). Eventually we should have some nice blog posts on how they’ve gone about building a new application on top of OpenLayers.
On the backend David Winslow and Arne Kepp have been taking the lead, and thus have been more active on the GeoServer lists and irc’s. They’ve stood up the GeoServer for it, and are putting in the hooks and improvements to have OpenPlans utilize it as a backend, including making a module that can authenticate OpenPlans users, a REST API to create new layers on the fly, and caching improvements so it will perform better.
Arne has done a great job tackling more of the sys admin side of setting things up and deploying, and adapting TriMet’s SLD’s to the new york data set. In the process of doing that he’s had some promising experiments with Varnish to do extremely fast tile caching. Following up the caching angle he’s now working to improve and incorporate JTileCache, Chris Whitney’s Google Summer of Code project, as a community module that can drop in to GeoServer. He reported on IRC today that he’s got response times from it down to under 2 milliseconds, about as fast as TileCache under mod_python. Arne’s also helped out on the REST configuration interface, and done some nice bug fixes and improved the WMS reflector, which will get blogged soon.
David has become the resident REST and RESTlet expert, starting with a REST User Management API to query and create users on the new security subsystem based on Acegi. After that he’s taken on the lead coding up the REST configuration API, which will replace the incredibly hacky ‘alternate for reloading the catalog’ to enable programmatic manipulation of GeoServer. Recently he refactored his work to make it easy to plug in alternate output formats, starting with html and json, and soon xml. He’s also done some nice bug fixing, improving KML output with the lookAt tag to zoom in to the data automatically, and tweaking the pop-ups to be easier to click on. David also took the read on hooking the security sub system up to the OpenPlans way of authenticating, which he will hopefully blog soon, as it’s a nice example of how to use the tools in GeoServer to work with an existing security system.
We are pleased to announce GeoServer 1.6.0-RC1 is available for download (try direct from sourceforge if that link isn’t working). Since beta4 the team has has closed over 60 issues, tightening up every single detail. This is easily the most solid first release candidate that we’ve ever issued, as we are wanting to have as few release candidates as possible. So if you have not upgraded to the 1.6.x series then now is the time to do so, to ensure that any problems that may arise get fixed as quickly as possible, before 1.6.0.
The 1.6.x series is a major leap forward from 1.5, with major leaps in performance, WFS 1.1 support, and the new ‘versioning’ WFS. There is also much better support for Google Earth and Google Maps/Virtual Earth/Yahoo! Maps, leveraging better integration with OpenLayers. There is also a new integrated security subsystem, built on Acegi, to provide role-based access control to GeoServer resources. But the real reason to upgrade to 1.6.0 is a ton of bug fixes, all the rough edges are getting sanded down, so that most all features ‘just work’, no matter what you throw at them. So please download and let us know how it goes.
The Open Planning Project is pleased to announce that they have hired long time GeoServer community member and contributor Gabriel Roldán as a software developer and solutions consultant. He will remain based in Spain, and hopefully should help raise awareness and cooperation with other Spanish open source projects and organizations.
Gabriel first started on GeoServer in 2003, as one of the first outside contributors. He did the integration of gt2wms to add WMS support to GeoServer, with a nice core rearchitecture to allow more services. He also started the ArcSDE module and added SVG output to GeoServer. We are very excited to have him soon working full time on GeoServer.
One concern in this is that TOPP developers are dominating the community, which is not desired at all. Thankfully there are more contributors coming on all the time, indeed some were talked about in the last post. But none of the new ones are yet on the Project Steering Committee, which sets the direction and makes major decisions about the future of GeoServer. It is likely that Gabriel will step down from the PSC, at least until there are enough other members that TOPP doesn’t have a majority. Which is to say, please continue to get involved, and your hard work will be rewarded by a position on the PSC. We want the community to truly drive this project, TOPP sees itself as a steward to help make a truly open, sustaining project that benefits all.
One thing we’ve wanted to do with this blog is use it as a forum to allow people to follow what’s going on in the world of GeoServer without having to dive in to hundreds of messages per month on the lists. I’ve been blogging long enough to know that I should never make promises about how often posts will come, but I will say that more of these will come in the future.
The other contribution in the works is some great stuff by the Ominiverde team, focusing on styling and a RESTful service for SLD. No wiki page or code yet, but they sent an email to the list describing the work, with a link to a test live service. This should be the basis of a nice thematic mapping gui based on openlayers. The cool thing is it will leverage code from uDig, to enable all the nice work they’ve done there, but in a web environment.
The other thing I’ll mention here, that I think hasn’t spread very widely, is that the latest version of GeoNetwork includes an embedded GeoServer. This is being used as a base map on top of which other layers can be added. The integration is still pretty minimal, GeoServer is basically just providing a nicer base map. But there is some work coming soon to do a tighter integration, so that users will be able to upload a shapefile or geotiff through GeoNetwork and have it automatically available through GeoServer as WMS and WFS or WCS, picking up all the service metadata properly. Andrea Aime is currently in Rome, discussing this with developers and users at the GeoNetwork conference this week, where he also gave a workshop on GeoServer.
There’s much more happening, on a variety of fronts, but we’ll save it for another post.
So it’s been way too long since we posted anything on this blog other than release announcements. Which is not as it should be, since there’s been a ton happening in the GeoServer community. I’m going to try to catch up with a lot of the various news in the next week or two, but wanted to just mention things here, which should force us to actually blog about them in more depth soon.
The first big category is the FOSS4G conference. The conference team did an amazing job, so first just want to thank them for all their hard work. From the GeoServer perspective it was easily our best conference yet, with a number of talks from developers and users. In coming posts I’ll highlight the talks more, with links to check them all out. The conference is definitely the highlight of the year for those of us working on the project, because we get to meet so many excited users. Both those that we’ve seen on the lists before, and people who have just been happily making use of GeoServer and had no reason to get in touch with us. We also get invaluable feedback on the features users actually care about.
After the conference we had a successful ‘code sprint’ - most projects sprinted on Friday, but the hard-core GeoTools team followed up working through the weekend. Thanks goes out to Refractions for hosting us, giving us space to work away. We worked on the biggest elephant in subversion - the new feature model that allows us to deal with complex types. Its had many years of effort, many failed branches, and just became a scary task that seemed like it might never be done. But Justin worked for months preparing for the sprint, where we moved almost everything to use the new way. Initially uDig will see the results of the work first, but it was some nice implications for GeoServer - serving up set schemas from arbitrary data - when someone comes up with a bit of additional funding/time.
In other news we’ve been getting some great contributions of late, which I’ll write about soon. The Open Planning Project, the primary maintainer of GeoServer, is also working on some exciting stuff, including mapping integration with the other main project - OpenPlans. The end result should be a really nice user interface for groups to make annotated maps, with full wiki-like editing, about the issues they care about.