[Live-demo] MapServer Overview documentation review for the OSGeo Live-DVD

Cameron Shorter cameron.shorter at gmail.com
Fri Jul 30 14:40:08 PDT 2010


Thank you for your MapServer documentation. You have done a good job 
listing the mapserver features. I have suggestions for a couple more.
I think the introductory section undersells the great value of MapServer.
Note that we are writing mainly to new GIS users who are not 
programmers, and previous GIS experience may be limited to using Google 
I suggest having a look at the gvsig or mapguide overview docs which do 
an excellent job of marketing from a user point of view.

I've added my comments in italics below:


    Web Service¶

MapServer is an Open Source <http://www.opensource.org> geographic data 
rendering engine written in C.

/Cameron: I'm don't feel the above sentence is clear, or sells mapserver 
to its fullest. Maybe "MapServer is an established and robust web 
service for publishing geospatial maps from a multitude of source 
formats, through multiple standard interfaces. /"

/Cameron: In the next line or two, I suggest talking about how easy it 
is for a new user to publish their maps using Mapserver and how users 
can then see the maps in a web page, or from a client using one of the 
many standard interfaces. Are there any drag-and-drop type configuration 
tools? If so, mention them. Then talk about APIs for programming./

Beyond browsing GIS data, MapServer allows you create "geographic image 
maps", that is, maps that can direct users to content.

/Cameron: It is not clear (to me or a new user) what a "geogrpah image 
map" is. You will need to explain its value to a user, or remove above 
line. Eg "... a "geographic image map, which allows users to ..."/

For example, the Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass 
<http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/maps/compass.html> provides users with more 
than 10,000 web pages, reports and maps via a single application. The 
same application serves as a "map engine" for other portions of the 
site, providing spatial context where needed.
/Cameron: The above sentence should to be introduced from the user 
benefit point of view. Eg: "Mapserver can serve up large volumes of data 
with ease. For example, the Minnesota DNR ..."/

MapServer was originally developed by the University of Minnesota (UMN) 
ForNet project in cooperation with NASA, and the Minnesota Department of 
Natural Resources (MNDNR). Later it was hosted by the TerraSIP project, 
a NASA sponsored project between the UMN and a consortium of land 
management interests.
/Cameron: Again, good content, what is the benefit to the user here? 
Maybe start with "MapServer is an establish, stable project, with a 
large international community of developers. MapServer started 
development in the mid 1990s by the University of Minnesota ..."/

MapServer is now a project of OSGeo <http://www.osgeo.org>, and is 
maintained by a growing number of developers (nearing 20) from around 
the world. It is supported by a diverse group of organizations that fund 
enhancements and maintenance, and administered within OSGeo by the 
MapServer Project Steering Committee made up of developers and other 
/Cameron: I don't think it necessary to explain the relationship with 
OSGeo here as we are not following the template and new users will not 
understand the benefit of OSGeo association. I'd also not mention the 
PSC, as new users are not likely to be interested in how a project is run./

      Core Features¶

    * /Cameron: Add a high level list of standard web based mapping
      features, so a new user can realise that they will get maps in a
      web page. Also a high level list of features which help users
      configure maps - I assume they exist./
    * Advanced cartographic output
          o Scale dependent feature drawing and application execution
          o Feature labeling including label collision mediation
          o Fully customizable, template driven output
    * TrueType fonts
          o Map element automation (scalebar, reference map, and legend)
          o Thematic mapping using logical- or regular expression-based
    * Support for popular scripting and development environments
          o PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, and .NET
    * Cross-platform support
          o Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, and more
    * A multitude of raster and vector data formats
          o TIFF/GeoTIFF, EPPL7, and many others via GDAL
          o ESRI shapfiles, PostGIS, ESRI ArcSDE, Oracle Spatial, MySQL
            and OGR
    * Map projection support
          o On-the-fly map projection with 1000s of projections through
            the Proj.4 library

      Implemented Standards¶

    * Support of numerous Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards
          o WMS (client/server), non-transactional WFS (client/server),
            WMC, WCS, Filter Encoding, SLD, GML, SOS, OM


    * Itasca <http://localhost/mapserver_demos/itasca/>


    * MapServer 5.6.5 Documentation


*Website:* http://www.mapserver.org/

*Licence:* MIT-style license <http://mapserver.org/copyright.html#license>

*Software Version:* 5.6.5

*Supported Platforms:* Windows, Linux, Mac

*API Interfaces:* C, PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, and .NET

*Support:* http://mapserver.org/community/

Cameron Shorter
Geospatial Director
Tel: +61 (0)2 8570 5050
Mob: +61 (0)419 142 254

Think Globally, Fix Locally
Geospatial Solutions enhanced with Open Standards and Open Source

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