OGC/OSGeo Agreement Finalized

The agreement, a Memorandum of Understand, states that the Open Geospatial Consortium (mission:advancing open geospatial standards) and the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (mission: advancing open source geospatial software and data) will work toward their related but different goals. The details: OGC will grant 6 “individual memberships” to OSGeo. These low cost ($500/year), no-vote memberships are typically aimed at small consultants not related to or covered by larger members. OSGeo will select which of its members will receive these memberships. Right now OGC lists 11 individual members.

The second part of the arrangement relates to reference implementations and compliance testing. A reference implementation is a product that other developers can use to “see how someone else” integrated the standard. OGC’s are all open source - and include deegree, Geoserver and GeoNetwork (details).

OGC builds tests to confirm that products correctly implement its standards. The organization requires that three products pass the test to insure that the test works (they basically “test” the “test”). Typically, OGC waives the trademark fees of the organization’s behind the first three products that act as “testers” and pass the tests.

As part of the MoU, open source products from OSGeo members that either are selected as reference implementations or are one of the first three “compliance test testers” also have that fee waived.

This MoU really does two small but important things:

(1) It puts up to six people interesting in open source geo software in seats at OGC meetings and provides them access to key OGC documents during their development. Those members will hopefully bring the concerns and ideas of the FOSS4G community to OGC and vice versa.

(2) It makes it easier for open source geo products to be tested and get certified compliant and to be identified early as potential reference implementations. This should help test validation and standard uptake move more quickly. I hope, too, it gets the products in question a bit of “buzz.”

Recall that OGC is not interested in how software is licensed, just that it follows standards. The press release plays up the similarly open process used to create OGC standards and open source software.

Motion towards this arrangement was announced last summer. Back then I pointed out that OSGeo would need to change its FAQ answer regarding the OGC and OSGeo relationship. That’s still not been done. Consider this a second reminder!

Published Sunday, January 11th, 2009

Written by Adena Schutzberg

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