[mapserver-dev] how to contribute to development?

Frank Warmerdam warmerdam at pobox.com
Tue Mar 16 19:31:57 EDT 2010

zach cruise wrote:
> i want to contribute to the development of mapserver (maybe postgis
> later :)). can someone break it down in simple steps? preferably
> what's the best way to check-out outstanding dev/bug issues, work at
> them, and then check them back-in for approval (without tripping over
> ego ;))?


It was likely a bit over the top to cross post to the -users lists as
well as the -dev lists.  This is clearly a development question.

I don't see you on the MapServer commit list yet, so you won't actually
commit the changes yourself.  So you could take the approach of:

1) Build MapServer trunk from svn, with debug info.

2) Scanning the open bug list for something that catches your fancy and
seems in within your competency:


3) Make an attempt to reproduce the problem.  If this is going to take a
fair amount of work, you might want to mention in the ticket that you are
trying to investigate the problem.  If you succeed or fail to reproduce the
problem make notes in the ticket, possibly including a simplified set of
steps to reproduce the problem.

4) If you have reproduced the problem you can start looking for a solution.
How to accomplish this is pretty broad, but

5) If you come up with a solution, attach it to the ticket as a patch.
You can create a patch using "svn diff > mybug.patch".  Describe the
nature of the bug and the rationale of your change if appropriate.

6) Now you are dependent on a committer to review and apply your patch.
You may find that the originally assignee (like Steve by default) picks up
on your patch and proceeds.  But if there is no action after a couple days
you might want to prod the ticket holder by email, ask on IRC for help
with the patch or here on mapserver-dev.

7) Repeat steps 1-6 until people become annoyed enough applying your
patches that they ask if you would be willing to become a committer so
you can do it yourself.

8) Also consider preparing new regression tests for the "msautotest"
test suite when you fix something.


In some cases you may not be able to fix a problem, but if you can
reproduce it and narrow it down to a test case that is highly forcused
and easy for another developer to pick up, then you have already
accomplished something useful.

In the above, I have assumed you wouldn't assign the ticket to yourself.
But once you are a bit more confident, you can start to "seize" tickets
that don't seem to be getting any love.  I'd suggest noting politely that
you are interested in looking into the issue unless the original owner
was wanting to take care of it.

Best regards,
I set the clouds in motion - turn up   | Frank Warmerdam, warmerdam at pobox.com
light and sound - activate the windows | http://pobox.com/~warmerdam
and watch the world go round - Rush    | Geospatial Programmer for Rent

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