Saturday, July 14, 2007
How Software is Built: NASA World Wind
I have been a fan of WorldWind since the day it was released - way back when. UnfortunatelyI have never had the time to contribute to this open source project. (Hopefully that will change in the future). So when I found this link to a web interview with Patrick Hogan, the program manager for WorldWind, I had to read it..... you can too at: http://howsoftwareisbuilt.com/2007/07/14/patrick-hogan/ What I have admired about WorldWind is that: 1. When it was first released - it was way ahead of the pack (Google Earth and Virtual Earth werent even on the horizon). 2. Its been trully open source - Most of what the development/plugins you are seeing now - was developed by developers contributing to this project from outside NASA. 3. Any company can leverage WorldWind - and create a brand new product - and sell it - without having to release any of their code - this is the beauty of the NASA open source license. This too is amazing - because WorldWind is a infrastructure product - so keeping it on a non-restrictive license - allows for companies/people to leverage this product to come up with innovative new products - that might provide NASA with cool new ways to look at their data. This I believe should be the true mantra of all open source projects: Allow the implementers to decide if their extensions should be part of the open source community or proprietry technology. The benefits of leaving it open-source - is that your code becomes part of the project - so future releases will support it. But if you choose to keep it proprietry - then you might have major issues trying reconcille changes as and when newer versions come out. This I think is true of atleast "infrastructure" projects such as WorldWind or OpenSceneGraph. 4. In the face of competition from the BigGuys (MS and Goog), WorldWind is still cool - and I still turn to it - for new ideas in visualizing old GIS data. 5. Finally - its written in C# - shows what can be done with .NET and Managed DirectX.