Earth Science

MapServer – system for developing web-based GIS applications

MapServer is a system for developing web-based GIS applications.

The basic system consists of a CGI program that can be configured to respond to a variety of spatial requests like making maps, scalebars, and point, area and feature queries. Virtually all aspects of an application, from web interface to map appearance can be developed without any programming.

For the more ambitious user, MapServer applications can be enhanced using Python, PHP, Java, JavaScript or many other web technologies.

Beyond browsing GIS data, MapServer allows you create “geographic image maps”, that is, maps that can direct users to content. For example, the Minnesota DNR Recreation Compass 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.

This is free and open source software.

Features include:

  • Advanced cartographic output.
    • Scale dependent feature drawing and application execution.
    • Feature labeling including label collision mediation.
    • Fully customizable, template driven output.
    • TrueType fonts.
    • Map element automation (scalebar, reference map, and legend).
    • Thematic mapping using logical- or regular expression-based classes.
  • Support for popular scripting and development environments.
    • PHP, Python, Perl, Ruby, Java, and .NET.
  • Support of numerous Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) standards.
    • WMS (client/server), non-transactional WFS (client/server), WMC, WCS, Filter Encoding, SLD, GML, SOS, OM, OGC API: Features.
  • A multitude of raster and vector data formats.
    • TIFF/GeoTIFF, NetCDF, MrSID, ECW, and many others via GDAL.
    • ESRI shapfiles, PostGIS, SpatiaLite, GeoPackage, FlatGeobuf, Mapbox Vector Tile (MVT), Oracle Spatial, MySQL and many others via OGR.
  • Map projection support.
    • On-the-fly map projection with 1000s of projections through the PROJ library.
  • Cross-platform support – runs under Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, and other platforms.

Support: GitHub Code Repository
Developer: Open Source Geospatial Foundation (Steve Lime, Thomas Bonfort, Daniel Morissette, and contributors)
License: MIT-style License

MapServer is written in C and C++. Learn C with our recommended free books and free tutorials. Learn C++ with our recommended free books and free tutorials.

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