Wednesday, February 4, 2009

GeoWeb 2009 Proposal: "GeoWeb Standards: How far they've come, How far they need to go"

Ok, I've never been to GeoWeb, but it's in Vancouver and I've been told Vancouver is a nice city with great boba (milk tea). So I've proposed a technical session about the current GeoWeb standards (KML, GeoRSS, GeoJSON), and about what I think their future together should entail. I've played around a lot with both these formats over the past few years, written parsers and generators, and now I've got a fairly good sense of what I still need from these formats, both as a developer and a consumer. If this talk is selected, it will give me an excuse to further articulate those needs, and my personal vision. I'd be interested to hear other's opinions about the state of the GeoWeb standards.

Here's the abstract:

GeoWeb Standards: How far they've come, How far they need to go

The GeoWeb is growing up rapidly. KML, or Keyhole Markup Language, was invented by Google five years ago and became an OGC standard last year. GeoRSS, an extension of RSS, was invented by Harvard around the same time, and is now a defacto standard. There are now tens of thousands of KML files out there, popular sites like Blogger outputting GeoRSS files, and there are numerous parsers, generators, and validators for both of these formats.

But we're still really in the infancy of being able to truly share and track geo data on the web. We can't subscribe to updates for a KML file with a GeoRSS feed, we can't do CRUD operations on a KML file, we can't settle on a "flavor" of GeoRSS, and more importantly, we can't figure out how these two formats should co-exist in perfect harmony. In this talk, we'll examine the progress the current standards have made and discuss how they could work better with eachother and with the rest of the web - covering topics like syndication, collaboration, searchability, and unification. We'll conclude with suggestions about how the attendees can help.


Arek said...

Hi Pamela! Very timely topic and a huge one to tackle! I keep my fingers crossed that you will manage to highlight the issues and get some traction to move forward. I believe, many will be keeping a watching brief on the conclusions and further developments in this area.

In my humble opinion, the state of GeoWeb standards needs urgent attention. Ok, there are a few in place (even formalised) but from the developers/ data integrators point of view it's a real nightmare… Google Map, Google Earth and KLM brought focus of masses on geographic and location based information. And thanks to Google OGC was brought from obscurity into the mainstream although there is still a long way to uniformity as many struggle with complexity of implementation of OGC standards (and ever expanding extensions!).

As far as your talk is concerned, it would be helpful to revisit “where it all started” long, long time ago! That is, with XML representation of geographic features defined in Geography Markup Language (GML). It’s too complex for a widespread use but Web Feature Service (WFS) derivative is a very powerful proposition for all things spatial in a dynamic environment (eg it support spatial queries/ filters and live data edits – to may knowledge, elements still missing in KLM, GeoRSS and GeoJASN as primarily data transfer formats). Majority of commercial and open source GIS products support WFS so, convergence of “all of the above” into one common standard would be most welcomed!

“But wait, there is more…”, how about OpenGIS GML Simple Features Profile 

It must be possible to put it all together in one coherent standard to facilitate the whole a-to-z process covering: storing of underlying geography info in pure GML (coded into binary xml for compact storage and fast retrieval?), querying according to WFS-like standard and returning results as a “new” SFS/KML/GeoRSS hybrid format (again, binary encoded for speed?) with all the bells and whistles of KML’s animations, network refreshing, time dimension and wrapping of Collada models for 3D static and animated presentations etc. etc.... A dream? 

I hope you can get this process off the ground with your talk! Good luck!


Pamela Fox said...

Hey Arek-

Thanks for the thorough reply. You're right that it'd be beneficial to visit the whole history of this space -- the fact of the matter is that I only entered it a few years ago, so I'm most deeply familiar with its recent past. But I always like to research and learn more.

I'm not sure that I'll be speaking at GeoWeb, but I will be posting about these topics on this blog in the coming months. Stay tuned...