February 07, 2005
The Carbon Project: Introducing Open Geospatial Services for All
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Susan Smith - Managing Editor


by Susan Smith - Managing Editor
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Message from the Editor -


Welcome to GISWeekly! The Carbon Project announced on January 31, is providing a free development toolkit, CarbonTools 2, a free software toolkit designed and distributed with the goal of allowing individual users the opportunity to develop and distribute open geospatial applications with no royalties or fees. The CarbonTools toolkit provides an extensive API that supports the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) specifications including Web Map Services (WMS), Web Feature Services (WFS) and Geography Markup Language (GML). Read about it in this Week's Industry News.


GISWeekly examines select top news each week, picks out worthwhile reading from around the web, and special interest items you might not find elsewhere. This issue will feature Industry News, Acquisitions/Alliances/Agreements, Announcements, Appointments, New Products, Around the Web and Upcoming Events.


GISWeekly welcomes letters and feedback from readers, so let us know what you think. Send your comments to me at


Best wishes,

Susan Smith, Managing Editor




Industry News


The Carbon Project: Introducing Open Geospatial Services for All

By Susan Smith


On January 31, The Carbon Project announced it is providing a free development toolkit, CarbonTools 2, a free software toolkit designed and distributed with the goal of allowing individual users the opportunity to develop and distribute open geospatial applications with no royalties or fees. CarbonTools aims to make open geospatial services accessible to Windows developers by providing “an open and extendable framework on which Windows and .NET developers can build software solutions.” The CarbonTools toolkit provides an extensive API that supports the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) specifications including Web Map Services (WMS), Web Feature Services (WFS) and Geography
Markup Language (GML).


Getting a buy-in from those who design and build systems is a big challenge to adoption of any new technology. Free tools like CarbonTools 2 help that process along considerably.


So who are the players? geoLeaders is a marketing and distribution function for technology firms. Also, it's a network of companies with the joint goal of advancing interoperable geospatial solutions. It doesn't advocate any one software solution - it advocates an approach which embodies and adheres to ISO and OGC specifications. Anyone can join the network if they adopt that approach.


The Carbon Project has been working on the CarbonTools software development kit for OGC for over a year. They joined the geoLeaders network, and geoLeaders consequently became their global distributor for CarbonTools. That happened last May, and since that time geoLeaders has coordinated with CarbonTools by running open geospatial design competitions, and engineering the toolkit to bring out this release.


This week geoLeaders Executive Director, Jeff Harrison talked about the new announcement. Caught in the excitement of response to the new SDK, Harrison explained the product's position:


JH: CarbonTools is a free development kit for anyone to use and to connect up to all these OGC services out there. We're overwhelmed at the response at this point. We've had several hundred downloads in the last 36 hours, and we were kind of expecting that in the first couple of weeks, not in the first day and a half.


GISWeekly: What companies are downloading it?


JH: We are developing a list right now. However, even without the full list of companies we can tell it's happening mostly in North America, Europe and Australia.


GISWeekly: What issues about the OGC Web Services are responsible for the birth of CarbonTools?


JH: OGC has created these standards for servers. What CarbonTools does is it takes the Microsoft .NET approach that says since there are millions of .NET developers out there, why don't we create a toolkit to allow them to plug into any OGC implementing web service? CarbonTools is a set of components that works within a software developers' environment. The tools can connect up any of these OGC online services and make all sorts of applications with the tools simplifying the use of OGC standards. OGC technology can be complicated for new developers, so CarbonTools bundles it all in a toolkit so you can drag things around the development screen and connect up to these online services.


CLICK TO ENLARGE

Gaia 2 screenshot
GISWeekly: Who are the technology partners in the geoLeaders network?


JH: Right now the technology partners include eSpatial, The Carbon Project, CubeWerx and Social Change Online. We're in the discussions with others right now and anyone can join the network. I think that will happen soon.


GISWeekly: Other OGC interoperability plans offer solutions that are dependent upon Oracle. In this case it looks as though the solution is dependent upon Microsoft.


Absolutely, anyone can be on any platform they want. With CarbonTools we can address the Microsoft user base as well. This is not an OGC activity.


GISWeekly: During last year's GML Relay, they found GML didn't work well with certain softwares, so people began to develop solutions to make it work well. CarbonTools sounds like a response to some of those issues.


Right. We cite the challenges they had back in July of 04 at one of the GML Relays and it had to do with using GML and Web Feature Server. What Carbon Tools does is makes a lot of those problems go away, and makes it easier to use GML and WFS.


IONIC, Intergraph and others have highlighted challenges. One of the challenges they're having is parsing GML. Carbon Tools deals with that by embedding and providing two different kinds of parsers. CarbonTools also helps with reading OGC capabilities. These are descriptions from different vendors that can sometimes be hard for the machines to deal with. CarbonTools embeds ways to deal with those differences and makes that happen at the computer level. Reading and using Web Feature Servers within a Windows desktop environment can be challenging as well. CarbonTools uses .NET to bring the XML data into the Windows environment. Say you have a major desktop GIS from any of the major vendors
and it's built on Windows. What CarbonTools does is make it very simple for that standalone desktop GIS application to be extended through the Windows and the .NET platform to reach out and talk to any web map and web feature server or GML data source. We've demo'ed that a few times; it opens up a world of data sources that these major desktop GIS applications can get at and adds a whole new level to the data equation.


System requirements for CarbonTools include:
- Windows 2000/XP


- .NET Framework version 1.1


- Visual Studio .NET or similar .NET development environment (for the full SDK only)
You can
download a beta version of CarbonTools 2 and get more
information on upcoming Open Geospatial Development training courses.




Indian Ocean Tsunami Update


In a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, it was reported that the tsunami has generated a great need for early warning systems, and consequently a new market. U.S. aerospace and defense contractors see an opportunity to re-market and modify programs that are sold to the Pentagon and intelligence agencies as early warning systems.


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-- Susan Smith, GISCafe.com Managing Editor.


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