History: The story behind metaspatial.


Arnulf Christl worked with GIS since 1991. He started work at the University of Marburg in Germany, then moved to the University of Edmonton in Alberta. IN 1995 he switched to the University of Bonn in Germany and worked at the Experimental Server Project under the lead pf Prof. Dr. Klaus Greve where the first prototypes for OGC Web Map Server were implemented.

First Business

In 1998 Arnulf founded the privately owned company CCGIS and which has since provided development and professional consulting for the spatial domain. Over the next 8 years CCGIS grew to 10 employees providing services, implementation, and training. CCGIS is still actively in business (under the new name WhereGroup) with core staff employed by Arnulf in the early days still working in the main office in Bonn to this day.

Non Profit I

Since the very early days it was obvious to Arnulf that geospatial data processing requires standards. Consequently he implemented all software following the standards of this domain which are set by the OGC. In 2006 CCGIS afforded to become a Planning Committee Member of the Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC), the first small enterprise busy in Open Source ever doing this. It proved to be the best decision in a long time and later Arnulf was even elected into the OGC Architecture Board, an oversight board tasked to make sure that all standards work together coherently.

New Paths

In 2002 Arnulf made a bold move changing the business model of his company which had been so far proprietary. The reasons were mainly to be seen in changes in the environment of his business. His business was based on providing development and implementation services for the German GIS company SICAD, at that time a 100% SIEMENS subsidiary. SIEMENS sold SICAD which over short or long would mean the end of the core software for which Arnulf was providing services. Instead of trying to continue as long as possible or switching to another core software of another proprietary vendor he decided to go for Free and Open Source Software. He could convince a good number of customers to follow the switch and successfully managed toi implement the fundamental paradigm change within a year.

Non Profit II

In February 2006 Arnulf together with 21 like minded entrepreneurs and developers founded the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo), a not-for-profit organization dedicated to support and promote the best breed of geospatial Open Source software. Since inception of OSGeo Arnulf has served on the board of directors and tirelessly spreads word about Free and Open Source geospatial software on countless occasions.


In 2007 CCGIS merged with two other companies to form the WhereGroup with then 25 employees. Arnulf continued to serve as CEO, finalizing the merger. In September 2008 the OSGeo Board of Directors elected Arnulf Christl as President. His work in the OGC plus that on the OSGeo board of directors added up to an (unpaid) full time job. To be able to pursue his assignments with due committment he consigned the management of the WhereGroup to his partners. Over the next year he introduced agile development in the WhereGroup and as his last project kicked off the German Federal Geoportal of Baden-Wurttemberg.


One of the core reasons why geoportals do not take off as expected and even framework directives like INSPIRE hardly show an effect, are probably old and broken metadata concepts. To research this area and create solutions that will actually work Arnulf started his most recent undertaking under the name metaspatial. After almost 12 years of dedication to the WhereGroup and its predecessors it was a hard decision to leave. But the perspectives of leaving management aside for awhile and focusing on the intriguing issues of SDI accessibility was irresistible.