deck.gl, which has been developed under the stewardship of Uber’s Engineering organization over the last 5 years, has now taken a big step and moved to an open governance model. In addition, deck.gl 8.2, the first community planned version of deck.gl, has now been released.
This blog post shares some thoughts about why the move to open governance was so important, and gives some glimpses of the exciting public roadmap that was presented.
Why Open Governance?
Many great open source software projects, while free to use and open to contribution, are still controlled by one company or a small group of people. This is often fine, as the owners are also typically the maintainers and tend to work hard (usually for free) to support their communities.
But once an open software project gets to the point where multiple companies depend on it for their own commercial products, and the project starts to receive major development contributions from those companies, the introduction of an open governance model can make a big difference in removing barriers to adoption.
The goal for moving vis.gl to open governance was to create an even more inviting playing field for anyone who wants to use or contribute to deck.gl. Contributors can now become involved in the decision making process, and those that make significant contributions can even get seats on the steering committee and get a say in all vis.gl-related program matters.
An Open Planning Process
A key aspect of open governance is to let the community take part in the planning of upcoming software releases, and the first community planning meeting for the deck.gl 8.2 release was held in early May 2020.
The various vis.gl tech leads took turns in sharing the plans for the upcoming deck.gl 8.2 and 8.3 releases, as well as longer term roadmaps.
The planning meeting was well attended, with representatives from a number of leading geospatial software companies, and the feedback from the audience was very positive.
Highlights from the community planning meeting
Advanced TileLayer development is a major focus area for deck.gl 8.x
Support for tiled data has seen a lot of development over the last year, and the deck.gl + loaders.gl combination now provides a comprehensive support for tiled data layers including 2D tiles (geospatial and non-geospatial), 3D tiles (both the 3D Tiles and I3S OGC standards are supported), as well as terrain from tiled elevation data sources etc.
Also many “tricky corner cases” that arise when visualizing tiled data, such as cross-tile highlighting, working with high pitch views, request throttling when loading multiple tiled data sources etc are now handled correctly by deck.gl.
Longer Term Roadmaps (deck.gl v9)
The open governance meeting also gave the tech leads a good opportunity to provide the community with a glimpse of features that are being considered for the next major releases of the frameworks, such as:
- deck.gl-native (C++ port)
- Swiftdeck, Javadeck for mobile
- Language independent styling specification, cross-language transport protocol
- Globe projections
- Advanced Tile Layer Features
- Typescript, WebGPU, ES Modules
These are just a few highlights, for those interested in the details, the slides from the presentation are linked at the end of this post.
Also check out the deck.gl 8.2 Whats’ New page as it details the outcome of the first community planned release.
Join the vis.gl movement!
A goal of the moving deck.gl and the other vis.gl frameworks to an open governance model is of course to open the doors to additional participation. We want to grow the vis.gl community, and if you are interested don’t hesitate to reach out on the channels below. We look forward to hearing from you!