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Kropla B. Beginning MapServer: Open Source GIS Development

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Kropla B. Beginning MapServer: Open Source GIS Development
New York: Springer, 2005. - 427 p.
First, a bit of history: MapServer arose out of necessity, since in the mid-nineties there were few, if any, decent commercial alternatives. Initial work centered on web-based front ends to commercial GIS software. This worked well, but was painfully slow—and I endured constant complaints from graduate students about licenses for our expensive GIS being used by the public to make maps online. There had to be a better way. Mercifully, I found shapelib—which, when paired with the GD graphics library, brought MapServer to life (and stopped the complaints). Add a few best-of-breed open source packages (e.g., GDAL, Proj.4, PostGIS, and FreeType) and a number of talented developers—and here we sit 10 years later with a pretty powerful piece of software. At its essence, MapServer is conceptually very simple, but unless you share the thought processes of the core developers, the learning curve can be a bit steep. For many open source projects, documentation is a weak point, and MapServer is no exception. Actually, there’s a huge amount of MapServer documentation, but it’s scattered loosely across mailing lists, sample applications, and websites. That’s why this book is so valuable—especially to someone new to MapServer.
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