MapServer is an Open Source development environment for building spatially-enabled internet applications. The project is not a full-featured GIS system, nor does it aspire to be. Instead, MapServer excels at rendering spatial data (maps, images, and vector data) for the web.
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.
MapServer was originally developed by the University of Minnesota (UMN) ForNet project in cooperation with NASA and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (MNDNR). Presently, the MapServer project is hosted by the TerraSIP project, a NASA sponsored project between the UMN and consortium of land management interests.
The software is maintained by a growing number of developers (nearing 20) from around the world and is supported by a diverse group of organizations that fund enhancements and maintenance.
Here are some key features of "MapServer":
· 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 C#
· Cross-platform support
· Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, Solaris, and more
· A multitude of raster and vector data formats
· TIFF/GeoTIFF, EPPL7, and many others via GDAL
· ESRI shapfiles, PostGIS, ESRI ArcSDE, Oracle Spatial, MySQL and many others via OGR
· Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) web specifications
· WMS (client/server), non-transactional WFS (client/server), WMC, WCS, Filter Encoding, SLD, GML, SOS
· Map projection support
· On-the-fly map projection with 1000s of projections through the Proj.4 library