Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Autodesk is going to contribute a new coordinate system software to the open source community

Today - Autodesk's press release has garnered a lot of press - appearing in news articles, blogs and even Google Finance. Read it at GisCafe.

Something that intrigued me was in a field that already has two excellent solution - GDAL's OGR as well as Proj4 (OGR is built on top of Proj4), what more is Autodesk's solution going to provide.

According to Frank Warmerdam - the developer of GDAL

"The latest planned contribution supports the projections and transformations necessary to support over 3,000 coordinate systems worldwide and has capabilities not previously available to the open source community."

The new offering from Autodesk seems to come from Mentor Software - from whom they seem to have acquired the software. Mentor Software was founded by Norm Olsen - a GIS guy with a lot of knowledge about projections, transformations and GIS systems. He has developed all the GIS software products at Mentor. Even before the days of blogs - Norm used to write regular articles on projections and transformation and also has a very informative forum (the forum has been dormant though). His company also has some freeware GIS tools.




I think that the software that Autodesk is going to be releasing is Mentor Software's CS-MAP. Tralaine another product from Mentor seems to be based on CS-Map and it boasts of fast conversion rates (35,000 per second) and (http://www.mentorsoftwareinc.com/products/traldll.htm - though on CSMap's specs it says 800). Also as it performs its calculations using double values - it  claims to be highly accurate.

CSMap specs: http://www.mentorsoftwareinc.com/PRODUCTS/csmap.htm

Tralaine specs: http://www.mentorsoftwareinc.com/products/traldll.htm

One of the important points that will affect how well the new Autodesk code is going to be adopted by GIS software developers is the license that it is going to be released under. OGR is released under the terms of the MIT License - which makes it easy to use in all sorts of products - commercial as well as open source - which is why it's adoption has been so wide-spread. It is my hope that Autodesk does the same - so that both commercial and non-commercial products can leverage it - especially if it does provide the accuracy and speed that it says it will. (I truly hope that they don't use GPL which is so restrictive - from a commercial adopters view point). A good piece of news on this end is that Autodesk released MapGuide under the LGPL license - which I think is open enough for those developing commercial apps to include it in their software.


The software is scheduled to be released to the Open Source community by the end of 2007.

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