Open Source GIS (OSGIS) was something I’ve always been intrigued by from an early stage in my GIS degree. Not only because of its significance for developing countries and non-profit organisations, but also for its participatory development (and to find out whether this actually works well).
The second UK OSGIS conference, 21-22 June 2010, was different from most of the academic-centred conferences I usually go to as most of its participants seemed to be drawn from the industry/public sector. The first day had a range of full-day training courses to choose from and true to my vocation, I went for web mapping workshop. Using a Linux live CD to trick the university’s Windows workstations, Jo Cook from oaDigital gave us a crash course in how to get spatial data onto a website. We started off by loading data into a PostgreSQL database and then displaying it in QuantumGIS, a desktop GIS. where we where able to perform some spatial queries. Moving on to MapServer, we learned how to visualise layers of map data in a browser by using the correct map file syntax. Once this was mastered, we could use php to create our own web maps with the OpenLayers library – not only to display various layers but also elements such as zoom controls and custom viewboxes.