The City of Brotherly Love Welcomes the 2015 OSGeo Code Sprint

The City of Brotherly Love Welcomes the 2015 OSGeo Code Sprint

Open source software projects are often a virtual collaboration that spans the entire world.  “Code sprints” are an opportunity for an otherwise distributed team to get together in the same place and tackle larger problems that benefit from having folks together in the same room.  Code sprints can be a day or a week, but they are often invaluable for helping an open source software project make big strides forward.  Since 2009, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation has been supporting an annual Code Sprint.  Past Code Sprints have been held in Toronto, New York, Boston, and even Vienna.  This year, Azavea welcomed more than 40 sprinters from around the world to Philadelphia for this year’s OSGeo Code Sprint.  Sprinters worked an a range of OSGeo projects, including PostGIS, PDALMapServer, GDAL, libspatialindex, and others.

New to the 2015 OSGeo Code Sprint was a collaboration with the Eclipse Foundation’s LocationTech working group, another open source group focused on location-based technologies.  GeoTrellis, Azavea’s open source geographic data processing engine, is a LocationTech project, and many of our software developers had the chance to work with and contribute to the project during the Code Sprint.  In addition to GeoTrellis, other LocationTech projects included GeoMesa, uDig and Glob3 Mobile.  A crew from the Cesium project also crashed the party.

Rob Emanuele, the Azavea Tech Lead on the GeoTrellis team, led a group of code sprinters preparing for the upcoming GeoTrellis 0.10 release.  Rob said it was exciting to collaborate with people from outside Azavea on GeoTrellis.  “Getting to hack on GeoTrellis at the OSGeo Code Sprint was such a great experience, and the GeoTrellis team appreciates the OSGeo community opening up the Code Sprint to allow for that.”

Kenny Shepard and Rob Emanuele

Other Azaveans also had a chance to contribute to GeoTrellis, including Software Developers Chris Brown and Nathan Zimmerman from the Justice and Election Services Team.  Chris worked on setting up a vagrant development environment for people who want to start contributing to GeoTrellis.  One of the initial barriers to open source contribution is setting up a working environment.  Chris’s work will enable other developers to start testing and contributing to the GeoTrellis framework much more rapidly.  After spending a week with GeoTrellis, Chris and Nathan are eager to continue their work.  “I absolutely plan to use the knowledge I gained about Geotrellis,” said Nathan.  Chris hopes some of what he learned can be applied to a research project he is developing related to applications of Spark and GeoTrellis for machine learning.

Kathryn Killebrew does a talk on the CartoDB Torque library

Apart from the GeoTrellis work, fellow Azavean, Mike Maurizi, a developer on the Civic Apps Team, worked on a Vagrant-based cross platform development environment for PostGIS, while Kenneth Shepard, the Tech Lead on the Justice and Election Services Team, learned about applications of the Apache Spark project to visualization of neuroscience research.  On Friday, Kathryn Killebrew joined the rest of the Azavea development team for a field trip to the code sprint, where she presented a talk on the CartoDB Torque project.

The code sprint wasn’t all about writing software.  Sprinters broke bread together at Philadelphia restaurants, took a bus tour of the city, and made an excursion to North Bowl.  Costs for sprinters were limited to travel to Philadelphia, and the rest of the effort was supported by a cadre of generous sponsors including: OSGeo Foundation, LocationTech, Airborne Interactive, Boundless, FOSSGIS, Azavea, AGI, CartoDB, Coordinate Solutions, Farallon Geographics, Hobu, Mapzen, Mobile Geographics, OpenSCG, and Typesafe.

Sprinters at North Bowl

Azavea was proud to organize the 2015 organizer and be part of a community milestone in bringing the LocationTech and OSGeo communities together.  And we’re equally proud to be an active participant in the open source community in general.  Some Azaveans have been attending OSGeo Code Sprints since 2012, and we have no plans to stop.  Keep an eye out for Azaveans at future Code Sprints – we’ll see you there! Rumor has it that next year’s code sprint may be heading back to Europe, but if you are considering organizing a future Code Sprint, you can read more about our lessons learned on the OSGeo Wiki.

Photos by Jody Garnett.