[OSGeo-Discuss] Mapbuilder status report, March 2007

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Wed Mar 21 03:47:12 PDT 2007



MapBuilder^ <http://communitymapbuilder.org> is a powerful, standards 
compliant and FREE geographic mapping client which runs in a web 
browser. It renders raster maps from WMS, Google Maps and more, and 
vector layers from WFS, GeoRSS and GML. It even offers feature editing 
to WFS-T. Mapbuilder is often described as a web based toolkit, or 
framework, that allows a developer to insert a selection of widgets into 
a web page. Eg: MapPanes, FeatureLists, Navigation tools, Style Editors 
and more.

Over the last year, the three leading browser based mapping clients, 
Mapbuilder^ <http://communitymapbuilder.org>, OpenLayers^ 
<http://openlayers.org> and MapBender^ <http://www.mapbender.org> have 
been actively working together sharing ideas and code. In particular, 
OpenLayers is currently being inserted into Mapbuilder as a rendering 
engine. Our latest release, mapbuilder-1.5apha1 includes an OpenLayers 
renderer and our next release will complete the integration by linking 
Mapbuilder and Openlayers tools.

OpenLayers focuses on rendering a MapPane. Mapbuilder extends this to 
offer extra widgets like Style Layer Descriptor (SLD) Editors, Time 
Series Web Map Services, processing Web Map Context (WMC) documents and 

Mapbuilder developers are now contributing to the OpenLayers codebase 
when adding core Mapping functionality.

Merging code between projects is difficult emotionally as much as 
technically. The catalyst for the Mapbuilder/OpenLayers merge was that 
there were four different projects developing vector rendering using 
SVG/VML at the end of 2006. After much discussion we agreed to work 
together on the same code base. This meant that each of us had to throw 
away ~ 3/4 of our original code. In the short term, this meant some 
extra effort from all of us, but in the long term, we will all benefit 
from the merger. We will have more developers maintaining the same code 
base and users will be less confused when trying to pick a client.

Developers who throw away code feel a strong sense of loss of status and 
credibility. Credit goes to those who were flexible enough to throw away 
their code and also to the developers who were generous in their 
acknowledgments of past works.

Internally, Mapbuilder stores its map data inside a Context document. 
Initially we used to use a Web Map Context (WMC) document which 
describes a list of WMS layers. However, the WMC doesn't allow you to 
insert other layers, like WFS, GML, GeoRSS, Google Maps, etc.

In mapbuilder-1.5alpha1 we support OWS Context (currently an OGC draft 
document) which extends WMC to include multiple layers types. This 
improves the structure of our code and configuration files, as well as 
continuing with our support of OGC Standards. The 1.5 branch will 
stablise over the next few months with release candidates and then final 

Mapbuilder graduated through the Open Source Geospatial Foundation 
(OSGeo) incubation process in October 2006 making the second and most 
recent project to graduate. Graduation turned out to be a lengthy 
process involving auditing code and tidying up development processes. 
However compared to other projects going through graduation, Mapbuilder 
is young and had less history to dig through, which is why were one of 
the first projects to graduate (after Mapbender).

Association with OSGeo was a positive move for Mapbuilder popularity. 
Mapbuilder downloads doubled in the month after OSGeo was created with 
Mapbuilder as one of the founding projects.

In summary, Mapbuilder continues to have a healthy developer and user 
base, it has a stable codebase, good development processes and a healthy 
future ahead of it.

Full details, including metrics at:

Cameron Shorter
Systems Architect, http://lisasoft.com.au
Tel: +61 (0)2 8570 5011
Mob: +61 (0)419 142 254

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