VIS Inc. is a company founded by three veteran "power users" of IBM's Visualization Data Explorer (DX) to provide third party support to DX users as the software makes the transition from a commercially developed and supported product into "open-source". The VIS Inc. principals have combined expertise of over 50 years in software development, and over 25 years of DX expertise. They have never been IBM employees nor official DX developers, but they have been aggressive DX users since 1992. Their primary interest in DX has always been to produce high-quality visual products. Given this goal, over the years they have developed secondary interests in building tools that enhance their own productivity and creating training materials that assist other users and developers in becoming productive with DX. Their primary interest now is to keep the DX system alive and viable as a visualization system option through active development and support, in a manner compatible with the open-source software model.
As long time users of DX, the VIS Inc. principals have formed close working relationships with the original DX developers and project managers at IBM, as well as with users all over the world. The principals have also made significant contributions to both the training of DX users worldwide and the body of DX-related software that is openly available. With the withdrawal of IBM's active support for DX as a commercial product, VIS Inc. was formed to help provide third party expertise needed to assure that DX remains a viable open-source alternative for commercial and government users. That is, VIS Inc. hopes to provide value-added service and support for the DX users who wish such assistance, in a manner analogous to that popularized by third party value-added service providers for Linux such as RedHat Inc., Caldera Inc. and O'Reilly and Associates.
The most critical element of third party, value-added support for an open source system is expertise with that system. VIS Inc. brings together a group of some of the most experienced DX users and developers outside of the core DX development group. In their combination of over 25 years experience with DX, the VIS Inc. principals have made the following contributions.
* Applications Development. They have used DX as the primary visualization tool in a range of multi-disciplinary research projects, particularly in applications involving natural resource applications. For a list of related publications and visual artifacts, see http://www.cs.umt.edu/DASL/proj.htm.
* Instruction and Training. They have used DX since 1992 as the primary software in interdisciplinary, graduate level university courses on data visualization. They have also offered non-credit, specialized training courses at their own local training site and at customers' sites around the country. The VIS Inc. principals include two of the four internationally certified DX trainers used by the IBM Visualization Data Explorer Group to staff IBM's training sessions.
* DX-ware. They have developed a number of special purpose and general interest DX enhancements, useful in a wide variety of visual applications. These have been freely distributed from several public DX web sites. These include colormaps, macros, modules and data importers.
* "GIS-2-DX". Under contract from IBM, they developed and have supported a widely used software package that allows datasets in standard, external formats to be easily imported into DX, i.e., the "gis2dx" package freely distributed by IBM since 1993.
* Visualization Consulting. They have worked as consultants to a variety of industry partners on the use of DX in a broad range of example applications, including remotely sensed data analysis, geological/geophysical data depiction, interface with data from geographical information systems (GIS), hydrological and ground water flow, landscape and ecological modeling and analysis, and wildfire modeling.
Even a few years ago, IBM's decision to withdraw its support would have meant the death of DX as a software system, forcing users to seek other (we think, less satisfactory) alternatives. But that situation has changed with the demonstration, through examples such as Linux, Apache, and others, that open-source software systems can and will remain viable if the software base is sound, if there is a critical mass of committed users, and if there are third party entities willing to commit to a high quality of service and support. We think that OpenDX and its current user base clearly satisfy the first two criteria, and we have committed VIS Inc. to satisfying the third by providing a wide range of support, training, development, and advanced consulting on the use of OpenDX.
Contact us to let us know how we can help satisfy your concerns and/or future needs for OpenDX.
Jeff Braun, M.S. -
Ray Ford, Ph.D. -
David Thompson, M.S. -
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