Open & Candid: Matt Priour

Today we’re excited to roll out the orange carpet and welcome Matt Priour to OpenPlans, as part of the OpenGeo team.

Matt has a breadth of experience in both the open source and proprietary web mapping worlds with special expertise in the front-end components of the OpenGeo Suite. He has already made a big impact working on GeoNode projects, and his responsibilities have quickly expanded to work directly with more OpenGeo Suite components.  Matt talked to OpenGeo’s David Dubovsky to tell us where he came from, how he got here and where he plans to go:

DD: Hello Matt, welcome to OpenGeo!
MP: Hi, I’m thrilled to be here.

Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a happily married father of two young children, a trained wildlife biologist, and a web-centric geospatial software developer with a primary focus on client-side development. I’m also a native Texan and love living here. My wife is a veterinarian, and I used to volunteer as an emergency veterinary technician.

Great, and how did you decide to get involved in the geospatial field?
Well I’ve always loved maps, aerial photos, and working with computers. I seemed to drift toward geospatial-related interests while in college at Texas A&M University. Later on, I made heavy use of GIS/GPS in my field research for my master’s degree.

So you didn’t go to school specifically for web development or GIS?
No, not really. After utilizing GIS/GPS so much in school I had a really solid background. Inevitably I became the “GIS guy” at my first job after school. Eventually that lead to forming my own business for custom desktop GIS projects, extensions, and scripts, and finally to specializing in producing custom geospatial web apps for my clients.

And how long have you been at it now?
I’ve been working with geospatial in some form or another since 1999. I’ve been primarily focused on open-source geospatial technologies and web development since 2007.

During that time what projects do you look back on most fondly?
I’ve really enjoyed any project which has allowed me the opportunity to solve an interesting problem for a client. Two such projects come to mind:
First, ParkScore, which was a demonstration project for the California chapter of Trust for Public Land. ParkScore allowed users to enter their addresses and be presented with an interactive map and results tables showing them the distance to public parks, schools, fitness centers, and other “healthily living” opportunities. Data had to be retrieved and compiled from a variety of sources using documented and undocumented API’s and displayed on a map in a rapid, per formant manner. I also developed a YUI based mapping app interface through this project that I was able to re-use on several other projects.

That sounds pretty interesting, and the second?
The second was a train tracking and incident management app which consolidated 3 separate inoperable desktop programs into a single unified map-based interface using GeoServer, GeoExt, and OpenLayers. It presented the problem of how to display large amounts of rapidly changing data with dynamic client-side filtering and specialization using OGC methods. Several GeoServer-specific vendor parameters, filter functions, and some SLD magic made this into a much more manageable task.

Wow, so you got to work with OpenGeo Suite components. Is that how you became involved with OpenGeo?
I’ve been tracking OpenGeo’s growth since it was a part of “The Open Planning Project”. This organization has done so much to promote open-source geospatial technologies and helped position it as a real alternative to proprietary systems. I was very excited when an opportunity to provide some development services related to temporal mapping for the MapStory project presented itself this summer.

So what will you be doing here at OpenGeo?
Along with the MapStory project I’ll be providing support for clients implementing, customizing or extending portions of the OpenGeo Suite.

Before we wrap up is there any interesting facts you’d like to reveal to the world?
Hmm, I can think of a few. I can do a rather good Beaker (from the Muppets) impersonation, in fact I was able to convince my wife to continue going out with me after our first date with that impression. Also I know over 100 North American songbirds by sound alone.

Wow – I honestly couldn’t say which one is more impressive! Thanks for the time and welcome aboard, Matt!
Glad to join the team!

Interested to see what Matt is up to?
Follow him on twitter @mattpriour and check out his blog.