GvSIG: Profits from this and other trades

Copy of IMG_0818 The way free tools have matured is interesting, a few years ago, talking about free GIS, it sounded like UNIX, in Geek's voice and at a level of mistrust for fear of the unknown. All that has changed a lot with the diversity of solutions that have matured not only in the construction of commonly expected routines but innovative strategies of massification, testing and adaptation to collective intelligence based on exchange. OSGeo and OGC standards are results of that maturity.

It happens that now with great confidence we can recommend open source solutions that are efficient (QGis or gvSIG to put two examples), there is a diversity to choose from, although we are also aware that in a few years many will be discontinued or merged under the shadow of the most sustainable ones (for example the cases of Qgis + Grass and gvSIG + Sextante). The subject who will survive must be seriously considered today, since fidelity has its limit, the sustainability of GIS software under open source mode is based on pillars such as: Technology, business and the community.

Pillars straight

Technological sustainability in some way it is controllable, or at least it seems that we are no longer frightened by its crazy pace of making a development obsolete every 5 minutes. But we have learned to understand, that this is also a way to clean the stage and the applications that have problems of sustainability go out of the way, although it is painful for the faithful. To give an example Ilwis, that with everything and its merits, it is costing him to leave Visual Basic 6.

Financial Sustainability, or what we call business, has surprisingly walked. Now there are many projects that are supported by pure volunteering, through foundations, formally constituted projects or even simple "collaborate via Paypal" buttons. At this level the case of gvSIG is admirable, as part of a Large project Of migration to free software, has a fairly well planned financial sustainability.

However The sustainability of the community it seems to be the most complex axis to control, because not only depends on the "creator" but because it has great influence in the technological field (in both ways) and can make it difficult to handle the financial issue. The financial and technological experts are trained by the academy, and they are sciences if not exact, theoretically defined. The concept of "this type of community" arises from the massification of the Internet and the consolidation of trends that evolved naturally as a result of "the community"; so that the axis is interdisciplinary, between communication, education, marketing, technology and everything with a social psychology dressing.

My respects for those who are behind this line, with projects such as gvSIG, whose expectation of internationalization is extremely aggressive. I must admit that it is one of the projects for which I keep my sincere admiration (apart from the risks of this job), I believe that they have achieved much not only in the Hispanic medium (which in itself is complicated).

One of the lines of this axis (and the only one that I am going to play today) is the theme of "user loyalty" through the reciprocal exchange of information. To measure this must be very complicated, so I am going to base myself on a more absurd than simple exercise:

-The Wikipedia is fed by the community.
-The user loyal to software, who likes to communicate, writes about it.
-In the community environment, all users faithful to that software, will contribute to it on Wikipedia.

It is absurd, I know, but I want to put it as an example, because although Wikipedia is highly criticized by professors as a source of fidelity, its content becomes the first reference every day and plays an important role in the user-search-content relationship.

I then used the "geographic information systems" starting point, then I went to each page of 11 programs and I counted the number of words there, from the topic to the category references.

In almost 5,000 words that add up, the result is as follows:

GvSIG + Sextant



Local GIS






Qgis + Grass















Generic Mapping Tools



MapGuide Open Source








Observe that the sum of GvSIG + Sextante take the
21%, it is not surprising, if we remember that these have been projects that have devoted much to the organized documentation of information on their official websites, have invested in Systematization of the process, Manuals, user lists and many other efforts for internationalization.

We can also see that QGis + Grass are left behind, its strongest diffusion is not precisely in the Hispanic medium, although Grass is perhaps the oldest Open Source GIS that is still alive.

This is just the theme of fidelity based on reciprocity, and seeing only Wikipedia as an example. As we see, and with satisfaction, gvSIG + Sextante have an important influence in the Hispanic environment. Possibly we would see a similar behavior in social networks, blogs, computer magazines and discussion forums, although, of course, this generates a greater degree of responsibility for the community.

But the fact that "our risks" lead us to question aspects related to communication, do not try to suggest that we are experts in the subject of sustainability. It is part of being "community", they are the common reactions of those who we hope with great faith in projects of this size (although, I admit, it does not justify the tone).

Possibly it is necessary to pay attention to the diffusion of information, which is filtered by the different channels that promote the initiative (as in the case of Geomatics Free Venezuela) or non-formal communications in the distribution lists that become unofficial truths and that create expectations. This and smaller things are arranged through institutional communication policies, in which we must recognize the "community channels" both for and against, to ensure part of that sustainability.

It is appropriate to review how the community reacts to the diffusion, because the community is a living element, has a behavior similar to that of people, reacts, thinks, feels, talks, writes, complains, rejoices and above all has expectations in the draft. An example of how an expectation is created:

-What is the bad of gvSIG 1.3, that we already saw gvSIG 1.9
-What's wrong with gvSIG 1.9: what is unstable
-What is bad is unstable: we do not know when it will be
-Momento: It seems that it will be soon.
-When will it be…

It is necessary to review the theme of community, in such a large project, with an international, multicultural scope. The constant communication in an official way never hurts, if it contributes to the sustainability of the community.

Finally the original post that has moved me to touch the subject I had to eliminate it, after the patches were almost impossible and the new thread incompatible with the worn fabric.

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