I always wanted to use Battle to the Death.
So last week I saw the first email I’d been expecting for a while. It went something like:
In case the pics don’t translate it’s FOSS4GNA vs ESRI . Aaaaaaaand you’re more than likely going to go “OMG IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE ONE OR THE OTHER STOP CAUSING PROBLEMS”. Well Actually it does have to be one or the other. Both are the same week (May 2-5). I know – I love it when a plan comes together.
So here’s my pitch. I’ve been to both. Granted it’s been a while since I’ve been to an ESRI function. Why no ESRI for a while? It’s not been exceedingly relevant to my work life. I’ve been to the three FOSS4GNA events and they’ve been more relevant and more recent. So I’m going to state my case (but this is all pro foss4gna so you can stop here if you want).
Where are both: Raleigh NC for FOSS4GNA and Charlotte NC for ESRI. I know – Planning.
When: Both May. Both start on the 2nd. FOSS4GNA makes it to the 5th and ESRI stops on the 4th.
Why do both exist:
Southeast Users Group (stolen from the site): Esri Southeast User Conference (UC) is where GIS professionals from across the south gather to map better, smarter, and faster. Spend three days learning, connecting, and getting training on the geospatial solutions that move your organization forward. Discover what’s new with in-depth tech sessions on ArcGIS Pro and sharpen your skills in the Esri Hands-on Learning Lab. Plus, hear from top innovators from Esri and your community who are using GIS to solve today’s complex challenges to design a better future.
FOSS4GNA (stolen from the site): FOSS4G is all about community. Contributors, adopters, users, extenders, teachers, service providers, consumers and business and research organizations gather to share their expertise and learn from each other. FOSS4G delivers camaraderie and networking opportunities that lead to synergies in the community, as well as opportunities to give and receive help on specific technical issues or to generate business opportunities.
So here’s my take on it. If you’re all ESRI All Day and you are never going to do anything not ESRI related. Go to Charlotte. You have to. You need to. Learn about ArcGISOnline and ArcGISPro and why you need to get certified as a ArcGIS <Something> user and why you need an online account to run your software. Disclaimer: I was one of the certified somethings.
If you aren’t All ESRI All Day or even if you are…..and you want to do something maybe a little different……Take a look at FOSS4GNA.
Here’s why…..I’ve done a lot of ESRI events. They are polished. They are nice. They are clean. Demos will work. Software will be shown off. People will ooooh and aaaaah with the things they are shown. It’s a software company selling software and services – and there’s nothing wrong with that.
FOSS4GNA has two groups involved: Location Tech and OSGEO. They have nothing to sell. What we do have though is a community of people. A group of like minded individuals….and you may go “But ESRI has that…” and I could say yes but I’m going to add it’s not like it used to be for me. I miss the community – I stopped feeling the communal aspect of ESRI a while back. Does it exist still? Probably. Disclaimer: I love everyone.
I’m on the FOSS4GNA 2016 conference committee and I’ve been reviewing papers and workshops most of yesterday. The presentations are all over the place and pretty awesome and relevant. From Cartography to Programming. From Web Mapping to On the Ground Sensors. From LIDAR to Satellites. It’s not what you are possibly thinking – it’s not a group of people who crawled out of the basement to talk about something so complicated only three people can pronounce it and one person uses it. We have Government Presentations. State and Local presenters. Workshops. Companies presenting open source and hybrid solutions. Someone’s even talking about FGDC Metadata. Talks on GIS Problems and GIS Solutions. This is a conference on Geo. One thing I’ve never done – walk away going “Oh dear deity in the sky – I’ve got to tell my clients they have to upgrade software/hardware”. I have walked away going “I NEED TO LOOK AT THIS <FILL IN THE BLANK> THING. We talk. We have fun. We cheer the demos that work and don’t work. We learn from each other and we learn about all this Free and Open Source Software for GIS. For me it makes GIS fun again. No one is going to mention ArcGISOnline Credits – but there are going to be a lot of 3D presentations. Disclaimer – I generally make fun of 3D.
So if you’re wondering which one…do something different. Come to Raleigh. Learn about some different software and different processes…..the best thing is – Even if you are an All ESRI All Day Shop – you’re going to learn something useful in Raleigh. We will all still love you. We might even buy you a beer and or tofu and give you a high five and or help you do yoga. Come see us. Yeah the planning sucks because you have to pick….but picking makes it more fun because you have to commit. Disclaimer – I don’t own Yoga Pants.
Track me down and I’ll even install QGIS for you and give you the 15 minute walk though if you don’t have it installed. With any luck I might crash your computer.