Friday, April 23, 2010

The Prodigal Extension

Get ready for the next chapter in zigGIS's history book. If you've been following along thus far you know that I started zigGIS about five years ago. Somewhere between six months and a year in I became frustrated with the difficulties I was running into as I tried to unlock ArcGIS's secrets. The 1.x version was successful in connecting to PostGIS and pulling data into ArcGIS for viewing. But it remained only a curiosity and the holy grail of editable PostGIS layers stayed tantalizingly out of reach. With the goal seemingly unattainable I got bored with the project.

That's when I decided to open source zigGIS and enlist the help of my fellow, gis-coding, comrades. But my hopes were soon dashed since the open source move failed to rouse the troops as I had hoped. So with my frustration, and the community's lack of interest, the project stagnated and became all but abandoned.

And then a little glimmer of hope. An email came to me from Italy by Paolo Corti. He had apparently been experimenting with zigGIS and wanted to collaborate. Coincidentally around the same time, Bill Dollins in Maryland, was writing a few blog entries in an unofficial series about zigGIS. Finally, some real interest!

We all began collaborating. And although none of our efforts got us any closer to the original goal of editable PostGIS layers, that undefinable spark that a team brings was there. Then, out of no where, an idea hit me - if directly integrating an ArcGIS plug-in datasource wouldn't work then maybe spoofing a native datasource would. Indeed it did. A few months later I had a working prototype. Three years of toil and now the GIS gods were taking notice.

Everything progressed rapidly thereafter. The Three GISketeers formed Obtuse Software LLC, rapidly put together the website, and began selling zigGIS 2.0. The dream crossed over to reality and the rest, as they say, is history.

Or was it ...

We saw considerable backlash from our users when zigGIS went to a pay-for-license model after we transitioned from version 1.0 to 2.0. Additionally, while the source code remained available, we were advised that the zigGIS EULA would not hold up to the OSI definition of open source.

Additionally, while we have seen steady sales since the release of version 2.0, it's simply not enough to support a team of three. So our new goal is to find a way for zigGIS to enjoy full time development. Full time development means better focused attention on zigGIS's evolution and, perhaps most important, better support and involvement of our beloved users and the open source GIS community.

Would I get to the point already? OK, sure - what this all culminates to is our decision to return zigGIS back to its open source roots. The next release, version 3.0, will be officially released under an OSI-approved open source license. There, I said it.

What does this mean moving forward? First, we absolutely are not abandoning our currently paying customers. Version 2.0 will remain being sold at and it will continue being supported on our Google Groups forum. Second, we'll soon be posting our zigGIS 3.0 roadmap and the detailed plan for its financial support. For now we can say that we are formulating a combination of corporate sponsorship, individual donations, and professional support contracts. As standard as that is we think we're cooking up a pretty unique, even fun (? … nah) way to cultivate the community's involvement. But until then, you can start supporting zigGIS 3.0 by continuing to purchase 2.0 licenses; all version 2.0 revenues henceforth will be directly applied to the development of zigGIS 3.0.

We're very excited for zigGIS's future and working more directly with you. Thank you for supporting us and zigGIS!

The forum announcement can be read here.