As a sign of its support for the growing momentum behind open source web mapping technologies, Autodesk, Inc. is releasing the code for MapServer Enterprise, the company's new web mapping platform, as open source. A snapshot of the MapServer Enterprise source code is available through the new MapServer Foundation, an independent non-profit organization with the mission of supporting and promoting open source Web mapping. The foundation's charter members include MapServer Technical Steering Committee members, the University of Minnesota MapServer Project, the DM Solutions Group, and Autodesk.
"The decision to contribute to the open source community is a reflection of our customers' desire for faster innovation, more frequent product releases, and lower total cost of ownership," said Chris Bradshaw, vice president of Autodesk's Infrastructure Solutions Division. "Autodesk is committed to ensuring open source Web mapping technology continues to gain adoption, evolve and add value to the growing geospatial community and marketplace."
MapServer Enterprise enables developers to rapidly develop and deploy valuable spatial applications. It works with the latest PHP, .NET, and Java tools to build applications for Windows or Linux server environments. Developers can also publish spatial views internally, over the Web, or using Autodesk's DWF viewing technology for offline portability. Applications built using MapServer Enterprise give users a faster and more flexible way to query, analyze, and view critical spatial information. Autodesk plans to offer a commercial version of the product called Autodesk MapServer Enterprise in 2006, as well as an authoring environment that handles geospatial data collection and preparation of the data for distribution via the Internet.
MapServer Enterprise is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL). In addition to the snapshot of the source code available today, the company expects the full MapServer Enterprise open source project Web site to be live in early 2006. The project site will support code contributions, as well as bug submissions, mailing lists and discussion forums. As a component of MapServer Enterprise, Autodesk will also make available source code for its feature data objects (FDOs) technology, which provides a powerful application programming interface for accessing any type of spatial information. Autodesk will contribute nearly a dozen FDO "providers" to the open source project including ArcSDE, WFS, WMS, SHP, ODBC, and MySQL.
"Autodesk's entry into open source validates the work done by the MapServer community, and indeed by all of the folks working on open source geospatial projects. It is clear that open source plays a significant role in the geospatial technology market," said Steve Lime, creator of MapServer and chair of the MapServer Technical Steering Committee. "The MapServer Foundation is a logical next step for MapServer, and I look forward to seeing the community grow."
The MapServer Foundation's site also features the original MapServer platform, the world's leading open source web mapping platform with more than 10,000 downloads a month. Moving forward MapServer will be called MapServer Cheetah to differentiate it from MapServer Enterprise.