Mapserver - Autodesk: hostile takeover, merger of equals or what?

Sears, Jeremy Jeremy.Sears at CCRS.NRCAN.GC.CA
Tue Dec 6 09:59:01 EST 2005

My thoughts are simmilar. 

"I admit I do not have even something like a moral
right to influence the development of UMN Mapserver, since I did not
contribute to its code.."

I'm in the same boat. Maby someday Ill rise to the level where I can devote
some time to coding the guts of a sweet Open Source project. In the meantime
Ill continue working with Mapserver, applying the technology and promoting
it. This type of activity gives us 'non-coders' at least a small moral share
in the project.

According to the poll result:

We are not alone. Approx 80% of respondents indicated that they arnt down
with the name change, wich is only the tip of the iceberg.

However the letter has been signed. Autodesk announced its clever step
publicly last week. Do you think a few unhappy emails sent to this list will
change anything? Me neither. Lets just hope that the selling out of
Mapserver stoped there.

All the best ...

-----Original Message-----
From: UMN MapServer Users List [mailto:MAPSERVER-USERS at LISTS.UMN.EDU]On
Behalf Of Skalski Artur - askals
Sent: December 6, 2005 9:03 AM
Subject: Re: [UMN_MAPSERVER-USERS] Mapserver - Autodesk: hostile
takeover, merger of equals or what?

If I may...

I think, things You're saying are TRUE
that's how it looks like now

I'ts a bit annoying when I get a lot of news and announcements about
Autodesk lunching it's OpenSource Project Mapserver Enterprice, whithout any
word about already existing REAL MAPSERVER,

and Mapserver 'Cheetah' realy sounds like Mapserver 'Cheeting' or 'Cheeter'
for non native speakers, so using this name when offering a webmaping
solution to the client will demand a lot of additional explanations,

any way I realy hope that Mapsever, people who developed along with the rest
of the community will not start living in the shadow of "great Autodesk's
open source project ;)"



-----Original Message-----
From: UMN MapServer Users List [mailto:MAPSERVER-USERS at LISTS.UMN.EDU]On
Behalf Of Andre Karp
Sent: Tuesday, December 06, 2005 2:36 PM
Subject: [UMN_MAPSERVER-USERS] Mapserver - Autodesk: hostile takeover,
merger of equals or what?


having thought about what I read in that "open letter" some days ago, I want
to contribute my opinion to the discussion.

Unfortunatly, I'm not happy about this development, and I will try to
explain why:

In the beginning, there were two players: the UMN Mapserver people and the
Autodesk people. The UMN Mapserver people were using and developing a
software which is, from a technical point of view, the fastest and most
stable webmapping-technolgy existing so far. The Autodesk people had -
sorry, I don't want to offend someone, but this is my opinion based on my
experience working with different kinds of GIS Software for many years - a
software which was not really competitive, neither against the technical
superiority of the UMN Mapserver nor against the commercial predominance of

The point why I was upset by the merging of Autodesk Mapguide and UMN
Mapserver is, that, from my point of view, the UMN Mapserver people did the
work - and they did a really good job - and the Autodesk people are going to
harvest. Autodesk is talking about its great contribution - 60 years of work
... - but, I'm sorry, 60 years of work does not say anything about what has
been done during this time (e.g. look at ArcGIS: there is without doubt a
lot of work in this software, but if you have to use it, well, you wish it
would be only half as fast and stable as the UMN Mapserver is - sorry ESRI)

Assumed it's true that the UMN Mapserver could need some better marketing, I
wonder whether the people from Autodesk are the right people to show how to
do, since MapGuide is not a really 'on top' from the marketing point of
view - maybe except the coup of grabbing the UMN Mapserver technology ;-).

The danger I see with merging Mapserver Cheetah / Mapserver Enterprise is,
that the reputation of the so-called 'Cheetah'- version gets dependent on
the things Autodesk is doing with the so-called 'Enterprise'-version, and
whatever they do, it will irradiate to the open-source-version, so the
community is getting depend on Autodesk product politics, and we will have
to explain the differences to our customers, that means, we are going to be
involved in the autodesk product policies. To be honest: not the thing
everyone is keen on.

By the way: "Cheetah" sounds, phonetically, a bit like "cheater", at least
for a non-native english speaker like me - ...

The reason behind my negative attitude is: I'm afraid of the UMN Mapserver
being spoiled, since I made very good experiences by using
open-source-GIS-software in every aspect - technologically, financial, in
terms of support - and unfortunatly quiet bad experiences with commercial
GIS-software: expensive, slow, unstable.

Sorry for this quite negative assessment, I really don't want to offend
anyone, least of all the people who contributed so much of their time and
energy to bring  the UMN Mapserver to what it is today: the best available
web-mapping solution. I admit I do not have even something like a moral
right to influence the development of UMN Mapserver, since I did not
contribute to its code. Nevertheless, as a user of the UMN Mapserver it's
part of my knowledge and my tool kit which might be affected adversely, so I
am affected by that decisions, and that's why I have to express my point of

Maybe there is still time to think if there is another way of cooperation
between the UMN Mapserver community and Autodesk, a way which respects the
spirit of the open source idea in a better way than the announced

Best regards,
Andre Karp
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