I don’t even know how to write this up – but given the last few days it warrants some mention – although not a lot. It’s almost entirely self serving except I will stop short of any “I am so SMRT”. I’m not.
Many of you probably go “What do you do everyday?” and as I just put my cat down from an exciting back rub – I would answer “Geospatial stuff with data”. Most of my clients are desktop oriented and through the years they’ve been getting more complicated. When I started life as a business I remortgaged my house to buy ArcGIS….errr….ArcINFO. I worked. I had some spectacular successes and failures that could only be viewed with the help of popcorn and koolaid.
Over the last few years I’ve switched to almost all open source. I say that and I had to break out my increasingly outdated ArcGIS license the other day for some data issues. I’m on the ‘Commercial support for QGIS’ list – I became active with the community and pleaded my case and was placed on it. There are a few of us in North America on it. I do QGIS classes – probably my noisiest spot for the last bit – but I much prefer working. When I was a “commercial gis software” Business Partner I had three clients because of that designation. I’ve gotten two because of the commercial support for QGIS list. I should hit three this year. Maybe four.
I had a phone call from a prospective client last week that was the one I’ve been wanting. They had decided to forego the usual GIS setup and dive into QGIS and PostGIS. They had built a database and I’ve spent the last 24 hours realizing I don’t know enough on databases….again…and I know like 500% more than I knew last year. QGIS isn’t a problem – I’m learning more and hope 2016 is my year of writing a plugin. The kicker – this wasn’t a decision where they had purchased software and went “This won’t work”. This was their first choice.
It’s not that exciting – once we get the database worked out and the QGIS installs finalized there may be 20 or so people working off and on building geographic data. The description of the problem from the client was a commercial setup would be the equivalent of hiring an employee. In other words – they’d rather hire somone vs buying software. In my world the desktop reigns supreme still and it might be dying – but very slowly. So how did the person (and I’m not mentioning clients names) find out about QGIS? – the local gov’t office was using it as opposed to buying more commercial software.
If you’re on the QGIS list and you watch there are pretty big installs occurring outside of North America with QGIS and PostGIS. Here in the US the QGIS list isn’t that noisy – Except it’s changing. Slowly. When I work for someone I’m generally offering services. I’ve only had one person demand commercial software. So I keep moving forward with my goofy open source hippie software. This install we are working out will be not massive – but of good size. After a few weeks they should start seeing a return on investment that exceeds what I’m getting paid to do. The nice part once we get over the technical hurdles I can help them answer questions and make plans with the help of this open source software. I can be a Geo Person. I can worry about Data (with a capital D) because this is going to be a stable setup.
So it can be done. With this client under my belt it can be done even easier. You can roll out a GIS setup and help your company/group out…and not lose anything in the process. I used to go into these situations going “If you feel you need to switch you can – this is all commercial software friendly”. This time I didn’t mention it. They are here to stay.
So like I said – not that exciting…..BUT – exciting. QGIS….PostGIS…..Maybe Geoserver/Mapserver? I’m sitting at the ground floor of a clients discovery of GIS through open source software.
It sort of is exciting.
And there – I went the entire blog article without saying ESRI.