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Purpose: Provide a status report for the project.

  1. #Status
  2. #Metrics
    1. #Download Metrics
    2. #Subversion Commit Metrics
    3. #Significant Dates
    4. #Email Traffic Metrics
    5. #Gml Viewer Download Metrics
  3. #Criteria for a successful project
  4. #Previous Strategic Direction Papers
  5. #About the author

Status

MapBuilder is a powerful, standards compliant and FREE geographic mapping client which runs in a web browser. It renders raster maps from WMS, Google Maps and more, and vector layers from WFS, GeoRSS and GML. It even offers feature editing to WFS-T. Mapbuilder is often described as a web based toolkit, or framework, that allows a developer to insert a selection of widgets into a web page. Eg: MapPanes, FeatureLists, Navigation tools, Style Editors and more.

Over the last year, the three leading browser based mapping clients, Mapbuilder, OpenLayers and MapBender have been actively working together sharing ideas and code. In particular, OpenLayers is currently being inserted into Mapbuilder as a rendering engine. Our latest release, mapbuilder-1.5apha1 includes an OpenLayers renderer and our next release will complete the integration by linking Mapbuilder and Openlayers tools.

OpenLayers focuses on rendering a MapPane. Mapbuilder extends this to offer extra widgets like Style Layer Descriptor (SLD) Editors, Time Series Web Map Services, processing Web Map Context (WMC) documents and more.

Mapbuilder developers are now contributing to the OpenLayers codebase when adding core Mapping functionality.

Merging code between projects is difficult emotionally as much as technically. The catalyst for the Mapbuilder/OpenLayers merge was that there were four different projects developing vector rendering using SVG/VML at the end of 2006. After much discussion we agreed to work together on the same code base. This meant that each of us had to throw away ~ 3/4 of our original code. In the short term, this meant some extra effort from all of us, but in the long term, we will all benefit from the merger. We will have more developers maintaining the same code base and users will be less confused when trying to pick a client.

Developers who throw away code feel a strong sense of loss of status and credibility. Credit goes to those who were flexible enough to throw away their code and also to the developers who were generous in their acknowledgments of past works.

Internally, Mapbuilder stores its map data inside a Context document. Initially we used to use a Web Map Context (WMC) document which describes a list of WMS layers. However, the WMC doesn't allow you to insert other layers, like WFS, GML, GeoRSS, Google Maps, etc.

In mapbuilder-1.5alpha1 we support OWS Context (currently an OGC draft document) which extends WMC to include multiple layers types. This improves the structure of our code and configuration files, as well as continuing with our support of OGC Standards. The 1.5 branch will stablise over the next few months with release candidates and then final release.

Mapbuilder graduated through the Open Source Geospatial Foundation (OSGeo) incubation process in October 2006 making the second and most recent project to graduate. Graduation turned out to be a lengthy process involving auditing code and tidying up development processes. However compared to other projects going through graduation, Mapbuilder is young and had less history to dig through, which is why were one of the first projects to graduate (after Mapbender).

Association with OSGeo was a positive move for Mapbuilder popularity. Mapbuilder downloads doubled in the month after OSGeo was created with Mapbuilder as one of the founding projects.

In summary, Mapbuilder continues to have a healthy developer and user base, it has a stable codebase, good development processes and a healthy future ahead of it.

Metrics

Download Metrics

This graph shows a steady growth in interest since the start of the project, with a doubling of downloads when the OSGeo Foundation was founded (with Mapbuilder a founding project) in March 2006. There was a dip over Christmas 2006, then back again early 2007 (the gml-viewer and mapbuilder-1.5alpha1 was released at the end of December 2006).


Date

Downloads

Apr-04

0

May-04

31

Jun-04

173

Jul-04

115

Aug-04

69

Sep-04

38

Oct-04

40

Nov-04

32

Dec-04

26

Jan-05

54

Feb-05

88

Mar-05

127

Apr-05

160

May-05

213

Jun-05

280

Jul-05

230

Aug-05

221

Sep-05

235

Oct-05

319

Nov-05

332

Dec-05

420

Jan-06

469

Feb-06

536

Mar-06

1,141

Apr-06

1,029

May-06

1,040

Jun-06

1,206

Jul-06

1,213

Aug-06

1,153

Sep-06

1,059

Oct-06

1,346

Nov-06

1,008

Dec-06

869

Jan-07

1,351

Feb-07

1,359

Subversion Commit Metrics

This graph tracks the number of lines of code in the Mapbuilder repository. The graph shows a that mapbuilder has been steadilly growing since December 2003. We have had consistent support from a community of developers which includes a constant core, as well as a number of fring developers who join the community, develop for a while, then move on.


Source data: http://fisheye.codehaus.org/browse/mapbuilder/trunk/mapbuilder/mapbuilder/lib?linegraph

Significant Dates

Date

Event

December 2003

Start

May 2004

mapbuilder-0.1rc2

June 2004

mapbuilder-0.1

March 2005

mapbuilder-0.2alpha

April 2005

mapbuilder-0.3.1alpha

August 2005

mapbuilder-0.4

December 2005

mapbuilder-1.0rc1

February 2006

mapbuilder-1.0rc2

February 2006

OSGeo Foundation starts

April 2006

mapbuilder-1.0

August 2006

mapbuilder-1.0.1

October 2006

Mapbuilder graduates OSGeo Foundation

December 2006

mapbuilder-1.5apha1

Source data: http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group_id=35246&package_id=116388 http://www.osgeo.org/tyler/osgeo_1st_anniversary http://wiki.osgeo.org/index.php/Twentieth_Board_Meeting

Email Traffic Metrics

This shows the monthly number of emails for Developer and User email lists.
Developer emails spiked at the end of 2005, beginning of 2006 during the development of release 1.0 before leveling back. The stabling of email traffic can be put down to:

  1. A reasonable effort has been put into documentation. Often newbie questions are simply answered by pointing at existing documentation. This is not to say our documentation is great, it is just getting a bit better.
  2. The Vector rendering work done from mid 2006 was done in conjunction with outside developers. Much of the communication moved to other email lists, or IRC channels. (In particular, irc://freenode.net#openlayers ).
  3. April - October 2006, a reasonable amount of developer effort was focused on getting OSGeo Graduation rather than development.
    A drop in email activity over the last few months is probably due to:

Date

Devel

User

Total

May-03

2

 

2

Jun-03

20

 

20

Jul-03

24

 

24

Aug-03

38

 

38

Sep-03

23

 

23

Oct-03

 

 

0

Nov-03

10

 

10

Dec-03

24

 

24

Jan-04

88

 

88

Feb-04

200

 

200

Mar-04

114

 

114

Apr-04

85

 

85

May-04

85

 

85

Jun-04

191

 

191

Jul-04

60

 

60

Aug-04

75

 

75

Sep-04

53

 

53

Oct-04

47

 

47

Nov-04

103

 

103

Dec-04

72

 

72

Jan-05

57

 

57

Feb-05

71

 

71

Mar-05

153

2

155

Apr-05

79

15

94

May-05

121

1

122

Jun-05

153

14

167

Jul-05

147

 

147

Aug-05

203

3

206

Sep-05

417

8

425

Oct-05

267

37

304

Nov-05

182

14

196

Dec-05

211

42

253

Jan-06

363

148

511

Feb-06

338

108

446

Mar-06

369

104

473

Apr-06

128

84

212

May-06

150

133

283

Jun-06

128

66

194

Jul-06

96

82

178

Aug-06

63

34

97

Sep-06

71

86

157

Oct-06

107

59

166

Nov-06

145

83

228

Dec-06

182

45

227

Jan-07

119

75

194

Feb-07

87

68

155

Mar-07

130

73

203

Apr-07

232

56

288

May-07

134

65

199

Jun-07

135

137

272

Jul-07

200

105

305

Aug-07

157

98

255

Data source: http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_name=mapbuilder-devel and http://sourceforge.net/mailarchive/forum.php?forum_name=mapbuilder-users[]

Gml Viewer Download Metrics

In December 2006, we released GML Viewer version of Mapbuilder which can be distributed with a GML Dataset. It was distributed on CD as one of the artifacts of the Open Geospatial Consortium Testbed 4. It was also made available for download and download statistics are available below. The number of downloads is 1/10 of the mapbuilder-lib downloads above which suggests that the target market are getting their gml viewers from the CD, or that people are more interested in other features from Mapbuilder.


Date

Downloads

Dec-06

75

Jan-07

104

Feb-07

115

Data Source: http://sourceforge.net/project/stats/detail.php?group_id=35246&ugn=mapbuilder&type=prdownload&mode=alltime&package_id=116388

Criteria for a successful project

Refraction's State of Open Source GIS provides an excellent checklist for evaluating open source projects.
The more of these questions which are answered in the positive, the healthier the OSS project under examination is.

  • Is the software modular?
    (This criterion is more applicable to some projects than others, depending on design constraints.) Is there a clear method to add functionality to the project that does not involve re-working the internals? Is this method documented clearly with examples? Is there a library of already-contributed enhancements maintained by the wider user / developer community?
    • Mapbuilder is modular and extendable from the ground up.
  • Is the development team transparent?
    Is it clear who the core development team is? Is the development team mailing list public? Is the current development version of the code available online? Is membership in the team attainable via a merit-based process?
    • Yes, Mapbuilder has a strong transparent management team.
  • Is the project well documented?
    Does the web presence provide direct access to both the source code and documentation about the internals of the code? Is there tutorial level documentation for all three user categories (user, administrator, programmer) to get people up and working with the software quickly?
    • Mapbuilder's documentation is passable, but effort spent on documentation could greatly improve our users experience.
  • How wide is the development community?
    Are multiple organizations represented in the core development team? Are core team members financially supported in their work by sponsoring organizations? Is the development community national or international? How large is the user mailing list? How large is the developer mailing list?
    • Mapbuilder has between 5 and 10 developers at any one time, and the developers come from around the globe and from many different organisations. This is a strong core, but it would be nice to see the developer community double.
  • How wide is the user community?
    (This criterion is basically a standard COTS criterion more installations imply wider acceptance and testing.) What organizations have deployed the
    software? What experiences have they had?
    • Up to March 2007, Mapbuilder downloads steadily increased to 500 downloads/month. After that, downloads doubled and have remained steady at around 100 downloads/month.
    • It is good to see this steady growth, however it would be nicer to see the download figures increase by an order of magnitude. I suspect that Mapbuilder has lost market share of simple mapping applications to OpenLayers, GoogleMaps, MSN and Yahoo maps.

Previous Strategic Direction Papers

  1. March 2007
  2. September 2006
  3. April 2006
  4. June 2005

About the author

Cameron Shorter is on the Project Management Committee of the Mapbuilder project.

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