MapServer Foundation - Open Letter

Ed McNierney ed at TOPOZONE.COM
Mon Nov 28 10:21:04 EST 2005

Folks -

Press coverage of this announcement is available from Directions
Magazine (Adena Schutzberg) at

	- Ed

Ed McNierney
President and Chief Mapmaker / Maps a la carte, Inc.
73 Princeton Street, Suite 305
North Chelmsford, MA  01863
ed at
(978) 251-4242  

-----Original Message-----
From: UMN MapServer Developers List [mailto:MAPSERVER-DEV at LISTS.UMN.EDU]
On Behalf Of Steve Lime
Sent: Monday, November 28, 2005 8:37 AM
Subject: [UMN_MAPSERVER-DEV] MapServer Foundation - Open Letter

An Open Letter to the MapServer Open Source Web Mapping Community

November 28, 2005

Greetings MapServer community,

We are pleased to share with you some exciting news about the future of
open source web mapping.

Over the past few years MapServer adoption has grown ten-fold and has
become the web mapping platform of choice for many businesses,
government agencies, nonprofit groups and individuals. The MapServer
developers have added powerful new features. The community has enjoyed
three incredible conferences and continues to support each other and
enhance the community.

We want to ensure that this success and momentum continues for the
MapServer product and community. MapServer continues to run well in
diverse environments and its rich set of features play an indispensable
role in many organizations. More than ever, we are committed to
improving MapServer and providing exceptional value to the community.

To this end, we take this opportunity to share two bits of news: the
creation of the MapServer Foundation and welcoming the addition of
Autodesk's next-generation web mapping platform (previously known as
Tux) as open source into the foundation.

MapServer Foundation

We are delighted to announce the creation of the MapServer Foundation
( The foundation is a nonprofit organization
whose goal is to provide a supportive framework for open, collaborative
development of geospatial software. Several groups and individuals are
collaborating to help launch and sponsor the new foundation. Financial
support from Autodesk will allow us to get the foundation up and
running. In this letter, we present some ideas of how we think the
foundation can help the community, but these ideas need broader
discussion and debate within the community.

We looked to other successful open source movements, such as Apache, to
see how our community could benefit from the creation of an independent
foundation. It is clear that the time has come to create a formal
infrastructure to help further support and promote the professional open
source web mapping development environments and communities. While
initially focused on web mapping projects, we hope the foundation will
adopt other open source geospatial projects that need a home.

Forming the foundation is only the beginning, as we now seek community
involvement and participation. The foundation will have a governance
model that allows it to be run by a Board of Directors that represents
the community. How it is ultimately going to be run is up to the members
of the community. The foundation will also have a set of bylaws that
provide structure and can be amended through a community voting process.

Role of the foundation

The first priority for the foundation is to engage the broader MapServer
community. Members of the community are encouraged to join and get
involved. Consider this letter as your invitation to participate. The
community web site is the place where you, as a user and participant in
the community, can follow and contribute to the development of the
MapServer Foundation family of projects.

The primary responsibilities of the foundation may include:

    * Support code repository and other project infrastructure
    * Formalized process for decision-making (e.g. where to host the
next conference)
    * Legal protection for the source code and developers of the
    * Paying for development work on minor improvements of the platform
    * Acting as a central repository for marketing, branding and
professional image development of the product
    * Providing process for mitigating disputes
    * Financial support for advocacy, sponsorship, community events and

Many of these community-related functions have been overseen in an
ad-hoc manner or deferred to the University of Minnesota or other
organizations in the past. The foundation will streamline the
coordination of legal, administrative and governance efforts.

As MapServer will now be officially managed by the foundation, it no
longer makes sense to call it UMN MapServer. Product branding is also
becoming more important and this is a good opportunity to introduce a
more visual name for the product. We propose calling it MapServer
Cheetah. This presents a fast and agile image that suits the product
well and will help differentiate it from other MapServer products.

MapServer Cheetah & MapServer Enterprise

We are also very excited about Autodesk's decision to release their next
generation web mapping platform into the open source community through
the MapServer Foundation. This adds further legitimacy to our open
source development platform. Their product will be named MapServer
Enterprise and is the successor to Autodesk MapGuide but built on an
entirely new architecture.

MapServer Enterprise and MapServer Cheetah will be run as two separate
but parallel projects. There are no plans to merge them into one but we
aim to share technologies between the two projects wherever possible. We
also hope to provide utilities that allow the community to easily use
one or both platforms.

MapServer Enterprise will be licensed using the OSI-approved GNU Lesser
General Public License (LGPL). MapServer Cheetah will continue to be
licensed under an MIT-style open source license. Autodesk is eager to
participate in an open and transparent development process driven by
independent guidance from the community. We encourage you to check out
MapServer Enterprise, which is available today on the community web

We are proud to be part of this community and we hope you will join us
in establishing the MapServer Foundation. For more information on how to
get involved, please visit the community site at: and join the mailing list discussions.


Steve Lime, Chair, MapServer Technical Steering Committee (MTSC)
Yewondwossen Assefa, MTSC Member Howard Butler, MTSC Member Daniel
Morissette, MTSC Member Perry Nacionales, MTSC Member Frank Warmerdam,
MTSC Member Tom Burk, University of Minnesota David McIlhagga, DM
Solutions Group Tyler Mitchell Claude Philipona, Camptocamp SA and
FOSS4G 2006 organizing committee Gary Lang, Autodesk

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