Qgis - An example of best practices in the OpenSource model

Whenever we sit down before a company or institution that wants to implement a platform with a territorial management approach, accustomed to hearing many negative voices about the OpenSource models, this question comes up with slight variants.

Who answers for QGIS?


We feel responsible and very normal, that a decision maker seeks to support an action that sooner or later could be audited -The good way or the bad way-.

What happens is that OpenSource models are hard to justify, partly because in most cases, officials in administrative positions try to understand what info-technologists can not even explain. But also because practices of actors from the private sector try to cause confusion, showing that free software is not professional, has no support or has an uncertain future.

Both blind optimism and bad intention are to be considered, bearing in mind that many open source initiatives have been left in the way. Also because a strategy of migration to the free code should not be sold as a total decrease of costs but as an opportunity to enhance knowledge, which requires a complement in training and systematic innovation that to be honest, is even more difficult to sell ... and comply .

The case of Qgis is an interesting model, from which you can write books someday. It is not the first, nor the only one; Successful cases such as WordPress, PostGIS, Wikipedia and OpenStreetMap show similarities between altruism and the business opportunity, taking advantage of collaboration after democratizing knowledge. And in the end, it is not intended to restrict the opportunities of the private sector or take attitudes against the prestigious brands that have shaped the market; rather it is about not limiting the possibilities of innovation and development of the human being through the technological tools, in a responsible manner.

But ultimately, the best practices that an OpenSource Project can apply must balance between functional design, architecture, corporate image, community management and much more importantly, sustainability; Word that does not fit here with the same tone that we used in the Cooperation sector. I like the word more Collective profit.

Those who support Qgis

It is interesting that the version of Qgis that will be released in the month of March of 2016, has the following institutions:

Gold Sponsors:

Asia Air Survey, Japan. From 2012 this is the institution with the most contributions to the Qgis project; that in the case of the Far East is responsible for promoting the development of high quality technologies for the geospatial sector.


Silver Sponsors:

These sponsors show us both the appropriation that has taken place in a European context, as well as the combination between the Public, Private and Academia sectors. See that they are not economically affluent countries, but the level of technification of the processes in these dependencies that Qgis sponsors are to respect, to the extent of being able to justify within their investments, the support for a platform that is of the entire world community.

It is also interesting to see that in these countries there is no extreme poverty or need to lower software costs. So the OpenSource is a trend for innovation and empowerment of collaborative knowledge.

Bronze Sponsors:


As can be seen in this list, we talk about both well established companies and recent entrepreneurship. Here is our merit to MappingGIS, the first company in the Spanish-speaking context to sign up for this sponsorship.

It is important to understand that as long as there are private companies sponsoring free software, we will have serious companies providing support, not only will we have freelance developers in garages, writing code and mixing beer with adrenaline. But rather professionals hired by companies under specific projects, with goals, standards and quality assurances.

Of course the adrenaline and the smell of garage rats are necessary, to give that flavor of innovation to large-scale projects, which from experience, we know â € "cases- must be born there.


Asia and Oceania

The last two listings show us that the field is still virgin in the search for sponsors. But if you have four German institutions, one French, three Italian and two English ... surely do not go further to keep the momentum. It remains to exploit the Middle East and the United States, where it is possible to find will with tweezers, as well as some Latin American countries where the gvSIG Project has shown that it is also possible.

The orchestrators of the process.

OpenSource software requires visionaries who are on the horizon, whether they are volunteers or paid. This, so that all the efforts are coordinated and the weight does not fall on one or two people who are not multifaceted. For this, Qgis has a Project Steering Committee that is composed of the following members:

  • Gary Sherman (President)
  • Jürgen Fischer (Press Officer)
  • Anita Graser (Design and User Interface)
  • Richard Duivenvoorde (Infrastructure Manager)
  • Marco Hugentobler (Code Manager)
  • Tim Sutton (Testing and Quality Assurance)
  • Paolo Cavallini (Finance)
  • Otto Dassau (Documentation)

Interestingly, they are not weird names when we remember the hashtag #qgis on Twitter or the experienced users on the support forums. This shows how committed they are to the project, facing the style of those in the Anglo-Saxon context: no vainglory of what they know, without seeking to excel, with business cards that do not even have the last name.


Thanks to this team of orchestrators, they have achieved a surprising level of confidence interesting to systematize; After what I have talked with users who voluntarily and professionally have become involved in the improvement teams of experience for the user and documentation. It is also important to contribute that this aggressiveness and organization of the Qgis project is recent; but boy they have managed to do so well. I tried for First time this tool in July 2009, Just in the days of leisure because of the Coup d'Etat of Honduras. Today, I am struck by the opinion of loyal users, materialized in satisfaction with the current version and tranquility that what you need is on the wish list that you can soon be pleased.

The Community of Users

Undoubtedly the life of free software is in the community. There are the obsessive users who download the daily build, just to prove what new brings, the frightened that expect it to be officially tested, crazy collaborators who give their code in exchange for a joint of marijuana, those who give free advice and To us writers who learned to do systemic research in times when we do not have the whip in hand. Interesting as we have never seen before, with all the possibilities of communication that today offers us this world.

I like the following image, because it is the first cadastral certificate that I saw a municipal technician do. Perfect as it should be. Only with Qgis. Without giving him training.


Sure the good practices of the Qgis Project in terms of sustainable sponsorship, strategic alliances, aggressive time path, growing community and corporate presence could be useful for other efforts within the Crowdfunding environment.

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