[Geowanking] does it make sense to try to write a new mapping engine?
anselm at gmail.com
Wed Jul 30 08:36:29 PDT 2008
I've been thinking a bit that maybe one of the secret inhibitors of good
open source mapping is the map rasterization tools... ( by comparison to
the state of the art of the engines underlying applications in other domains
such as say flight gear ).
If you look at the quality of results from google maps and from microsoft -
you really do see them starting to play with richer representations of
geometry as well.
Mapserver and Mapnik both generate 2d raster maps - they can't "loft"
geometry into 3d and they can't take advantage of the hardware acceleration
many motherboards provide ( as far as I know - although the anti-grain
technology in mapserver may do so now? ) . Since they're intended to be
used in a kind of "offline" mode - not used to generate real time
interactive displays - they tend to be used only in server environments; not
as an all in one solution - like for say a high performance native
client... so they get exercised less and improved less.
I guess the same is true for geoserver.
There's a related problem of premature optimization that you see in the GML
OGC standard and in standards such as ESRI shapefiles. They lack concepts
such as multiple-instancing, 3d, matrix transforms, scene-graphs - all basic
concepts that are so important for swiftly representing complex geometry.
Style management is hard as well.... but this is unrelated to the focus of
the discussion here.
In any case - it feels like there might be merit in building (or finding) a
better rasterization stack. Offhand I see such a stack including:
2) Hardware accelerated.
3) Vector Font Support.
4) Deterministic de-cluttering. ( more suitable for tile generation ->
crschmidt's tile cache project has to request large images to then slice up
- and this is in part due to the way that the decluttering will yield
different results based on requested image size ).
5) Import support for shapefiles, gml, postgis and the like.
6) Plug-in architecture with a minimalist core. ( one of the things that
is so frustrating about mapserver and mapnik is how (like most unix apps)
they depend on pretty much the entire universe of every other application
ever written... it is like the minimum quanta of computing is the unix
operating system... I would like to run a microkernel mapping engine on an
7) Scripting ( python, lua, ruby ... even php )
8) Runs as a native app; not just intended to run as a cgi... embeddable.
Of course proposing to build yet another mapping engine is foolhardy. But I
figured it could get a few minutes speculation. What tools out there could
make such a project less tedious?
1) http://vterrain.org => vterrain which is based on openscenegraph might be
a one stop shopping solution.
2) http://www.openscenegraph.org/projects/osg => open scene graph by
itself might do the trick...
3) A 3d game rendering engine => One benefit would be collision detection
and "operator in the loop" functionality as well as a framework for behavior
such as digital agents... see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Game_engine ...
but that's probably overkill eh?
> -------- Original Message --------
> Subject: [web-49] Lineup Announced: Web 2.0 Mapping and Social
> Networks Group August Meetup
> Date: Sat, 26 Jul 2008 15:57:53 -0400
> From: Catherine Burton <catherine at endpointenvironmental.com>
> Reply-To: web-49 at meetup.com
> July's Meetup was a HIT! We had 80+ people attend, which was just super
> great. Thanks guys. You Rock!
> *Locate, Locate, Locate* is the theme for August's Meetup. We've scheduled
> presentations from three companies that build apps to locate people, places,
> and things.
> The Lineup:
> Loopt <http://www.loopt.com/> - you know 'em, you love 'em, but have you
> met 'em...
> Geogad <http://www.geogad.com/geogad/index> - "Your personal mobile tour
> 3SI Security Systems <http://www.3sisecurity.com/>- "...the world leader
> in cash protection systems..."
> Also, due to your organizers deep affinity for sugar, I've decided that we
> *need* and will have free chocolate samples from the Bay Area's own Fearless
> Chocolate <http://www.fearlesschocolate.com/> once again.
> Come for the information, stay for the community. Remember, you make this
> Meetup great.
> Please make a note of our new location at Google in Mountain View! Check
> this page within the week of the event date for an exact building number and
> room name.
> Thanks folks. See you there,
> P.S If you have an interesting or fledgling geo/social web, GIS, app or
> tech that you would care to share, please do not hesitate to contact us:
> Catherine Burton - catherine at endpointenvironmental.com <http://catherine@
> Alec Dara-Abrams - ada at dara-abrams.com <http://firstname.lastname@example.org>
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