PostGIS Raster and More

The OSGEO Toronto Sprint

The OSGEO C-Camp Toronto Sprint was fun, although Leo and I couldn't stay for the whole event. I've never seen people close bugs so quickly. Paul Ramsey and Mark Cave-Ayland were on a marathon run in the PostGIS ring. Olivier Courtin was also following not too far behind with SVG bug fixes and so forth. We also discussed the possiblity of having ST_GeomFromGML, ST_GeomFromGeoJSON, ST_GeomFromKml and so forth and what that would entail. It was great to meet Pierre Racine of WKT Raster fame in person and chat with Mateusz and Sandro Santilli via IRC. Frank Warmerdam, the GDAL god came to our table to provide his big two cents about how WKT Raster meta data should be stored, dealing with large RASTERS and other things I didn't understand.

Mark Leslie in Australia did his part too, though he wasn't present -- he would come into IRC when others had fallen asleep. Such is the way with timezones. He has been working on beefing up the curved support in PostGIS. The FOSS 4G 2009 conference will be in Sydney, Australia.

It was nice to be able to put a face to these people I've talked via newsgroups. It was also strange since most of the clients and many of the people we work with we have never met, so the idea of meeting in person has become a very foreign concept for us.

What is in store for PostGIS

We sat at the PostGIS table and a lot of ground was covered. On the PostGIS side, we discussed plans for PostGIS 2.0 -- specifically

  1. Making 0 the unknown SRID instead of -1 to conform with OGC standards
  2. Introducing Geodetic support and possibly integrating Q3C for indexing support for geodetic.
  3. More extensive projection support using CSMap so that we can deal with obscure projections and also utilize the well-known-text representation of spatial reference for importing shape files.
  4. Bringing in WKT Raster more into the PostGIS family
  5. Tweaking of storage and ability to expand structure to store new types -- e.g. all those X3D surface types needed for CityGML and so forth.
  6. Using PostgreSQL 8.3+ typmod support so we can have geometry_columns as a view instead of a real table and encoding all we need in the typmod structure to simplify adding constrained geometry columns
  7. Mateusz Loskot has been working on getting PostGIS to compile under Visual C++ in windows and has made a lot of headway. This will hopefully make it easier for windows users to try out cutting edge PostGIS versions and contribute more. Currently windows users wanting the latest and greatest are forced to use MingW, which is a bit of a pain to get going.

WKT Raster

I'm particularly looking forward to WKT Raster. When many think of Rasters in GIS, they think Aerial Imagery. I think aerial too, but what really excites me with Raster is its application in cellular automata, game grids, signal processing, computational biology, and all sorts of other sugar plums overlaid, intersected and differenced in space which admittedly don't necessarily have anything to do with GIS, but everything to do with spatial (by spatial I mean the use of space that need not be geographic). I think the real deal in GIS and more specifically the power of spatial analytical processing, is not GIS but the conventions and concepts it provides which are equally applicable in non-geographic problem domains. The analytical stuff planned and work already done for WKT Raster I find pretty exciting. I'm hoping we can start playing with it in the next month.

Getting more involved

On another note -- this year is going to be very busy for Leo and myself. We are going to be presenting at PGCon 2009 in Ottawa in May - doing a PostGIS Lightning talk and a PostGIS Spatial Query lecture, and another lecture in July at OSCON 2009 in San Jose, and some other new developments which we shall discuss later. So this year will be pretty interesting and exhausting. We are getting deeper into PostGIS on all fronts and if we can get thru this year all in one piece, I think it will be a major milestone for us and hopefully for PostGIS as well.