The Value of Open Industry Standards

Bill Dollins reflects on the value of industry standards after working with proprietary product APIs:

In the geospatial field, the work of OGC gives us a bit more shared understanding. Because of the Simple Features Specification, we have GeoJSON, GML, GeoPackage, and various similar implementations across multiple open-source and proprietary database systems and data warehouses. Each of those implementations has benefits and shortcomings, but their common root shortens the time to productivity with each. The same can be said of interfaces, such as WxS. I have often been critical of WxS, but, for all the inefficiencies across the various specs, they do provide a level of predictability across implementing technologies which frees a developer to focus on higher-level issues.

OGC’s W*S specifications (e.g., WMS, WFS, or WCS) share similar features. Each provides a getCapabilities operation advertising the service’s — well — capabilities and operations to access the service’s items (getMap, getFeature, or getCoverage). The precise parameters required to execute the requests do vary, and so do server responses, but a good understanding of one specification can be transferred to other similar specifications.

The same flexibility and predictability in built into newer standards today, like OGC API - Features, and community specifications like STAC — both share the same foundation. OGC’s processes may be slow, and the specifications may not make for an entertaining read but its diligent process leads to predictable API design, enabling service and client developers to implement applications consistently and predictably.

You appreciate that more once you had the pleasure to build a service against the Salesforce API.