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Tuesday, 04 June 2013 11:04

Open sources revolt against standard

Written by Nick Farrell



Esri would end up with monopoly

An open standard proposal by mapping giant Esri has failed after a revolt from open source developers. Esri has 30 percent market share in geographic information systems (GIS), who use its ArcGIS software.

ArcGIS is the Microsoft Word of mapping so in early 2011, Esri submitted an API for ArcGIS to standards body the Open Geospatial Consortium for consideration as an ‘open standard’ it was a bit like Microsoft trying to do the same thing. To have it considered an ‘open standard’, all but guaranteeing Esri’s market influence for the foreseeable future. It could have gotten away with it if it had not been for some pesky open sauce developers.

Australian software developer Cameron Shorter, the local chair of the Open Source GeoSpatial Foundation, disrupted the process and influenced the process by penning blogs and lobbying key OGC members. He argued that while Esri’s technology and interest in open standards was laudable, approving such a specification as an open standard would do little to improve on existing, genuinely open standards that achieve the same result.

The fear was that mandating a standard put forward by a commercial vendor is tantamount to a government “providing a vendor with significant market advantage, erring on the creation of a state-sanctioned monopoly." 

In the end Esri backed down.

Nick Farrell

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