History

Refractions Research was founded in 1998 as a two-man consulting company working for the British Columbia government. For the first couple years, our expertise was primarily with a data analysis product from Facet Decision Systems, and the name “Refractions” derives from the association with Facet – a “facet” is the face of a prism, and a prism “refracts”, hence “refractions”.

Demand for geo-spatial services in the government was high, and Refractions began to expand almost immediately, growing to a staff of four by 2000, and adding specialties in Safe Software's Feature Manipulation Engine (FME) and PostgreSQL, while continuing to work with Facet for a variety of international clients.

Our work with PostgreSQL and other open source tools, like Linux and PHP, led Refractions in 2001 to enter into the open source arena with a spatial database product, PostGIS, and begin delivering solutions using other open source geo-spatial packages, such as Mapserver.

By 2003, Refractions had grown to over a dozen staff, and was doing an increasing number of projects using Java. The British Columbia government had largely standardized on Java for enterprise projects, so we grew our Java practice, and also moved into the realm of open source Java geo-spatial. We won two Government of Canada GeoInnovations grants, and used them to do improvements to the open source Geoserver J2EE server and to create the uDig open source Java desktop application platform.

Over the past four years, our early work in open source geospatial, and the growth of our government contracting business, have contributed to continued business expansion, bringing us to 25 staff in 2007. We have numerous private sector clients in the United States, Europe and Asia, for whom we do custom systems development using open source software as the backbone. Our public sector work in British Columbia has grown and we have added business analysts and project managers to our technical teams, with a focus on agile development methods.

Time flies...

when you're having fun!