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OGC and the GeoServices REST Specification

Mark Bowersox

There's been some excitement in the OGC (Open Geospatial Consortium) lately. Quite a stir was created when the GeoServices REST Standards WorkingGroup (SWG) recommended that the OGC Technical Committee approve the GeoServices REST API as an OGC standard. The discussion groups have been hopping. Amid questions of technical relevance, appropriateness to the OGC, suggestions of vendor favoritism and poor process, the SWG ultimately withdrew the recommendation.

Esri originally provided the GeoServices REST Specification for consideration a little over two years ago. A SWG was formed, and quite a bit of work went into forming the candidate standard. The candidate was released for public review in late 2012 and recommended for approval in April 2013. That brought on all of the commentary, which was as much about the process the OGC uses for developing and approving standards as it was about the GeoServices REST API.

Some of the comments suggested that the OGC process is too slow and monolithic without enough room for general feedback. In fact, a posting from the OGC President and CEO discussing his plans for strengthen the OGC garnered a response that even the mechanisms used for these discussions and meetings could be modernized.

Although standards and standards committees have been around for a long time, I believe that software development is at a point where standards have become increasingly important as we see a movement towards heterogeneous systems of components and services that use standards to define their interaction. Just as we are seeing a need to modernize our enterprise software systems, perhaps there is also a need to modernize how standards are formed and adopted.

The OGC plays a very important role in our community. The lively discussions have certainly brought a new energy to the OGC that I hope is helpful in invigorating the organization's evolution.

As for the GeoServices REST API, my company believes in it strongly enough to have implemented it in our new product, the ENVI Services Engine®. We also supported its adoption as a standard and hope to see that process resurrected.Since they initially proposed it as a standard, I'm wondering if we'll hear anything from Esri about GeoServices REST at the Esri International User Conference coming up the week of July 8th in San Diego. Will there be any fireworks? Let me know what you think.

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