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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!


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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