Stack Overflow & OSGeo

Stack Overflow, as most developers will already know, is a question and answer site for programmers. It’s perfect for mainstream development questions in any programming language, and has also become the support site of choice for some newer programming communities such as Android developers. image

It can also be used as a barometer to see which current open source GIS projects have gained traction in the mainstream programming world. I took the full list of OSGeo projects from http://www.osgeo.org/ and ran queries on the site to see how many questions there were for each project. The results are as follows (as of May 2010):

Project Type No. of Questions Link to Questions
deegree web mapping 0 results
geomajas web mapping 1 result geomajas
GeoServer web mapping 13 results geoserver
Mapbender web mapping 0 results
MapBuilder web mapping 0 results
MapFish web mapping 1 result mapfish
MapGuide web mapping 1 result mapguide
MapServer web mapping 17 results mapserver & umn-mapserver
OpenLayers web mapping 56 results openlayers
GRASS GIS desktop 0 results
OSSIM desktop 0 results
Quantum GIS desktop 0 results
gvSIG desktop 0 results
FDO library 0 results
GDAL/OGR library 14 results gdal
GEOS library 2 results geos
GeoTools library 7 results geotools
MetaCRS library 0 results
PostGIS library 54 results postgis
GeoNetwork metadata catalog 0 results

A couple of disclaimers – I added the MapFish tag, and tagged a few of the GeoTools questions myself.

Its clear that OpenLayers and PostGIS are way out in front in terms of questions asked, and it may not be too much of a leap to suggest these projects are the most widely used GIS projects outside of the GIS world.

image
A JavaScript error ironically thrown by OpenLayers

Neither of these projects however match the huge numbers of questions about neogeographer’s tools of choice – Google Maps at 1,369 questions. Poor old Bing Maps (perhaps partly due to being renamed from Live Maps) only gets 71 questions.

Stack Overflow makes use of tags and a REST API so the full collection of questions related to OSGeo projects can be seen using the following URL.

While it looks very unlikely that Stack Overflow will ever replace the OSGeo mailing lists as the first choice for debate and support, it would be good if a few of the FAQ got asked on Stack Overflow to help new users of these projects who aren’t aware of the mailing lists, or the Nabble interface to search them. It would also spread knowledge that these projects exist to mainstream developers and could help some projects gain traction.

You can also upvote (or downvote) my answers too, as there are so few GIS developers using the site that no one can assess the whether my answers are valid or nonsense..



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