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I’ve been working with GPlates for eight weeks now, and in this time, I’ve added a new tool to measure distances on the surface of the earth.

Measuring distances in GPlates

Measuring distances in GPlates

Hardly earth-shattering (excuse the pun), but its simplicity belies some of the changes under the hood; it incorporates the (new) ability to render text on the globe, for example. It’s all checked into trunk and should appear in the next major release!

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I recently started doing software development on a casual basis for GPlates, at the School of Geosciences, University of Sydney. Think back to high-school science class where you learnt about Pangaea and Gondwanaland and how the Earth’s tectonic plates have ever-so-slowly shifted over millions of years. GPlates is software that allows scientists to “wind the clock back” on these plate movements and visualise what the Earth might have looked like all these years ago. It’s open-source, so if you’re curious, grab a copy and play with it.

I’m quite glad to have met the GPlates team. It’s difficult, I think, to find quality software engineering in Australia, and GPlates development is led by a bunch of developers who are passionate about writing quality, well-designed, best-practice C++ code. It’s certainly not your average in-house or academic research software. And it sure is more intellectually safisfying than working in corporate IT.

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