MapServer History

This page will act as a sandbox for compiling notes on the history of MapServer, for publishing to the main MapServer website, as well as Wikipedia.

The project was born of necessity and frustration with commercial Web-based mapping offerings available in the mid-1990s. The initial interest was in developing spatially-enabled Web applications and not the software to make that possible.


  • when was GDAL initially implemented by/for who (CFS / GeoConnections?)?
  • when was OracleSpatial support developed by Rodrigo Cabral of CTTMAR/UNIVALI, Brazil? For who?


  • initial effort to develop decision support system for recreational users of the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW) in northern Minnesota, USA
    • initially basic configuration to submit web requests to AML routines, rendered with ArcPlot
    • 30 seconds to render maps
    • licensing limitations
  • UMN awarded with NASA/ForNet funding to support web-based delivery of forestry data
    • partnership between Minnesota DNR and UMN
    • 2 output CGI processes
      • classified imagery output ("imgserv"); CGI process
      • context data output ("mapserv")
    • integration using Java applets
  • initially UNIX/Linux based


  • GD used for image generation
  • Shapelib released


  • user community of 10
  • a few external organizations using MapServer
  • 2.0 released as final ForNET deliverable


  • most development moved to Minnesota DNR
  • basic raster support added
  • support for Truetype fonts (Freetype)


  • researchers in the Dept of Forest Resources, UMN receive continued funding from NASA for TerraSIP to deliver land use/land cover data over the Web through extensions to MapServer
  • focused on using multispectral and hyperspectral data
    • functionality eventually provided by GDAL


  • UMN makes MapServer open source
  • 3.0 released
  • (presumably 3.1 and 3.2 are released too)
  • 3.3 released


  • 3.3 released with MapScript
  • DM Solutions Group adopts MapServer and starts contributing to the project
  • PHP MapScript developed
  • Windows support developed
  • Initial implementation of OGR support
  • 3.4 released



  • MapServer used as underlying framework for CGDI WMS Client Component (CWC2), later renamed to Chameleon
  • 3.5 released
  • (May) The Atlas of Canada is migrated / released, mapping / visualization powered by MapServer


  • 3.6 released
  • 4.0 released
  • initial ms4w release
  • (June) first MapServer Users Meeting, at the University of Minnesota


  • 4.2 released
  • 4.4 released
    • WCS support
    • FastCGI support
    • i18 encoding
  • (May) The Atlas of Canada WMS is officially published, powered by MapServer
  • (June) initial FGS Linux installer release
  • (Dec) main website ported to Plone architecture



  • initial support for Sensor Observation Service (SOS) to support monitoring stations and data, for Environment Canada
  • 4.8 released
    • layer plug-in architecture


  • (April) The TSC becomes the MapServer Project Steering Committee (PSC)
  • (April) moved to OSGeo infrastructure (issue tracker moved to trac and version control moved to Subversion)
  • 5.0 released
    • support for AGG for improved graphics rendering




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  • input from community (users, developers, etc.)
  • scanning of svn / trac, mailing lists
Last modified 6 years ago Last modified on Jan 4, 2010 11:13:27 AM