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November 28, 2005

Autodesk maps route to open source web mapping

Product lifecycle management vendor Autodesk Inc has announced that it will release its new web-mapping software under an open source license and is helping to establish a new foundation to support the MapServer open source web mapping project.

By CBR Staff Writer

San Rafael, California-based Autodesk is forming the MapServer Foundation with supporters of the MapServer project to support the ongoing development of open source web-mapping technologies.

The Foundation will be home to MapServer Cheetah, a newly named version of the MapServer code that was originally created at the University of Minnesota, as well as MapServer Enterprise, Autodesk’s next-generation web-mapping software.

Developed under the codename Tux, MapServer Enterprise is the replacement for Autodesk’s MapGuide product and is being released under the GNU Lesser General Public License. Snapshots of the code are available now, while the full code base is expected to be released in early 2006, as well as a commercial version supported by 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.

The product is designed to enable developers to develop and deploy spatial applications and works with PHP, .NET, or Java tools to enable the creation of applications for Windows or Linux.

While there is some overlap between MapServer Enterprise and MapServer Cheetah, the two code bases will be run as separate but parallel projects under the MapServer Foundation, while MapServer Cheetah will continue to be licensed under an MIT-style open source license.

Autodesk is also releasing the source code for its future data objects, FDOs, via the MapServer Foundation. The FDO technology provides application programming interfaces to external data stores.

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The original MapServer project was created by Steve Lime at the University of Minnesota through the Nasa-sponsored ForNet project, and Lime continues to be its lead developer as well as chair of the MapServer Technical Steering Committee.

The MTSC and University are also part of the new MapServer Foundation, along with DM Solutions Group Inc, a web-mapping solutions vendor and up until now the main corporate sponsor behind MapServer.

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