Beginning MapServer: Open Source GIS Development

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Beginning MapServer: Open Source GIS Development is the first book of its kind. It offers a comprehensive introduction to MapServer, the development platform for integrating mapping technology into Internet applications. You'll learn how to build and extend dynamic applications using popular languages like PHP, Perl, and Python.

After a thorough introduction to installation and configuration, you'll uncover basic MapServer topics and examples. You'll also learn about advanced MapServer features, and how to query and incorporate dynamic data into your application. The book culminates with the creation of an actual mapping application.
About the Author
Bill Kropla has almost 20 years of experience working in information technology, and he has spent the last several years steeped in the wireless industry, developing wireless mapping solutions for tracking shipping vehicles. Bill holds a bachelor's of science degree in physics from the University of Manitoba, and a master's degree in electrical engineering and applied mathematics, also from the University of Manitoba. In addition, he holds an omnibus patent for methods, hardware, and software used in the wireless industry.

Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful:
3.0 out of 5 stars Problematic if you are working on a Windows platform, November 8, 2007
By Curtis Bohlen "Watershed Consultant" (Yarmouth, ME USA) - See all my reviews
I purchased this book to help with developing a simple map-enabled web page running on a Windows computer. The book proved very difficult to use in that context. If you are planning on working on a windows computer, you should be aware of some potential shortcomings.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I have considerable GIS experience, but little experience with web development.

The book assumes that you are operating not only on a UNIX-based platform, but also that you will operate in a particular "development environment". The author does provide full instructions for building that development environment on a Unix machine, so if you are starting from scratch, everything will work as described.


You can not readily build the same "development environment" on a Windows computer. I installed a version of MS4W ("Mapserver 4 Windows" on my computer. MS4W is a labor saving package that rapidly sets up a web server and installs most of the other open source software one would like to have available for using Mapsource effectively. Unfortunately, the installation differs from the "development environment" assumed by the book.

As a result, there are MANY small but significant differences that crop up in developing the example applications given in the book. Many of these are simply differences in the way files are named or in the structure of the directory tree, but they are annoying and difficult to track down. it took me several DAYS of work and repeated searches for help on on-line MAPSERVER forums to figure things out and get the first several example applications running. I still have not managed to get about half of the examples up and running.

That said, the book offers a nice introduction to many of the central concepts used in Mapserver. It has a good reference section that allows you to look up Mapserver commands, etc.

Ultimately, I was able to develop the simple web-based applications I was after. This book contributed to that, but only after considerable frustration. Several Mapserver tutorials are available on-line. Some are specifically geared to Windows-based systems. They certainly offer a less tortuous, if sometimes less complete, path to getting Mapserver working on a Windows-based system.

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