So, what happened at INTERGEO 2013?

… that is the question I asked Christian Malewski (Fraunhofer IGD), one of the developers of HALE and active in the EU research project plan4business. He had given presentations and shown demos of the software to the interested audience and provided me with the following answer:

Indicated by the large number of software providers and presentations which dwelt on the topic, focus was on geodata interoperability and data transformation. These themes were particularly addressed within the scope of the 2nd National INSPIRE conference that was held as part of the INTERGEO exhibition. Likewise, the INSPIRE conformity for diverse geodata infrastructure components was addressed by several talks in the Open Source Park. The presentations on data harmonisation that I’d like to point you to are (note that some are in German):

  • MeTaDor – Metadaten-Verwaltung for GDI-DE and INSPIRE (slides)
  • Inspider, the user-friendly software stack to implement INSPIRE and others SDI’s (link to project, slides)
  • Geodatenmanagement und -harmonisierung mit GeoKettle (slides)

HALE On a 55″ Multitouch table

As a special treat to INTERGEO visitors, HALE was available on a 55″ multitouch table at the Fraunhofer IGD booth. In addition, the EU project plan4business presented its portal for the transformation of regional land use plans into the INSPIRE land use theme. The portal is built on HALE and other open source components such as OpenLayers. To use the portal, municipal land use data is uploaded to the portal along with its corresponding mapping rules, which were specified using HALE. These mapping rules were interpreted and executed on the server side in order to get the transformed and reclassified INSPIRE conformal land use data. Access to the data is realized through creating a Web Mapping Service.

Following our HALE presentation with the title “Make your data ready for INSPIRE with HALE” (Slides available here) there were interesting questions and discussion, some of which I’ll document here as well:

Q: Is HALE an extension to FME?
A: HALE is a free and open source standalone tool, but a free plugin for FME 2014 has been developed and will be distributed officially soon.

Q: What about a direct database connection?
A: This is currently the number one user wish and it’s implementation is underway. You will be able to write to a PostGIS database via a JDBC driver; reading of PostGIS databases will be added with the 2.7.1 or the 2.8.0 release.

Q: What are the next steps for HALE?
A: We are putting major effort into the upcoming collaboration platform, so that data communities finally get a hub to exchange best practices and experiences, but also challenges. The User Interface is also dear and expensive to us, so expect a big update with the next major release. Also, there are several research projects that use HALE as a basis to integrate more semantic web technology, which HALE was originally built upon. Check out the HALE Roadmap if you are curious about our detailed plans!

Q: What kind of community develops HALE, who is responsible for it?
A: It’s a community-driven Open Source project under the LGPL license. The main drivers are the partners in the data harmonisation panel under the lead of Fraunhofer IGD, where most of the development still happens, plus individual members such as Thorsten Reitz (of the Esri R&D Center Zurich), Andrea Antonello and Silvia Franceschi (of Hydrologis).

Q: How flexible is HALE ? Can you transform to other schemas than just INSPIRE?
A: Yes, it can transform to any schema, and is particularly good at transforming to complex XML, GML or Database schemas.