Java Interface for Geospatial Software Approved

The Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), an organization that develops and promotes standards for geospatial content and services, this week approved the 3.0 version of its GeoAPI Interface Standard.

The GeoAPI provides a set of Java language interfaces based on the ISO 19100 geospatial abstract models for metadata and feature geometry. ISO 19100 is a suite of 35-plus geographic and geomatics standards developed by another group, an international organization known as Technical Committee 211. ISO 19100 represents an effort by that group to standardize all aspects of geographic information for IT.

The OGC was formed to promote interoperable solutions that "geo-enable" the Web, wireless systems and mainstream IT. Formerly known as the Open GIS Consortium, the group is made up of 419 companies, government agencies, research groups and universities.

"OGC Standards empower technology developers to make geospatial information and services accessible and useful with any application that needs to be geospatially enabled," the organization states on its Web site.

The GeoAPI project grew out of an earlier project, known as OGC Geographic Objects, explained Steven Ramage, executive director of marketing and communications for the Bergen, Norway-based consortium. The project aims to help Java developers "produce high quality geospatial software," he said.

The latest version of the GeoAPI defines a set of core interfaces designed for for projection. conversion, geodetic referencing and metadata handling, projection and conversion. Essentially, the API provides a layer that separates client code from library code.

The API actually consists of a series of packages. Because these packages have reached different levels of stability, the project has been split into two modules: the geoapi module and the geoapi-pending module. The former contains interfaces that have remained stable for a long period of time and have been fully implemented and tested. The latter is a set of interfaces with different levels of stability, ranging from very trusted to experimental. When these packages mature, they are moved into the first module.

Still pending, for example, is a set of interfaces designed to handle "geo-referenced imagery," for the construction and manipulation of vector geometry and topological data structures, and for the description and use of geospatial "feature" entities.

Several open source projects currently implement subsets of the GeoAPI, including:, GeoTools, GeOxygene and JScience.

The GeoAPI 3.0 spec has been posted on the OGS Web site, and deployment of JAR files to the Maven Central repository is currently under way. However, an interim release is available now for developers.

About the Author

John K. Waters is the editor in chief of a number of sites, with a focus on high-end development, AI and future tech. He's been writing about cutting-edge technologies and culture of Silicon Valley for more than two decades, and he's written more than a dozen books. He also co-scripted the documentary film Silicon Valley: A 100 Year Renaissance, which aired on PBS.  He can be reached at [email protected].