lunes, julio 18, 2011

Adding external functions from gvSIG to SEXTANTE, and more.

The folks at the gvSIG Community Edition project are doing an awesome work trying to create a better version of gvSIG, and they are putting a lot of effort in trying to enhance the integration of SEXTANTE. After 3 days of fruitful and really fun work (met with them at AGIT, in Salzburg), we believe that gvSIG CE is going to become the best platform for using SEXTANTE and, thus, support their work and have given some advise about how to better integrate SEXTANTE with their software. Also, I have made a few changes that will greatly improve the experience of using SEXTANTE and will give gvSIG CE users new posibilities. The most important are the two following ones:

1)Introduction of Toolbox Actions. A toolbox action is just a command that you can call from the toolbox, so now you can have not only SEXTANTE algorithms but any other thing that you want. Of course, this actions cannot be used in other elements of SEXTANTE like the modeler, but it is handy to have some functionalities close to your geoalgorithms. Why is this useful for gvSIG CE? Well, we all now that the current distributions of icons and menus is a mess in gvSIG. There is a geoprocessing toolbox with just vector algorithms, then there is a network analysis interface and finally there are some raster functions that you can access from an awkward double-drop-down-list system in the toolbar. Having all of them together would make the interface much more homogeneous and easy to use, so the idea is to create actions to call those elements and then remove their corresponding menus and icons. Everything related to spatial analysis will be found in the SEXTANTE toolbox.

The idea of having just one geoprocessing framework has been around in gvSIG since many years ago, but it is easy to see that using that framework hasn't been really enforced by the gvSIG team. Of course, it would be better to have all those functions as real SEXTANTE algorithms. Although we plan to do so, that means a lot of work, so this solutions is good by now until we have a better one.

2) Changes for a portable version. The first version of gvSIG CE will be a portable one (no need to install anything), bundled with GRASS and SAGA and fully preconfigured. That means that you will have more than 700 algorithms from the very first time you run the software and there will be no need to configure anything about SAGA or GRASS. This wasn't possible before, since configuration files were kept in a user folder, and thus it was not very portable.

Also, Benjamin Ducke, the frontman of the gvSIG CE version, is responsible of developing most of the GRASS interface in SEXTANTE, so we worked together on that and made a few changes. We both agree in that a bundled installation of GRASS or SAGA is prefered to an external one, and we made changes in that direction, in order to have a more robust integration assuming that the user has a preinstalled copy of any of these addtional softwares.

The fist version of gvSIG CE will be out soon (its release will probably be synchronized with the release of SEXTANTE 0.7) and we highly recommend everyone to try it, specially if you work with SEXTANTE. As I said, we see this version as the ultimate SEXTANTE platform, since it has been specifically adapted and solves some important issues.