Esri became silver sponsor of up coming FOSS4G 2007

14.03.2007 – 3:46 pm

Paul Ramsey writes, that ESRI became to silver sponsor of up coming FOSS4G 2007 conference. (BTW: I’m calling for sponsors too, since it seems so, I’ll take a part only virtually :-)

It feels to me, like Microsoft would became sponsor of the Linux Kernel Summit. I would be thankful, if anybody would point me in comments to something, which we could call Open Source for Geoinformatics, which had been developed by forementioned company?

I do not know, I should laugh or cry. Certainly this means more money, more attention of media, which means also more attention of the public and more customers. On the other hand, I would not say, there would be more money or even developers in projects like GRASS or MapServer or PostGIS or any other great program at once. So I’m asking: what does this bring to us (as FOSS4G community)? What does it bring to ESRI is pretty clear to me: They can now ,,box in theirs chests” and shout: ,,As you all can see now, we are doing this opensource too!”, without understanding what it means, to be open source and without making their customers to understand it either.

I do not want to say, that any commercial company does not have right for Open Source development model. However, I see big problem of such big corporation, that mostly, they are taking only the brand of ,,to make open source”. Then they use the same procedures, like they did before, but their customers likes their speech. It is exactly the approach, I do not like: fist big announcement, marketing and than, later, maybe, some result. I admire people, who are silently working on some thing, and when it becomes usable, they start to make announcement and get new users and developers so that anybody can say, ,,hey, there is already something”. Or should this maybe mean, that ArcGIS goes for Open Source? Maybe new OSGeo project?

We will see, how this will develop.

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  1. 5 Responses to “Esri became silver sponsor of up coming FOSS4G 2007”

  2. Thanks, Jachym. Your English is fine :)

    By Sean Gillies on Mar 14, 2007

  3. You are merciful :-)

    You can now submit to english RSS channel too.

    By Jachym on Mar 15, 2007

  4. Great. I will subscribe.

    By Sean Gillies on Mar 15, 2007

  5. Hi Jachym,
    Don’t forget that ESRI is reaching out to at least sponsor open source development through their membership in While I’m no expert on their goals, I believe it shows they see at least some benefit in the OSS development model if not particular projects, like ILWIS and the other 52North open source projects.

    Also, they are using GDAL in their ArcGIS product. Some of their processing tools also support the use of Python (they actually ship Python in their products!). So, their engineers are not ignorant or antagonistic toward open source, at least not as far as I can tell. In some real ways you can say they actually rely on OSS.

    I understand your concern about “marketing” instead of “producing” OSS products. Obviously attendees will be looking for the OSS connection, so “pounding chests” from a typical sales angle wouldn’t help them much anyway.

    But, in your mind, how do they differ from other companies that are leveraging open source alongside proprietary code? I mean they now fund, implement, use, repackage, distribute and sell OSS components within proprietary products. Perhaps they only need to be communicating this more publicly in a supportive way to gain respect?

    At this point they are users and supporters, perhaps someday they will be direct contributors too. But will they have to release one of their own products into open source before they can be regarded as supporting open source? Or, like many of us, can they remain users and supporters of certain projects/efforts and eventually gain more OSS karma? ;)

    Just a thought that generally applies to many similar scenarios…

    By Tyler Mitchell on Mar 16, 2007

  6. Hi,
    thank you for you comment. Maybe just some paranoia revealed here. I was just curious, why company, which is far from what general user understands under “Open Source”, sponsors symposium like this. Maybe it is also, because I’m spending most of the time with direct concurent of ArcGIS — GRASS. GDAL can benefit from beeing used by ESRI, can GRASS that too?

    I do not doubt, ESRI software engineers are nice guys – I think, there is no difference between “them” and “us” (maybe, yes – they are much better, then I ever will be ;-) We know, they are keeping their eye on us. But the developers are usually not the ones, who deside about sponsorship.

    On the other hand, if ESRI would offer me ticket to Victoria and back, I would wear their T-shirt during the conference proudly :-)

    By Jachym on Mar 16, 2007

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