Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The One That Got Away

As a SWG chairman, I take pride in building consensus. We have tackled some tricky challenges this past year and I am pleased to say that we have gotten there with only one roll call vote.  What I found most of the time is that when there was objection to unanimous consent, there was often further work to be done. In a few situations we were able to come up with creative solutions that ended up satisfying everyone.

What was that one roll call vote? I was actually on the losing end of it. I wanted the elevation extension to encode the data in a purely binary encoding. I felt that introducing another format to the mix was adding an unnecessary layer of redirection that some developer was going to have to deal with down the line. The fact that libraries existed for many formats was not important to me because a) these libraries tended to be overkill for what we needed and b) reading a simple binary format is not particularly hard.

I lost. In the end I had to resign myself to the fact that people wanted a self-describing format (even if that made no sense to me). However, the story didn't end there. When all was said and done, we ended up building two extensions. The first laid out the format and specified PNG files for storing integer data. The second allowed floating point data to be stored in TIFF files. It is a reasonable compromise and I think it will work.

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