[Gvsig_english] New site demonstrating the use of Free & Open Source Software

Simon Cropper scropper at botanicusaustralia.com.au
Tue Apr 26 13:57:18 CEST 2011

Hi Jody,

In response to your musings...

On 26/04/11 18:38, Jody Garnett wrote:
> How does this compare to the http://gis.stackexchange.com/ Jason Birch
> mentioned a while back?
> Hrm; seems to be more tutorials and less questions; but a similar target
> audience and license.

"Welcome! This is a collaboratively edited question and answer site for 
cartographers, geographers and GIS professionals."

This is the short description of the site mentioned. FWG is not the same 
at all. The fossworkflowguides website aims to provide tutorials that 
take the reader through an entire workflow - start to finish. Well 
eventually it will anyway, and provides all the resources so they can do 
this easily and legally. Questions like "How do I convert contours into 
a DEM?" will be demonstrated in fine detail so there is (I hope) no 
ambiguity what was done. I have visited a lot of tutorial sites and left 
just as perplexed about how to get the program to work as I was when I 

My initial intent is to demonstrate that an entire mapping project can 
be completed without any need to use proprietary software. Initially on 
gvSIG but eventually on a variety of other mature fosGIS.

> You may wish to talk to the education committee, or the osgeo live project
> and see if they can provide you with additional content?

I am happy to include any tutorials as long as they have the appropriate 
licenses for all content used. A lot of the OSGeo tutorials have dubious 
licenses -- in an audit last year that I undertook a lot of material ...
1. had unclear copyright notice for the text
2. included images of data of unclear copyright status, and
3. pointed to material suitable for use to practice that had unclear 
copyright status and in some cases clearly stated the data could not be 
used for the purposes proposed.

I have went through many painful months securing typical high resolution 
CC-BY-SA data and preparing my tutorials based on this information. 
Readers can download this geospatial data and repeat the tutorial using 
the 'exact' same files as used in the tutorial - totally above board and 
legal. Everything is on the website. No third party is involved.

> You are of course welcome to the uDig walkthrough1, GeoServer Install, and
> walkthrough 2 tutorials.

Thanks. I will see if I can adapt these to the datasets mentioned above 
so as to keep with the theme. Obviously I will attribute the source 
where this is appropriate.

> I find it interesting you went with pure html; rather than open office
> (udig), or sphinx (osgeo live, geosever, mapserver, geotools, etc...).

I spent quite alot of time trialing various systems. I published a few 
tutorials on the topic and many lengthy emails to various lists about 
options that resulted in many lengthy debates.

I agree that there is a lot of good content creation software. Writer 
was very attractive - very easy to knock up a document, very easy. I am 
not so enamoured with Sphinx, it is just a CMS, like Plone, that is feed 
with restructured text. My view is that the primary source should be 
available to the user and all components that allow them to view the 
finished product made available. With Sphinx and Plone, you can usually 
see the rst files but rarely have direct access to the rendering engine 
that make the HTML or or the Content Management Software. I saw someone 
the other day, when trying to create a translation of a Sphinx 
'quickguide' base the derivative on the HTML code and not the RST file. 
To assimilate the derivative into the Sphinx would not have been that 
easy -- site maintainers need to either back engineer the HTML and run 
it through the rendering engine or assimilate an adjusted version, in 
which case the HTML file then becomes the source document, resulting in 
two source document repositories.

On fossworkflowguides the relatively simple HTML is the source document. 
This is what you have on your computer the minute you access the site. 
To access the CSS file is easy as most browsers allow you to easily save 
the CSS document to your computer. Every computer that has a browser has 
the rendering engine. The 'CMS' is just the Server's File System, which 
is totally transparent to the public.

After running through 'freemind' sessions, some of which I have released 
previously to the public, I decided that the quintessential point of 
having a tutorial site was not content creation but content maintenence. 
Derivative creation was why I eventually settled on HTML. The content 
and format are separate, the text and images are separate. Derivative 
creation - that is translations or localisations is very easy, and if 
someone is wanting to create a brand new tutorial this is acheived just 
as easily as any other method. Being a mature markup language also means 
there are hundreds of very good sites available explaining syntax 
(although FWG keeps it relatively simple) and there are many different 
editors depending on your preference.

Something else worth noting is that the 'text' files and image files can 
be easy managed as simple files using simple file management software 
available on all platforms (Windows, Linux and Mac). The text can also 
be easily updated using simple scripting languages like bash or python. 
If I wish to make a 'site-wide' adjustment I can do this with a simple 
find command. No databases, XML files other convoluted format. Image 
files can also be easily managed - on the web they are served up as PNG 
but readily converted to JPG format using simple tools for assimilation 
into the PDF derivatives.

Try to do that with a collection of OO or LO Writer Files or a PDF file.

Cheers Simon

    Simon Cropper
    Principal Consultant
    Botanicus Australia Pty Ltd
    PO Box 160, Sunshine, VIC
    W: www.botanicusaustralia.com.au

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