Chair: Benjamin DUCKE, UK
Two eternal principles of sustainable software development are:
1. Keep things modular. Instead of creating one complex application that does everything passably (or badly), create many smaller ones that each do one thing very well. Use common file formats and protocols to connect them with each other into complex systems.
2. Try to manage complexity in the data instead of the software. Instead of using complicated software tools and algorithms with hard-to-understand effects on the output, make use of flexible but easy-to-understand data structures such as relational databases and GIS layers to capture complex realities.
Given that modern archaeological research and resource management is built on digital tools, its success ultimately depends on the sustainability and quality of the underlying IT infrastructure. Thus 21st century archaeologists need to understand and adopt good software engineering paradigms. Many archaeologists are self-taught when it comes to IT and have adopted the learning-by-doing approach, focusing on a small number of monolithic software applications. This guarantees quick results but will inevitably limit research freedom and thwart efforts to create efficient workflows, better connectivity and information flow — in effect creating a lock-in situation that isolates users of different software platforms. The open source GIS community has embraced good engineering principles successfully. This prevented vendor lock-in strategies from establishing a strangle-hold on the user as it has happened e.g. in the CAD industry. GIS users can therefore choose from a vast selection of compatible open source tools and connect them freely to create flexible problem solutions.
The workshop will give an overview of current open source GIS technology and data processing paradigms with practical introductions to a selection of software tools. It will cover archaeological research on both the site and landscape scale, focusing on transferable knowledge such as: – properties of spatial data – GIS data models – geodata formats and infrastructures – geoprocessing paradigms – global trends in GIS software design It should provide participants with a good idea of the “big picture” behind all modern GIS developments, be they open or closed source in nature, encouraging discontinuation of software-oriented workflows in favour of data-oriented ones. Participants need to have at least beginner level knowledge of GIS, CAD and database technology.