Note: This article is about the recent GML and Geo-Spatial Web Services
Conference held in July.The OpenGIS Geography Markup Language
Implementation Specification (GML 3.1.1), defines a data encoding in
XML for geographic data and its attributes.GML provides a means of
encoding spatial information for both data transport and data storage,
especially in a Web context.
What do the CTO of MapInfo Corporation, the CEO of the Open Geospatial
Consortium, Inc.(OGC), and the Director of Standards Development for
the Organization for the Advancement of Structured Information
Standards (OASIS) have in common? All three think that the time is ripe
for standardization in the geospatial information field and, surprise,
surprise, they all think that the entry of Google, Yahoo, Microsoft and
AOL in the field is a good thing - even though none of the search
engine competitors uses geospatial standards at this time.(Microsoft's
USA serves maps through an interface that implements OGC's OpenGIS
Web Map Server Service.)
Presenting keynotes at separate sessions at the fourth annual GML and
Geo-Spatial Web Services Conference (formerly GML Days), July 18-22 in
Vancouver, BC, Canada, the three acknowledged that the geospatial and
IT landscape is changing.But at the same time they each welcomed the
opportunities that come with these changes.
George Moon of MapInfo was upbeat."MapInfo revenue has doubled since
AOL bought MapQuest," he said."Google, Yahoo and Microsoft want
mindshare for Web search.They are not trying to own the mapping space
- they want the search space."
David Schell of OGC was similarly excited by the recent exposure the
battle of the search engines has brought."The New York Times finally
discovered mapping last Sunday," he said."The world is finally
beginning to understand the value of geospatial analysis in the
Jamie Clark of OASIS suggested that failure to conform to standards is
to be expected in the early stages of implementation and competition.
OASIS, itself a standards body, is only now transitioning the location
components of its Common Alert Protocol to use GML from OGC and ISO TC
The fourth keynote was by Leslie Armstrong, Deputy Staff Director of
the U.S.Federal Geographic Data Committee.She explained the US
federal government efforts to create standard data models for
"Framework Data" and said, "the UML (Unified Modeling Language) models
will be transitioned to GML when the standards are complete.Those
systems that cannot be made interoperable will be phased out."
The three day conference, preceded by two days of workshops, focused on
the technical implementation of GML.Topics for the workshops and
sessions ranged from practical implementation issues ("GML and Service
Oriented Architecture") to early practical applications ("Dynamic
Publishing of Cadastral Data on the Web Using GML Model Schemas") to
the still-somewhat-conceptual ("Ontology and Spatial Metaphor").
The success of the conference over the last four years shows that GML
has arrived and enjoys increasing acceptance.The panel discussion on
the last day posed the frequently asked question, "GML: Too complex or
just right?" and the answer seems to be "just right for power and
flexibility, but too complex for most data developers and code
developers without special tools and application profiles, which are
fortunately beginning to appear."
Schell expressed his excitement for the program when he told the
audience, "I see things I didn't expect 11 years ago.This level of
expertise and activity is outstanding.We are finally beginning to
understand the value of geospatial analysis in the enterprise."