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This page proposes a minimum level of use of the OCS (Open Conferencing System) software for the FOSS4G 2009 and later FOSS4G conferences.

The Issue

Up to 2008 there has been no consistency in software used to manage FOSS4G conferences. Each year the LOC (local organizing committee) or PCO (professional conference organization) deploys a solution for that year alone, and the following year things start over again. Generally speaking it is hard to preserve web, and presentation content for posterity as we depend on hosting of old web sites that tends to be lost eventually. Each year we rediscover management of presentations and workshops.


In 2008, with support from Tyler Mitchell, the LOC agreed to use OCS (the Open Conferencing System) to manage presentations, workshops and registrations. While this has been somewhat successful there have been painful gaps resulting in several manual steps for registration and poor integration with the payment systems. Also the OCS based public web site does not appear as professional as we might hope.

The Question

The questions that arise for 2009 and beyond are:

  1. Do we want to use a consistent package for conference management, or leave it to each LOC to handle themselves (likely turning it over to the PCO).
  2. If we want to use a consistent package, do we want to use OCS?
  3. If we use OCS, how much of the conference management do we want to use it for? (presentation management, scheduling, registration, public web site,payments...)?
  4. If we want to use OCS how do we achieve integration with the PCO's expected approach and software?

The Proposal

My proposal is that, for the time being, we only commit to using OCS to manage presentation and workshop submissions, leaving the public web site, registration and payment all to the PCO and LOC. Depending on their wishes they might, or might not want to use OCS for more, but we (the OSGeo conference committee) won't push things. The LOC will essentially be left with control to ensure the public facing aspects of the conference are done as they wish. But OCS will be used for the "presenter facing" aspects, and also to preserve content from year to year.


It is intended that only a minimum of integration would be required between the OCS software and the PCO systems. The following are a few possible issues:

  1. We need a way of identifying workshop presenters at registration time, so they can get discounted entrance. This might be done by providing a "discount code" to them manually, or just ask them to register as workshop presenters and manually verify later (as we presumably do for student registrations already).
  2. It might be desirable to identify presenters so their status can be noted on their nametags. This could be done manually, but is likely not that essential.
  3. The LOC/PCO might want to use established PCO software to setup the final schedule for the week. If so the list of presentations can likely be moved over manually.

But basically, the goal here is to minimize integration requirements. At the base level no integration is required.

I would note I am accepting that presenters might end up with two signon's, one for the PCO registration system, and one for OCS. This would not apply to normal attendies who would not need to interact with OCS in an authenticated way (though they might want to search through the presentations).

I am hopeful that OCS can be configured to use the OSGeo LDAP, so that presenters can use their normal OSGeo Trac/SVN/Drupal userid with OCS as well.


Part of my intention in splitting presentation management off into OCS is an intention that the call for presentations and workshops, and the actual selection of presentations and workshops can be moved over to the conference committee instead of the LOC. This lightens the load moderately on the LOC, off to a global volunteer pool, and helps us ensure greater consistency in how this is handled year to year.

Hopefully this would also mean that innovations, like the "vote for your preferred presentation" done in 2007 could be preserved year to year.


  1. August 08 - Static HTML site for FOSS4G 2009
  2. No action on OCS till after FOSS4G 2008 is complete (mostly to avoid accidentally screwing things up while OCS is in use)
  3. October 08 - Investigate and attempt LDAP integration.
  4. October 08 - Form "workshop and presentation committee" with mostly conference committee folks plus 2-3 LOC folks.
  5. November 08 - Testing and learning for OCS.
  6. January 09 - call for presentations, etc.