MapServer and Autodesk 2006

Regarding the proposed MapServer-Autodesk Foundation, here are a few things I'm wishing for in 2006:

  • A reality check. Some parties need to pull their heads out and begin to acknowledge that MapServer and Tux are competing for users and mind share whether they are under the same umbrella organization or not. Insisting that there is no competition is either naive or disingenuous.

  • No name churn: conserving the MapServer project name would provide a core of continuity and stability during a big Foundation move.

  • Disclosure of financial ties between parties to the open letter would help reassure members of the MapServer community that these representatives do not have conflicts of interest. Or maybe it would do the opposite ;) Whatever, let's get this out in the open.

  • Focus on software. There is yet no common user or developer community between the MapServer and Tux projects, and, for all we know, there may never be one. The only sure common ground (let's drop the anti-ESRI nonsense) is made of mutual software dependencies: GEOS, PROJ.4, GDAL, GD, and SWIG. Looking after these could be a great way for a foundation to start.

What has been proposed to date appears to be more of a business association than a software foundation, with an undue emphasis on branding and publicity. I'll assert right here that putting marketing ahead of the software will be the end of our happy open source geospatial run.

Update: Howard has a response.


Re: MapServer and Autodesk 2006

Author: MikeD

I suppose you are right on your first point, Tux and Mapserver will technically compete against each other in that they do basically the same thing. In comments on the mailing list I emphasized that, within a foundation, an attitude of competition (the success of one project depending on the failure of another, and actively campaigning for that failure) would be a bad one. I would hope that projects can succeed or fail on their merits. I whole heartedly agree with your other three points. As for marketing, my interest in building the marketing side of the foundation is because that is where the existing projects are the most lacking. There are a large number of highly skilled programmers already doing wonderful things for Mapserver, and my paltry out-of-practice C skillz couldn't program me out of a paper bag. If I am to contribute in any meaningful way it will probably be in a non-technical area. -Mike