Autodesk's Liam Speden on how open source can help coordinate our world

Speden explains how the open source community and Autodesk can work together to make sense of the surge in location enabled and spatially aware information.

How could the software be used as a basis of mobile services?

The MapGuide Open Source architecture inherently enables the use of mobile services around spatial and location-based information. Organizations worldwide use MapGuide technology to distribute information to their mobile field forces. Often this data is provided in a variety of different projections and coordinate systems, requiring expensive or proprietary tools to be use for data translation or manipulation. Releasing CS-Map as an open source technology enables a wide range of participating technologies to share a common set of coordinate systems and transformations, improving consistency and compatibility between systems and thus helping improve the quality and reliability of mobile services built on the technology.

What is the biggest market for coordinate system technology?

CS-Map technology is used by hundreds of thousands of organizations worldwide, primarily in the oil and gas industry.

Are there emerging markets for this technology and if so, what are they?

Due to the surge of location enabled or spatially aware information, Mentor CS technology can be used to further enhance the context of this data by providing results with multiple coordinate systems.

Does this compete or compliment something like geonames?

Mentor technology can enhance technology like geonames to transform results data into multiple coordinate systems for use or display in different ways. Examples would be the ability to perform a transformation between an equal-area projection for demographic analysis, or to an equal distance projection for logistics planning. For something like Geonames, being able to get data quickly and easily into a common coordinate system is tremendously valuable.

What coordinate systems does this conversion system work with?

CS-Map supports the projections and transformations necessary to implement over 3,000 coordinate systems.

How will donating the Mentor technology help Autodesk?

Autodesk sees the open source community as a valuable partner in creating better software for our customers and partners. Participation with the open source community through the MapGuide Open Source web-based GIS software and the FDO (Feature Data Objects) data access technologies have provided innovation and insight into the technology trends affecting the web and geospatial industries. The active engagement by members of the community creates a constant level of feedback and contribution that helps us improve quality and deliver functionality faster than a traditional, proprietary software model. We believe that the recent donation of the Mentor technology will help to accelerate innovation for the larger geospatial community through faster development cycles and lower costs. This donation will free many customers and developers from the cost or need to re-engineer coordinate conversion technology and, thereby, "reinvent the wheel". Additionally, this acquisition and donation closes the gap between our MapGuide Enterprise and open source offerings.

How will the donation benefit the Geospatial community?

Companies that currently pay to license Mentor software will be able to embed the technology at no cost. Much as the donation of Feature Data Objects (FDO), an open platform for accessing geospatial data, meant that companies no longer required proprietary and potentially expensive tools. Additionally, Autodesk customers will benefit by seeing increased parity between MapGuide Open Source and Autodesk MapGuide Enterprise as these two software products will now employ the same coordinate conversion technology and support the same number of projections and coordinate systems. All users will benefit from the lower costs, faster development cycles and more rapid innovation.

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