Theodor Foerster, of 52North and ITC, has been leveraging GeoServer in his work on generalization of geospatial data using the new Web Processing Service specification. He recently posted some nice new work, including updates to the Web Processing Service web app, as well as a new WPS client written as a plug-in to uDig. Awhile ago he also did some prototypes of integrating the WPS with GeoServer, making the WPS a datastore that could be served out as WMS and WFS. It’s great to see new open source tools being built that can use and leverage the work we’ve done with GeoServer. You can see his work in action, with GeoServer, in the screencast that he’s also posted.
Eventually we’re hoping to be able to offer some integration between GeoServer and his WPS work, possibly as a plug-in to GeoServer that makes it really easy to install both, and to do common data configuration through our web gui. In the past we’ve also talked to the FROGS WPS community about possible integrations as well. Since we’re evolving GeoServer to be a platform it makes a lot of natural sense to be able to bring WPS in to the mix, in some form. It looks like the FROGS people are also leveraging Spring, which may help compatibility as well (we haven’t talked to them for awhile so I suppose we can just cross our fingers that they’re looking at what we’ve done). So if anyone has the time or the money to get a WPS integrated with GeoServer, let us know, as we’ve got some great pieces to work with.
We recently learned about IBM’s DB2 Express-C database, a free version of DB2 that comes with less restrictions than the free Oracle XE (which GeoServer also supports through Oracle Locator).Â Our main curiosity is if it will work with GeoServer.Â So we got in touch with David Adler, our community member from IBM, to ask if it will work out of the box.Â The answer is that it’s not quite ‘out of the box’, but that one only needs to download and install the spatial extender, which is also a free download.Â David additionally assures us that the information on this developerworks article is wrong, and that spatial extender is available with the Express-C edition.Â The only restrictions on it are related to the capacity of the machine you’re running it on, only 2 dual core chips and up to 4 gigabytes of ram.Â But there are no restrictions on the size of the database.Â If you have some good experience with Express-C and GeoServer please let us know, in the comments or an email.
While others have mentioned this, I figured it was worthwhile to point out here, as there’s a lot of great tutorial information on GeoServer contained in Ian Turton’s new Open Web Mapping Course. He managed to get the content released under a creative commons license, so all are able to make use of his great work.
The other highlight is all the student projects, that are mostly built with GeoServer. They are some great examples of what’s possible with GeoServer. If anyone else has interesting sites they’ve built with GeoServer, please let us know. We’d like to start an interactive gallery soon, and these definitely make for a solid start.
Geoserver WMS has been know so far for the beautiful looking maps it’s able to generate. This is the result of true color rendering, antialiasing, and SLD expressiveness. Yet, there is a price to pay for such an output: size. Image files generated by the current WMS are big, and this shows up quite evidently when serving maps over slow links. When images are mostly satellite imagery, jpeg can be used with good results, but the same does not apply to vector image, where compression introduces visible artifacts.
To cope with such environments, we decided to go for a different compromise, allowing the user to choose for speed and size, while giving up some of the beauty. The current 1.5.x branch, setting the stage for the 1.5.1 release, contains a new WMS vendor parameter, “palette”, that allows the user to choose a 256 color palette to be used during rendering and image generation.
As a result, image generation is faster, and files are up to 4 times smaller. This is especially compelling for vector layers where most of the space is filled with uniform color. By default we ship with the internet safe palette, but you can provide your own, by example: just drop a 256 colors GIF or PNG in the GEOSERVER_DATA_DIR/palettes directory, and refer it from the GetMap request, asking for a PNG or GIF output.
For further details, see the paletted images research page and the WMS vendor parameters page. If you’re eager to test it, grab a recent Geoserver 1.5.x nightly here, and let us know if you enjoyed it: http://geo.openplans.org/nightly/1.5.x/
We’ve recently been kicking around the notion of requiring Java 1.5 to run GeoServer. There are a few nice features, such as generics and annotations, that are useful when you’re aiming to be a framework instead of just an application. And some potential libraries, like user interface ones, are starting to require Java 1.5. Other things pointing towards why it might be ok include the fact that Java will be open sourced soon, so it will be even easier for non core platforms to run GeoServer. But we figured the best way to figure out is to ask you, the users. If you have or are a sys admin who just isn’t ready to upgrade to Java 1.5, let us know. We realize that it’s a server application and admins like things stable. But with Java 1.6 out, and 1.5 very, very stable, we’re thinking it might be time. So please vote in the poll below, and place comments on this post if the options don’t do it for you. We will strongly take this feedback in to account for our decision.