Tuesday, 13 September 2011


Once again I find myself blogging on that hottest of hot topics, Open Source.  Or in fact not just open source but the whole area of FOSS (Free and Open Source if you don’t know). 

I have read a couple of blogs/articles recently on the subject, or perhaps more pertinently I have read a couple of phrases that set me thinking.

Someone (It might have been Stephen Feldman) used the phrase “I’m not an Open Source evangelist”, while Mike Saunt in his regular magazine article used the made up word, “Gainsayers” in his article. Mike was specifically having a pop at those in the proprietary software world who were detracting from open source.

So what is my point?

Well, from where does the voice of balance come from? Everyone seems to have a drum to bang or an axe to grind, either for or against. I take Mikes point, but he is hardly independent in the matter, as Astun are based almost totally on open source. 

But where can an everyday punter in the street, or should I say office, get a balanced picture of the pros and cons? Who out there in the world of GIS, or increasingly in the whole IT world, is there someone who not only straddles both camps but fully understands them both? 

If you know little of GIS as a concept how can you make a decision that QGIS or ARC is the one for you. Not only are they competing products but have totally different ethos, upgrades and support behind them.

The world of GIS seems split on the issue, either embrace it, or reject it. You cant have both, it seems like you have to choose and then back that horse all the way.

In search of a third way? Possibly, but I'm not sure if there is one.

1 comment:

  1. My take on this is revolves around 'wanting' and 'trepidation'. Deep down everyone see's what open source is. An opportunity, which could indeed see reduced costs and the opening up the way organisations and users, can interact with more open data. Why then are there still the polar discussions? I think users have a feeling of trepidation.
    Moving away from vendors with dedicated support and development roadmaps, and going it alone can be worrying, especially in these uncertain times. 'Do we have the skills and resource to do these ourselves'?
    Third party vendors using open source to underpin their solutions, but comes at a cost. Are sites willing to drop proprietary vendors to move to another costed solution? Yes, as it is successfully happening.
    IS the third camp those who need a gentle push in the appropriate direction?