I recently had the opportunity to travel to FOSS4G in Boston. It was a great chance to meet those involved in the open source community and spread the word of OpenGEE. There was also a dedicated block to discuss the history of GEE and the current state of OpenGEE. It was a very informative week and I enjoyed seeing all the various solutions using open source software.
The conference began with a keynote address from Paul Ramsey titled “Why We Code”. He discussed that open source projects are, for the most part, not just one developer constantly contributing to a project. Typically it is a group of people and even companies that create good open source projects. But this raises of the question of “what drives developers to contribute”?
The Open Source ecosystem, according to Ramsey, is an attention based economy. Software does not need food or water to grow. However, it does need attention. More attention will lead to more development and more development means a better code base. Ultimately, Open Source is all about people! Consumers will want to use projects that receive plenty of attention.
Developers want to join projects that are active and growing. I found it particularly interesting when Ramsey presented the top two reasons people prefer open source projects: stability and security. There is no guarantee that an open source project is stable or secure, but you do get more confidence that a project with active developers will be stable. My hope is that we can continue to see more contributors to OpenGEE and make it a project that continues to be reliable and secure.
The OpenGEE block started with the history of GEE. Ed Parsons, a Google representative, gave an enlightening presentation on the acquisition of Keyhole that led to the GEE you know and love today. Cesium was next in the GEE block and discussed their integration with GEE. Cesium can support both imagery and terrain with Cesium WebGL, which is a cool feature. Cesium WebGL will help people transition off the old Google Earth Plugin as modern browsers remove NPAPI plugin support. Finally, Thermopylae Sciences and Technologies, the company I work for, presented the current state of the OpenGEE project and invited the attendees to join in development. After the presentation we had a number of discussions with current users of GEE. It was great to talk to these users and assure them that we’re still working to make the product better! If you would like to see the presentation you can view the slides here.
Lastly, I think it is clear that we need to keep spreading the good word about OpenGEE. I invited a number of people to join the slack channel and check out the GitHub page. As Ramsey said, we operate in an attention based economy, so the more attention we can get for OpenGEE the better. If you’re interested in contributing or using OpenGEE then please visit Github or the Slack Channel.