[mapserver-dev] Expanding the MapServer Project

Lime, Steve D (DNR) steve.lime at state.mn.us
Thu Mar 24 12:47:36 EDT 2011

Hi All: Wanted to drop folks a note about a topic that came up over beers in Montreal. It has to do with expanding the core functionality the "project" can deliver by bring a few select external projects in under the MapServer umbrella. The two we were thinking about initially are mod_geocache (for tiling support) and TinyOWS (for basic WFS-T). Why? Well, beyond the technical connections to MapServer there are several reasons.

For MapServer users this would provide a more complete set of functionality on the server-side than is currently available. Instead of sending folks to an tilecache or whatever for tiling, and GeoServer for WFS-T we could provide much of that functionality as part of the core. That's not to say that folks couldn't or wouldn't want to use the external solutions but in many cases we could deliver a complete solution.

For these external projects moving into MapServer provides a home. Both of the projects mentioned are relatively small and MapServer would help establish a user base for them and hopefully increase their level of adoption. I think it could also attract new developers, at the very least those with commit rights for MapServer. This will also promote (or perhaps even force) tighter integration with MapServer core. An initial idea is pulling mapfile handling out into a libmapfile that could be used and maintained cooperatively.

Bringing projects into MapServer is not a trivial activity and would take some time. We're thinking it would involve tasks such as:

  - Vetting source and licensing of incoming projects (e.g. akin to OSGEO incubation)

  - Source, testing and build environment restructuring

  - Integration/migration of svn and trac (or the like) environments

  - Integration/migration of websites and documentation

Finally, the MapServer PSC would become the governing organization for these new pieces. As a result, it would make sense to add the project leads for each project to the PSC (Thomas Bonfort (mod_geocache) is already a member).

This is the first significant project restructuring for MapServer, but I think it makes sense and positions MapServer as more than just a map maker. Thoughts?


(Note: I shared this privately with the MapServer PSC to gauge interest and was encouraged to bring it to the -dev list...)
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