Potential tasks and responsibilities

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NEWS - 4th Feb. 2006

The new Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo.org) was established in Chicago. GRASS was proposed as founding project. Goals mentioned in this document reached agreement among the participants. An interim Board of Directors was elected as well. Read more...

This draft text is discussing ideas about an umbrella Geospatial Free/Open Source Software Foundation (GFOSS Foundation).


In November 2005 the Mapserver Foundation (http://mapserverfoundation.org) was announced. For various reasons the idea did not fully succeed in parts of the community. There are now new efforts to establish a wider umbrella GFOSS Foundation.

In the GRASS mailing lists the idea of creating a GRASS foundation was not yet widely discussed. However, there have been discussions at various meetings (international conferences such as Trento 2002, Bangkok 2004 and also at some national GRASS conferences).

There are a couple of successful FOSS foundations out there (Apache, PostgreSQL, R-stats, ...), however, a "geospatial foundation" is still missing. The idea of a GRASS Foundation is not new (Open GRASS Foundation OGF - was once established) which later became the today's Open Geospatial Consortium, Inc..

However, it makes sense to talk about a wider *umbrella* foundation to better serve the communities of the various GIS related projects. The first attempt at "growing together" was the decision in 2004 to merge the GRASS & Mapserver conferences (FOSS4G 2006, Lausanne). Then, in November 2005, the Mapserver Foundation was born - initially dedicated to Mapserver only. Recently, the involved people decided to open this foundation to other projects as well, and also to rename it. Further ideas will be discussed during a meeting in Chicago (4th Feb 2006).

Potential tasks and responsibilities

An umbrella GFOSS Foundation should take care of a couple of issues:

  • Fairness: the various sub-project must not be dominated by single major projects
  • Management of fundings: accept, solicit and forward donations to chapters and subprojects
  • Community Support: support the "grow together" idea
    • Maintain Web Infrastructure & Content for foundation tasks
    • Organise Conferences and Events
  • Certification:
    • certify GFOSS/FOSS4G standards
    • Device and implement mechanisms for testing and certification of FOSS4G professional (accredited engineer)
  • Education: Development of FOSS4G based Core Curriculums for university education
  • Promote freedom of geospatial data, especially outside of Northern America. In many continents free basic cartography is lacking.
  • Promote development and usage of open spatial data formats (such as !OpenDocument for texts)
  • Related to this it might be important that the new foundation have a key-role in the Open Geospatial Consortium, as Strategic or Principal Member
  • Legal Guardian: assist with legal issues, software patent issues etc.
  • Adoption of new projects: a well defined and transparent process should enable new projects to join the foundation. The foundation will seek to adopt or create projects that are of the highest quality.
  • Promotion
    • Promotional Material Development
    • Promotional Presentations
    • News and Press Releases
  • Awarding: stimulate excellent development of ideas, software

Organizational structure

The new foundation may have Working Groups or Special Interest Groups focusing on a specific software or technology (e.g. GRASS Working Group, QGIS Working Group etc.). Country representatives of the foundation could establish localized branches in their respective countries or region (like FSF europe, FSF India and so on).

The GRASS project and a GFOSS foundation

The basic question is if and how the GRASS project could join a general purpose "GIS FOSS umbrella foundation" (with whatever name then). While the discussion focus often highlights data dissemination issues, the data generation issues are considered as less important. GRASS can fill a gap here, to enable users to work in a pure GFOSS enviroment which is apparently not the case yet.


Related material

Online Discussions


To better understand the online discussions, here some acronyms:

  • IP = Intellectual Property (ie. copyright, patents, trademark, etc)
  • PMC = Project Management Committee. Basically the key body for a given foundation project (ie. MapServer, Tux, etc) responsible for project specific decisions.
  • PCS = Project Steering Committee, usually the same thing as PMC.

This Text was written with input from Venkatesh Raghavan (Osaka), Brad Douglas (USA), others