Last week, Philadelphia, Azavea, and our venue Friends Center hosted a code sprint where over 30 enthusiastic and creative “sprinters” met to collaborate on open source geospatial software projects. The OSGeo Code Sprint has been held annually for a while now, but this year’s event was bigger and better in ways that reflect the growth and increasing prominence of the open source geospatial community.
Over the last couple years, the LocationTech working group of the Eclipse Foundation has been emerging as a hub for high-performance geoprocessing and other location-aware technologies, such as Azavea’s GeoTrellis project. The new projects being incubated by LocationTech have been growing alongside continued participation in OSGeo and projects hosted there. Azavea is a huge supporter of both communities, as a member of LocationTech and a heavy user and contributor to many OSGeo projects. So, in hosting the 2015 OSGeo Code Sprint in Philadelphia, we wanted to be inclusive and specifically invite LocationTech projects to come participate in addition to OSGeo projects. We consider this coming together a success. LocationTech sponsored the event at the $2,500 Gold level. LocationTech projects like GeoTrellis, GeoMesa, and uDig were worked on alongside OSGeo projects like PostGIS, PDAL, and MapServer. At the end of the day, whichever software “foundation” a project is under, we’re all tackling the same problems and questions in GIS and can benefit from being at the same table in-person at a code sprint. Judging by initial responses on the OSGeo TOSprint mailing list, many others appreciated the additional camraderie as well.
In addition to LocationTech, we had a tremendous array of support from sponsors at the code sprint. In fact, with 14 sponsors in all, we believe the 2015 Philly sprint to be the most-sponsored in OSGeo code sprint history. Many organizations had never sponsored a code sprint before, including LocationTech, Boundless, AGI, CartoDB, Mapzen, OpenSCG, and Typesafe. Other sponsors like Airborne Interactive, FOSSGIS eV, Coordinate Solutions, Farallon Geographics, Hobu, and Mobile Geographics are veteran code sprint sponsors and we were very glad to have their continued support for another sprint. Of note, OpenSCG and Typesafe are not necessarily geospatial-focused companies, but operate around related technologies of PostgreSQL and Scala which several open source geospatial projects are also based on. Their interest and generosity in supporting the sprint, we think, demonstrates how the importance of geospatial technologies – and open source geo, in particular – is increasing.
The generosity of our sponsors, and the OSGeo Board, allowed us to schedule an array of exciting evening activities to continue building community at night after coding in the day. On Tuesday, we took our sprinters on an exciting historic tour bus ride of Center City Philadelphia, so they could get a sense of our city of “Firsts”. Wednesday night’s affair was bowling and tater tots at acclaimed Philly hangout North Bowl – we’ve already heard several comments that bowling was a big hit with the sprinters! “I had a wonderful time, the venue was fantastic, the internet was plentiful, and the beverages flowed as smoothly as the code,” offered one sprinter.
There was also plenty of learning and knowledge sharing with presentations throughout the week. AGI’s Patrick Cozzi showed us a few demos of the Cesium 3D globe library. CartoDB’s Andy Eschbacher gave a deep dive into CartoDB’s PostGIS-enabled wizardry including Torque animated maps. And Azavea’s own Kathryn Killebrew gave a preview of her presentation she will give this year at FOSS4G-NA, on how to use CartoDB’s Torque library outside of CartoDB to make spatio-temporally animated maps out of any PostGIS database.
A good sprint was had by all, and we are excited for the growth of the event and what it means for the open source geo community as a whole! If you’re interested or happen to be a code sprint organizer yourself, we also posted a detailed list of “lessons learned” on the OSGeo wiki.