Mapserver Foundation

Mapserver is an open source web mapping software package that I use for the VTM site and that Brent uses for the Fire Information Engine. Recently, several core Mapserver developers announced the formation of a Mapserver Foundation, an organization intended to unite Mapserver with several related open source projects under a single banner for the purpose of standardized development and release procedures, and to provide a single body to mediate funding requests and donations, among other things. Most likely modelled after the Apache Software Foundations, this is certainly a Good Thing, as all these kinds of management and governance issues were previously handled in an ad hoc manner by the developers and a handful of contributing organizations like the University of Minnesota and DM Solutions, which has lead to a lot of inconsistency and occasional gaps in documentation.

However, in addition to Mapserver, the new Mapserver Foundation will also host the newly open sourced AutoDesk MapGuide, a web mapping package from the company that makes AutoCAD. Confusingly, MapGuide will now be known as Mapserver Enterprise, and the old Mapserver will be called Mapserver Cheetah (although the naming is apparently still up in the air). Several people in the Mapserver user and developer communities are peeved because the Foundation was planned without community input. Many are also displeased by this alliance with AutoDesk, a company not generally known for its commitment to open source. Some argue that this new naming scheme will confuse potential users and dilute the Mapserver brand, eventually resulting in less use and development for the traditional Mapserver we all know and love. While I think the new naming scheme is stupid and possibly detremental, I think the Foundation will ultimately be a force for good. Anything that provides greater stability and more documentation can't hurt, right? Links for the interested: Mapserver Mapserver Foundation AutoDesk MapGuide Official announcment of the Mapserver Foundation Comments by Ed McNierney (founder of Comments by Gary Lang (a lead MapGuide developer) Discussion on mapserver-users (a search for 'Foundation' should bring up most of the relevant threads, assuming there aren't any Asimov nerds getting way OT)