Recent Posts

The Shapefile Problem and Potential Solutions

Here’s an excellent article on the problems of the Shapefile format and contenders as replacements of this omnipresent format. We mentioned the shapefile format frequently in the past, and while I was/am excited about the GeoPackage format and standard (I work in a world where OGC standards matter), James Fee concludes by anticipating that ‘the shapefile will outlive us all’.

From the entry: “The DBF is only half the problem with the shapefile.  It doesn’t understand topology, only handles simple features (ever try and draw a curve in a shapefile?), puny 2GB file size limitation and not to mention you can’t combine points, polygons and lines in one file (hence every shapefile name has the word point, line or poly in it). Oh and it’s anywhere between 3 and 15ish file types/extensions.”

Amongst the contenders for replacing the Shapefile, according to James:

  • Esri’s File Geodatabase (FGDB): “There isn’t anything inherently wrong with Esri taking this path but it means you’re stuck using their software or their APIs to access the file format.  To me this severely limits the FGDB to me an interchange file format and I think that is perfectly fine with Esri as they don’t really care too much if the FGDB doesn’t work with other’s software.”
  • GeoPackage: “It is relatively well supported by GIS software (even Esri technically can support it with the help of Safe Software).  Plus it supports all those complex features that the shapefile can’t.  Heck OGC even chose it as the reference implementation for the GeoPackage (assuming people still care about that).  Heck supports rasters too!”
  • GML & KML: “Don’t even try and use a different projection.  They have their use in specific cases but the limits of the formats means you’ll never see it being an interchange format.”
  • GeoJSON: “It can be many types of projections, it can be points, polygons and lines (with variations of many), it supports topology with the TopoJSON format and it’s JSON so it’s human readable. […] As with the shapefile/KML and unlike SpatiaLite it won’t support curves and other complex geometry or rasters and never will.  Thus it is not well suited as a shapefile replacement.”
  • WKT: “But alas, we still don’t support rasters.  It’s a vector format for vector data. SpatiaLite and the File Geodatabase both support rasters.”

The whole article should be read by anyone with interest in geospatial data, probably every Slashgeo reader!

FOSS4G-Asia 2014: Day 2

On Day 2 at FOSS4G-Asia 2014, keynote speakers presents the evolution of their overall Open source community (ex. Thailand, Japan). Thailand presents how its annual Open Source Software Festival that is held there since 1999 became the root of its movement and Japan OSGeo show that Chapter funded by companies as a way of sustainable solution to support local OSGeo organisation.

Maria Brovelli from Politecnico di Milano in Italy discussed how Digital Earth projet around the world should look more at the Internet of Places and build more freedom around it with FOSS4G. She was making connections between the Internet of Things to Internet of Places, because of 80% of all big data coming from different sources can be located on a map. She expressed interest to GIS specialist to work on Cartographic Mashup, multiple GeoCatalog links together, processing server-side service  (ex. WPS – Zoo) especially for mobile device and not always start from scratch but build on top of FOSS4G project already in development.

Kazeem Owolabi, from a US NGO called eHealth Africa based in Kano, Nigeria presents the use case of polio eradication project and Ebola response outbreak in Nigeria. His presentation highlight the role GIS plays in the vaccine delivery & routing to remote areas in Northern Nigeria.


To effectively deliver vaccine to those areas and get 80% of the target population to get polio vaccine to young people, mobile application (Open Data Kit, Formhub), Open Data community (OpenStreetMap roads with Humanitarian OSM Team) and many GIS tools such as: OSRM, QGIS (delivery analysis), MapServer & CKAN were used and supports the NGO to achieve its mission. Nigeria as one of third country still having polio might look by the end of 2015 to be polio free. With all this achievement using technology for public health purposes proves also that to be useful for Ebola in Nigeria in the recent outbreak and acheiving to stop the spread in the Lagos area:

FOSS4G-Asia 2014: MapMint

MapMint was presented this Tuesday in a workhop at FOSS4G-Asia 2014. Gerald Fenoy shows some of MapMint features such as publish web service and produce map applications by using an administration interface without any complex lines of code. This project is built on top of MapServer (using a modified version), MapCache, Zoo Projects (WPS), OpenLayers, JQuery and GDAL-OGR.


It can be used for importing and converting data using a web interface on top of GDAL and OGR, create style by generating a MapServer mapfile from a QGIS style menu, publish an HTML map template of specific layers in OpenLayers and add privileges access as needed. MapMint has specific modules in its Dashboard, such as: Data (define type,  convert, reproject and support 50+ GDAL/OGR formats), Maps (manage layers by drag and drop, layer order, save mapfile) and Apps (template, style, add base maps), but most of the process in this modules are managed by Zoo projects. The source code can be found on github: as the community version of the project. MapMint is also offered as a professional, enterprise and cloud package service:

Batch Geonews: OL3-Cesium Library, Embed Street Views, OGC Web Coverage Tile Service, and much more

Here’s the recent geonews in batch mode.

On the open source / open data front:

On the Google front:

In the everything else category:

In the maps category:

FOSS4G-Asia 2014 program and speakers

Next week on December 2nd FOSS4G-Asia 2014 will be held in Thailand. This second edition is having a nice mix of open source innovative technologies, SDI development, community-based projects, used-case and open data initiatives based on OSGeo software. Slashgeo as media partners of the event will published post on what will be discuss and present at this unique event.


A long list of key speakers will give an overview of what has been accomplished recently by the OSGeo community, such as: Jeff Meckenna (OSGeo), Toru Mori (OSGeo Japan), Maria Brovelli (ICA-OSGeo Labs Network),Yantisa Hankadi (HOT-OSM) and many more.

You can see the entire program here:

There is also a song that has been produced especially for the event:

FOSS4G-Asia 2014 aims to bring together FOSS4G users and developers worldwide and foster closer interactions with and amongst Asian communities in order to share ideas for improving software and applications. The Bangkok conference will cover all aspects of FOSS4G, Open Data and Open Standards, with a particular focus on exchanging experiences between FOSS4G users and developers and providing first-hand information on FOSS4G for developing national/local spatial data infrastructures in Asian countries. FOSS4G-Asia 2014 also commemorates ten years since the FOSS-GRASS User Conference was held at Faculty of Engineering, Chulalongkorn University, Thailand between 12-14 September 2004.