QGIS US User Group: The beginning of something big

May 23rd, 2014 by David Dubovsky  @ www10.giscafe.com

Last month, Boundless and others hosted the first ever QGIS U.S. User Group meeting with 75 attendees at OpenGovHub in Washington DC.

The event attracted a diverse group of experts and novices from organizations such as NOAA, the World Bank, USAID, the American Red Cross, Deloitte, Lockheed Martin, the CDC and many others. It’s amazing to watch this group’s energy and how the project is rapidly unfolding

Many great presentations and talks shaped the QGIS User Group meeting. Jeff Johnson and Larry Shaffer presented the highlights of the history and evolution of QGIS from a shapefile viewer to full-fledged desktop application. Jeff went into detail about specific applications of QGIS, highlighting examples from NOAA and NASA. Larry then discussed the QGIS ecosystem and open source development community, noting that plug-in development has been a long-time focus within the community and core development is expected to pick up steam in the coming year.


Tim Sutton from the QGIS project steering committee joined remotely from South Africa. He provided further context to Larry’s discussion on core and plugin development and the steering committee’s focus for 2014, Gary Sherman, the author of PyQGIS Programmer’s Guide, also joined remotely from Alaska, providing a brief history of QGIS development, including its origin as a shapefile viewer.

After the remote sessions, Kate Chapman of the Humanitarian OpenStreet Map Team gave us an overview of InaSAFE, a QGIS plugin for emergency preparedness and response. Vivien Depardy and Yewondwossen Assefa of GFDDR then presented on the role QGIS (and GeoNode) plays in their emergency response and disaster recovery efforts. Larry provided context to their efforts, applauding their development model calling it a leading example of development.

The day also included two hands on workshops, one led by Jeff Johnson on “Using QGIS with OpenGeo Suite”  which provided the opportunity to review the fantastic QGIS documentation with an experienced instructor, adding his own tips and tricks along the way.  Larry Shaffer led the second workshop on “How to Become a QGIS Developer”. His goal was to get more developers involved on the QGIS project. He shared an early draft of QGIS core developer documentation and virtual machine images he’s working on intended to help new developers get started more quickly.

Whether you were looking for an introduction to QGIS or were already active in the community, the day had something for everyone. To learn more about QGIS, download and install it using the OpenGeo Suite installer and check out documentation to see what it can do. Stay tuned for next QGIS U.S. User Group meetings being planned in Atlanta and Seattle. You can view the presentations from this most recent QGIS U.S. User Group here and watch the video here.

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