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QGIS OpenGeo Hackfest in Gran Canaria

Members of the Boundless team, with myself on-site and others remote, recently participated in the 14th QGIS Developer Meeting at the University of Las Palmas in Gran Canaria. This was the first QGIS hackfest to take place in Spain, coordinated by Pablo Muniz’s team, and hopefully not the last!

This hackfest came to fruition after Victor Olaya, Carlos Lopez and myself launched the proposal during 9th Spanish FOSS4G in Girona. I thought it would be interesting to provide a diary of the meeting, not only to capture events of the meeting but also show what happens for people who have never attended a hackfest. We were not only able to quickly review new code for QGIS, but we were able to get the steering committee together as well as have important conversations on the future directions of QGIS.

Wednesday 4 Nov – Day 0:

Gran Canaria, located off the northwest African coast as part of the Canary Islands, is a remote tourist destination. The islands can be difficult to reach so Tim Sutton organized a simultaneous hackmeeting in South Africa. As he said, this is the first meeting to take place in Africa.


The meeting got off to a great start over coffee with Lene Fisher, the former hackmeeting organizer. She attended the hackfest as part of her researchfor GIS Summer school lectures she’s organizing in Denmark.

Wednesday continued with members talking about test data for the Processing Toolbox test suite that Mathias Kuhn is developing for the PSC.

First day finished by giving thanks (a toast?) to Grass/QGIS plugin founders.

Thursday 5 Nov – Day 1:

We were back at work by 9AM, following a beautiful short morning walk to the venue.

During the morning Anita Graser and I tested Victor’s hacks on Processing UX improvements.

At the end of Thursday Victor reviewed and merged a great Processing feature developed by René-Luc Dhont which gives the ability to save temporary results as a Spatialite layer.

I used some of the leftover time to release the new version of the rt_mapserver_exporter plugin, which merged an interesting pull request that can be useful with the Boundless GeoServer plugin.

We concluded the day peer-reviewing code with Alessandro Pasotti, the father of qgis server plugins, to find bugs in his new QGIS feature that was committed the next day. It’s remarkable to think we had so many QGIS experts assembled for a single event and how quickly we could work, but that’s the benefit of a hackfest.


Friday 6 Nov – Day 2:

The day started with a discussion focused on QGIS project quality, a really critical topic raised by Hugo Mercier. he workflow for how sponsored feature requests or bug fixes would be incorporated in the QGIS core was a primary focus, and is ongoing in the qgis developer list.

We continued Friday with a focus on finding technical consensus how to install plugin dependencies. The main technical considerations were to simplify plugin dependency management, probably by transforming plugins as python modules, while keeping it easy for newcomers to develop. The ongoing discussion can be found here.

We then took a short break and were honored to receive thanks from Gran Canaria University for our community work – thank you for being such great hosts!


Later Friday we started our Project Steering Committee (PSC) meeting – Victor contributed with his support for the Processing test suite. In a short time we’ll have more info about this crucial aspect that can grow QGIS analysis reliability.

Victor wasn’t done yet though! He reintroduced into master the ability to create models graphically and then export them as python script, a Processing feature which had disappeared due to Processing code refactoring.. This feature allows for a simple way to add loops and more complex logic into models.

Our Friday concluded with a wonderful social dinner offered by QGIS sponsors – thank you to all!

Saturday 7 Nov – Day 3:

The day started with the presentation of Radim Blazek’s work on the QGIS/Grass backend. A feature successfully crowdfunded to smooth the use of GRASS through QGIS, Radim used it to show the ability to check topology on the fly during editing and have direct visual representation of topology errors. This functionality is better described by videos.

Then followed two meetings on how to approach critical issues and how to re-organize issue and versioning infrastructure for smoother management. Discussion is still ongoing at the PSC level. The PSC is collecting more info from service providers and gfoss partners to better decide where to move this crucial aspect of any FOSS project.

We wrapped up the Saturday sessions with a demo from Boundless showing the recent QGIS work which will soon be available as plugins. I talked about the evolution of the QGIS plugin for managing GeoServer using its REST interface. This Plugin is a rewrite of the traditional QGIS OpenGeo Suite plugin modified to be used with any GeoServer installation. The official release in the QGIS repo is expected in about a month after more tests on style management and authentication. However, if you’re curious to test now, you can test the plugin using the code directly from the Boundless Github repo.

I also presented a running demo of the Web App Builder, another Boundless plugin to generate and deploy OpenLayers 3 pages directly from a QGIS project. In this case the code is in heavy development and the latest release will be announced soon. The plugin was already presented to the community during last Seoul FOSS4G by Victor.

At night we had the official social dinner, again financed by QGIS Sponsors, thank you!

Sunday 8 Nov – Day 4:

Most of the attendees left on Saturday, but a few of us remained to test, bug fix and clean the website. The epic moment arrived during lunch remembering the Brighton hackmeeting where we ate pizza uk-style for four days!

We concluded the Hackfest Sunday afternoon, but we will probably come back to Spain during the 10th Spanish FOSS4G in May 2016 where the community is planning the second QGIS User Conference and next Hackmeeting.

Here is a more complete photo report of the Hackfest. You can also find more info on Twitter looking for hashtags #qgis or #qgisgrancanaria.

Another interesting report can be found here thanks to Alessandro Pasotti, and the wrap-up may be found here.

Luigi Pirelli

QGIS Developer

Luigi is a QGIS Developer here at Boundless. Prior, he worked fifteen years in Satellite Ground Segment and Direct Ingestion for the European Space Agency. Since 2006, Luigi has been involved in GFOSS world contributing in QGIS, GRASS and Mapserver core. He also actively participates in QGIS Hackmeetings and community.
Founder of the OSGEO Italian Local Chapter GFOSS, Luigi now lives in Spain where he contributes in the gfoss community.
Luigi is also founder the local hackerspace group, focused on Open Hardware.