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We, the Mapbuilder Project Steering Committee, have agreed that the time= has come for the Community Mapbuilder project to gracefully retire. We wil= l release a final, stable 1.5 version of the software, and afterwards there= are no planned enhancements to Mapbuilder. The web pages and code will be = kept alive, a few bugs might be fixed and we will likely continue answering= user queries, but we expect Mapbuilder will gradually fade away into histo= ry.
Mapbuilder is a stable, feature rich, standards compliant, fast, webmapp= ing framework with a strong developer community. Why has it come to the end= of its life?
The browser based webmapping space has become crowded and other webmappi= ng clients have increased in functionality and attractiveness to users. In = particular, Openlayers is simpler to use, has attracted an increabibly stro= ng developer community, has good quality control and development processes,= and has developed most of the webmapping functionality previously only off= ered by Mapbuilder. Basically Openlayers is attacting the majority of the u= sers and developers that previously would have used Mapbuilder. One day som= eone will write a compelling paper on the history of the two similar projec= ts and analyse the key differences and decision points which led to one pro= ject out shining the other.
Well, maybe we feel a twing of loss for the Mapbuilder project we starte= d years ago, but in the bigger picture, we see the retiring of Mapbuilder a= s a good thing. It will allow the greater web mapping community to consolid= ate and rally around the remaining webmapping tools - in particular, around= Openlayers.
There has been significant collaboration between the Mapbuilder and Open= layers communities over the last couple of years. Mapbuilder has incorporat= ed Openlayers as its rendering engine and fetures have been shared between = projects. In many cases, developers from both projects worked together on t= he same codebase (in Openlayers), then ported up to Mapbuilder. This was a = deliberate move toward the merging of the two developer communities and mos= t of the Mapbuilder Project Steering Committee have contributed to the Open= layers codebase.
So in essence, by changing our allegience from Mapbuilder to Openlayers = we take with us some of our code, we replace some features with equivalent = Openlayers features, we take our community with us, and we gain an existing= , robust and welcoming community.
Users have a few options. You already own the source code, so you are we= lcome to continue maintaining and extending the Mapbuilder code for as long= as you like. At some point, users will likely want to upgrade, and at that= point we suggest considering Openlayers for your application. It now provi= des the majority of the fuctionality that was previously only offered by Ma= pbuilder.
Having a graduated OSGeo project retire might be seen as an embarassment= for OSGeo, however, I'd argue it is a strength. It shows two projects grow= ing together under the OSGeo umbrella and evenually merging into a stronger= , more focused community.
However, it does raise a dilemma with regards to what should be done wit= h a retired project. Some of the key OSGeo criteria, like "Community B= acking" and "Best of Breed Software" will gradually be lost,= so we should not continue to promote Mapbuilder. Still, we wouldn't want t= o erase Mapbuilder's history with OSGeo as our community has documented val= uable lessons learned during the graduation process.
I suggest a new "retired" category be created which keeps trac= k of retired projects.
We, the project steering committee, have derived a huge amount of pleasu= re building Mapbuilder and working with the Mapbuilder Community. For many = of us, Mapbuilder has been a launching pad into a fullfilling Open Source a= nd/or Geospatial career. We'd like to thank all the users, developers and s= upporters of Mapbuilder we have met along the way.
The Mapbuilder Project Steering Committee, (in order of appearance):