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Developer(s)Steve Lime originally, now a project of the OSGeo foundation
Initial release1994 (1994)
Stable release
8.0.1[1] Edit this on Wikidata / 21 April 2023; 12 months ago (21 April 2023)
Written inC / C++
TypeGIS software (compare)

MapServer is an open-source development environment for building spatially enabled internet applications, built in the C language, and is widely known as one of the fastest Web mapping engines available. It can run as a CGI program or via MapScript which supports several programming languages (using SWIG). MapServer can access hundreds of data formats, any raster or vector format supported by GDAL, and reprojections on-the-fly are handled by PROJ. MapServer was originally developed by Steve Lime, then working at the University of Minnesota — so, it was previously referred to as "UMN MapServer", to distinguish it from commercial "map servers"; today it is commonly referred to as just "MapServer", and is maintained by the MapServer Project Steering Committee (PSC). MapServer was originally developed with support from NASA, which needed a way to make its satellite imagery available to the public.[2]

Open Source Geospatial Foundation[edit]

In November 2005, Autodesk, the MapServer Technical Steering Committee Members, the University of Minnesota, and DM Solutions Group announced the creation of the MapServer Foundation.[3] With this announcement, Autodesk announced that its internet mapping application, MapGuide, would be developed as an open source application with all new code and be named "MapServer Enterprise".[3] The existing MapServer application would be renamed "MapServer Cheetah".[3] This name change was overwhelmingly opposed by the MapServer community.[4] Autodesk then backed off this name change and retained the name, "MapGuide" for its product.[4] Also, plans to establish the MapServer Foundation were scrapped; Instead, the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) was established to include MapServer and other open source GIS projects (which now includes MapGuide Open Source).[5]


MapServer has had an important role in Web mapping history. The following is a summary of its evolution:

  • 1994: UMN awarded with NASA/ForNet funding to support web-based delivery of forestry data.[6]
  • 1997-07: MapServer 1.0, Developed as Part of the NASA ForNet Project. Grew out of the need to deliver remote sensing data across the web for foresters.
  • 1998-07: MapServer 2.0 released as final ForNET deliverable; added reprojection support (PROJ.4).
  • 1999: UMN makes MapServer an open source project.[6]
  • 2000-06: MapServer 3.0 was developed as part of the NASA TerraSIP Project. This is also the first public, open source release of UMN MapServer.[7]
  • 2001-06: MapServer 3.2 released with MapScript 1.0, like CSS, adds layout flexibility.
  • 2002-06: MapServer 3.5 was rewritten,[8] and added support for PostGIS and ArcSDE. Version 3.6 adds initial OGC WMS support.
  • 2003-07: MapServer 4.0, adds 24bit raster output support and support for SWF.
  • 2005-04: MapServer 4.6, adds support for SVG.
  • 2007-09: MapServer 5.0 released, introducing Anti-Grain Geometry (AGG) graphics library.
  • 2011-05: MapServer 6.0 released, adds support for opengl & KML output, with 5.6.X as stable versions.
  • 2012-11: MapServer 6.2 released, adds support for INSPIRE services. Released along TinyOWS and MapCache.
  • 2013-09: MapServer 6.4 released,[9] adds CMake support, contour rendering, layer geometry transformations.
  • 2015-07: MapServer 7.0 released,[10] adds heatmap layers, WFS 2.0 support, and layer-level character encoding.
  • 2018-07: MapServer 7.2 released,[11] adds MVT support, support for multi-line comments in the mapfile, and Python 3 support for MapScript.
  • 2019-05: MapServer 7.4 released,[12] adds PHP 7 MapScript support through SWIG, and initial PROJ 6 API support.
  • 2020-05: MapServer 7.6 released,[13] adds full support for PROJ 6 API, adds connection options in mapfile, and special character support in mapfiles on Windows.
  • 2022-09: MapServer 8.0 released,[14] adds native FlatGeobuf support, OGCAPI: Features support, new config file for MapServer, and PHP native MapScript removed, in place of PHPNG (SWIG) MapScript.

See also[edit]

  • GeoServer - an open-source server written in Java
  • Mapnik - Open source mapping toolkit for desktop and server map rendering
  • TopoQuest - Topographic map viewer using the technology


  1. ^ "Release 8.0.1". 21 April 2023. Retrieved 4 May 2023.
  2. ^ Ojeda-Zapata, Julio (June 17, 2005). "Minnesota's MapServer flourishes in hot Web-based mapping sector". Pioneer Press (St. Paul, Minnesota).
  3. ^ a b c Schutzberg, Adena (November 28, 2005). "MapServer Community, Autodesk Announce MapServer Foundation". Archived from the original on February 4, 2007.
  4. ^ a b Grimes, Brad and Joab Jackson (May 1, 2006). "What's in an open-source name?". Government Computer News. Archived from the original on November 12, 2006.
  5. ^ Schuyler Erle (February 4, 2006). "Introducing… the Open Source Geospatial Foundation!".
  6. ^ a b "MapServerHistory – MapServer".
  7. ^ TerraSIP Archived 2007-02-09 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^
  9. ^ "6.4 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".
  10. ^ "Version 7.0.0 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".
  11. ^ "Version 7.2.0 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".
  12. ^ "Version 7.4.0 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".
  13. ^ "Version 7.6.0 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".
  14. ^ "Version 8.0.0 Announcement — MapServer 8.0.1 documentation".

External links[edit]