GvSIG: Profits from this and other trades

Copy of IMG_0818 The way free tools have matured is interesting, some years ago, talking about free GIS, it sounded like UNIX, in the voice of Geek and at a level of mistrust for fear of the unknown. All that has changed a lot with the diversity of solutions that have matured not only in the construction of routines commonly expected but also innovative strategies of massification, testing and adaptation to collective intelligence based on exchange. The OSGeo and the OGC standards are the result of that maturity.

It happens that now with great confidence we can recommend open source solutions that are efficient (QGis or gvSIG to give two examples), there is a diversity to choose from, although we are also aware that in a few years many will be discontinued or will be merged under the shadow of the most sustainable (example the cases of Qgis + Grass and gvSIG + Sextante). The issue who will survive must be seriously considered today, since fidelity has its limit, the sustainability of GIS software under open source modality is based on pillars such as: Technology, business and community. 

Pillars straight

Technological sustainability It's somehow controllable, or at least it seems that its crazy rhythm of making a development obsolete every 5 minutes no longer scares us. But we have learned to understand that this is also a way to clean the scene and applications that have sustainability problems are getting out of the way, although it is painful for the faithful. To give an example, Ilwis, which despite its merits, is having a hard time getting out of Visual Basic 6.

Financial Sustainability, or what we call business, has surprisingly walked. Now there are many projects that are supported by pure volunteerism, through foundations, formally constituted projects or even simple buttons of "collaborate via Paypal". At this level, the case of gvSIG is admirable, which as part of a Large project Of migration to free software, has a fairly well planned financial sustainability.

However The sustainability of the community It seems to be the most complex axis to control, because it not only depends on the "creator" but because it has great influence in the technological field (in both ways) and can make it difficult to handle the financial issue. Financial and technological experts are trained by academia, and are if not exact sciences, theoretically defined. The concept of "this type of community" arises from the massification of the Internet and the consolidation of trends that evolved naturally as a result of "the community"; so that the axis is interdisciplinary, between communication, education, marketing, technology and everything with a dressing of social psychology.

My respects to those who are behind this line, with projects such as gvSIG, whose expectations of internationalization are extremely aggressive. I must admit that it is one of the projects for which I have my most sincere admiration (apart from the dangers of this profession), I consider that they have achieved a lot not only in the Hispanic environment (which is complicated in itself).

One of the lines of this axis (and the only one that I am going to touch on today) is the issue of "user loyalty" through the reciprocal exchange of information. Measuring this must be very complicated, so I am going to base myself on a more absurd than simple exercise:

-The Wikipedia is fed by the community. 
-The user loyal to software, who likes to communicate, writes about it. 
-In the community environment, all users faithful to that software, will contribute to it on Wikipedia.

It is absurd, I know, but I want to put it as an example, because although Wikipedia is highly criticized by professors as a source of fidelity, its content becomes the first reference every day and plays an important role in the user-search-content relationship.

I then used the "geographic information systems" starting point, then I went to each page of 11 programs and I counted the number of words there, from the topic to the category references.

In almost 5,000 words that add up, the result is as follows:

GvSIG + Sextant



Local GIS






Qgis + Grass















Generic Mapping Tools



MapGuide Open Source









Observe that the sum of GvSIG + Sextante take the
21%, it is not surprising, if we remember that these have been projects that have devoted much to the organized documentation of information on their official websites, have invested in Systematization of the process, Manuals, user lists and many other efforts for internationalization.

We can also see that QGis + Grass are left behind, its strongest diffusion is not precisely in the Hispanic medium, although Grass is perhaps the oldest Open Source GIS that is still alive.

This is just the loyalty issue based on reciprocity, and looking at Wikipedia only as an example. As we can see, and with satisfaction, gvSIG + Sextante have an important influence in the Hispanic environment. Possibly we would see a similar behavior in social networks, blogs, computer magazines and discussion forums, although, of course, this generates a greater degree of responsibility for the community.

But the fact that "our risks" lead us to question aspects related to communication does not attempt to suggest that we are experts on the subject of sustainability. It is part of being a “community”, are the common reactions of those who hope with great faith in projects of this size (although, I admit, it does not justify the tone).

Possibly it is necessary to pay attention to the dissemination of information, which is filtered through the different channels that promote the initiative (such as the case of Geomática Libre Venezuela) or non-formal communications in the distribution lists that become unofficial truths and that create expectations. This and more trifles are arranged through institutional communication policies, in which the “community channels” must be recognized, both for and against, to ensure part of that sustainability.

It is appropriate to review how the community reacts to the broadcast, because the community is a living element, has a behavior similar to that of people, reacts, thinks, feels, speaks, writes, complains, rejoices and above all has expectations in the draft. An example of how an expectation is created:

-What is the bad of gvSIG 1.3, that we already saw gvSIG 1.9
-What's wrong with gvSIG 1.9: what is unstable
-What is bad is unstable: we do not know when it will be
-Momento: It seems that it will be soon.
-When will it be…

It is necessary to review the community issue, in a project this large, with an international, multicultural scope. Constant communication officially never hurts, if it contributes to the sustainability of the community.

Finally the original post that has moved me to touch the subject I had to eliminate it, after the patches were almost impossible and the new thread incompatible with the worn fabric. 

Golgi Alvarez

Writer, researcher, specialist in Land Management Models. He has participated in the conceptualization and implementation of models such as: National Property Administration System SINAP in Honduras, Management Model of Joint Municipalities in Honduras, Integrated Cadastre-Registry Management Model in Nicaragua, Territory Administration System SAT in Colombia . Editor of the Geofumadas knowledge blog since 2007 and creator of the AulaGEO Academy that includes more than 100 courses on GIS - CAD - BIM - Digital Twins topics.

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