Software is Hard: Through the Years

In 1999 I went to a GIS conference and watched a vendor presentation on their WMS product.  A key feature was being able to reproject data on the fly.  This appealed to me as this was early days of JavaScript development for me, along withe Mike Adair (which eventually, much later, led to the proj4js project). Thousands and thousands of projections one can choose from a select box and boom — coordinate transformation for your WMS layer.

I sat in shock for the remainder of the presentation thinking of the complexity and all the math involved.  After their presentation, I mentioned this to the presenter offline, who replied “it’s very hard and complex work, yes”.

Fast forward around 2002 and it turns out they were indeed using proj.4 which initially made me think, “ah, that’s easy, then”.

Ah, youth.

These days, I would say well it’s not that easy.  Integration, upstream changes, versions, packaging and deployment.  Moving parts.  Different issues.  It’s smart, strategic and preferable not to re-invent the wheel and use existing libs, but the work certainly doesn’t end there.

(For what it’s worth, the vendor [it doesn’t matter who they are] and their product are still around and going strong)

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Modified: 4 December 2016 21:06:43 EST